Crowd cel­e­brates re-open­ing of

Hamilton News - - Front Page - Tom Row­land

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.

Pho­tos: Ho­ri­ana Hen­der­son

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.

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