New li­brary ‘what city needs’

The Press - - News - Michael Hay­ward michael.hay­ward@stuff.co.nz

Thou­sands of peo­ple yes­ter­day poured through the doors of Christchurch’s newly opened cen­tral li­brary, Tu¯ ranga, in­clud­ing

2500 in the first 90 min­utes, and they seemed im­pressed by the $92 mil­lion build­ing.

The li­brary holds more than

180,000 printed items – 160,000 of which are books – and a range of tech­nol­ogy fea­tures in­clud­ing a con­tro­ver­sial $1.245m touch­screen wall.

Deb­bie Scott said the beau­ti­ful new build­ing was ‘‘ex­actly what the city needs’’.

‘‘What a great place for kids to come and get into books and craft and Lego.

‘‘In­te­grated play with books is al­ways a win­ner . . . It gets them off the tv and off the de­vices and be­ing creative.’’

Scott, who was there with her chil­dren, said they used li­braries all the time so the new li­brary would be a great as­set to them.

Staff are ex­pect­ing nearly ev­ery res­i­dent to visit the new li­brary dur­ing the next few weeks, vis­i­tors were told at its open­ing cer­e­mony.

The Christchurch City Coun­cil ex­pects an av­er­age of 3000 peo­ple to use the li­brary each day.

The li­brary’s five floors will fea­ture new tech­nol­ogy, from a stu­dio for me­dia, mu­sic and video film-mak­ing, 3D print­ing, laser and vinyl cut­ting and even ro­bot­ics, around which the li­brary will of­fer ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes.

Play ar­eas in­clude a slide and Lego ar­eas.

About 1000 peo­ple ap­plied for 45 avail­able li­brary as­sis­tant jobs in the lead up to the open­ing. The build­ing em­ploys 108 peo­ple, many on a part-time ba­sis.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the li­brary’s open­ing was ‘‘an in­cred­i­ble mile­stone’’.

The touch­screen dis­cov­ery wall is a seven-me­tre ‘‘hugely elab­o­rate smart TV’’ on the ground floor. It will pro­vide an in­ter­ac­tive 3D mon­tage of the city’s ge­og­ra­phy, his­tory and its en­vi­ron­ment.

Ear­lier, the coun­cil re­fused to re­lease the price of the touch­wall, only do­ing so af­ter a five-month bat­tle that in­volved the Om­buds­man and At­tor­neyGen­eral.

The Tax­pay­ers Union, who orig­i­nally asked for the cost, la­belled the coun­cil ‘‘the most se­cre­tive in the coun­try’’.

Dalziel said she thought the touch­screen, de­signed to fit within the project’s bud­get, was worth the cost.

‘‘It is a lot of money, I’m not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing that, but I think in the scheme of the whole de­sign of the li­brary and how it will be utilised by peo­ple who visit here . . . I think it will be seen to be an enor­mously ben­e­fi­cial fea­ture.’’

Oth­ers shared her en­thu­si­asm for the high-tech fea­ture. Carol Guise said the ‘‘amaz­ing’’ wall was ex­pen­sive but think­ing long-term, it was money well spent.

Kris We­hipei­hana said the touch­wall was ‘‘a re­ally great way to high­light col­lec­tions and the

‘‘In­te­grated play with books is al­ways a win­ner . . . It gets them off the tv and off the de­vices and be­ing creative.’’ Deb­bie Scott

his­tory of this area’’. She said it was im­por­tant for com­mu­ni­ties to be able to see and in­ter­act with their his­tory, and if this was only done in text peo­ple would not get the full ben­e­fit of it.

Coun­cil bosses hoped Tu¯ ranga, with its Ma¯ ori-in­spired de­sign and golden alu­minium fins that glinted in the sun­light, would be­come a fo­cal point for the city, a li­brary of the 21st cen­tury.

Roof ter­races and bal­conies face ar­eas of im­por­tance to iwi – Maukatere/Mt Grey to the north, Ao­raki/Mt Cook to the west and the Banks Penin­sula to the south.

The golden alu­minium fins around the build­ing re­flect the shape of na­tive harakeke flax.

Cen­tral city res­i­dent Mar­jorie Man­thei said when the gold cladding went on the li­brary was ‘‘like a bea­con’’.

‘‘It is beau­ti­ful so hope­fully it will the worth the money.’’

PHO­TOS: IAIN MCGRE­GOR/STUFF

Luke Watts, 10, was the first mem­ber of the pub­lic up the stairs at the of­fi­cial open­ing of Tu¯ ranga, the cen­tral city li­brary, in Christchurch yes­ter­day.

The five-level build­ing has a large open space in the mid­dle.

Crowds wait for the doors to open yes­ter­day.

The Touch wall is a pop­u­lar new fea­ture at the li­brary.

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