Birkenhead Public Library
|Birkenhead Public Library
Te Whare Matauranga o Birkenhead
|The Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre|
|Location||North Shore, New Zealand|
|Branch of||Auckland Libraries|
|Access and use|
Birkenhead Public Library (Te Whare Matauranga o Birkenhead in Māori) is a New Zealand library, part of the Auckland Libraries system. It is located on Auckland's North Shore. Founded in 1949 it predominantly serves the areas of Birkenhead, Beach Haven, Birkdale, Kauri Park, Chelsea, and Birkenhead East, a population of about 26,000, including six primary schools, two intermediate, and two colleges.
Typical of small public libraries in New Zealand it is able to provide an extensive range of modern library resources and services through its integration into a wider urban network, and through its association with the National Library; while nevertheless retaining its own distinct, local connections such as the Archives Collection of the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.
Birkenhead Public has a notable history. It was the first public library to be founded in North Shore City, the first to offer dial-up access to the New Zealand Bibliographic Network, and a leading proponent of full weekend services.
For four years the library was located in temporary quarters in the Birkenhead Leisure Centre, while the dispute over the location and design of its new building was resolved. On 17 December 2009 a new Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre was reopened on its old site.
- 1 History
- 2 Controversy over the new building
- 3 Staff structure
- 4 Services
- 5 Resources
- 6 Public space
- 7 Mobile library
- 8 Webpage development
- 9 Artwork and exhibitions
- 10 Support groups
- 11 Usage statistics
- 12 Branches of North Shore Libraries
- 13 Notes
- 14 Annotated bibliography
The history of Birkenhead Public Library is characterized by four transformations which have occurred at approximately twenty-year intervals since its founding in 1949. Three of these transformations involved new buildings; while the other involved amalgamation into the wider North Shore Libraries system. There has also been an unintended interim period when the library was based at the Leisure Centre.
Founding of the library
At the turn of the twentieth century, apart from "subscription libraries" the only library in Birkenhead was run by the Zion Hill Methodist Church. In 1901, the Birkenhead Borough Council had resolved that its legal and finance committee should consider building a public one, but little eventuated.
Funding proved to be the issue. A subsidy of £100 was sought from the government in 1904 for a building "not to exceed a total of £600;" yet in 1934 the Auckland Star could still report on dissent at a Birkenhead Borough Council meeting. When John MacDonald spoke out that "It is a poor town that has no public library" the then mayor, George Mills, retorted "that it would be an easy matter to start a library if the ratepayers provided the money."
Yet, in 1949, the Free Birkenhead Public Library was established in the basement of the Council Chambers, opening on 14 November. It was a modest beginning, bolstered by support from the National Library. There was an initial budget of £500. The library began with a collection of around 1500 items, "swelled by about another twenty books a month."
The Civic Reserve Library
After the Auckland Harbour Bridge was opened in 1959 the Birkenhead area became much more accessible. By the mid-1960s issues each year had increased dramatically by nearly a hundred thousand items.
Nora Bourke, the Chairman of the Library Committee, felt the existing building was limited and with mayor Cyril Crocombe began making plans for a much larger building. This was to be a purpose-built construction modelled on the Glen Innes Library.
On 20 April 1968 the new building was officially opened by the Governor General Arthur Porritt. In his speech the mayor declared "the library will attract students from all over the North Shore... and it will make Birkenhead the cultural centre of Auckland city's north harbour." Certainly it became well-established. For thirty-seven years this was to remain the location of the Birkenhead Public Library, and in 1979 the reserve was renamed after the first librarian, Eleanor - "Nell" - Fisher.
In 1992 issues topped 300,000 items. By 2003 usage of the library had increased still further, to such an extent that it was noticeably affecting service delivery. Over 500 people a day were entering the library and new members were growing at a rate of 150 per month. Finding room to add new material to the existing stock of some 67,500 items was becoming increasingly difficult.
Another important factor driving the need for change was the absence of enough space for various community groups, such as primary schools and students, bookclubs, and author events. In terms of a modern technological infrastructure, the old building simply couldn't cope. The City Librarian, Geoff Chamberlain, recognised that it had become "the least attractive of the city's libraries." Sharron Cleghorn, the project manager, saw the need for a place "people would want to visit." By the end of the 1990s some sort of addition to the library was being actively considered.
The 1980s saw an increase in the depth and variety of services offered. A Bedford van was used to start a mobile library service in 1982, and the library began opening on Saturdays in 1983. In 1986, children’s multimedia items were offered for the first time, and the New Zealand Bibliographic Network link was established. Soon after compact discs were made available; while in 1987 the library began opening on Sundays. So service was now provided over the entire week, a first in New Zealand.
