Wednesday 8 January 2020


Wellington Central Library – pictured above 'in happier times' – presents a forlorn spectacle now, the building abandoned and surrounded by hoardings. This closure is due to the need for 'earthquake strengthening' – always a concern in Wellington, as elsewhere in New Zealand – and the work is clearly going to take a long while. A shame, as I've always enjoyed visiting this library, one of the best and most attractive central libraries I know – and one that, happily, still has a traditional, book-centred feel. Unlike many English public libraries, it's well staffed and well stocked and seems very efficient.
  They take their public libraries seriously in New Zealand. The first were established as early as the 1840s, almost as soon as organised European settlement began, and later Carnegie money encouraged the building of more and more good public libraries. New Zealanders seem to be keen readers – hence not only the thriving library service but also the remarkable profusion of second-hand bookshops, at least in Wellington. I'm looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with these at the earliest opportunity...

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