Momentum continues to build for the landmark precinct with local library organisation Myli (My Community Library) and the Baw Baw Arts Alliance affirming full support for the proposed $30 million Baw Baw Culture and Connection Precinct.
With Baw Baw’s population continuing to grow at an extraordinary rate, more local community organisations acknowledge the need for this facility and its benefits to the community.
Local library organisation Myli and the Baw Baw Arts Alliance have joined Council in advocacy efforts throwing their full support behind the project.
Myli CEO Leanne Williams has acknowledged that this project would provide a much-needed investment into accessible and diverse library services to a growing community.
The current Warragul library is in a small and ageing building with limited space for popular programs and larger events. The building design is not well suited to meet accessibility needs for people with disabilities and is non-compliant with current Australian accessibility standards. Amenities are inadequate and inconvenient, with the current accessible bathroom requiring access via the staff back office.
A commercial lease is in place for Council to occupy the current library building. This means ongoing costs with little control to make meaningful improvements to the facility.
Additionally, the current library building does not meet the expectations of a modern library nor the expectations of new residents moving to the area. Warragul has a population of 18,500, a forecast of 21,000 by 2026, increasing to 30,000 by 2041. This projected 43 per cent growth means the current library will only continue to decline and fail to accommodate essential services such as a place to study or meet for study groups.
Relocation to a new fit-for purpose, central and accessible location could improve library membership and service delivery to community members of all ages – from story time for children through to digital literacy classes for seniors. It is expected that a new library would experience considerable growth. Visitation is anticipated to increase at a minimum, by 200,000 – 300,000 per annum.
The Baw Baw Arts Alliance (BBAA) also recognises the growing need for a local dedicated arts space.
Baw Baw Shire currently has very limited gallery space to showcase local artists work. With a new centrally located and accessible dedicated art space, local artists would be provided with more opportunities to revitalise the arts scene after the impacts of Covid-19 and attract tourism and economic stimulation through new showings and exhibitions.
Council has pledged $10 million towards the project and recently secured $3.5 million in State Government funding, but there is still a way to go. Advocacy efforts are continually underway to secure more funds ahead of both pending State and Federal elections.
For more project details go to Baw Baw Culture and Connection Precinct.
Quote attributable to Myli CEO Leanne Williams
“This project is much more than just shelves of books. It would offer a dynamic and inclusive range of cultural resources and experiences for all members of our community. This precinct will create connection and social inclusion across library, learning, arts, culture and tourism services – a true hub for all residents of Baw Baw Shire.”
“Baw Baw Shire has over 13,000 library members, with 60 per cent of those, members of the Warragul library. The new Warragul library will be the largest in the Shire and the ‘Flagship’ library for the region. Our growing community deserves a larger, modern and future-proofed library to cater for our current and future generations.”
Quote attributable to BBAA President Anita George
“Baw Baw Shire has an incredibly talented and diverse pool of local artists which is something to be celebrated. However, the lack of central and accessible gallery space is limiting to the types of exhibitions and installations that can be shared with the community. The Baw Baw Arts Alliance strongly supports the new proposed Culture and Connection Precinct and the opportunities this type of facility would bring to our community.”
Quote attributable to Mayor Cr Michael Leaney
“We are so grateful to have the support of Myli and BBAA behind this project. Together we will continue to lobby all levels of government to show them how valuable this place would be for our community.”
“Our shared vision for this precinct is so much more than a new library – it’s a place for young children to create memories through story time, a welcoming space for locals to learn new skills and access technology they may not have at home. It’s a place for community groups to meet and plan the events and activities that are part of Baw Baw’s fabric, like local markets and festivals. It’s a place for our local art treasures to inspire us and new gallery spaces that we desperately lack. Places like this strengthen communities, this is our goal for Baw Baw.”