Open doors at library hub

Grand opening: Mortlake volunteers, library board members and staff and Moyne Shire Council representatives came together to celebrate the official opening of the Mortlake Community Centre and Library on Tuesday.

MEMBERS of the Mortlake community celebrated the official opening of the Mortlake Community Centre and Library earlier this week.

Moyne Shire Council, Corangamite Regional Library Corporation (CRLC) and Mortlake Community Development Committee (MCDC) representatives came together to officially open the community hub on Tuesday.

Shire mayor Mick Wolfe thanked all contributors to the project for their hard work, including shire officers and Mortlake volunteers.

“Looking after our towns and the assets in them, or helping build new infrastructure is very rewarding for all involved at council. It is, however, the spirit and drive in communities that initiate things and actually make things happen,” he said.

“A library has long been an institution in this district, but a true community hub has been long overdue.

“It is my pleasure to officially open this building and may it bring this community together for many generations to come.”

The $800,000 project included a combined library and information centre space, new office rooms housing Centrelink services, a computer bank and a multi-purpose room for private functions and other community meetings.

The State Government committed $500,000 through its Living Libraries Infrastructure program towards the project, with Moyne Shire Council allocating $250,000 and the MCDC delivering $50,000.

Cr Wolfe said the project added to a long list of recent project completions in Mortlake initially outlined as priorities, including upgrades to the town’s streetscape and a multi-purpose facility at D.C. Farran Oval.

“Today is about celebrating another exciting chapter in the development and modernisation of Mortlake,” he said.

“It is also about acknowledging the Mortlake community who have long worked for the greater good of their district and its people.”

Cr Wolfe said another benefit of the project would be a closer bond between the MCDC and the CRLC moving forward.

“The more formalised working relationship with MCDC is one that both parties are excited about and their common interest in also supporting the information centre is a credit to them,” he said.

CRLC chief executive officer Michael Scholtes spoke at the opening about the benefits the new community hub would bring to Mortlake.

“We are extremely proud to be cohabiters of this library,” he said.

“I’m sure that (librarian) Jackie Elliott and (information centre manager) Matthew Wickham are extremely pleased to have such a modern and fantastic hub to call their own.”

Mr Scholtes said having the library facilities shared with the information centre only bolstered CRLC’s belief in the importance of libraries as a comfortable stop for residents.

“We are excited this is a shared community space,” he said.

“We think there is safety in numbers.”

Marston and Kronrod Nicholas also spoke during the official opening about their mother Hephzibah Menuhin’s contribution to library facilities in the region.

She once held a ball at her ‘Terrinallum’ property and with the proceeds bought books and took them to district schools.

In 1954, the travelling school library became the Western District Children’s Library, which was officially launched at the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall in Mortlake.

MCDC president Kelvin Goodall spoke about the site’s history, which stretches back to the 1850s as Mortlake’s first post office.

He said the MCDC was “excited” to continue to work closely with the CRLC to ensure a healthy working relationship in the same space.

“As a central community hub, I believe the new facility and shared operations model will offer the opportunity to expand programmed activities and visitation hours, enlivening the centre of town and meeting the needs of the Mortlake community,” Mr Goodall said.

Bringing back memories: Marston Nicholas spoke at the official opening of the Mortlake Community Centre and Library about his mother Hephzibah, who was instrumental in encouraging reading in young people across the region.

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