Yarra Plenty Regional Library

Yarra Plenty Regional Library (YPRL) provides a public library service to the local government municipalities of the City of Banyule, Shire of Nillumbik and City of Whittlesea in the northeast of Melbourne Australia and located on the lands of the Woiworung.[1] It is an independent legal entity with an executive management team which is responsible for day-to-day operations of the organisation.[2] It is managed by the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Board made of two representatives (councillors) of the three municipalities that constitute the service. Its role is to set the policy and direction for the regional library service.[3] The library service covers an area of 988.4 km² including metropolitan, urban fringe and rural populations.[4] The organisation is administered from its Library Support Services (LSS) located at Daniher Drive, Sth Morang.YPRL also provides computer services to Murrindindi Library Service, including full access to the library's database.[5]

Service delivery is provided through nine branch libraries located at Greensborough, Eltham, Ivanhoe, Lalor, Mill Park, Rosanna, Thomastown, Watsonia and Whittlesea. Two mobile libraries provide services including a specially designed vehicle that visits institutions for those residents unable to visit a library. In 2017 there were 115,000 members constituting 31 per cent of a population of nearly 400,000 people across the three municipalities. It had 155 staff and issued 3.6 million loans that year.[6]


Library services operated for many years throughout the region, including in the old Shire offices in Heidelberg and in the town hall building at Ivanhoe before the Free Library Service Board was established. The history of public library service in the City of Heidelberg dates back to 1899.[7] As early as 1883 Whittlesea Shire residents were lobbying for a library.[8] The Heidelberg Library Association joined the Board in 1951 and the Heidelberg City Library developed.[9] Heidelberg City Library operated the first bookmobile in Victoria in 1954.[10] Heidelberg City Library became Heidelberg Regional Library in 1965 following the City of Heidelberg's agreement with the former Shire of Eltham and the Shire of Diamond Valley[11] The Shire of Eltham was represented by Councilors Charice Pelling and John Lewis.[12] In December 1976 the Shire of Whittlesea formerly became a member of the Heidelberg Regional Library Service.[13]

Yarra Plenty Regional Library was established in 1996 under the Local Government Act 1989 following changes in local government boundaries, an agreement between the new municipalities of Nillumbik Shire Council and Banyule and Whittlesea City Councils formed a Regional Library Corporation[14]

In August 2018 YPRL removed all fines from children's books.[15] On 1 July 2019 the library removed all fines from all items returned late.[16]

Response to COVID-19 PandemicEdit

On 16 March 2020 all branches were closed (including book return chutes) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.[17] From the initial lockdown period, library staff phoned library members over the age of 70. A total of 8,000 people.[18] The Project was promoted via the ABC's 7.30 with Leigh Sales.[19] Care boxes were delivered to eligible vulnerable members of the library including books, magazines, DVDs and CDs.[20] Digital downloads increased over 200%.[21] Between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, YPRL saw a combined e-audio and ebook increase of 45%.[22]

Library Management SystemEdit

In July 2020 YPRL signed a five-year deal with Civica for the provision of the Spydus LMS.[23]


Diamond Valley LibraryEdit

Diamond Valley Library is one of two libraries in the Shire of Nillumbik. It is located at Greensborough. It has a community garden which includes a no-dig garden.[24] A local food swap event takes place twice a month. The library is a member of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation which aims to help children form positive food habits for life, by embedding gardening in food education. The library has a seed library.[25] The Diamond Valley Toy Library operates out of the library.[26] It holds a local history collection as a record of the history of the community who made up the former Shire of Diamond Valley.[27]

The current building was opened on 5 May 1984. Built at a cost of $430,534 it sits beside the Nillumbik Shire Offices in Civic Drive, Greensborough. It replaced the former library which operated out of the basement of these offices, the former Shire of Diamond Valley.[28] The Library was extended and refurbished with new features added in 1993.[29]

