Tour of the Adelaide City Library

On the 16th April, 30 eager library people gathered at the new Adelaide City Library for a tour of this wonderful new space with Ann Rundle, Library Manager and Carly Reimann, Systems Support Officer.

The Adelaide City Library reopened in its current location on the 7th February 2014, with the vision of being a multipurpose community space; fostering creativity and innovation through inspirational spaces and cutting edge technologies. The library aims to promote experimental learning and encourage technological engagement across generations.

SALIN City Library Tour

The history
The Adelaide City Council Library Service Vision is an 11 paragraph statement about the values of, and services which, make a successful community library. This vision was developed in collaboration with the community and key stakeholders in October 2011.

Our libraries embrace reinvention and change: they look to the future, leading the way in social, technological and environmental sustainability. Staff are skilled and supported in responding to individual and community needs, now and into the future. Yet our libraries do not take themselves too seriously: they are surprising and fun and new every day.

With only a small budget the library needed to formulate innovative solutions to achieve the values of the service vision. Significantly, they wanted a central city location, but could not afford ground floor space in Rundle Mall. A window of opportunity opened with the building of Rundle Place, where the 3rd floor space was available. This prompted the Adelaide City Council and library management to consider how to make a library successful in an upper storey space, and recognised taking advantage of the locations views, natural light, and open areas as the key to maximising a positive user experience.

The space
The Adelaide City Library was designed by architectural firm Hassel, in consultation with the Adelaide City Council and library staff. The concept for the space is based on origami – one space with many places. Flexibility was integral to the design, with moveable walls allowing for multiple configurations.  Library staff felt it was imperative customers were able to customise the space to suit their needs, and this also prompted the use of universal design principles, ensuring spaces suitable for all ages, and accessible for wheelchairs and prams.

The library’s design earned an Innovation in Design award from the Forest Stewardship Council for design, selection and procurement of responsibly sourced, FSC-certified timber products for many of the library’s fixtures, finishes and furniture, as well as FSC-certified paper for its office and sanitary supplies. Procurement was focused on Australian made, recycled and using emerging designers wherever possible.

SALIN City Library Tour

The library’s spaces, including meeting rooms, studios, technology labs and an outdoor reading room are inviting and flexible. Moveable walls and sliding doors let customers use the space as they want, when they want. Low shelving has been used to support access and encourage increased use of the collection while allowing visibility across the space for safety and security. Significantly, shelving is on wheels so it can be moved for exhibition space as required.

Key features of the library include spaces suitable for a range of uses allowing for partnerships with community organisations.  A history hub provides access to historical collections held by the state archives and state library, and currently they are undertaking a project to digitise the Adelaide picture collection for online availability.

The media lab is a very popular and busy space, featuring the latest software, and video production and sound equipment.  The City Library also boasts a ‘digital hub’ for computer, internet & smart device training for the public, and Wi-Fi is available across the library. The innovation lab offers users a chance to explore and share new technologies, including 3D printers, scanners and pens, and features hollow glass doors for displaying works created in the lab. The lab offers drop-in and maker sessions, and is staffed by expert volunteers; currently library users can experiment with these technologies free of charge!
There is also a café area where users can prepare their own food and drink. The library plans to establish partnerships with hospitality educational organisations to engage hospitality students to run the café.

SALIN City Library Tour
SALIN City Library Tour

The activities
The library is utilising a range of ‘people in residence’ including artists, historians, poets and makers. These people demonstrate what can be done with the space and the available equipment and encourage the sharing of ideas and creativity. The residents train staff to build up expertise with equipment and are available to talk to the public about their work, ideas and how to engage with the library’s spaces and equipment.

A range of programs are run including family story time, book groups, weekend workshops, lunchtime information sessions, LEGO maker sessions, public lectures and green living sessions on gardening, sustainability and food security.

The collection
The collection has approximately 45,000 items with a collection age of 5 years. This is a very young fresh collection with 10% digital items. The library is aiming to maintain the currency of the collection as well as purchasing more digital material. The library is part of the 1 card network, offering users access to the collections of public libraries across the state.

SALIN City Library Tour

The statistics
15,000 people visited in the first week of operation.

In the first 6 weeks 52,500 people visited and 59,000 items were borrowed.

In the first 9 weeks 76,000 people visited.


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