Notable too in the late eighties, was the processing of books to create "machine readable codes," which saw the catalogue shifted from card to microfiche. Borrowers were now directly registered onto the computer, and a new computer management system went live, "the most sophisticated...in the world." This was a forerunner of the greater computerisation ahead, including the introduction of self-issue machines in 1995 (pictured), internet access in 1996 and a widening range of electronic resources from 2002.
However, perhaps the most significant event of the eighties was amalgamation of the Birkenhead and Northcote Boroughs, and the subsequent merging of the local libraries into the North Shore Libraries system in 1989 (pictured). Staff were redeployed and regional development was initiated. A new division, Technical Services, became fully operational at Takapuna. A Children’s Services Co-ordinator was appointed, and the computer management system established the year before was improved to allow universal access to the six libraries’ holdings.
This convergence has continued to this day with the advent of the "eLGAR" conglomerate, the Libraries of the Greater Auckland Region. Birkenhead Library (as part of the North Shore Libraries system) began a public rollout of the eLGAR Smarter System on 16 June 2005.
On 1 May 2000, a time capsule was buried out in front of the library, by the Birkenhead war memorial. It contained various items such as maps, driver's licences, shopping receipts, and old library cards from the 1960s and 1970s. Blessed by a kaumatua from Awataha Marae it was planned to be dug up in one hundred years. On the plaque are quoted the opening two lines from T. S. Eliot's poem Burnt Norton.
The Leisure Centre Library
In 2005 the library was shifted to a converted basketball court in the Birkenhead Leisure Centre in Mahara Avenue (pictured). Other alternative sites had been considered, but most were found to be either inappropriate or too expensive. With limited space available for services the Plunkett, CAB and council Area Office had to find alternative premises. In fact only 50% to 60% of the library's own stock could be accommodated.
$175,000 was budgeted for the fitout of the basketball court, and included such things as improved lighting, car park access, and funding for a passenger lift to allow for disabled patrons. Since the location was some distance from the town centre a free shuttle bus was provided from Highbury once a week This location was meant to be a transitional arrangement while the new building was being constructed. However, in the event, the library remained at this temporary location for a number of years.
The Leisure Centre is located in the Birkenhead War Memorial Park, which contains various other buildings and amenities such as sports clubs, sports grounds, a swimming pool and a skatepark. In the areas adjacent to the library there were problems associated with youth drinking and graffiti, and other undesirable behaviour. The carpark was chained off, and an alcohol ban was sought. In 2007, the War Memorial Park was identified as a "crime hotspot." Meanwhile, patronage of the library since relocation had dropped by 35%. During April 2008 a CCTV network of 15 cameras as well as speakers was installed.
In March 2007, the library was granted a resource consent to use the Leisure Centre location for a further three years or until the new library was built, whichever came later.
The Modern Community Library
Brendan Rawson, from the Architecture Office  in Ponsonby, was retained in 2004 to design a building that would create the much needed public space; and in addition, reflect the heritage of the area. Initial concepts took advantage of the considerable potential for views, and incorporated extensive additional landscaping, from more trees to poppies. The first completed design, (pictured), evoked the kauri that were once endemic to the region. Shadow-patterns of branches etched on the windows were reminiscent of the trees in the reserve, one of which was itself a kauri, planted in 1987 to commemorate environmentalist Bill Fisher. There was also to be a cafe on the second floor and a drive-thru at basement level for dropping off returns. This version was planned to be two metres higher than the previous building, with 1200 m2 of floorspace set aside for the library.
Put out to public scrutiny there was some negative feedback. Peter White, a local resident, was critical of the design, calling the building "strange...full of different angles." Community board member Tony Holman wanted more thought put into the heritage aspects, though he did not specify any details. The Friends of the Library, on the other hand, were unanimous in their praise.
Another important aspect of the design was that it would also be a sustainable building. This commitment to the environment is an increasingly significant part of North Shore City Council's approach to urban development, especially through the Resource Management Act and the Treaty of Waitangi. It aims to lead by example with best practices. The library design incorporated several notable features, including the maximisation of natural light, the use of recyclable material, including reuse of grey water, and a natural ventilation and cooling system to limit energy costs.
After the Environment Court decision (see below) this design underwent some modification.
Controversy over the new building
In preparation for a new community library complex the old Birkenhead Library was demolished in May 2005. The library service was temporarily relocated to a basketball court in the Birkenhead Leisure Centre. It was expected to be there for eighteen months. However, the project was then delayed for several years; and was not completed until December 2009.
