HAPPY: Members of Friends of the Library celebrate the start of work on a new Byron Bay Library.
HAPPY: Members of Friends of the Library celebrate the start of work on a new Byron Bay Library. Gary Chigwidden

Library friends celebrate

IT'S been on ice for a long time, but members of the Byron Bay Friends of the Library were finally able to pop the champagne corks last week to celebrate a start on the long-awaited new $3.75m town library.

They gathered at Bangalow's Heritage House Tea Room last Wednesday, the day after the first sod was turned on the Sandhills Estate site by Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham, ending a 20-year battle.

As well as celebrating the start of work, they also paid homage to all those in the community who had worked over the years to get a new library, particularly Peg Gloor, Jean Nicholson and Jules Pearse.

"I am lucky to be here to see this thing happening," said Bette Hart, 88, a member of Byron Bay Friends of the Library for 17 years.

"I hope I am lucky enough to be here next year to see it finished.

Her thoughts were echoed by other long-time members, Eve Wright, 85 and Hesther Maughan, 90, who said it was the "culmination of a dream".

Friends spokesman Bob Levett said depending on weather, it was hoped building would be completed by April or May next year.

"It's just the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people," he said.

"The support from the mayor and the council has been very strong and the generosity of the Arakwal people to make the land available should be acknowledged."

Mr Levett said the group had raised $74,000 over the years, including rattling the bucket at The Rails, which would go towards the new library.

Mr Levett said that the group would speak to library staff to see how the money could be best spent "to make the library a better place".

Cr Barham said the new library would become a lifelong learning centre and would feature a dedicated exhibition area to display and celebrate the talent of artists and craftspeople in the shire.


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