Castlemaine’s Goldfields Library is lovingly called the community lounge room by some of its patrons.
For library officer Stuart Winser, that was clearly on display recently when temperatures tipped over the 40 degree mark one Friday.
“That really hot day we had about two weeks ago, when it was something like 43 on Friday, felt like a lounge room here with people just chilling,” he said. “It was really nice to see the community hanging out together.
“We had a movie going for the kids, the Wi-Fi, and air conditioner were cranked and almost every corner had someone lounging around, reading, on the computer or hanging out with friends. It was packed in here.
“Some were escaping the heat and but others wanted something to do. The library is one of the few places you can go where people don’t expect anything of you.”
Castlemaine’s library has an impressive 9000 members – almost 50 per cent of the Mount Alexander region’s population.
Mr Winser said people don’t just come for books.
“They come in for everything,” he said. “Books are steady but eBooks have doubled in past 12 months after we already thought they were huge.
“We have also doubled our Wi-Fi usage in the past 12 months. So we are a smaller library but we are trying to get even bigger.”
The library’s staff are always kept busy helping community members solve everyday problems.
“As the government puts more and more stuff online, it almost outsources their customers service to us,” Mr Winser said.
“People come in here to say ‘I can't get this working for MyGov or my passport’. We are here to help with all the community's problems that people don't expect us to be helping with.”
This year, the Castlemaine library hopes to engage with and welcome more of the community.
“We are doing our best at the moment to try and get to people who see us as old-school. We have not been that for a long time,” Mr Winser said.
“This year we are trying harder to reach those people and get into the little corners of the community.
“We want people to feel as welcome as they can regardless of where they're from.”
(It feels) like a lounge room here with people just chilling. It (is) really nice to see the community hanging out together.Stuart Winser