The humble library card has been transformed into an after-hours key allowing accessing to Lambton Library for the city’s more than 100,000 library members.
Using technology new to Australia, Lambton Library is the city’s first to offer library members access seven days a week even when their visit is outside of staffed hours.
The Library will re-open to the public this weekend following an extensive renovation that has delivered modern and accessible facilities while also returning the building’s original heritage character to the front façade.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said enhanced community access follows the installation of OPEN+ technology, which allows library members to visit Lambton Library even when the facility is not staffed.
“We know the local community loves the nostalgia that comes with visiting Lambton’s quaint neighbourhood library, however prior to its closure during the early days of the pandemic in 2020, the facility was open just two days each week,” Cr Nelmes said.
“Thanks to an innovative new service model, we’ve transformed Lambton Library into a modern and accessible community space, which utilises specialist OPEN+ technology to welcome library members from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week.
“The improved service will allow community members to borrow and return books, use public computers
and free Wi-Fi, and access meeting spaces simply by using their library membership during the extended hours of operation.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming our community to Newcastle Libraries’ free launch events this weekend, with an official community re-opening featuring tours of the renovated space on Friday evening and a family fun day on Saturday morning.”
Saturday’s family-friendly event will offer children’s activities including story time, craft, giant games and a scavenger hunt, as well as Lambton Local History sessions.
The OPEN+ technology will enable members to use their library membership number and barcode to access Lambton Library and an onsite CCTV system will maintain the safety of patrons during accessible hours. In addition, a library staff member will be onsite Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays between 2pm and 4pm to assist members and manage the collection.
The installation of OPEN+ technology at Lambton Library is an objective of the Library Strategy 2019- 2029 and was made possible by City of Newcastle’s Smart City program, while funding from a State Library of NSW Local Priority Grant supported the internal fit-out.
During the library’s closure period, City of Newcastle also completed a restoration of the library’s front façade and entrance to the building including reinstatement of the original bullnose verandah and heritage details.
Lambton Residents Group supported and advocated for the restoration of Lambton Library and member and community historian Robert Watson said that the group is pleased to have greater access to the much-loved community facility.“Lambton Library holds great historical significance within our community and it’s fantastic to see the beautiful building’s heritage façade reflect its original style ahead of re-opening,” said Mr Watson.
“Additionally, the innovative technology will allow not only Lambton Residents Group, but all library members, to benefit from free access to a wonderful community space for meetings, work and study or just a quiet place to seek refuge with a great read.”
Lambton Library was constructed in 1887 and was initially used as the Lambton Council Chamber before being converted into a library in 1950.
Bookings for the free community celebration on Friday evening can be made by phoning Newcastle Libraries or visiting newcastle.nsw.gov.au/library.