President of the Byron Bay Friends of the Library Bob Levett, with group members (from left) Evelyn Wright, Beryl Main, Jay Pearse and Ruth Menzies, celebrate the good news.
President of the Byron Bay Friends of the Library Bob Levett, with group members (from left) Evelyn Wright, Beryl Main, Jay Pearse and Ruth Menzies, celebrate the good news.

Byron library tender ends 20-year battle

A BIG day for Byron Bay.

That’s how president of the Byron Bay Friends of the Library Bob Levett has described news that Byron Shire Council had accepted a tender to build a new library, which when completed will cost an estimated $5.6 million.

The tender, from Badge Constructions (Qld) Pty Ltd for $3.78 million (building only), was unanimously accepted at last week’s council meeting.

The news ends a 20-year battle by the Friends of the Library to have a new library built in the town on land on the corner of Lawson and Middleton streets.

“I am absolutely ecstatic,” Mr Levett said last week.

“We have battled, campaigned and fundraised since 1991 and now finally we are going to see the new library come to fruition.

“A lot of people have been involved in the fight.”

Eighty-five-year-old Evelyn Wright, a member of the Friends of the Library for 15 years, said she hoped to see the new library built before she died.

The library will measure about 1280sqm and will provide a lifelong learning centre and a place to display and celebrate the talent of artists and craftspeople within the shire.

It will also house a section for Indigenous research and archival material in recognition of the Arakwal people and their assistance in making available the land for the library as well a dedicated children’s area, study room, disabled access and more.

With sustainable features on energy, water and building materials, the library design will provide the building with a five-star rating.

The Friends of the Library has raised about $70,000 during the past 20 years to help equip the new library, and at last week’s Byron Bay Writers’ Festival the group received $1000 for winning the Friends of the Libraries Colin Watson award for advocacy.

‘Happy’

 A raffle at the festival also netted the group about $4000 – all of which will go towards the new library.

Based in Brisbane, the award-winning Badge Constructions will take possession of the site on Monday, September 5, and work will start soon after.

Byron Mayor Jan Barham said there would be a lot of people who would be happy at the announcement of the tender being awarded.

“After many long years of waiting for a new library after the loss of the previous library associated with the old council chambers in Byron Bay in 1997, this important community project is about to start,” she said.

“The library represents an investment and commitment to the future wellbeing of our community, supporting lifelong learning, cultural respect and recognition and environmental principles.

“I am very pleased that we have finally reached this significant point and thank all those who maintained their enthusiasm for the project, particularly the Friends of the Library and the Arakwal people and the many council committee members over the years.

“I also want to acknowledge former councillor Jenny Coman, who was on the initial library committee and has maintained her support to this day.”

Cr Barham said the commitment, support and patience from the Byron Bay Friends of the Library had been integral in keeping the project at the forefront of council’s agenda.


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