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Spring as sprung and while enjoying my morning walk around Wentworth Park and the waterfront boardwalk, my mind drifted to the various opportunities that have been in the forefront lately for the redevelopment of downtown Sydney.
One such project that has certainly been on the forefront of my mind has been the new regional library.
I grew up in Sydney and an important part of my upbringing was the library. I remember the excitement of getting my new library card and that moment was passed down to my children. It’s about this time of year that my children started to get excited about the prospect of summer and a big part of that was the summer reading program offered by the library - in particular the prizes for a job well done at the end of the summer.
When my children were in grades 4 and 6, we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a residential requirement for my husband’s employment in the energy industry. Following that posting, we lived in Houston, Texas and Copenhagen, Denmark. Upon arrival in our new host countries, we sought out the many public spaces those cities had to offer including libraries. They were an important gateway to those various communities. Our local James McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney is no exception to this.
Perhaps the most impressive of all the libraries I experienced was the Royal Danish Library, affectionately known as “The Black Diamond,” in Copenhagen. Within those walls I experienced wonderful lectures by dignitaries such as Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and literary giants like Salman Rushdie. I also enjoyed amazing fringe jazz performances and thought-provoking art exhibitions.
All of this was in addition to the literary titles available and an online connection to many community events. The Black Diamond is a hub of activity for the Danish community and certainly a link to the world.
Many would say how can we possibly translate the ambitious programs and facilities of The Black Diamond into the specifications for our new local library here in Sydney? But I say “why not?” To coin another phrase “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Today’s modern libraries are so much more than a house for books. The connectivity they offer communities both digitally and in person are essential to the health and well-being of all, most importantly those marginalized by poverty and age. They are a gateway to our community for those new to the area. Last but certainly not least is the link our children enjoy to the world of literature and critical thinking through our public library.
So as I continued along my morning walk, I developed a new resolve to support the many exciting projects in the future for our downtown. Leading those projects is the proposal for a new modern regional library in Sydney. It will be a flagship for a bright future.