In December 2019 Nillumbik Shire Council received $500,000 for the redevelopment of Diamond Valley Library under the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program.[30] Nillumbik Shire Council to contribute $270,000 and Yarra Plenty Regional Library $80,000.[31] The refurbished library was opened in February 2022. Improvements include a renovated glass atrium, expanded children's area, new parents' room and accessible unisex toilets, a covered outdoor deck, meeting pods, new community room and co-working and study spaces.[32]

Eltham LibraryEdit

Eltham Library

Eltham Library is one of two libraries in the Shire of Nillumbik. The building is located in a historically significant setting adjacent to Shillinglaw Cottage, the timber trestle railway bridge and a number of old oak and peppercorn trees. It is a significant heritage listed building in the Nillumbik Shire.[33] The local history collection reflects the history of the communities that made up the former Shire of Eltham from the 1840s.[34] The library foyer incorporates a community art gallery. Exhibitions are managed through the Shire of Nillumbik.[35] A sculpture of local author Alan Marshall by Marcus Skipper welcomes visitors to the library.[36] In 2020, an outdoor artwork Dreaming Mural by Simone Thompson. was produced.[37] In early 2021 a seed library was installed.[38]

The library complex was officially opened on 22 May 1994. It was designed by Melbourne architect Greg Burgess and won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects' Institutional Architecture Award in 1995.[39] The setback, height of walls and the roof, materials and colours were chosen to complement its natural setting. 14,100 mudbricks were made locally for the building.[40] An extensive re-modelling and renovation took place in 2010, adding more space with the removal of the large circulation desk turning this into a reading corner, adding more computers.[41] A new children's courtyard was also established at that time, designed by Jeavons Landscape Architects in collaboration with Greg Burgess Architects.[42]

Eltham Library was rated fifth out of seventeen best libraries for kids across Melbourne in January 2018.[43]

Ivanhoe Library 1965-2020Edit

The original Ivanhoe Library opened on 8 October 1965.[44] It featured two main floors and a mezzanine floor.[45] Architects were Leith & Bartlett Pty Ltd and the builders were Neilson & Robinson Pty Ltd, Mordiallic.[46] It was built at a cost of £7,000 and was also at that time the Regional Library headquarters.[47] State government funding for a new Ivanhoe Library was announced by the Minister for Local Government in December 2017,[48] following support for a Living Libraries Infrastructure program.[49] The library was closed on 20 March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The building was demolished in June 2020.[50]

Ivanhoe Library & Cultural HubEdit

Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub is one of three libraries in the City of Banyule. It is located at 275 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe[51] on the same site of the former library building built in 1965 it replaces. A major project to build a new Ivanhoe library and cultural hub commenced in 2019.[52] Buxton Construction were appointed as builders.[53] The Architect was Croxon Ramsay The Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub was completed in February 2021. The building includes a library, art gallery, conference and meeting spaces, maternal and child health consulting suites, informal theatrette and a cafe.[54] It has also incorporated a major redevelopment of the existing heritage listed town hall. Its value is stated as $31 million.[55] The building was nominated for a 2022 Victorian Architecture Award under the category of Public Architecture.[56]

The local history collection reflects major themes in the history of the former City of Heidelberg, including early settlement, local institutions, and twentieth century urban development.[57]

Lalor LibraryEdit

Lalor Library, May Road, Lalor

Lalor Library is one of four libraries in the City of Whittlesea. It is located in the busy shopping centre at May Road, Lalor. It has a popular toy library.[58][59]

A temporary building opened on 11 November 1976,[60] followed by the permanent building which finally opened in 1985.[61] New facilities and an extensions took place in 2003.[62] Further refurbishments in 2006 included a community art mural created for an inside wall featuring 21 butterflies, each unique, emerging from the pages of a book all made from mosaic tiles by NEAMI artists.[63][64] Further renovations took place in 2013 when the heating and cooling system was replaced with a climate control system and improvements were made to the public foyer, seating, signage and library toilets.[65]

