During the COVID lockdown, Manly Library was transformed into a brighter, more open community space. The old wall, children's area amphitheatre and service desk were removed so the whole ground floor area would benefit from the Market Place windows.
The children's section has been enlarged and moved to the back of the library, and now includes a new separate room for Story Time. While it is a good outcome for everyone, many parents have been upset by the loss of the much-loved amphitheatre area. Their angst has been made worse by poor communication around the change. As well COVID-related restrictions have stopped colourful kid-friendly furniture being installed, meaning the new area still lacks a bit of colour.
The images below are different views across the new children's section. There's lots of space for prams, tables, craftwork etc, especially as the new book shelves are all on wheels and can be easily moved as required. Bright artworks will be hung on the long back wall in the middle pic. The bottom pic shows natural light coming in from a large window sky light. You can also see the entrance to the new Story Time/meeting room.
The extra space means that the collection of children's non-fiction books can now be in the same area as kid's fiction and picture books. Non-fiction used to be upstairs but now that it's been moved, the books are being borrowed much more often. (60% more kid's non-fiction books borrowed in July, compared to usual monthly averages.) As well, there are cute "cubby seats" where parents and kids can sit together, and the new shelving means kid's books are pretty much now all at child-friendly heights.
Story Time was incredibly popular in the old Amphitheatre and it will be back just as soon as pandemic restrictions are eased. In future, stories will be told in the former ground-floor meeting room, which has been soundproofed so kids can jump, dance, clap and sing without disturbing other library users. The room is linked through an internal door to the new children's area, and the council is exploring options such as glass doors to provide more natural light.
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Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.