Books and compost – the two seem an unlikely pairing. In Double Bay, however, they harmoniously coexist. Paying homage to the former St Brigid’s Library and Blackburn Gardens, the design concept behind the new Double Bay Library was to have a garden within a library. The result is a beautiful greenhouse-style sanctuary in which you can read a book and while away an afternoon.
Public libraries have not always been a place to linger. Fluorescent lighting, mouldy carpet and sterile tables and chairs have often made our visits brief. Few libraries can compete with the experience of a bookshop, but this makeover offers a refreshing change. “The new Double Bay Library is more than just books,” says Woollahra mayor Toni Zeltzer.
Having officially opened to the public on Saturday May 28, the new library has replaced the Woollahra Library at Redleaf.
With three floors, it’s five times larger than the previous site. The new library exists as a series of organic-shaped voids, creating a connected and open space. Its purpose as a cultural meeting point is reflected in everything from the library’s centrepiece staircase, the forum, to the plush green curved seating. The staircase also serves as a seating area and theatrette for film screenings. It funnels down to the community floor, where an oval of greenery gives the impression of a suburban rainforest.
As you ascend the floors, the age of the patrons rises, too, and the ambience changes. “We wanted to create a next-generation space to help our community connect, learn and feel inspired,” says Zeltzer. The first floor is all about the little ones, home to the Junior Library, and arts and crafts areas. The former Woollahra Library’s Children’s Rhyme Time and Story Time will live on here. The interactive lily-pad floor projections are the highlight of this floor.
The second and third floors are designed to be quieter, with cosy reading corners and study spaces. The majority of the book collection is housed on the second floor, as well as a dedicated young-adult zone. On the top floor sits the local-history collection and a fireside reading nook. What better spot is there to curl up on a wintry afternoon?