The Story of the Northside Libraries

To quote Mrs Liz Swanson… the ‘vision was to see the library space serve all members of the school in an environment that was different from their classrooms… a learning lounge for the college… a place where they could lounge comfortably to read and discover or sit at tables to continue their work…games to play … friends to meet. New technologies were trialled and embraced… Throughout all these changes, the heart of the library has always been the staff.’ 

This vision was realised and this is the story.

The first ‘library’ at the beginning of the school was one very heavy standing set of shelves in a room under the church. That room no longer exists as the lower floor of the church has changed beyond recognition over the years. 

It was two-sided with sloping display shelves and appreciated by both staff and students. Each weekend, it would be covered by a heavy-duty canvas cover to protect it during weekend activities. 

The library was begun by Mrs Edna Corney, who was a retired librarian and Mrs Stephanie McHugh who stayed on as Librarian until the end of 1998. When she finished, Mrs McHugh was honoured with a piece in the yearbook where it was stated that she had read “in excess of 4680’ stories to Junior School classes without including the lunchtime stories, and listening to students learn to read!”

Also, during the first few years, the children were taken in cars on outings to the Everton Park library and this was a real help to the fledgling school. 

The library space was limited until A Block, the first school building, was built and it was possible to set up a ‘real’ library in the top corner room on the eastern end. It seemed to be a huge space in comparison and, under the direction of Mrs Stephanie McHugh and her faithful helpers, it soon became a much-loved, well-used part of the school.  

With the commencement of Secondary classes in 1993, the pressure on the library increased so it was with much anticipation that everyone looked forward to a larger facility. 

In 1996, Mrs Elizabeth Swanson was employed as Library Coordinator, Mrs McHugh continued as Librarian and Mrs Christine Newington, who had been on staff since 1994, was appointed as Library Assistant. In August of that year, the great day arrived when the library was moved into the newly built D Block (Stage 1) and these three intrepid ladies, with the support of a few dedicated parents, set about transforming the much-increased space into a library to serve the College. 

In 1997, there were two successful Book Fairs with Scholastic and Open Book. These gave the opportunity for children to purchase books for themselves and also helped to build the stock in the library. Book Fairs continue to this day in the Junior School Library and are still highly popular events. The Dress-Up Day brings a burst of creativity that is delightful to observe and the line for the photo booth at lunchtime goes out the door and around the corner.

A favourite feature of the D Block library was the Reading Well – a tiered area on the western side which was ‘furnished’ with large red cushions – (donated by Mrs Corney). The well was used for individual reading, lessons, story-telling, buddy reading, even staff devotions.

The years passed, the numbers of students increased and the library became ever more busy. The library was catering for ever-increasing numbers of students from Prep to Year 12 and there were the usual challenges of balancing the needs of the wide age range of the students.

In 1999, Mrs Leanne Fooks joined the Library staff and, in 2000, set up the Information Skills program for Primary Students. When Mrs Fooks left before the end of that year, Mrs Bev McGregor filled the gap. In 2001, Mrs Lesley Davis moved from classroom teaching when she was appointed to be Primary Librarian. 

Relief came to the busy library when, in 2011, the new E Block was built. This was an outcome of the BER (Building the Education Revolution) funding from the Federal Government. With wise stewardship, Northside was able to build the Junior Library and IT room, Library Square and the College Hall. This building replaced the old octagonal modular buildings and continues to be a huge blessing to the College community. 

With the opening of the new Junior Library, Mrs Lesley Davis set about making it into a delightful space for Junior School students. In addition to class library times, it is a favourite place for students to visit before school, during lunchtime and after school. 

As the years passed, there was an increasing need for extra Secondary classrooms and these were built into the western end of the Senior Library. One of the casualties of these alterations was the Reading Well. It was covered up at the end of 2014. The questions is… “Will it be uncovered one day?”

Special mention is due to Mrs Stephanie McHugh who pioneered the Library venture, Mrs Liz Swanson who established the first purpose-built library in D Block in 1996, and Mrs Lesley Davis who, after working as primary Teacher Librarian in the joint library, then created the exciting new Junior School Library in 2011. Through all those years, from the very beginning, there have been enthusiastic aides and volunteers who have worked hard to create exciting spaces to serve the College community.