Civic spaces – including libraries – have seen a marked shift over the last few decades. The emergence of digital technologies and networked access to information / communities has led to a transformation of these spaces. Gone are the silent booths and endless stacks of books and journals in the local library – instead, ‘community hubs’ are digitally enabled environments offering a range of bright and engaging spaces and both digital and physical facilities where community connection, research, learning, expression are encouraged.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen further shifts in the role of libraries. While most physical spaces are temporarily closed, the online resources and facilities hosted by libraries are even more highly valued: journals, image databases, e-books, community forums, streaming services, learning platforms and business tools continue to be available online. And as we emerge from social distancing restrictions over the coming months and years, the physical realities of civic spaces will again be re-calibrated. At DesignInc, we are interested to see what this means for community behaviour and social protocols. We know design will be key to ensuring physical spaces provide safe and connected access to services, facilities and resources.

Our expertise and experience in bringing innovative design solutions to civic hubs includes Shellharbour Civic Hub, Parramatta Civic Centre (both in collaboration with Lacoste + Stevenson) and Burwood library.

We are currently working with Burwood Council on a range of projects, including the transformation of the library into a multi-faceted community hub. The upgraded facilities will offer a bigger and better-equipped library experience that better meets the needs of surrounding community, and connects people with opportunities, information and services at a local and global scale. 

The design includes a wide range of new spaces including multiple community function / meeting rooms, a maker space, a quiet study zone, children’s zones, learning labs, lounge areas, acoustically treated music suites and indoor gardens. Facilities will include more than 50,000 library items including books, CDs, DVDs, magazines and more. Digital capabilities include wi-fi throughout, two interactive digital galleries, increased BYOD ports, a laptop bench and touchscreen catalogues.

The new facility is currently under construction, due for completion in the coming months.

Burwood Community Library 1

For more information, including how to access services and online facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, see the Burwood Library website. Some other fantastic portals include the National Library of Australia, the State Library of NSW, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the National Film and Sound Archive.