Mill Park LibraryEdit

Mill Park Library is one of four libraries in the City of Whittlesea, located on Plenty Road, Mill Park. It opened on 23 June 2002 and was built at a cost of $6 million.[66] It was built by Melbourne architects Oaten Stanistreet and was one of Victoria's largest public libraries at the time. It was the first to be built on the concept of a hybrid digital/print library. The library was awarded the Victorian Engineering Excellence Award in October 2003.[67]

Mill Park Library

The J.W. Payne local history collection reflects major themes in the history of the municipality from the time of traditional Aboriginal occupation to the present.[68]

In 2012 Mill Park Library was the first public library in Victoria to host a digital hub serviced by the National Broadband Network.[69]

In 2019 the City of Whittlesea refurbished the Cafe area, improved the children's area, updated quiet study spaces and meeting rooms, and improved lighting and air-conditioning.[70] Further improvements included the installation of a cubby and breastfeeding nook and increase in the number of seats and tables for use. In July 2019 the library re-opened following the two-month closure and $1 million makeover.[71]

In June 2021 an upgrade was completed which included a new entry forecourt with an accessible ramp, outdoor seats and tables, fitted coloured building lights and new trees and plants. A water harvesting system was also installed. The next stage of the upgrade included the construction on an outdoor learning area and meeting space with sensory play elements and a community garden.[72]

Rosanna LibraryEdit

Side view of Rosanna Library

Rosanna Library is one of three libraries in the City of Banyule. It is located at 72 Turnham Avenue. It was opened on 15 August 1973 by the Minister for Local Government and Planning Mr Hunt. The library is located at Turnham Avenue near the corner of Douglas Street. It was built with a bluestone exterior at a cost of $140,000. In addition the City of Heidelberg had purchased the property which included a shop at the corner. This was eventually demolished and the area landscaped. The design of the layout is an open look.[73]

In December 2020 Banyule City Council entered an agreement with Woolworths who owns adjoining land. Initial concepts have been developed to show what a proposed two-story building could look like and how the spaces would be used.[74] In August 2021 the Council gave notice of its intention to sell part of the land which the library occupies to Fabcot Pty Ltd (wholly owned subsidiary of Woolworths Limited) to facilitate the development of a Woolworths supermarket, In return Fabcot will construct and deliver a new library to agreed specifications and construction cost. The new library will be a two-storey, 1,300m2 building that incorporates indoor and outdoor spaces with a basement carpark.[75] The new library is expected to open by 2024.[76]

Thomastown LibraryEdit

Thomastown Library

Thomastown Library is one of four libraries in the City of Whittlesea. The library is located beside the Thomastown Recreation & Aquatic Centre and Edgars Creek Trail and walking distance to Westgarthtown. It has a strong partnership with Thomastown Neighbourhood House which is located in the library.[77] A coffee cart opened in September 2016.[78]

The library opened in April 1993.[79] In 2005 Thomastown Library was extended to include meeting rooms, a computer room with 16 terminals, a landscaped courtyard, storage area and kitchenette and revamped children's area which was lauded as a community hub and a model for community projects across Victoria by the State Government.[80] Three art projects were also implemented at this time which included an outdoor mosaic work incorporating the themes of water, migration and Edgar's Creek, a 10-metre long curved glass entry wall and circulation desk windows featuring images of local people and places and the teenage area features images of local teenagers involved in a number of activities.[81] In early 2016 building extension works took place for a multiple purpose room and office space and office reconfiguration works to provide two maternal & child health centre[82] consulting rooms, waiting area and program room within the community hub.[83]

Watsonia LibraryEdit

Watsonia Library is one of three libraries in the City of Banyule.

