Last week I decided to check out the new Docklands library. As is my custom, I open up my jaunts to others who want to come along and experience it too through Third Place. Why go alone when you can talk, share and go through the experience with others and see it from different perspectives?
The Library at the Dock at Victor Harbour was opened on 31 May this year and serves as a community hub for the growing area of residents and office workers in the area. As well as a fabulous range of NEW books (read, never been thumbed, dog eared, scribbled in or coffee stained), there is a recording studio, creative editing suites, community spaces for people to gather, learn and study, a recreation area, a cafe and a performance venue that holds up to 120 people. On the first floor, there are stunning views of the harbour and a gallery and exhibition space that celebrates Docklands heritage and history.
The library is touted to be Melbourne’s most sustainable civic landmark and the only public building with a 6 star energy rating.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first entered the library. In all honesty, I was expecting something along the lines of a typical local suburban library but instead it was grander! I was impressed by the space, the feel, the layout and the different spaces.
I wandered about on the ground floor that had rows of shelves for fiction books and little nooks and crannies filled with comfortable chairs and tables. There was a separate area for children that had a big screen, and a circular lounge they could hide away with their books.
With the sunlight streaming in from the high windows, what struck me was the comfortable nature of the space and the silence. I had assumed that the huge space would echo and reverberate with the quiet chatter of people but you couldn’t hear them. Instead, I felt that I was the only one making noise walking up and down the aisles with my squeaky boots. I had to resort to walking on my heels as any pressure on the sole of my shoes let out a loud squeaks which resulted in receiving some strange looks from the people who were deep in concentration.
On the day, I grabbed a coffee from the cafe and sat at the large bench that had an interactive display table where you could tap away and search catalogues. Mindful of not spilling my coffee all over the table, I looked around me and saw a novel use for an old public telephone display.
“Sadly, it’s come to this”, I naively thought. “It sits there alone – a reminder of a bygone era PMP (pre-mobile phones). The public telephone used as some sort of gimmicky artwork chuckling at how old fashioned it looks. Seriously, when was the last time we USED these things?”
Oh how wrong I was! The phone booth actually is a computer! You pick up the handset and you dial for the author’s story you want to hear. Afterwards you can say your own story and over time, it becomes a live archive! Check out this short video…it’s a brilliant concept!
After walking up and down the stairs and going through all the various sections sussing out for the best location to sit, on the first floor near the gallery space were benches that overlooked the yachts on the harbour waterfront. This was where I was going to sit all day. I’m sure the patrons breathed a sigh of relief when I sat down as it meant they didn’t have to hear my squeaky boots traipsing across the floorboards.
If anyone is looking for a place to work and learn and who happens to be in town, then I’d recommend the Library at the Dock. It’s going to be the place where I will come to if I need to go to my own “Third Place”. Somewhere where I need to focus, write and reflect. For me (and the type of work that I do), I’ll be using this space as one where I can “hide away” from the world but also take breaks and be able to enjoy a walk along the waterfront; flick through a magazine; enjoy a latte from the cafe or simply hear a story!
More references and photos:
- The Docklands Library Home Page
- Docklands Library Facebook Page