The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre – the Dome

Written by Jes Layton

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It’s no secret the modern community library is and has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts. There is near to no other more perfect example of this than the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, affectionately called ‘the Dome.’

The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre was erected on the site of the former library adjacent to The Geelong War Memorial and the Geelong Art Gallery in 2015. A relatively new library to the scene, the Dome has already become a much-loved addition to Geelong’s flourishing cultural precinct, and the cities architectural landscape.

Designed by the Melbourne architectural firm, ARM Architecture, the Dome gets its moniker for the unique geodesic dome constructed by 322 panels of glass reinforced concrete.

The building near-futuristic dome structure has been described by Geelong’s mayor Darryn Lyons as a “big brain,” the inspiration behind this is noted as being a nod to the domed reading rooms of world-famous public libraries, such as the Library of Congress or Victoria’s own State Library.

In something of a contemporary twist, the structure of the Geelong library is, in fact, not really a dome at all. The perfect geometry of the sphere is broken apart, almost by erosion, opening up to the nearby Johnstone Park and inviting passer-by in.

In the modern age the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre has repositioned itself as the ‘brain’ of the city.

Overall, the centre covers 6000 square metres and includes a children’s exploration and discovery zone, an entire floor dedicated to children and young people as well as a heritage centre repository which holds 120,000 print and multimedia collection items.

The brilliantly red third floor of the library dedicated to all things history is one of the more striking examples of the libraries devotion to showcasing both a digital and physical collection. This is particular true of the libraries six-metre-high Great Wall of Stories which stretched from floor to ceiling on the ground floor.

In terms of the digital, the Geelong library boasts High-end digital technology including digital way-finding kiosks, video wall, gaming machines and mobile devices, smart tables and exploratory technology including virtual reality and 3D printing.

The Geelong Library has been redesigned to meet the expectations of 21st century public library users, its uniqueness has turned it from a simple library into an actual tourist destination in Geelong, while still meeting the needs of the local residents

Contemporary and innovative, the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (GLHC) was one of four libraries worldwide to be nominated for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Public Library of the Year Award in 2016.

All five levels open to the public are beautiful, inspiring, inclusive and accessible spaces for reading, studying, discovery and fun. Future ready and open to all.

Photos by John Gollings

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