It was built by the former Shire of Diamond Valley and opened in November 1988. It was designed by architect Mr Peter Hirst.[84] A renovation and extension took place in 2002 which included a new children's area, quiet study reading space, areas for accessing information technology and a community meeting area.[85] A public art installation was also commissioned by the City of Banyule. The Wings of the Waa Mojety (Crow) was installed on the library building by the artist, Andrea Tomaselli. It represents the Wurundjeri people, the native custodians of the land as well as music, and other symbols of educational and social art forms.[86] A multimedia artwork: "Unrestricted Under the Sea" was also produced and installed in front of the meeting room. The piece was a result of a partnership between YPRL, Banyule City Council and Neami, an organisation that provides a mental health support service.[87] A Japanese courtyard garden was installed in June 2012.[88] In 2015, a further refurbishment took place which included the addition of a lab bar where library users can access free Wi-Fi, new carpet, shelving and furnishings, an updated children's library, interior and exterior painting and improved access to public computers.[89] Watsonia library hosts a seed library which was installed in early 2021.[90]

Whittlesea LibraryEdit

Whittlesea Community Activity Centre Whittlesea Library

The Whittlesea Community Activity Centre and Library was officially opened on Saturday 18 October 2015. Whittlesea Library was funded by the City of Whittlesea and a grant from the Victorian State Government's Living Libraries infrastructure program. The Library is 250 sqm and supports a collection of about 19,000 items. Special features of the building include a children's outdoor reading space, a reading lounge with a gas log fire and a media area designed for teenagers[91] The Centre includes meeting rooms and the main Memorial hall which can seat up to 200 people. The hall includes four Victorian Ash Architectural Trusses spanning 13 meters long.[92]

Mobile LibraryEdit

Mobile Library, 2018

The mobile library's schedule includes stops at Epping, Doreen, Mernda, Panton Hill, St Andrews, Hurstbridge, North Warrandyte, Kangaroo Ground, Diamond Creek, Arthurs Creek, Yarrambat, West Heidelberg and Christmas Hills.[93]

The current mobile library was launched in January 2006. This vehicle transports about 10,500 items.[94] The vehicle's features included three public access PCs with Internet access via a roof-mounted satellite dish. It also has space for activities such as children's story times. The mobile attends local festivals and events and has the ability to operate independently with its own generator. The attractive graphics on the vehicle featured local faces.[95]

In early 2018 the mobile library had a considerable refurbishment, including new graphics on the side and back of the vehicle and change over of staff after the retirement of two long-term employees of YPRL.[96] In January 2019 YPRL took delivery of a 2018 Mercedes-Benz Actros 2646. It has a Euro 6 engine with 460 hp (343 kW), 6 × 4 drive line, a 12-speed automated transmission with a dual axle trailer. The entire vehicle is 19 metres long. The trailer was especially made and extends sideways to nearly the double floor space inside.[97]

Outreach ServiceEdit

A vehicle visits nursing homes, retirement home and assisted living accommodation facilities on a regular 3-week cycle. A home library service operates for housebound residents.[98]

A books on wheels program was first established out of Rosanna Library in 1977 when volunteers delivered books to housebound people.[99] In 1979 the service was expanded with the purchase of a van and employment of a library staff member to reach people who could not get to the library.[100] A new vehicle was launched in November 2005. This vehicle provides a wheelchair lift, face-out shelving to display stock and room for over 1,500 items predominantly large print, talking books, DVDs and magazines.[101]


Donnybrook Pop-up Hub Click and CollectEdit

A pop-up click and collect service was established at the City of Whittlesea's Community Centre in the Olivine estate in Donnybrook in the first quarter of 2022.[102]

Galada Community Centre Hub Click and CollectEdit

A pop-up click and collect service was established at the City of Whitltesea's Galada Community Centre in Epping in the first quarter of 2022.[103]

Hurstbridge Communityy Hub Click & Collect ServiceEdit

In September 2020 a library hub was established in the foyer of the Hurstbridge Community Hub in partnership with Nillumbik Shire Council.[104]

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit


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