New Drysdale library connects to the past

Published: 26 September 2022

Drysdale’s town centre is getting a new centrepiece in the shape of a circular, terraced library which takes design inspiration from its history as a gathering place.

An aerial view of Boronggook Drysdale Library, which connects to the outdoor learning environmentOnce complete, the contemporary and sustainable two-storey building will boast views of the surrounding parkland, a central courtyard, and a green rooftop to attract birds.

The City of Greater Geelong worked closely with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, the Geelong Regional Library Corporation and local stakeholders to design the new building.

The new library’s name, Boronggook (Bo-rong-gook), is the traditional Wadawurrung name for the area and means ‘turf'.

Sitting atop Drysdale Hill on Wyndham Street, the site for the new library was once the gathering place for Traditional Owners. This legacy has been translated into a modern concept, with the circular design incorporating a waterhole and a terraced amphitheatre.

Cultural significance

According to a Wadawurrung representative, the library has been designed to tell the story of the cultural significance of the place to Wadawurrung People and the community.The circular design takes inspiration from its history as a gathering place.

“The library will provide stories, knowledge as a place of gathering and coming together, a hub for the surrounding areas to come to utilise the space for learning and gathering just like the Wadawurrung did for thousands of years,” a Wadawurrung spokesperson said.

“Wadawurrung places of gatherings were circles, a cultural tradition and respect where no one sits with their back to another. The rounded design commemorates the significance of Wadawurrung gatherings when inside a circle we can all see and hear each other.

“The design of the library respects the feature of the waterhole, and the rounded steps of the front represent the other four places of water connected to the area. We hope to continue the story telling throughout the inside, bringing the cultural story into the internal design and continuing to tell the story of Wadawurrung People, country and knowledge into the future.”

Community focal point

The central courtyard and amphitheatre will become a focal point of the community and key gathering place.The new build is being met with enthusiasm from the community. For Clifton Springs resident and treasurer of the Drysdale Clifton Springs Curlewis Association, Mercedes Drummond, the new venue will provide a focal point within the community.

“To me, the new library will be a place of learning and celebrating knowledge. We’ve got to stop thinking about how libraries were when we grew up.

“The new space will be vibrant and inviting. The connectedness to the community, acknowledging the current and future needs of our growing population, they’re the things that excite me.

“We were so pleased to see the design of the building will be a talking point. The more appealing a design, the more likely you keep the community engaged and proud of where they live.”

More than just books

Greater Geelong Deputy Mayor Trent Sullivan said the library will promote lifelong learning and social connection for generations to come.

“Libraries are more than just books and technology,” Deputy Mayor Sullivan said. “They importantly increase literacy and foster a love of learning, and are a safe place to meet people, attend activities and develop new skills.

“The Boronggook Drysdale Library’s design is quite striking and will become a centrepiece of the township, with connected biodiversity sweeping from the surrounding parkland, into the gathering space and up to the building’s green roof,” he added.

Boronggook Drysdale Library is backed by $1 million from the Victorian Government’s Living Libraries Infrastructure Program and delivered in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong.

It will include quiet study areas, communal spaces, a children’s area, youth space and IT room, as well as specialist bathroom and changing facilities for older children and adults with special needs that cannot use standard accessible facilities.

Construction is on track to be completed by early 2023.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where the library is located, the Wadawurrung People.