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THE HILLS community proposed a toast to one of its most treasured facilities on Thursday, 1 March, celebrating the 10th birthday of the Belgrave Library building.
From the picturesque hillside vantage point, staff and guests watched the sun set on the building’s first decade.
The function was hosted by Eastern Regional Libraries CEO Joseph Cullen and Shire of Yarra Ranges deputy mayor Samantha Dunn.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by storyteller Gill Di Stefano and the Ranges Youth Strings group.
Belgrave branch manager Polly Ashburner said “There was a lovely community feel to the night, it was extremely rewarding”.
As well as acknowledging the library’s contribution to the Belgrave community, the event was also an opportunity for many to reflect on the turbulent campaign that led to the building’s opening on 28 February, 1997.
Guests shared their mixed memories of the previous library, a 178 square metre former school building.
“The old library was like an oven in summer and a fridge in winter,” Ms Ashburner recalled.
“It was so cramped that people used to bump backsides bending down for books on opposing shelves.”
Lee Emmett, who was the founding president of the Friends of Sherbrooke Library group, which lobbied for the new building, recalled the protracted campaign that coincided with the amalgamation of hills councils.
“We had our ups and downs,” she said, “but the community wanted it and in the end the councils acquiesced to community demand.”
Ms Emmett and Ms Ashburner agreed that the way the Belgrave community had embraced the facility was just reward for the group’s efforts.
“It’s used by all manner of groups, from writers to quilters to peace lobbyists and home-schoolers,” Ms Ashburner said.
“We are lucky to have such a spacious facility with glorious sunset views over the ranges.”

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