Cost of delays
The initial focus of the library project was on upgrading the existing quarters. For this purpose the North Shore City Council allocated $1 million in its 2001 draft annual plan, to be spread over two years. This would have allowed for the incorporation of the lobby into the floorplan, and the shifting of various facilities into better positions, such as bringing the Citizens Advice Bureau downstairs and reconfiguring the second level to take a computer and homework centre. Sharron Cleghorn, the project manager, also hoped to provide a public reading room to take advantage of the "spectacular views" (pictured).
When the second floor was built on top of the library in the early 1970s it initially housed the Council Area Office, though it was conceived even then that it would eventually be used as a library space. However, investigations in 1999 by engineers revealed that the second level floor was too weak to support the weight of books without significant strengthening, which would be expensive to undertake. As well, the existing building was showing increasing signs of deterioration, particularly a leaking ceiling. While it could be repaired, maintenance over time would negate the short-term cost advantage of doing so. Thus, the option of a completely new building was brought under consideration.
In 2000 a feasibility study considered four options: demolition, refurbishment, ground floor extensions, or extensions to both levels. Demolition and reconstruction was estimated at $3.3 million, cheaper than extending both floors at $3.7m, though nearly twice the cost of refurbishment. The study noted that the site comprised five lots whose exact boundaries were unclear. It also acknowledged the demolition and reconstruction option would require a land use consent application, as the new building would exceed height and coverage restrictions.
In March 2002 the City Librarian Geoff Chamberlain presented that report to the council, with the first option being the preferred choice by the library services. It would increase the size of the building to 1600 m2, 1200 m2 of which would be devoted to the library itself, with the additional space being used for the Council Area Office and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
A year later, in June 2003, demolition and reconstruction was the confirmed preference. Costs were projected for the next year's draft annual plan. This included a $100,000 in the first year for design and planning, $900,000 in the next, and $4.5 million for the building itself. By mid 2004 the concept had been finalised, and the detailed design was being worked on for presentation to the community boards, and for public consultation.
On 23 February 2005 public submissions closed, and a fitout of the temporary site in the Leisure Centre was begun. Total cost for the new library was now expected to be $6.5 million, then $7.3 million. The project was then delayed, requiring a change to the district plan (see below). In late 2005, the Council Community Services General Manager, Loretta Burnett, stated: "There will be additional costs associated with a plan change but they are modest in comparison." However, subsequent further delays have lifted the cost to the region of $9.25 to $9.5 million as of the end of 2007, with a budget shortfall of $2.75 million.
Resource consent issue
The Council had lodged a resource consent application for the new building in December 2004, but did not wait for it to be confirmed before demolishing the existing building in May–June the next year. According to a 2006 examination of the project management, Council assumed there was little risk of the application being declined. However, an amended Council report by planner Ian Jefferis revealed that the building was to occupy 15% more of the reserve than expected (pictured). Speaking after his appeal in 2007, Bill Abrahams, owner of Rawene Chambers located opposite the library site (pictured below), said that this lack of a consent was "the crux of the matter."
Some residents claimed they had not been properly consulted. Abrahams felt he should've been consulted because the design blocked his views. The Council disputed that there had been no consultation. The Strategic projects manager, Simon Guillemin, pointed out that there had been a number of public meetings and press releases. He also said there had also been consultation with the Birkenhead Town Centre Association and the Friends of the Library.
Yet in June, independent commissioners declined resource consent. Reasons cited included concern about the impact on the existing environment, traffic flow, and the building's proposed size, which violated the zoning requirements.
Set back the Council elected to seek rezoning. As Geoff Chamberlain, the City Librarian acknowledged, the original zoning on the site was historically complex, and never tidied up. In fact, it limited the coverage of any building to only 10% of the land; but the original building built in 1968 had covered 19.5%. This did not include the Plunkett building. The new plan was initially thought to be 32.9%, then revised to 48%. This apparent expansion of the footprint particularly concerned resident Clyde Scott, who was later one of those who lodged an appeal with the Environment Court.
In the local paper, the North Shore Times, there was a steady clamour from both opponents of the project and those in favour. In addition to issues with the new library itself, the Council's performance was questioned, concern was raised about the drop-off in existing library services, and the library project was linked to the ongoing redevelopment in the whole of the Birkenhead town centre. In particular, the development of "Highbury corner"- the current disputed site - has always been contentious. In 1922 it was reported:
The grounds upon which the Municipal Chambers stand are not only bare of attraction, but they harbour unsightly buildings which could well be accommodated in some less conspicuous position.....Considering this locality is practically the heart of the borough, it ought to be worth while to make it presentable.
