Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Rotorua Library is moving forward

Rotorua Library, but first a look into the past. 

It all began in 1889 when a few like minded citizens decided the town needed a library.


In March 1889 some 15 residents met in an old building next to Mrs Morrison’s Hotel at Ohinemutu to establish a Public Reading Room with home and colonial newspapers, periodicals, etc in which members could also play chess and draughts.
·        Committee of 12 was chosen with Dr Ginders elected as president. (see the document below) consisting of 3 Storekeepers, 2 Boarding House Proprietors, 1 Architect, 1 Saddler, 1 Surveyor, 1 Coach Driver, 1 Native Agent, 1 Teacher & 1 Carpenter.
·        Subscriptions were set at £1 per annum ($175) and visitors were to be allowed to use the Reading Room free of charge.
·        £25 ($4384) was donated by those present together with books and periodicals.
The Chairman of the Town Board lent the new library the use of the old building which had been first the Comet store and later a school. The District Superintendent of Native Schools let them use the desks and forms from the old schoolhouse and they obtained a kerosene lamp and a stove.

·        It opened to the public on 10 April 1889 with 335 volumes and 12 periodicals. A ladies’ reading room was also set up.
·        Hours were 11 am to 4 pm and 6-10 pm except that it would close at 9 pm on Sundays.
·        There was an honorary librarian, a Mr H. McFadgen (Saddler), but it probably wasn’t supervised as in December 1889 access was limited to subscription members only as many newspapers and periodicals had disappeared from the Reading Room.

 VICTORIA INSTITUTE was opened in November 1898
·        Miss Emma Coppell (or Coppel) was appointed caretaker and librarian at £10 per annum ($1571) Note this is £2 a year less than the cleaner was paid in 1890 and £5 less than the custodian in 1891
Description of Victoria Institute in about 1907
·        Set back from Arawa Street and next to the Maori Land Court.
·        The Library and museum was on one side of the building and on the other side was the Institute’s reception and cloakroom and an office for the Town Clerk.
·        The Library had about 1300 volumes at this time.

Municipal Building on corner Arawa and Fenton Streets 
·        New Library in Municipal Building was opened on 14 October 1940 though the children’s books were not shifted to the new library until February 1941.
The Library officially went free (except for light fiction and magazines) on the 17 February 1941 
·        Branch Library in Brookland Road, Western Heights opened on 12 May 1969. It closed in July 1981.

In July 1970 the library moved for 6 months to temporary larger premises in the Masonic Building. It was there for 21 years.
·        Throughout the 1970s and 80s there was increased recognition that the Library was not adequate and needed expanding and upgrading.
·        February 1972 the NZ Library Association Conference was held in Rotorua (and 2001 and 2007).
·        1973 Miss Lesley Armstrong (Miss A) took over as Librarian.

Our 100 Year Celebration cake, enjoyed by staff & customers.

With thanks to the Don Stafford Collection and late staff member Mary Ellen Wilson, Reference Librarian, for the information and copy of the Library founding document. 

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