Benalla’s library finds home at last

AFTER 40 years in a “temporary” location, Benalla’s library will finally get a permanent home.

Construction on the $1.7 million Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop Learning Centre will begin in the new year, after Benalla council this week awarded the project tender to local company Contract Control Services.

The state-of-the-art building will feature a mix of quiet or private work areas, more space for community groups, and tripling of public internet access.

Mayor Barbara Alexander said the project moving ahead — funded in partnership by the federal, state and local governments — meant a great deal to residents.

The Nunn Street location was getting to be “very tight” for space, particularly when programs such as children’s storytime were running at the same time there were many other patrons.

“It’s been 40 years in a temporary location, so it will be absolutely wonderful,” she said.

“We’ve got 4800 registered members which is pretty good, particularly considering names drop off the register if they don’t use it for a while, so we have a lot of members who have been very patient with us.”

Cr Alexander said a government report had recently indicated how vital libraries still were to communities — and that Benalla’s plan was ticking all the boxes.

“They are such an independent, accessible place for all community members to access information and learn, or have quiet places where people can participate in groups or gatherings,” she said.

It marks the start of a new era for Benalla’s civic services, with the library to be built on the site of the current civic centre in Fawckner Drive.

The council offices are being relocated to the new customer service centre in Bridge Street in February, and the council to the former shire offices mid-year.

Cr Alexander said 20 new jobs would be created, which would then increase education and employment opportunities across the whole city.

“It (the tenderer) is a local company, which is what we always look for when we tender any new project,” she said.

“These jobs will be in town, people will be earning and hopefully spending in town, which can only be good news for Benalla.”

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