Kings Cross Library Launch of Level 2

(6pm, Kings Cross Library, Darlinghurst Road)

Thank you, Sheona [White, library programs co-ordinator] and hello, everyone. Welcome to the new Level 2 space.

I also thank Uncle Charles for his Welcome to Country and I'm pleased to welcome tonight's speakers - the Rev Graham Long of the Wayside Chapel, and the City's Historian, Laila Ellmoos who'll talk about the classic Cross book, Aunts Up the Cross. And there's wonderful entertainment in store from pianist and composer Stu Hunter, with acclaimed local singer Tina Harrod.

That line up gives you some idea of the diversity of this magic square mile and the diverse ways people can use this library.

The library for many years was something of a moveable feast. Back in the 90's, the former South Sydney Council negotiated with the developers of the Rex to include a library and community centre there - having already approved demolition of the former Florence Bartley Library, a Sulman Award winning building, in 1997.

The library remained there for some time until 2003, when the building was converted for apartments and the library moved to a temporary shopfront.

The present site had been bought during the mayoralty of a previous mayor - either Frank Sartor or Lucy Turnbull. In past years, it has been home to Woolworths, then the ABC music department, and then to a number of film companies. The building itself is an attractive example of inter-war style, built in 1939 and is listed on Council's heritage register.

In December 2004, after a $7 million-plus program of works, we were able to re-open it as the Kings Cross Library and Neighbourhood Centre. This later expansion which we're officially opening tonight came out of our consultations with the local community on the City East Community Facilities plan, and we committed a further $1.28 million to the construction and fit-out, bringing our investment here to almost $10 million.

Level 2 has been operating since late last November and it's proving its worth as a community venue.

You'll notice there are no books on this level. Instead, it offers lounges and comfortable seating with power points for personal devices and Wi-Fi, as well as tables and chairs with power points for laptops.

There's an increased number of PCs for public use and for those who need it, an IT training room with space for 16 learners.

This floor also houses a meeting room, a function area with space for 50 people, a display area and an art hanging system with historical photographs.

We've had good feedback on the space in the couple of months it's been operating, with library users enjoying the relaxed ambience and the access to computers.

I'd like to thank our architects Brewster Hjorth and builders JCG for their terrific work, and also, of course, our City staff.

Libraries are a wonderful community resource and, with their ever-broadening scope of activities, they can also be a wonderful way of building and strengthening a sense of community.

Since I've been Mayor, we've given a lot of attention to our libraries including commissioning the award-winning Surry Hills Library, and most recently, holding a design competition for the Green Square Library and Plaza that will give us a stunning new library and public space in this fast-developing area.

I hope this refurbishment of the Kings Cross Library will help it meet the needs of this great community for many years to come. I'm pleased to welcome you all here this evening, and to officially open the new space. I hope you will enjoy it.