Libraries of the future are actually here – now!

The outside of the Exchange in Darling Square (Photo: Brianna O'Rourke)

Boasting an ideas lab where customers can attend a variety of workshops including coding, robotics, virtual reality and school holiday maker sessions, Sydney’s latest library is a far cry from the dusty old buildings of the past.

Located across two floors of the innovative nest-like Exchange at the south end of Darling Harbour and designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma, it also features a market hall, rooftop bar, restaurant and childcare centre.

The lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore described it as a ‘spiralling light-filled hive, wrapped in 20 kilometres of sustainably sourced timber’.

The six-storey Exchange is at the centre of the new neighbourhood of Darling Square between Haymarket and Darling Harbour.

Ground level of the Exchange (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

Despite the idea that print books are going out of style and libraries are a thing of the past Mrs Moore said: “At the city, we know how much well-designed and well thought out libraries add to our communities and how loved and appreciated they are by those communities”.

She added libraries were important community hubs that have moved on as society has moved on.

“Public libraries are now being recognised as cultural destinations along with museums and galleries and in a time of rabid population growth they provide much needed space for people to connect, to learn and to relax,” said Mrs Moore.

The Darling Square library is open seven days a week and provides access to over 30,000 items including a large Asian literature collection.

Person in a Very Hungry Caterpillar suit (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

The children’s area will have regular bilingual rhyme and story time sessions that cater for the diverse Sydney community.

“This is a state of the art library, it has spaces for ideas and creativity with an ideas lab which includes a multipurpose space for meetings and conferences and the dedicated maker-space,” said Mrs Moore.

She added the ideas lab will support local technology and creative start-ups by providing access to resources and a variety of specialist equipment and materials like 3D printers and laser cutters.

The maker-space at Darling Square library (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

“We’re going to put on a program of workshops, seminars and events for kids, teens and adults to create, to invent, to tinker and to explore, and to provide opportunities for participants to up-skill, to share knowledge and to network,” said Mrs Moore.