The very first library in Auckland, known as the Auckland Mechanics Institute, was created in 1842. By 1880, the Institute was in deep financial difficulties, so it was taken over by the local government. Seven years later, Sir George Grey (who had twice been governor of New Zealand, as well as its 11th Premier) donated eight thousand books to the library, ostensibly doubling the size of the library. At that time, the library was housed in what is now the Art Gallery, which also included the “Old Colonist Museum.” Shortly afterwards, a new building was constructed for the library and the art collection. The current, stand-alone central library building was opened in 1971. By 2010, seven separate councils in the Auckland region merged. As part of that merger, the Auckland public library system was created. Prior to this merger, the city libraries were a conglomeration of 17 separate libraries, along with a mobile unit, all of which were controlled by the city council. Today, with fifty-five branches, this is the largest public library network in the Southern Hemisphere. This network is home to a number of heritage and research collections, including a large microfilm collection of heritage newspapers, as well as a “...comprehensive collection of Maori, family history and local history published material.” The most important of these are the Sir George Grey Special Collections. Among its rare books is a 1623 copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio and Alexander Shaw’s “A Catalogue of the Different Species of Cloth Collected in the Three Voyages of Captain Cook” (aka “The Tapa-Cloth Book”) published in 1787. In addition, the most extensive Alexander Dumas collection outside of France was donated to the Auckland library by pharmacist, Frank Reed. Libraries are a great window into the life of a community. That’s why we love to visit them in each city to which we go. While not the single most impressive library we’ve visited, the Auckland Library surely was a wonderful find.
While the Auckland Central Library has a modern look, its history dates back 176 years, to 1842.
Even though it covers four full floors, it is easy to find your way around...
...and there certainly is a lot to look at here.
Even the magazine section is plentiful.
There are newspapers from around the world.
Our favorite part of every library we visit is the children’s section. How the library treats this area tells us a lot about the values system of the community.
Some say that music CD’s are becoming extinct because of internet playlists. You certainly would not know it from the library’s collection.
One unique feature at this library was the “Citizens Advice Bureau”, a sort of mini-Visitors Center.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.