I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published November 24th 2015
Geelong's arts precinct shines with The Dome now open
The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre recently celebrated its grand opening, and it is truly a jewel in Geelong's already glittering crown. Situated in Little Malop Street, the magnificent building is affectionately known as 'The Dome', and it is a sight to behold. A stunning piece of design and architecture, the building and its facilities combine the latest technology and innovation with vibrancy and warmth, resulting in an inviting, welcoming community space for locals and visitors alike.
Overlooking the beautiful Johnstone Park, right in the heart of Geelong's Arts precinct, the project formed part of the Cultural Precinct Masterplan 2006. It has taken many years of planning, forward vision and collaborative efforts between Council, government and the Geelong Regional Library Corporation for the project to come to fruition, and boy, was it worth the wait.
The new Library and Heritage looks over the beautiful Johnstone Park
Spread over six levels, with catch-your-breath views from the open-air balcony at the very top, each floor flows easily from one to the next. There are spaces designed for families, children and young adults, for quiet reading and research, for meeting and greeting, for relaxation and reflection. Each level has been given an indigenous Wadawurrung title, inspired by the theme of that floor, and one can wander in and out of each space with the calm and comfortable ease of being among friends.
The six level building gives you stunning views from each floor
There are two entrances to the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre—one on Little Malop Street, and another through Johnstone Park, from Fenwick Street. Both lead into the open, airy Gathering Place, with its towering ceilings, striking blue accent tones, sleek modern furniture and crystal clear glass windows that let the outside in. Here you can self-check out your items you wish to borrow, become a library member, have a coffee in the café or simply flick through the newspapers, as you look out over the beautiful wooden steps—almost like a huge, multi-level patio—that constitute the Johnstone Park entrance.
The ground floor is a hub of activity on opening day.
The ground floor also includes a Mezzanine, with its Wall of Stories lining the entire length of the Mezzanine. The shelves are packed full of crisp, new, pages-barely-been-turned fiction novels from romance to murder-mystery to fantasy. And with comfy chairs and little spots to hide away and read dotted all over the library, you don't even need to wait until you get home to be transported away into another world.
Level 1 is the Reading Nest and Cave, a whole floor dedicated to children, families and young adults. A jumble of cushions lies at the top of the stairs, just made for little ones to sprawl about and cuddle up while they listen to story time. There's an activities room, tables with funky blue chairs and computers at perfect height for little eyes, and of course, books galore. Around the corner is the perfect space for young adults and teenagers to hang out—more books, comfy floor cushions the size of life rafts (I tested one out and was very afraid that I might not have been able to get up because they are THAT comfy) and even a wall of televisions hooked up to electronic gaming consoles. There is so much more to this library than just books!
The Inspiration Space is on Level 2, and its name really does say it all. With magazines, large print and audio books, cutting-edge multi media facilities as well as meeting rooms (with stunning views over the gardens), there is a little place for everyone on this level. There are rows of computers with free wi-fi (use your library card pin as the password—you will receive one when you become a member—or see library staff if you are a visitor), armchairs that you may very well dive into and never want to emerge from again, and of course, books. So many brand new, shiny, please-read-me books! From art to history to architecture to cooking, you'll find whatever it is you're looking for, and more.
Level 3 is The Vault, the Heritage Centre, where Geelong's past is on centre stage. As soon as you enter, you feel as if you're in a completely different building, with the dramatic red walls giving the entire space a feeling of opulence, of grandeur, of days gone by. The Vault includes archives from the Geelong region, local and family history, and the Heritage Reading Room. The Vault is open slightly different hours to the rest of the Library, so check the website for details before you go.
The Vault has everything you need to know about the history of Geelong and surrounds.
The Centre's administration offices are on Level 4—and oh, but a glorious place this would be to work! Surrounded by books every day, in a magnificent architecturally designed building, with the beautiful Johnstone Park right on your doorstep…marvelous. The High Ground takes up Level 5, the fabulous open space for events and functions, and is home to the balcony, where you can step outside, feel the wind on your face, and look over Corio Bay and beyond. You'll see over to the North Shore, the Giant Sky Wheel on the foreshore and all the way to the You Yangs, popping up over yonder.
Step out on to the balcony from the top level for some beautiful views.
The official opening of the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre was on Saturday 20 November 2015 to much fanfare, with activities, roving performers, tours and even reptile displays. The celebrations continue throughout the coming weeks with pop-up tech talks, baby and toddler time, Lego Club, presentations with authors and media personalities and Music at the Dome sessions. All events are free, but some do require bookings. You can book online, in person at any local library branch or by phone on (03) 4201 0500.
The fun and learning continues long after the balloons have gone down, with all sorts of programs and events for everyone.
And the fun, learning and inspiration will continue long after the cork on the opening celebrations has popped. The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (and indeed all the local libraries within the Geelong Regional Library Corporation) have an extensive events program which runs all year round, with a range of events, classes and sessions for the young and old, book lovers, tech-heads, crafty folk, and for those who may just need a bit of companionship. Geelong's libraries are for everyone, and the new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre truly is one of the city's most enjoyable, inclusive and beautiful spaces for all to explore and enjoy.