Cockburn History: Happy 40th, Spearwood Library

Spearwood Library celebrates its 40th birthday this month. Officially opened 24 March 1976.

A lot has changed since Spearwood Public Library first opened its doors, 40 years ago this month. As the Cockburn Libraries celebrate 40 years of service to the public, we thought we’d take a little trip down memory lane…

Spearwood Library on the left, with the City of Cockburn Admin building under construction on the right.

Spearwood Library on the left, with the City of Cockburn Administration building under construction on the right (1976)

Completed in 1976, the Spearwood Library building was designed by Oldham, Boas, Ednie-Brown and Partners, who had a hand in designing many of the council administration and community buildings of the era (including the City of Cockburn admin building next door!) It was the first public library service to be offered to the residents of Cockburn.

1987 typewriter

The libraries could definitely benefit from some indoor plants these days, though happily we’ve moved on from the typewriter! (1987)

1989 computer

Early computing at Spearwood! (1989)

1989 counter

The good old days of card catalogues… (1989)

This was what Google looked like in 1989...

This was what Google looked like in 1989…

The original staffers numbered less than 10, and the library was closed on Wednesdays to allow staff some much-needed catchup time. It wasn’t until 1989 that the library service branched out and opened the Coolbellup Library, which began life operating out of a recycled kindergarten building, and finally got its own refurbished library building in 1993.

Coolbellup Library 1993

Cockburn Soundings September 1993 – Coolbellup Library open for business!

In 1992 the libraries went online, transferring the old card catalogues over to an online system called Urica 2000. Not everything was up-to-the-moment, though, because in 1993 the libraries were boasting about having a new catalogue of all the Large Print books in the WA library system… in a two-volume set of books in 14pt-type. Luckily, it’s rather a lot easier to search the large print collection now!

In 1995, a local radio personality launched the library’s first Graphic Novel collection, noting very solemnly that ‘graphic novels are longer and more sophisticated forms of comic books’. Nowadays the library system has a thriving collection of graphic novels and manga, and nobody much minds whether we call them comics!

In 2001, the library added to its family, opening the Success branch in the Gateways Shopping Centre with only 4000 books. The emphasis was on providing 6 public internet terminals and longer opening hours to bring the library service into the 21st century. Now, Success Public Library has its own stunning site in the Cockburn Heath & Community facility, and gives hundreds of people access to the internet on any of its 18 public terminals each day (along with more than 57,000 books, dvds, and other items for borrowing).

Success Library 2001

Cockburn Soundings April 2001 – Success Library open for business!

In 2005, Spearwood was lucky enough to be offered funding for an extension to its 1976 building by local businessman John Carcione. The new wing, added to the eastern end of the library, now houses all the children’s materials, as well as the kitchenette and demonstration area.

With Success opening up in its new home in 2014, the Cockburn Libraries journey is complete… or has it only just begun?

We’d love to hear your stories about your history with the library! Jump into the comments to reminisce.


Leah

Author: Leah

I work as the Reader Services Librarian at Spearwood Public Library. I order the books, and I take requests for anything you can’t find in the library! I also research and write local history articles for the Cockburn Soundings, and for anyone who has a local history question.

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2 Comments

  1. What great photo’s! Happy Birthday and many happy returns.

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  2. Congratulations on 40 amazing years of providing professional library & information services to the growing numbers of members and others who love to visit their local libraries whether it be Spearwood, Coolbellup or Success and of course those using the Home delivery service. Libraries – a place to catch up with friends, read a newspaper or magazine, connect with the world through the Internet, select a hardcopy or e-book or two, indulge in the other forms of learning, chat with the cheery and helpful staff, hear from authors, learn more about our multi-cultural community, a dynamic range of activities for children and adults, learn about your local history, and so much more.

    Congratulations once again.

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Cockburn History: Happy 40th, Spearwood Library

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