Was the Coffs Library moving to the National Mutual Building in 1996?

Coffs Harbour Library was once again searching for a new home!

Whilst Coffs Harbour City Council initially owned the building that the library was located in on Castle Street, it was included in a land swap with the Ex-Services Club in 1991, which resulted in the Council leasing the library building for a ten year period, after which a new location needed to be found.

As you can well imagine there were a number of possible locations put forward, with mixed reactions from both staff and the community!

One of the earlier suggestions in 1996 was that the library relocate to the National Mutual Building on the corner of Coff and Gordon Street. This was a building that had been bought in 1992 by Coffs Harbour City Council for $2.7 million and was considered by some as the ideal location for the library to go – there was ample space, it was a central location and there was parking available under the building.

However this was not meant to be.

Following a report by structural engineer Alan Mulhearn, it was discovered that the floor loading caused by the weight of the library books would exceed the design live load strength of the National Mutual Building. In other words, the books were too heavy for what the floor could cope with!

Prior to the purchase of the building, the University of New England’s Library was located on the upper floor of the building, which lead council to believe that it would have been similarly suitable for the public library. However, following recommendations from the structural report, Coffs Harbour Council decided that the National Mutual Building was not to be the new library location.

At the time, Mayor John Smith said that whether the library moved into the building or not, the purchase of the National Mutual Building was still a good investment which would provide higher returns than investing the money.

The search continued.

Written by Liz Thomas

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