The shared library at Young reaches new heights | Panda Anku

An artist’s rendering of the shared library and community facility in Young.

A ceremony at Young High School’s new community library marks another milestone in the controversial development.

It celebrated the completion of the highest point of the new facility, while last week saw the official handover of the school’s new canteen, student toilets and staff centre.

The high school’s principal, Anna Barker, said the event allowed those involved to walk through the newly refurbished buildings, which is the first phase of the £25.5million jointly funded project by the NSW Government and Hilltops Council US dollars marked.

The new 2.5-story school and community facility is located on the Young High School campus and is integrated into the city’s Carrington Park, an area notable for its historic use as a police camp, jail and courthouse in Young’s early Gold Rush days, when the town was known as Lambing Flat.

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Dean Bailey with Anna Barker, Principal of Young High School, Alison Foreman, Deputy Mayor of Hilltops Council, Steph Cooke, Member of Cootamundra, Anthony O'Reilly, General Manager of Hilltops Council, and Marty Smith of Schools Infrastructure stand in high visibility vests

Dean Bailey with Young High School Principal Anna Barker, Hilltops Council Deputy Mayor Alison Foreman, Cootamundra Member Steph Cooke, Hilltops Council General Manager Anthony O’Reilly and Schools Infrastructure’s Marty Smith. Photo: Steph Cooke MP.

The development of a shared-use facility was met with opposition from the community at its initial proposal, due to concerns about building on the Grade II-listed site.

This historic part of town is so steeped in history that faded signs on the school fence mark it as the site of the only reading of the Riot Act in NSW after 1000 miners besieged the prison on 14 July 1861.

Their goal was to free other miners who had been arrested after raids on Chinese camps, but when the Riot Act was read, shots were exchanged and one miner was killed.

Later that night, the police and judges released the prisoners and fled the city as the courthouse and police camp burned down.

Development plans for the new facility have been advanced to meet the region’s growing educational and community needs.

However, the cultural importance of the site influenced design development, with heritage consultants and heritage studies, including European and Aboriginal, conducted and archaeological salvage work being incorporated into the programme.

All objects and materials found will be cataloged and arrangements will be made for their storage and display in the new facility, which will include study rooms, video conferencing and multimedia facilities, a children’s activity area, a coffee bar, art rooms and a Wiradjuri Learning and Cultural Centre.

Project completion was previously scheduled for late 2022 due to delays caused by archaeological work and heavy rainfall.

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Although Ms Barker could not commit to a completion date, she said the first installment of the project was well received.

“The new main building is still under construction, so we looked at that, but this was an opportunity for people to see the early work, which is now complete,” she said.

“The original plan was for this to be completed after major construction, but that changed last year when archaeological work began. But the staff and students have been very positive about it.”

Librarian Elisabeth Myburgh, who has worked at Young High School since 2009, said she was excited at the prospect of a new facility with reading and study rooms.

“Working with the community has been very positive,” she said.

“Being able to provide shared spaces and experiences for the public and the school community means that the overall space is put to good use, not only during school hours but also outside of school hours.”

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Internal roller shutter doors are used to section off areas as needed to ensure separation between the public and students, but can be opened to allow general after-hours access to the community if required.

“It’s incredible because it will serve these growing educational needs across the community and provide timely and amazing new resources, facilities and learning spaces not just for Young High School students, but for the entire Young community,” said Ms. Barker.

Cootamundra member Steph Cooke said she looks forward to seeing the new library take shape over the coming months.

“It’s fantastic to celebrate this milestone for a project that allows the school and the local community to share and benefit from wonderful new facilities,” said Ms. Cooke.

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