Recently I went into the central City and took a series of photographs of the Library Chambers which are now being demolished. Many people will know the Library Chambers as the old Canterbury Public Library which closed in 1981 when the Central Library moved to its new building across the river on Gloucester Street.
As I walked around snapping pictures of the damaged building memories came flooding back. When I first came to Christchurch I ‘went native’. That is to say, I brought a bicycle to get around. I cycled round to the library and joined up. As well as books I was soon hauling away treasures like LPs and prints to brighten up my inner city flat.
Then a bit later I worked there briefly in a very part-time capacity. It was the sort of city library I was used to from Wellington. Lots of dark polished wood, a cool refuge on a hot day, a magnificent bank of wooden catalogue drawers in the heart of the library, lots of nooks and crannies with their own special character – the newspaper reading room, the children’s library, the New Zealand room and so on.
We have photos of the old library in our digital collection.
For the library 150th celebrations in 2009 we collected a number of fond memories of the old library both as a physical place and as a lively institution adding much life and richness to our city. Read about the original art that could be borrowed, Mollie Tobeck’s memories of joining the library or Brian Gilberthorpe’s experience of his first job at the Canterbury Public Library.
So goodbye old friend – thanks for all the memories.