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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

No more Shhh in the library

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Library IMG_3679-wp 

Story & photos Eve Jeffery

Staff at the Byron Bay Library will spend the next three weeks moving 25,000 books and other items from the old site to the new location on the corner of Lawson and Fletcher Streets.

The old library closed last Friday so that the three full-time staff and eight extra pairs of hands can move the books in their shelf order to their new home.

Before the old building closed its doors for the last time, Byron Bay Friends of the Library and library staff had a chance for a preview of the new facility.

Library assistant Bronwyn Miller says that it is a big task transferring to the new site but it is well worth it. ‘Monday we have the removalists coming and they are removing the books in order and placing them in order,’ she says.

Bronwyn says that an innovation at the facility will be the way in which the books can be found by library patrons. ‘We are taking the non-fiction and putting it in to genre areas. rather than just coming in and seeing numbered books – a lot of people don’t understand the Dewey system – now we have it more like a book store with Home and Garden, Spirit, Mind and Body, Health and Sport and Recreation to name just a few. Within the shelf everything will be shelved according to Dewey, but how you find the book will be different.’

Built at a construction cost of $3.75 million (excluding GST), the new Byron Bay Library has been funded with help from the State Library of NSW, the NSW Community Funding Partnerships program and Byron Shire Council loans.

Byron Bay Friends of the Library also took the chance to see their hard-raised funds at work. A generous donation of $20,000 from the group will see the new building filled with books.

Bronwyn says that contrary to popular belief that the internet is making libraries extinct, she says that in fact they are becoming more user friendly and there is a move away from Shhh of past times. ‘There is lots of room for display and recreation and time out and social connections rather than quiet, intense spaces that have no-one allowed to speak. This is what is good about the design. There is a dedicated children’s area, a place where kids can make noise, but at the same time there are quiet study areas. This is the way new libraries work.’

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