150 Celebrating Christchurch City Libraries 1859-2009 RSS feed

Akaroa Library / Te Kete Wānanga o Te Ao Marama

Akaroa has a long history of libraries in the community from the first Literary and Scientific Institute to the long- standing partnership between the community and the Akaroa Area School to provide library services. Akaroa Library joined the Christchurch City Libraries network in 2006 following local government amalgamation between Banks Peninsula District Council.

Coronation Library

In 1860 a Literary and Scientific Institute (later renamed the Mechanic’s Institute) was formed in Akaroa. The aim was to provide community members with mutual instruction and support and a library was an important part of that aim. At first the Town Hall building was used but as the patronage grew the Institute needed a larger place of its own. Using a grant from the Provincial Council, the architect Samuel Farr (who lived in Akaroa from 1850 until 1862) was engaged to design a new building on the Rue Jolie which opened on 22 May 1875.

The institute continued to be well used by the community and by 1911 it was in need of repairs. Using funds available to commemorate the coronation of George V the building was raised on new foundations, its roof repaired and a new frontage created. This gave the building its current Arts and Crafts/English domestic Revival look. The library continued in this building until a new combined school and community library opened in the administration block of Akaroa Area School in 1989. Coronation Library ceased to be the town’s main library and today a local trust cares for the building and maintains a reference library of New Zealand material there.

Since the amalgamation of Banks Peninsula District Council and Christchurch City Council there has been significant much-needed maintenance and restoration work done on the building. Akaroa Library gives all withdrawn and unwanted donated books to Coronation Library for their continued fundraising.

School and community combine

Akaroa LibraryCombined school and community library facilities are not uncommon in smaller towns and on 29th September 1989 the present Akaroa Library was officially opened by Sonja Davies, M.P. as a joint venture between Akaroa Area School, Akaroa County Council and National Library of New Zealand.

Associate Community librarian Kaye Matthews, who has worked in the library since this partnership began, says staff are used to helping pupils and teachers. There is still strong community support with a team of 30 library volunteers supporting the professional staff. Another unique feature of the library is the support it provides to schools and preschools in the inner and outer bays in the Akaroa area who receive library services and collections of books. Akaroa Library also supports the Little River Library with staff help and loan collections of books.

Gradually the school and community outgrew the library space within the school administration block so plans were commenced to re-locate into the refurbished and relocated school gymnasium to the corner of Rue Jolie and Selwyn Ave, but still within the school grounds. This new purpose-built library was blessed and officially opened on 2 February 2005.

The library is situated next door to the Akaroa Cinema and shares foyer space with it and Kaye says that makes for excellent synergy.

In March 2006 Banks Peninsula District Council and Christchurch City Councils amalgamated. Kaye says the process of adding all library stock to the City Libraries database commenced with the help of wonderful staff from Library Resource Services and Brian Gilberthorpe and Akaroa Library went live on the library network on 1 July 2006. The public internet computers and desk and workroom computers were all upgraded with magnificent support from Christchurch City Libraries Digital Library Services. Akaroa residents and the library now enjoy the benefits of being part of a large library network.

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Library travels with my Father

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