Library Uses

9 years ago
4 minutes

With the growing trend of apartment living, public libraries have become an increasingly sought after oasis of public space.

Keen to seek a productive space outside their home, many residents living in apartments are heading out their front door with an electronic device to seek larger communal public spaces. Whether it’s work or play luring Australians out of their home, it’s undeniable that there is an increasing number of apartment dwellers and these growing numbers are helping lead a new trend in library design.

To keep up with the growing demand for vibrant shared public space, specialist architects and urban planners are adapting public library designs to meet the growing and changing needs of consumers.

One such example is the soon to be constructed Yarraville Gardens library designed by Melbourne architecture firm ClarkeHopkinsClarke.

ClarkeHopkinsClarke has more than 50 years experience in multi-residential, education, health and urban design and has recently undertaken an ‘Eat, Drink, Read’ library analysis as part of their plans for the new Yarraville Gardens library.

Senior Associate Jordan Curran said the analysis was part of the firm’s urban planning work in the growth area – a residential market only 6km from the city and brimming with new development. 

Mr Curran has found via his work designing Yarraville Gardens library, and other libraries across regional and metropolitan areas, the trend of public library space being used by consumers to recreate, meet and or work is increasing – in part due to the increasing number of mixed-use areas emerging with a diversity of housing options.

“Creating a vibrant community is about creating spaces where many different people have the opportunity to interact, a library must meet the changing demands of people using it,” Mr Curran said.

“When designing a building CHC research identifies community uses proposed within a local government strategic plans to see where possible a partnership could be formed with councils,” Mr Curran said.

“This can be advantageous for developers as they can have a long-term secure tenant for a space within their building as well as making their residential development more desirable for purchasers who want to buy into the community. People will sacrifice space within their home if they have easy access to high quality surrounding amenity such as shops, parks and community uses,” he said.

“In any area with increased apartment dwellers community infrastructure will promote social inclusiveness which is the main objective of urban planners. Because libraries are places of learning, ClarkeHopkinsClarke design them as more than just bricks and mortar – they need to be environments which enable learning experiences,” Mr Curran said.

“For many users the enjoyment of sitting, reading and having a coffee is a major attractor to the library. There are also many advantages due to the increasing numbers of ways people need their libraries to function for them,” he said.

“Many potential library users at Yarraville Gardens will be apartment dwellers, coming from an area with a diverse housing model, but all of whom will enjoy sitting, reading and having a coffee which adds to the vibrancy of mixed-use areas, library usage is on the rise globally.”

The Yarraville Gardens library will service the growing area of Western Melbourne as part of the Maribyrnong City Council area. 

Mr Curran’s list of possible design features for a new library include:

-A clearly identifiable and sculptural entry

-Flexible community meeting rooms

-Wi-fi desks

-Tiered seating reading nooks

-A dedicated space for noisy activities or focused instruction

-Flexible reading and presentation space for maximum users

-Spaces with a focus on children’s learning  

Some inclusions to the new library interior will be co-designed by residents and the local council.


A recent Urbis report found that the growth in rents for apartments in nearby Footscray has outpaced Melbourne growth in this market over the part 10 years. Growth in rents for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments/units has been 1.2% to 2.2% p.a. greater than that for Melbourne.