The 21st Century Learning Hub: Lessons from a joint use school and community library project in regional Australia

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Australia wide Governments are searching for more effective and efficient use of public infrastructure. While shared use of school and community sports facilities and halls is relatively common in NSW, it is only recently that joint use projects have been promoted in that State. Joint use projects open a myriad of learning opportunities for a community. There are few places of public infrastructure that represent the learning culture and pulse of a school or community like a library. For communities the information they contain, the events hosted, and the spaces for hire are intrinsically tied to the culture of the local community. In secondary schools Libraries are at the heart of learning. Libraries are places that students inevitably gravitate to as a space for collaborative project work, social interaction, meetings and events. In regional towns the roles of both are magnified. These different library aspirations both complement and compete while opening opportunities for use of a wide variety of school learning facilities by the community and re-integrating school with community. This case study demonstrates a successful merging of previously separate community, school, cultural, health, wellbeing and tertiary facilities within a new hub in the regional centre of Young, NSW.  This paper describes the collaboration between state and local government, architects, educators and community representatives. It details the conception of the facility from within the community, the multiple stakeholders and policies involved and the architectural response to a complex brief, a multilayered historical site and a diverse cultural context.

Keywords: joint use, library, community hub, community learning facility

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