Locals concerned about what $181,500 upgrade could mean for Wangi Wangi Library

CHANGES COMING: Lake Macquarie City Council has a plan to upgrade local libraries and transform them into 'community hubs'. Some Wangi Wangi locals are concerned about what that might mean. Picture: David Stewart
CHANGES COMING: Lake Macquarie City Council has a plan to upgrade local libraries and transform them into 'community hubs'. Some Wangi Wangi locals are concerned about what that might mean. Picture: David Stewart

THERE are concerns a plan to add an arts and culture studio space to the small Wangi Wangi Library would come at the expense of some books.

The change could include creation of a ''wet space'' in the library for creative arts.

Lake Macquarie City Council said $181,500 was available for the library refurbishment.

The funding comprises $116,500 from the state government's Stronger Country Communities Fund, and $65,000 from the council.

Community feedback on the proposed changes was provided to the council at recent consultation sessions.

"The refurbishment may include wet areas, durable flooring, upgraded lighting, revised shelving, plug-and-play accessibility and an enclosed all-weather verandah," a council spokesperson said.

Resident Bernadette Gill said some locals weren't impressed.

"We are the smallest library in the lake area (112 square metres) and while other libraries are being refurbished and modernised ours is being left way behind," Ms Gill said.

"To make room for the activities to be held in libraries - which are now designated 'community hubs' - we will lose even more books. In return, we will eventually get a public toilet facility and the back veranda area will be covered in to form a meeting room of 12 square metres. That's it."

Making news:

Resident Chris Langshaw welcomed the addition of a toilet at the library, and said some of the other proposed changes could have benefits for wider community use.

Some aspects of the council proposal, however, warranted further explanation and clarification, she said.

BUSY ROOM: From left, Blue Room Poets Jeanette Campbell, Jill Overton and Chris Langshaw at Wangi Wangi Library. Picture: David Stewart

BUSY ROOM: From left, Blue Room Poets Jeanette Campbell, Jill Overton and Chris Langshaw at Wangi Wangi Library. Picture: David Stewart

Among them was the council's plan for more volunteers to work in libraries; whether some library-related furniture including book shelves would need to be shifted or removed to facilitate the proposed new uses of the building; and how a proposed 24-hour service and access option would work.

"The best option, considering the proportion of funds being spent on Wangi - which has the same use of facilities per capita as Morisset which has a huge catchment area - is that two-thirds of the back wall should be pushed out onto the deck space and enclosed, thereby giving a more usable space and facilities for everyone," Ms Langshaw said.

Council said locals could provide further feedback on the proposal when a draft design for the library was developed.

That feedback would be reported back to council as part of the adoption process. A design brief for the refurbishment would be created once the Lake Mac Libraries Strategic Business Plan was adopted by council, the spokesperson said.

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