Crowd celebrates re-opening of
A Jedi Knight, Puss in Boots, and a lion were just some of the star guests in attendance as Hamilton’s central library reopened to the public on Monday.
The Central Library in Garden Place had been closed since 2016 due to earthquake risks, however last year the city council approved $635,200 to undertake seismic upgrades to the four-storey building and that work is almost complete.
The building’s upgrades took less time than expected, and a special day was planned for its reopening.
Children dressed as their favourite story book characters held balloons high, while keen readers waited for the doors to open.
City councillor Paula Southgate, who has advocated strongly for upgrades to the city’s library network led the proceedings and called the day a special one.
“Welcome everyone, welcome back to our special place,” Ms Southgate said.
The words prompted cheers from the crowd of more than 200 who had braved the cold weather for the opening.
“We were all so very disappointed when this library had to close over 20 months ago.”
She said that since the closure, more than 180,000 people had come into the pop-up temporary library.
“My colleagues and I would see
people peering through the window, hoping for a sign that would say when their library would be reopened.”
In attendance with Ms Southgate at the opening were councillors Siggi Henry, Mark Bunting, James Casson, Angela O’leary, Rob Pascoe and newly appointed deputy chair of the community and services committee, Ryan Hamilton.
In her closing address, Ms Southgate referenced the plans to open up the outlook from the library entrance, which has been included in the city’s new 10-year plan.
“I would ask you to imagine if you could sit in this library and look out to Garden Place,” Ms Southgate said.
“I am so pleased to tell you this is coming.”
Cheering and clapping were heard again from the crowd, as one member led three cheers for the opening.
The crowd funnelled through into the building, dispersing to the thousand of books available.
After a cake cutting to officially mark the opening, children and parents moved to level two where a special reading from councillor O’leary took place, while story characters floated around entertaining the crowd.
Jonathon Hagan, a Wintec student, was glad that the central library had been reopened to the public.
“It helps brings the city together. Hamilton has a tendency to be a bit spread out without much going on in the centre city,” Hagan said.
“For me as a student it is nice to have other places to study than just the Wintec Hub.”
Pam Mcadam brought her grandchildren, Emelie Mcadam, 8, and William Mcadam, 7, to the opening, and joked that they would take every book out if they could.
“I think they will bring the library home,” Ms Mcadam said.
Fletcher Mccullum, 7, was absorbed in a book about bugs once the doors opened.
“I love praying mantis,” said Fletcher. “This is how it started. When I was a baby my mummy put one on me and it crawled all over me and I thought it was hilarious and, like now, I’m all grown up. I start hunting them. That’s how I started liking them,” Fletcher said.
The library was one of three pieces of city infrastructure undergoing repairs.
Waterworld is also receiving upgrades with the pool to open before summer, while Founders Theatre’s fate remains undecided.
The library was packed on its opening day, with plenty of readers excited to be back among the thousands of books.
Rebekah Gardner, 10, was dressed as Margaret Mahy's
chair, Benjamin Gardner, 7, was a car and Thomas Gardner, 12, was Ezra Bridger from
Teacher Paul Ardern checks out books with 18-month-old Finlay.
Hundreds gathered around a celebratory cake cut by councillor Paula Southgate to mark the reopening of the library.