ALIA Blog: a visit to Melbourne coolest new library 

By Phoebe Weston-Evans, ALIA Senior Research Coordinator


Thursday 23 November saw the official opening of most beautiful new library and family services hub in Narrm / Melbourne. The library is called narrm ngarrgu, which means ‘Melbourne knowledge’ in the Woi-wurrung lanague of the Wurundjeri people. It stretches over three floors, nestled next to the busy Queen Victoria market at the top of the CBD.


The opening ceremony began with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony on the magnificent landscaped rooftop terrace, overlooking the market and city skyline. Attendees were then taken down into the event space where we heard speeches from Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, local and state government officials and artist Maree Clarke and her team. Maree’s photographs, carpet design, giant eel trap sculpture, and other creations are woven throughout the building, bringing layered meaning and a sense of place to the whole library.


The collaboration with Traditional Owners and Elders, Aboriginal artists, creatives and language experts is evident throughout narrm ngarrgu and brings this warm and welcoming space to life. As you walk in and up the staircase, there are glowing backlit artworks depicting the seven seasons of the eastern Kulin nation, the carpet in the main library features a mapping design based on the five tribal areas of the Kulin nation, there is dual Woi-wurrung and English signage, and the corridor leading to the children’s library is lined with native animal and flora designs applied to mirror so children see themselves framed in natural landscape.


The library and family services operate over three floors and includes libraries for children overlooking the terrace and playground, adult library collections, family health services, a comprehensive creative makerspace, a reading room and event space, community meeting and co-working spaces.


I was lucky enough to chat with children's librarians, collection development librarians and people working in the makerspace, who were all thrilled to be part of this new era for Melbourne City Libraries. It's now open to the public, so take a look when you're next in town.





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