Thursday, August 20, 2009

Timaru District Libraries Celebrate 100 Years of Public Library Service

On 4th June 2009 the Timaru District Libraries celebrated 100 Years of Public Library Service, while we have been around alot longer than that it wasn't until 1909 that the Library was officially free to all Timaru residents. Below is a brief history of the Timaru Library...

1862 - First Reading Room opened in the School House, Barnard Street. It was open daily from 5.00pm to 10.00pm and on Saturdays daily from 10.00am to 8.00pm. English and Colonial papers were provided, and a select library of books for the use of members.
1870 - 1st July - Opening of the Mechanics Institute which was created by an addition on an existing building, on the south side of North Street, which aimed to provide a Library, Reading Room and News Room.
1880 - 29th October - Total destruction of the Mechanics Institute building when it was burned down during the holding of a Church Bazaar. A new building was erected on the same site at a cost of 1,400 pounds.
1905 - Scheme for a Municipal Library was set afoot by Mayor Jmes Craigie. The subscribers to the Mechanics Institute agreed to present the old building and it's conents to the Council if it established a Municipal Library in a new building.
1906 - Timaru Public Act was passed to enable the Council and the Trustees to use the proceeds from the sale of the buildings and land of the old Institute to be spent on books.
1909 - 4th June - Official opening of the Timaru Public Library on the present Timaru District Council site on George Street, it was built in Oamaru Stone. The Library was built with a 3,000 pound grant from the Carnegie Corporation (Andrew Carnegie) of New York and was designed by Walter Panton. The condition under which the money was given was that the reading rooms should should be open to everyone and that the lending library should be free to ratepayers of the Borough. The Borough Council, however, considered that everyone who paid rent was indirectly a ratepayer, and it was decided the Library should be free to both rentpayers and ratepayers. The Timaru Library is believed to be the first in the Dominion for which this concession was made.

1959 - Timaru celebrated 50 years of Public Library Service - in the first 50 years more than 10,000,000 book issues have been made.

1979 - 7th May - Current Library was opened on Sophia Street. It was designed by Miles, Warren and Mahoney and opened by Sir Keith Holyoake.

1989 - Timaru City, Temuka, Geraldine Boroughs and the Strathallan County amalgamated to form the Timaru District and the Timaru District Libraries was born.

1997 - The new Temuka Library, Service Centre and Information Centre was opened in the revamped old Temuka Supermarket in King Street (the original building was built in 1911).
Old Temuka Library

New Temuka Library, Service Centre and Information Centre

2003 - August - The new Geraldine Library, Service Centre was opened on the old Community Hall / Library on Talbot Street.

Old Geraldine Library

New Geraldine Library, Service Centre

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