Monday, 1 December 2008

Narre Warren Library



Narre Warren Library, at Fountain Gate, under construction, 1992.
Click on the photographs to enlarge them.

If you visit the Narre Warren Library you will know that it has recently been refurbished with new carpet and new paint. The Library was opened on its present site on November 21st 1992, by the Governor of Victoria, Richard McGarvie. When it opened it had a book stock of 30,000 and the same space now houses around 90,000 items. The building was designed by the Architectural firm of Lines Macfarlane and Marshall and was constructed by the company J.P Cordukes Pty Ltd whose tender for the building construction was $1,266,418.00.

The current Library replaced the previous library in Malcolm Court, which had opened on March 7th, 1978 (pictured left in 1982). Library services had been provided to the Narre Warren Community before this time by the Nare Warren Railway Station Mechanics' Institute. In the nineteenth century the term ‘mechanic’ meant artisan or working man. The Mechanics’ Institute movement began in 1800 when Dr George Birkbeck of the Andersonian Institute in Scotland gave a series of lectures to local mechanics. They led to the formation of the Edinburgh School of Arts (1821) and the London Mechanics’ Institute (1823). The movement spread quickly throughout the British Empire.The first Victorian Mechanics’ Institute was the Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute established in 1839 and renamed The Melbourne Athenaeum in 1873, which continues to operate in its original building in Collins Street. Over a thousand were built in Victoria and 562 remain today including the Narre Warren Railway Station Mechanics' Institute, which was opened on November 9 1891, on land donated by Sidney Webb.

It had Railway Station added to it's name to distinguish it from the Mechanics' Institute at Narre Warren North. The building was used for lectures, concerts, Balls, billiards, and meetings. It also housed a subscription lending library which initailly was open 3.00pm to 4.00pm on Saturdays and 4.00pm to 5.00pm on Tuesdays. In 1898 there were 990 books in the Library and this had grown to over 2,000 in 1905. The Library ceased operation in 1941, when the books and the shelving were sold. The buidling itself continues to play an important role in the Community life of Narre Warren.

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