Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Imagining :: Library refurbishment - cultural precinct - community hub - dead parking area - and will there be money still for tea?

Last night, I attended the above consultation.   The consultation was done with Flightpath, an architectural consultancy, with two of their associates.  One , the principal, took the notes.  The second architect was said to have the knack for asking the good questions so he did most of the talking.  The third was a graphic designer who didn't say much at all but took his own notes. Lesley Morgan of the Ballarat Library and the Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation was there. Another person was there from the Council but, in spite of trying, have not yet tracked down who she is.  Besides those, there were about eight of us having our two bits worth - oops, giving our input.

Lesley Morgan is the manager of the Ballarat Library and a senior manager at Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation. She has held the role of Ballarat Manager for 4 1/2 years.Lesley has worked in libraries for 30 years in a variety of different roles, including Public, University, School and Tafe libraries. Lesley is a passionate advocate for public libraries, reading and literacy in general. One aim of hers is to assist in breaking down cultural barriers so that social inclusiveness becomes the right of all.


Now I am not sure what this talk of re-making the Ballarat Library, perhaps making it a 'hub' is all about.  I have only been in Ballarat about eighteen months.  I have, however, come across this article from 2009 - a bare four years ago.   Then I came across this - which appears to be from April this year.

Now, we weren't told of this limited amount of money.  Perhaps the architects did not wish to cramp our style or limit our imagination.  However, for what we eventually got to talking about were were well past this financial limitation.  Why?  We named the elephants in the room which went beyond the boundaries of the Ballarat Library.  We named the parking space between the library and the civic hall - which has been left for a decade to rot in neglect - which, like so many parking facilities, has a period in its daily life cycle which means that is dead, empty, vacant, non-contributing.  And there is the on-going saga of the Civic Hall. My contribution on how to revive the Civic Hall and add to the area as a cultural precinct was this marvellous news of the eradication of urban blight in down-at-heel Newcastle:

So the wash up of all this? 
We few - we precious six o'clock few -  had our wide-ranging say.
We ranged from the library purists who wanted a library to be a library -
to those who were prepared to venture further
into the concepts of hubs and precincts.

One marvellous idea put forward which encouraged me to air the Westbury idea was the idea of flying the Ballarat historical and artistic and literary flag in a manner which is not done by our existing cultural institutions.  The proposer began with reminding us of the wonderful Will Dyson and progressed through a litany of distinguished cultural Ballarat-ians, male and female.

So we spilled past the 7pm timeline but in the end had to leave Library + Hub Dreaming.  Where will it take us?  What happened with the other two consultations?  Is anybody listening in a really meaningful way?  Will it become just a fleeting moment in time?  We wait to see.  I don't have a lot of confidence in the Ballarat Council's ability to make the most of opportunities, to respect heritage, to take good care of what it already holds.  I have come to this point of view because of the Civic Hall neglect and the Black Hill Look-out neglect.

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