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Wellington Public Library

New Zealand

By the early 1960s, the existing library built in 1940 had become too small: some books were stored offsite because of lack of space, the newspaper reading room and some staff sections were housed elsewhere and there was a lack of space for casual seating and study.

In 1989, Athfield Architects were commissioned to design a new Wellington Central Library. Their design won the Environmental Award in the 1992 Carter Holt Harvey Awards and the New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award (1993).The library was built by Fletcher Development and Construction The new Wellington Central Library was opened in 1991, and the previous library building then became the City Gallery. Both buildings are located in Civic Square, with the library having its main entrance on Victoria Street and another entrance from the mezzanine level onto Civic Square.

In March 2019, the Wellington City Council announced that the Central Library was to be closed to the public, after receiving advice from engineers that the building has structural vulnerabilities which mean it might not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake. A month later the Council announced that it would spend $179 million to repair and upgrade the library rather than demolish it.[11]

Following the closure of the Central Library, three pop-up replacement libraries have opened in central Wellington: Arapaki Manners Library (opened in May 2019 in Manners Street),He Matapihi Molesworth Library (opened in October 2019 inside the National Library in Molesworth Street), and Te Awe Library in Brandon Street (opened in July 2020). However none of these has the reading rooms or the opening hours of the Central Library. Wellington Central Library’s collection of 400,000 items has been relocated to a new collection and distribution centre named Te Pātaka, in Johnsonville.

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