Dunedin Public Libraries

New Zealand

Dunedin’s first Free Public Library opened on 2 December 1908, funded by a 10,000-pound grant from American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Situated at 110 Moray Place, the Library offered a reference service only.

In 1910, a Children’s Reading Room opened and then the Children’s Lending Library. In 1911 lending services began for adults.

In 1913, Dr Robert McNab presented to the Library his collection of 4,200 volumes relating to early voyages and New Zealand history, which later became the basis of the McNab New Zealand collection.

Other major donations were the Walt Whitman Collection (Mrs J. W. Stewart) in 1927, and the Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection including Bibles, examples of early printing and manuscripts, and works by Dickens and Johnston, in 1947.

In 1936 the library adopted its rental policy, whereby certain items would no longer be free. This included popular works of fiction, as well as certain magazine titles.

The library’s first hospital service was started in 1938.

1950 saw more expanded services offered, with the addition of a Bookbus service and the unveiling of its gramophone collection.

Today this collection has been expanded to include DVDs, CDs, and other audiovisual items.

In 1969, the first Housebound Readers’ Service was opened. In 1976, a second Bookbus was added, and the Children’s Library had its very own card catalogue. Further children’s services were offered in the following years, including Get Well Bags in 1979.

Dunedin Public Library moved to its current location at 230 Moray Place in 1981.

In 1982, the automated circulation system was installed. The first fully computerised Library Management System was installed in 1993. The Taiehu Collection of Māoritanga was launched in 1986. Taiehu was a Māori chief who brought one of the first canoes to New Zealand.

With local authority amalgamation in 1989, Dunedin Public Library became part of the Dunedin Public Libraries network. Two new Bookbuses were purchased in 1991 and the service was expanded to around 50 locations.

In 1998 a major redevelopment of the City Library was undertaken, with all the adult non-fiction lending collections combined, three adult stack areas opened up for improved public access, and the Audiovisual area greatly expanded to reflect the increased use of these collections.

2008 marked Dunedin Public Libraries’ Centenary. Celebrations, held from October to December, included writing workshops, guided walks, a Reed Gallery exhibition, Edwardian costumes and a fashion parade.

A library birthday party was held on Tuesday 2 December 2008 – 100 years to the day the first Librarian opened the doors of the Carnegie Library to the public of Dunedin.



Audio June 11 2024

All About Books: Katy Conneely, Dublin City FM on the 2024 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

In her 'All About Books' podcast Katy Conneely attends the Winning Ceremony of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award on 23rd May 2024 and provides some highlights of the ceremony
Video June 5 2024

2024 Dublin Literary Award Winners Mircea Cărtărescu and Sean Cotter In Conversation

Mircea Cărtărescu and Sean Cotter, winners of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award take an in-depth look at the winning title, Solenoid with Alex Clarke as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.
Video May 31 2024

Dublin Literary Award 2024 Winner Announcements Highlights

Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu and translator Sean Cotter have been announced as winners of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award on Thursday 23rd of May, for the novel Solenoid.
Video May 8 2024

Alexis Wright – Praiseworthy Q&A

Q&A with Alexis Wright, one of the six shortlisted authors for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award in which she discusses her passion for libraries and explores the influences behind her novel Praiseworthy


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