Shellharbour City Library won the ALIA Public Library Design Award 2019 at the Australian Library and Information Association’s annual awards on 14 March 2019.

“We are happy to see Shellharbour City Library win this ALIA award because we know they are very happy with their building. They were an enthusiastic client that instilled great ideas that we were able to transform into an award-winning design.” – Richard Does, DesignInc Director.

Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, presented the awards at the 2019 Library Design Awards Conference, as part of the Asia-Pacific Architecture Forum at the State Library of Queensland. The winners represent some of the best redesigned and newly built libraries in from July 2016 through to June 2018. A national panel of experts from library and design industries judged the 16 submissions in three categories: School Libraries, Public Libraries, and Academic Libraries, as well as a Members’ Choice Award decided by ALIA Members. The judging panel described Shellharbour City Library as having “a long, elegant and sophisticated façade with a design that adheres to a thoroughly confident and well-researched library strategy.”


The library is the centrepiece of the new Shellharbour Civic Centre, designed by DesignInc in collaboration with Lacoste + Stevenson. Designed with user engagement and inspired by the local landscape, the centre is an inviting facility that serves as a reflection of the community who use it.


The 2000-square-metre library features contemporary collection areas, an array of comfortable and colourful seating for reading, studying or lounging, a children’s zone, spectacular balcony, technology access and meeting and program rooms. The community foyer links the library to the café, auditorium and museum, and the council’s customer service area. The building looks out to the Civic Square, designed by Turf Design Studio, with artwork integrated throughout the building and landscape.


“The 2019 ALIA Library Design Awards show, once again, that modern library buildings in Australia are world class. We are fortunate in this country to have forward-thinking library leaders, imaginative architects, and councils, universities and school management bodies committed to innovative design,” said ALIA CEO, Sue McKerracher. “This results in irresistible buildings that tempt people inside to discover the wonders of library collections, creative spaces, and the programs and services that help make a positive difference to people’s lives and study.”

This positive difference is alive and well in Shellharbour City Library, as Margie Kirkness, Manager Libraries & Museum, Shellharbour City Council, wrote to DesignInc:

“Every day I work here I find myself struck with the extraordinary architecture and amazing ambience of City Library. This is an experience shared by members of my team. It doesn’t wear off. The public also respond to the surroundings in an extremely positive way and often articulate this to us. From my perspective the people using the library ‘look comfortable’ in it. Of course, you know that’s what great architecture is about. So, thank you.”

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Congratulations again to Shellharbour City Council and the staff of Shellharbour City Library. DesignInc is currently working with a similar team on a new library and civic building at #5 Parramatta Square and look forward to helping make a positive difference to the community.


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