First published with The Courier –

A $1.85 million upgrade to Sebastopol Library will create a new community hub by early 2018.

One of Ballarat Council’s big community projects for 2017 is nearing the end of its design stage with works due to start within months.

South Ward Councillor Jim Rinaldi said Sebastopol is a growing community with a need for facilities to cater for all people.

He said the existing library was inadequate and had run out of space.

“The community has grown and the library needs to grow too,” he said.

Library floor space and opening hours will be increased.

The new precinct will see upgraded toilets moved inside, a young adult space, new furniture, and an advanced technology room at the projects completion.

“Sebastopol was neglected for many years,” Cr Rinaldi said.

“It’s time to bring it to alignment with other areas in the city,” he said.

A Maternal and Child Health Centre, outdoor recreation space, and a Vietnam Veterans meeting space were approved as part of the plans and will be completed within three years.

“The centre will welcome people of all ages and backgrounds and provide a hub for the community,” Cr Rinaldi said.

Sebastopol resident Terry Parker visits the library about once a week.

“It’s an extremely important place for the community,” Mr Parker said.

“Ever since I was a child I’ve used libraries. That is where I get my knowledge from and I encourage young people to start using libraries too,” he said.

South Ward Councillor Des Hudson said there has been an increased usage of libraries across the city.

“The Sebastopol library has a great patronage for the hours it is open.” he said.

Cr Hudson said construction works are expected to begin in May.

“There have been a number of consultations with the community,” he said.

“By the time 2018 comes around there will be a revamped Sebastopol Library for the immediate community as well as surrounding communities of Mt Helen and Buninyong,” Cr Hudson said.

Sebastopol resident Dallas Morales said it will be great to have longer opening hours at the library.

“Sometimes on Friday you want a book and you forget they’re not open,” she said.

“I hope the upgrade will draw more people,” Ms Morales said.

The City of Ballarat provided $1.25 million alongside a State Government contribution of $600,000 for the upgrade.