Yarra Plenty Regional Library
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2012)|
Yarra Plenty Regional Library provides library services to 3 municipalities in the northeast of Melbourne. The 8 branches and 2 state of the art mobile libraries cover an area of 983 km² including metropolitan, urban fringe and rural populations. Over half of the 306,000 people living in the region are members and it is the highest circulating library in Victoria with 3.6 million loans a year.
The Yarra Plenty Regional Library was founded in the mid 1960s, when the former City of Heidelberg agreed to provide library services to the former Shire of Eltham. Later the former Shire of Diamond Valley and the Shire of Whittlesea joined in the regional group. In 1995, following changes in local government boundaries, the new municipalities of Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea continued their support for the regional library service and Yarra Plenty was one of the first regions incorporated under Section 196 of the Victorian Local Government Act 1989.
Service delivery is provided through eight branch libraries located at Greensborough, Eltham, Ivanhoe, Lalor, Mill Park, Rosanna, Thomastown and Watsonia. Two mobile libraries provide services including a specially designed vehicle that visits institutions for those residents unable to visit a library. The service is co-ordinated from the administration unit located in the City of Whittlesea’s Civic Centre, located in South Morang. YPRL also provides computer services to Murrindindi Library Service, including full access to the library’s database.
In 2008, the Yarra Plenty Library Service completed a change over to Self Service with the RFID tagging of the entire collection and installation of self check machines. These machines allow patrons to add items to their own card, with no staff required to assist. Part of the renovations to Eltham included a self returns machine so that patrons could also return their own materials rather than having staff do it. Changing completely to Self Check Out was a pioneering move on the part of the library, being one of the first in Australia to adopt the technology.
The celebrated Eltham Library was designed by multi award-winning Melbourne architect Greg Burgess and won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ Institutional Architecture Award in 1995. The library foyer incorporates a stunning and highly functional community art gallery. It receives visitors from around Australia and the world to view its innovative architectural style. The library complex was officially opened on 22 May 1994.
The building was designed to provide a popular cultural focus for the Eltham Community. It integrates a range of activities including the library, a community meeting room, a community exhibition space and a café. Extensive remodelling and renovation took place in 2010, redesigning the no longer needed returns area into a reading corner, and adding a courtyard.
The building is located in a historically significant setting adjacent to Shillinglaw Cottage, the timber trestle railway bridge and a number of old oak and peppercorn trees. The setback, height of walls and the roof, materials and colours were chosen to complement this natural setting.
Mill Park Library
The award-winning Mill Park Library, designed by prominent Melbourne architects Oaten Stanistreet, opened in 2002 at a cost of $8 million.  The library is a highly visible landmark in the heart of the Plenty growth corridor. It is one of Victoria’s largest public libraries and the first to be built on the concept of a hybrid digital/print library.
The Mill Park Library was awarded the Victorian Engineering Excellence Award in October 2003. The judges rated the public library the best of more than ten urban and regional infrastructure projects, worth up to $10 million. They said the designers applied leading edge engineering innovations and steel to dramatic effect. It was noted that these features, coupled with inclined fascia lines and extensive tapering bronze glass panels, have produced a structure that will remain modern and functional for many years to come.
The J.W. Payne Local History Collection at Mill Park library has historic significance as a comprehensive range of primary and secondary sources that reflect major themes in the history of the City of Whittlesea, including nineteenth century settlement and rural life, local community institutions, government health and mental institutions, urban development and immigration, art and local government. The Collection also tells the story of Yan Yean, Melbourne’s first permanent water supply system.
The new Mobile Library was launched in January 2006. This state-of-the-art vehicle is one of the biggest in Australia and also one of the busiest. It has nearly 5,000 members throughout the region and lends 107,000 items per year. The vehicle’s special features include three public access PCs with Internet access via a roof-mounted satellite dish. It also has space for activities such as children’s story times. The new mobile will attend local festivals and events and has the ability to operate independently with its own generator. The attractive graphics on the vehicle feature local faces.
The new Outreach Services vehicle was launched in November 2005. The vehicle services residents at 42 locations including assisted living accommodation, retirement villages and hostels. Among the facilities offered by the new vehicle are:
- Wheelchair lift and easier general access
- Face-out shelving to display stock
- 1,500 items, predominantly large print, talking books, CDs, DVDs and magazines
There are other branches for the Yarra Plenty Regional Library.