Tūranga opened on Friday 12 October 2018. We did a bit of a historical re-enactment with the Tūranga staff.
Back in 1982, staff were moving into their fab new digs on Gloucester Street. In 2013, librarians were clearing out stuff from their old workplaces in the Central Library. In 2018, Tūranga staff were excited about opening to the public.
As we move ever closer to the opening of Tūranga, it can be interesting to reflect and look back on how far libraries have come in the last few decades. Looking at our fabulous digital collections I hit a fascinating and poignant vein of images of Christchurch libraries past.
Particularly poignant is this image of staff in 1982 outside the new – now old – central library on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace. It feels very symbolic of change, and hope, and the unexpected – and was recreated in 2013.
Another image shows behind the scenes views of Canterbury Public Library from the 1950s. Lots of stamping and binding and indexing going on! I’m glad to say that our wonderful Bindery is still going strong, but I think we look a little different behind the scenes these days – still heaps of books, but much more technology.
Two more views show cataloguing and processing in the 1960s and 1950s. We still do a considerable amount of cataloguing and getting items shelf ready, but we certainly don’t have tables like that any more, nor do we wear the legendary smocks!
I love looking at photos like this. It’s great to look at where we have come from as we plan our move ahead into the future. However, as much as we have changed, some things do stay the same – piles of books and librarians working hard to connect you with wonderful content.
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.