Bass Coast Principal Library Opens To Record Crowd


Around 2,400 people turned out for the Bass Coast Principal Library Opening Celebration in Wonthaggi on Saturday – an incredible new record for libraries across the region.

The day began with a smoking ceremony by Boon Wurrung representative Steve Parker and a 'Welcome to Country' by Senior Boon Wurrung Elder, Carolyn Briggs. Ms Briggs was the first person to enter the officially opened building and she greeted library staff with the Boon Wurrung word for welcome - 'Womin djeka'.

“The celebration was fabulous, starting with a Welcome to Country, and continuing with the official opening by the Hon Ken Smith MP,” Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Neil Rankine, said.

“There was face painting, give-aways and a very special visit by Playschool’s Justine Clarke, who absolutely delighted both young and not-so-young library goers, but for many it was just an opportunity to check out the new space and borrow from the expanded library collection.

“The new Library is certainly a space the community can be proud of.”

West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation Board Chair, Cr Bob Newton, said crowd numbers at the opening was beyond expectations.

“We knew people were excited about our opening day but we absolutely were blown away by the turn out," said Cr Bob Newton.

The performance by recent Aria-award winner Justine Clarke drew the biggest crowd with an estimated 500 children queuing to get a spot.

"We had to move our whole non-fiction section to fit them in!" said Bass Coast Principal Librarian, Colin Waring.

“We were busy with book loans throughout the entire day and signed up plenty of new members too, which was fantastic to see.”

A visit from Santa and a performance by local musician Willy Golightly also drew in large numbers.

Mr Waring stressed that beyond opening day, the library would continue to be a magnet for the community.

"It doesn't stop here - we've got a raft of programs ready to go over the summer period including Lego Club, Holiday story time and a special performance in January by Carp Productions," he said.

Mr Waring also encouraged locals to think laterally about programs the library could offer and make suggestions.

"We'd love to have regular talks, art, music and games in the library, so if you have a special skill or something you'd like to see happen in the space then we'd love to hear from you.

“The library belongs to the community and we think it's vitally important that the community contribute their ideas to the space."

The Principal Library project was made possible with funding of $300,000 from the State Government’s Living Libraries Infrastructure Fund and a $200,000 contribution from Bass Coast Shire Council.

The grant funds have enabled the Bass Coast Principal Library to be developed to meet the needs of the community well into the next decade.

The Bass Coast Principal Library can be found at 23-27 Murray Street, Wonthaggi.