Library Design for Community Belonging and Sustainable Futures

  • Transforming a Campus through adaptive re-use: Katerina Dracopoulos Fulton Trotter Architects
  • Narrm ngarrgu Library and Family Services: Shirley Bateman City of Melbourne Libraries
  • Forging Green Libraries PHIVE: Parramatta’s new community, cultural and civic hub: Neera Sahni Parramatta Libraries
  • Springwood Library A Library in a World Heritage area – a City within a National Park using Sustainable Principles: Vicki Edmunds Blue Mountains Libraries


This panel session will feature 4 new projects where Libraries have combined sustainable principles with a sense of community belonging.


Katerina Dracopoulos of Fulton Trotter Architects will talk about the Potter Building Adaptive Re-use Project at All Hallows’ School on the fringe of the Brisbane CBD. The decision to redevelop a 50-year-old building in the heart of a dense inner-city campus was the catalyst for the school to re-think and redefine some of its approaches to learning, teaching, and the spaces in and around which these activities occurred. Ostensibly a Library, the Potter Building became a multi-disciplinary learning and community hub, place for exchange, a social and pedagogical game changer for the school. This project has created a flexible and inclusive learning environment which redefines the notion of “library” and offers opportunities and a sense of belonging for all learners.


Shirley Bateman of City of Melbourne Libraries will showcase their newest community facility, narrm ngarrgu Library and Family Services, which opened in November 2023. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The 3100m2 space occupies three storeys of the Munro development in the heart of the Queen Victoria Market precinct.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Informed by community consultation and their Future Libraries Framework 2021, the design improves access for residents, workers, students and visitors in the city’s inner north and activates the rapidly growing precinct.  During consultation, they worked closely with Traditional Owners and Elders to ensure the design reflects and honours Aboriginal culture, celebrates First Nations knowledge systems and welcomes the Aboriginal community.


Neera Sahni leads the City of Parramatta Council’s Parramatta Libraries portfolio and is responsible for the operations of Libraries. Neera will present Parramatta’s bold new community, cultural and civic hub: new state-of-the-art City of Parramatta’s Library which sits on levels one and two of PHIVE. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has announced Parramatta Library at PHIVE as one of four global finalists for Public Library of the Year.  Parramatta Library is a community hub, place to connect, and meet. It’s a place of belonging for the community, students and visitor.  A smart building, with sustainability credentials allowing it to be net zero carbon from day one.  Seamlessly connecting with the original heritage-listed Parramatta Town Hall, PHIVE boasts the striking design and state-of-the-art facilities of a world-class library, community hub, while drawing in the area’s rich history.


Vicki Edmunds of Blue Mountains Libraries will talk about how to create a Library space that is welcome and inviting.  The Blue Mountains Libraries are one of the most important community spaces provided by Blue Mountains City Council. The Springwood Library refurbishment in 2023

prioritised new air-conditioning/heating, an accessible lift, floor to ceiling glass and provides a welcoming environment with tables, chairs, lounges and other items that fit with the look and feel of the new Library fitout. In order to achieve this look – high-end second hand furniture was sought by the interior designer to achieve the desired outcome. Not only did this fit in with Blue Mountain’s City Council’s sustainability philosophy, but it goes a long way to preventing unnecessary items from going to landfill. All items still fit in with the overall aesthetic of the design and have become remarkable talking points of the library tour.

Vicki Edmunds

Manager, Community and Library, Blue Mountains City Council

Author Bio

Vicki has always been attracted to Libraries – and reading from the adult collections from a young age, working in Library seemed like a natural progression. Vicki has worked in a variety of Libraries – from Canterbury Municipal Council to the Department of Architecture, University of Sydney. However her 2 favourite jobs have been with the Natural History Museum Library in London where she helped researchers, professors and field workers with original research in the flora, fauna and insect world – and establishing the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Research Library, where staff would come to get up to speed on how their areas were run in previous Games, or to find out the latest statistics or demographical information for planning purposes. Vicki has also been the ALIA President 2021-23 and before that represented the members as an ALIA Board member from 2019, and as the ALIA Vice-President in 2020. Vicki currently works with Blue Mountains City Council as the Manager of Community & Library. Vicki is an active participant in the NSW Public Libraries Association and is the current Sydney West Public Libraries Association Zone Secretary, sits on the State Library of NSW Strategic Network Committee and been on the NSW Public Libraries Association Conference Committee in 2019 and 2023. More recently, Vicki oversaw the refurbishment of Springwood Library which re-opened to the community on 1 May 2023.

Katerina Dracopoulos

Director, Fulton Trotter Architects

Author Bio

Katerina Dracopoulos is an Architect and Director at Fulton Trotter Architects with over 25 years of experience in the profession. With a background in the education sector, Katerina has specialised in the design of libraries both within the education system and public (local government) space. Her substantial experience has given her an appreciation of the latest in pedagogical trends, enabling progressive library design. Katerina has seen the requirements of library spaces evolve to reflect the changing needs of society, the availability of information through technology, and through the evolution of the library as a social hub. Katerina is the Chair of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Qld chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, former chair of Learning Environments Queensland and co-convenor of two LEAQ conferences. She is a sought-after public speaker in education, practice leadership and gender equity.

Shirley Bateman

Resources and Reader Development Coordinator, City of Melbourne Libraries

Author Bio

Shirley Bateman is the Coordinator Resources and Read Development at City of Melbourne Libraries. She has strong expertise in print and digital collection development, and believes that public libraries are uniquely placed when it comes to inclusive reader engagement. Shirley also oversees library renovation projects and is passionate about creating inviting, safe spaces for the community. Shirley has extensive experience in presenting at library conferences. Most recently, she delivered a presentation at the Public Libraries Victoria 2023 conference about the City of Melbourne Libraries’ pop-up library program.

Neera Sahni

Customer Experience Manager, City of Parramatta Council

Author Bio

Neera Sahni leads the City of Parramatta Council’s Parramatta Libraries portfolio and is responsible for the operations of Libraries. She was previously Research Services Leader of Parramatta Heritage Centre and Liaison Librarian, Business and Finance at Macquarie University Library. Neera brings more than 30 years’ experience across roles in project design and delivery, community service, customer experience, teaching and working in university, special and public libraries in Australia and overseas.