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The much-awaited expansion of the Kings Cross Library will soon commence, with the City of Sydney Council announcing that designs for the project have been finalised.

Taking into account the fact that the nature of libraries is changing, the expansion will focus on providing more space for social interaction, in addition a library’s traditional role as a book dispensary.

The expansion is the first significant upgrade of the current library, which was opened by Lord Mayor Clover Moore in 2004 after an extensive refurbishment of the building by renowned architecture and design firm, Woods Bagot.

“The Kings Cross Library and Neighbourhood Centre moved into the heritage-listed former Woolworths site in late 2004, following extensive refurbishments to the ground floor and first floor interiors of the 1939 building,” said a City of Sydney spokesperson.

“The popularity of the library has increased since then due to the range of services offered, such as free wi-fi and computer classes, so late last year the Council approved a library expansion to meet these growing community needs.

“The expansion will include a new library lounge with comfortable seating, 15 computer workstations with printers, study nooks and power points for people with laptops.”

The spokesperson said the expansion would also feature a computer training area for up to 20 people and a meeting room for up to 50 people, which can be leased by community groups.

“The expansion of the library reflects the importance of this much-loved community space, which not only plays a critical role providing free books on loan, but also provides a lively place where people get together, encouraging not just solitary reading but social interaction.”

However, the expansion has been criticised by the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society, with the society’s president, Andrew Woodhouse opining that it has taken too long.

“The top two floors of the building have been empty since 2004,” he said.

“This vital community space has been left empty when it could have been utilised for community use or even commercial use, with the money going back into the City of Sydney to help fund other projects.”

Mr Woodhouse welcomed the commencement of expansion works but said he hoped it would be completed in a timely manner.

“We don’t want to see it drag on for years like the Eternity Theatre project in Darlinghurst,” he said.

The City of Sydney said a tender for the works would be put out shortly.