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Newcastle’s Digital Library hailed a success as it celebrates first birthday

It appears that Newcastle has taken to the city’s Digital Library, with more than 59,000 Novocastrians flocking to the high-tech facility in its first year of operation.

The library, located in the new council admin building on Stewart Avenue, opened its doors in September 2020 and City of Newcastle (CoN) Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said COVID-19 had highlighted the need for such a facility with parents and children having to adapt to working and learning from home.

“In this highly digital age it’s more important than ever for our community to have access to the tools required to enhance their skills and equip themselves with a greater understanding of technology,” Cr Nelmes said.  

“The Digital Library offers a community-based, educational environment where physical collections are complemented by a diverse range of technology-based library experiences.”

Cr Nelmes added that the library had hit the ground running in 2020, hosting school excursions, digital storytelling workshops, delivered in partnership with Compass Housing’s Grow a Star Project, and school holiday virtual reality, robotics and coding workshops.

“Online literacy programs were also offered for seniors to navigate the Newcastle Library app, and events were held to help over 50s explore new technologies as part of University of the Third Age’s 30th-anniversary celebrations,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The Digital Library is successfully helping people bridge the digital divide through a range of unique programs and services, which are improving digital literacy and promoting digital inclusion for people of all ages.” 

The digital library offers a range of state-of-the-art tech including a podcasting studio, an interactive digital wall that tells stories of Newcastle suburbs as well as various live streams and other learning materials.

The technological whizbangery doesn’t end there, either, with the library also featuring an industrial 3D printer, a programable robot named Pepper and the pièce de résistance – the unique digital media Magic Box.

The Magic Box provides a hands-free way of reading more than 400,000 tomes in the City’s Heritage Collections including around 1500 rare books.

All Newcastle Libraries including the Digital Library remain closed in line with NSW Government advice. While the libraries are closed, members can access the eLibrary or Library 2U delivery service here.