Mill Park Library is a highly visible landmark, right in the heart of the Plenty growth corridor. It was designed by prominent Melbourne architects Oaten Stanistreet, and built at a cost of $8 million. The design was visually stunning, and 10 years later it is still eye-catching. The building’s tinted glass, curved roof, columns and unique shape certainly attract attention, and compel people to look closer. Its cement-clad iron pillars angle towards the sky, and support an overhang at the western entrance, to shade the building from the afternoon sun. Inside, the ducts are concealed in internal columns. The columns bounce light off the ceiling onto the open expanses below, and panes of tinted glass filter sunlight coming into the building.
It was the first library in Victoria to take a realistic look into a digital future, as it was built on the concept of a hybrid digital/print library. The library opened in 2002, as one of Victoria’s largest public libraries, and it still is one of the largest in the state. Among its many excellent features are a spacious children’s library, a fully equipped training room with 12 PCs and a quiet reading area. Its many programs include Italian bilingual storytimes and regular creative writing classes. In addition, the J W Payne Local History Collection has considerable historic significance. It contains a comprehensive range of primary and secondary sources, reflecting major themes in the history of the City of Whittlesea. The themes include records of nineteenth century settlement and rural life, local community institutions, government health and mental institutions, urban development and immigration, art and local government. The collection also tells the story of Yan Yean, Melbourne’s first permanent water supply system.
In October 2003, the library was awarded the Victorian Engineering Excellence Award. The library was rated the best of more than 10 urban and regional infrastructure projects, costing up to $10 million. The Library opened on 23 June 2002. It was possibly the busiest day ever in an Australian public library, because more than 5,000 people came to have a look at the new library. Ten years later, the library now has more than half a million loans a year, it has 200,000 visits, and more than 15,000 people attend activities.