Way back when, Wednesdays

A bigger, better library

In its first incarnation, the Tea Tree Gully Library was a bookmobile. The ‘Municipal Library’ began operating in June 1965. It was a bus that serviced the local community by visiting locations around the local district, Inglewood and Houghton, such as shopping centres, the Council Civic Centre, schools and the Highbury hotel. At this time, Tea Tree Gully had a population of approximately 16,000 residents scattered over an area of 55 square miles. By 1968 the population had increased to 27,000 and Tea Tree Gully had officially been declared a City. The Library’s book stock and the number of borrowers had also increased substantially, making conditions cramped inside the mobile library. Due to its age and poor mechanical condition the bus had to be retired.

Public Library

So the official opening of a new public library made front page news in the North East Leader, a Messenger newspaper on 5 March 1969. The Library was housed in the building which was formerly the Modbury Primary School and headmaster’s cottage, which is now designated as 561 Montague Road, Modbury. It was small compared with our modern library facilities but it had high ceilings, fireplaces and was of solid construction. However, I recall a former Library staff member who worked in the old building shelving books after school commenting that it was cold and that there were mice!

The North East Leader article provides us with some interesting statistics relating to the amount of book stock held by the Library, the number of loans and membership in 1969. Naturally the demand for library services has increased over time. Since 1969 the Tea Tree Gully Library has serviced the community at three other locations. The Library opened on 17 December 1975 at 1020 North East Road, Modbury, adjacent the former Civic Centre and on 28 July 1991 at 98 Smart Road, Modbury, in a joint-use agreement with the Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE. Things have changed quite a bit since the Tea Tree Gully Library moved to our current premises in the Civic Centre at 571 Montague Road in 2003.

As of September 2017 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library has approximately 118,000 items in stock, including not only books and magazines, but also many audiovisual materials which did not exist in 1969. As part of the One Card Library network we can offer our customers infinitely more choice.   On average, the Library issues 75,000 loans per month. We have 28,500 members who have borrowed in the last three years and we enroll around 266 new people per month.

The heritage listed Modbury School House building has been transformed into the Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant which commenced business in 2004. Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant offers fine dining and serves Italian cuisine.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

All alone by the telephone

In the edition dated 18 January 1967, the North East Leader A Messenger Newspaper featured a series of articles about the new City of Tea Tree Gully Council building, which was located at 1020 Main North East Road, Modbury. This address is now the site of the Tea Tree Plus Shopping Centre.

Council building

This impressive new facility was officially opened by Premier Frank Walsh on Saturday 21 January 1967. The modern complex was outfitted with fluorescent lighting, naturally finished timbers, an acoustic tiled ceiling to absorb noise and a public address system.  A wide use of glass provided the interior of the building with adequate daylight.  The Civic Centre cost $140,000 and featured modern offices, a spacious entrance foyer, impressive Council Chambers and a large civic hall to accommodate up to 300 residents at public receptions or recreational functions.

Page 1 of the Messenger newspaper highlighted Council employee Janice Rogers, who operated the busy telephone switchboard and answered incoming calls from the public. As stated in the accompanying caption, Janice’s job entailed managing eight lines and connecting calls to the 28 extensions in the Council building.  We would really like to hear from Janice or from any readers who have recollections of working on an older style telephone switchboard.

Telephone operator

Since 1967 things have progressed significantly at the Civic Centre. Council is now situated at 571 Montague Road, Modbury. There have also been extensive changes to our telecommunications technology. Naturally the population density of the municipality has increased. Here are some fast facts: In 1967 the population of City of Tea Tree Gully was approximately 23,000. In 2016, the estimated resident population for the City of Tea Tree Gully was 99,518 (http://profile.id.com.au/tea-tree-gully).

The City of Tea Tree Gully now employees a total of 13 staff in the Customer Relations Department, who may work in Council’s Call Centre or at Reception in the Civic Centre. The old switchboard and line set-up no longer exists. Customers are automatically placed in a queuing system, which can handle a large volume of calls and redirect your call to the appropriate department. The City of Tea Tree Gully now has approximately 280 extensions throughout the entire organisation. Each month we receive approximately 6,500 telephone calls. That is a lot of people telephoning the Council but consider also that approximately one quarter of our communication with customers is made via social and digital interactions (through email and online).

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