Build it and they will come. A line from the silver screen neatly summarises a spectacular first year of activities which saw more than 400,000 people visit the Toowoomba City Library and Civic Square.
Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) today marked the first anniversary of the community facility with project partners, volunteers and staff.
Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said the complex marked an important step in the revitalisation and ongoing transformation of Toowoomba’s CBD.
“This magnificent building and the rejuvenated public space are vital components of TRC’s City Centre Master Plan,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Apart from being a beacon of fun and learning, it represents a spectacular book-end in Council’s visionary plan to rejuvenate and position the CBD for many years into the future.
“We are undergoing a period of tremendous renewal and Council is leading that charge to create a fresh and vibrant city heart.
“We want to create an inviting, thriving inner city that reflects our unique heritage and provides a focal point for people to live, play and invest.
“This vision continues to evolve. The eastern end of the Civic Square is part of the overall Master Plan. In coming months the renovated City Hall Theatre and annexe will open.
“These facilities are for the use and enjoyment of residents and visitors today and for generations into the future.
“Reaching this point has required excellence from many people and organisations. Thank you to every one of you.
“Big projects take a lot of work from the concept design stage right through to hosting daily events and functions.
“Thank you to design architects James Cubitt Architects and Peddle Thorpe Architects.
“Hutchinson Builders, led by area manager Rob Weymouth, oversaw construction and the involvement of all sub-contractors.
“It’s worth noting that 76% of suppliers used on this project were local companies with more than $14 million dollars of sub-contracts awarded to local contractors.
“Libraries always have been community spaces and even in the changing technological world there is a place for a modern library that is responsive to today’s needs.
“Residents can join free technology courses at the Digital Hub, join or help at English language and other education classes, research our history at the Local History Library or browse or borrow the resources available.
“In today’s world, Library members can download resources from home or on the run or use the free public wi-fi around the Civic Square.
“Our Home Library Service visits eligible people who can not visit the Library. Late last year it celebrated its 30th year of service delivery.
“For a one-year-old, it has delivered everything it promised and continues to offer first-rate facilities for residents to use and enjoy every day.”
TRC Library and Cultural Service portfolio leader Cr Joe Ramia said attendance figures for the first year were astounding.
“Council is proud to boast that this one-year-old is a super-achiever,” Cr Ramia said.
“Around 402,500 people in total have visited the Toowoomba City Library, the community meeting rooms on the top floor and out in the Civic Square.”
These figures include:
• Around 35,000 people have visited the community meeting rooms
• Around 360,500 people have visited the Toowoomba City Library
• More than 7000 people have been to events across the entire precinct – involving the Civic Square in particular
Some of the more popular events have been:
• Star Wars Day – more than 5600 visitors
• Comic Con – more than 1700 visitors
Plus major community events such as the Nihon Matsuri Japanese Festival (marking ties with our Sister City Takatsuki); City Heart Christmas Markets; Multicultural Walk Together Day, community markets and other civic functions.
“The chance to build major civic assets doesn’t come along often. Starting with a blank page gave Council the best chance to plan and construct a building of stature that will service our residents well into the future,” Cr Ramia said.
“Importantly, the interior layout has delivered a modern facility that caters to many different community needs.
“Modern libraries are bright, engaging places with spaces for storytime sessions for children, meeting rooms, computers that are free to use and access to printed and online resources. They have something for everyone.
“This 21st Century facility allows people to conduct business, use resources for education and leisure activities and meet friends or colleagues in an appealing and functional area.
“Mostly, Council wanted a building, rooms and spaces that would be well used. Today, we can say that vison has been realised, but there is plenty more to come.
“None of this would be possible without the vison, flair and hard work of many people. This includes many different branches in Council and volunteers from the Friends of the Library, Home Library Service and others who help at various classes at the Library.
“The Community Venues staff keep the rooms and activities on the top floor running efficiently.
“Rarely is there a day without several community groups enjoying their activity or meeting here.
“Council regularly uses the facilities for public info sessions or activities or for staff training or meetings.
“If you haven’t been to the Library, meeting rooms or the Civic Square it’s high time to pop in for a visit; you will be pleasantly surprised.”
First year of operation by the numbers:
Community Venues (Level 3 Toowoomba Library Building): Total visitors – about 35,000
2115 - bookings by community groups and other organisations from March 2016 – Jan 2017.
Toowoomba City Library (level 2)
Total visits in past year: 360,500 people
Digital Hub and Tech Savvy Seniors programs attendees: 1,544
Family, community and kids events attendees: 12, 504
Special needs program attendees: 221
Multicultural program attendees: 802
Home Library Service: last year celebrated 30 years of the Home Library Service. Coordinated by the Library and delivered by 35 volunteers the service delivered over 14,000 books, 1,904 DVDs, nearly 1,600 talking books and over 500 music CDs to o 161 customers in their own homes.
Friends of the Library is nearly 90 members strong this year (their 19th year of incorporation) and they donated nearly $14,000 to City Library projects in 2016
Whole of precinct (level 2, level 3, civic green)
Outdoor events: thousands of people into the precinct.
For Nihon Matsuri Japanese Festival, City Heart Christmas Markets, Multicultural Walk Together day, Star Wars Day, Comic Con, family Fun days with activation of the Civic Space,
2017 is expected to be even bigger with whole of precinct events:
• National Youth Week
• Harry Potter Day in April 2017,
• Comic Con 2017
• Star Wars 2017
Caption: Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio (centre) cuts the birthday cake with Cr Joe Ramia and TRC Acting Manager of Libraries and Cultural Services Carmel Stuart at today’s first anniversary celebrations to thank all project contractors and staff for their work.