Four months after the library was demolished Jill Nerheny, the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Coordinator, claimed there was a groundswell of support for leaving the land as green space. Residents Clyde Scott and Peter White became adamant the community would be better served with a park on the reserve site and the library located elsewhere in Highbury. Others lobbied for the fence ringing the library site to be taken down, and eventually the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board had it pushed back to the perimeter. Two new park benches were installed on the reserve to take advantage of the expanse that was now available (pictured).
As part of their later application on rezoning the Council submitted a report on the prevailing winds, which suggested the land would be unsuitable as open space. While the commissioners acknowledged this, they felt that landscaping could improve the situation somewhat. Though they then noted the number of people actually using the newly opened reserve as such was "relatively modest," especially when held in contrast to the significant numbers who wanted to reinstate the library there.
Three-quarters of those who made submissions on the rezoning supported the change, including Thea Muldoon. Prominent among those objecting were former television newsreader Judy Bailey, and property developer, Graham Milne.
Milne, who had made proposals as far back as 1989, proffered a wide variety of alternative plans for a far more elaborate community centre. These involved road closures, adding new roads, and leasing or selling his land on 15 and 17 Rawene Road, or going into partnership using his buildings. There was, however, little support for his ideas. In October 2005 he sent an email to Community Services & Parks Committee claiming his proposals had been misrepresented. He accused those doing the assessment reports of "yet more incompetence" and threatened to contest the rezoning "fiercely.. every step of the way." The Committee concluded, contrary to Milne, that the reports were "thorough and included site analysis, as well as evaluation of alternatives."
In June 2006 the three independent commissioners approved the rezoning of the district plan (pictured). Their decision acknowledged the significance of historical precedent. In other words, the fact that there had been a library on the site for over thirty years was "notable" with regards to the usage the land was now put to. Also important was the appropriateness of the site in comparison to other options. Previous reports in 2003 and 2005 had considered the existing site was the best choice; while the Highbury Centre Plan of 2006 indicated that there had been extensive close consultation with the community over two years, which in a general sense was pertinent to the usage of the contested land. The commissioners concurred, and the library site became formalised as part of a Special Purpose 9 zone, which allows for the continued operation of community facilities. They noted too, that it is this zoning which underlies other North Shore Libraries, such as the ones at Takapuna and Glenfield.
The commissioners also reconfigured the Recreation 2 boundary, to cut through the middle plot. This was done to safeguard the treed area, and to ensure a better balance between the reserve and the building complex. They emphasised the need for integration, both physical and visual, between the two zones to encourage usage of the recreation area.
It was expected then that the library project would be further delayed by two years. However, Abraham Holdings, owner of the Rawene Chambers, located opposite the library's former site (pictured), lodged a last-minute appeal with the Environment Court, claiming, among other things, concern over the impact on the historic value of the reserve. Former councilor Jenny Kirk decried Abraham Holdings for their blatant commercial self-interest, and lodged a counter objection. A hearing was set for 28 May 2007.
Speaking on behalf of the rezoning was Council, Friends of the Library represented by Mrs Adrienne Wright, Plunkett by Ms Jane Sheridan and Jenny Kirk; while speaking against was Abraham Holdings, Graham Milne (Airborne Asia Pacific), Clyde Scott, Peter White and David Brook.
After three months deliberation the Environment Court approved the building of a new library on the old site, but reaffirmed the rezoning commissioners' restrictions, notably the restriction on height which dropped the maximum from 11 m to 9 m, and the constraints on the footprint (pictured). The Council agreed, "keen to keep the planning process as straight-forward as possible." Bill Abraham, of Abraham Holdings, claimed "people in years to come will be grateful for all the park space that has been kept." Current indications are that it will still be larger than the old library, with 250 m2 of extra floorspace, though this would make it some 200 m2 to 300 m2 smaller than the original preferred design.
The steering group was redesignated as the Governance and Advisory Group, (pictured). Consisting of councillors, community board members, and the Community Services general manager, it was set up to monitor the project more closely.
While the exact future of Birkenhead Library is uncertain a survey conducted by the MP for Northcote Jonathan Coleman in October 2006 showed there was still widespread public support for the return of the library to its old site. Work began on the new building in June, and is expected to be completed in late 2009.
In the beginning volunteers were crucial to the running of the library. Savings in wages were considered instrumental in allowing the purchase of more books and also allowed money to be set aside for future planned extensions to the building. In 1949 the number of volunteers was recorded at twenty-eight. They included the town clerk and a councilor, Percy Hurn, as well others who had given freely of their expertise such as Duthie from the Auckland Public library, a passing instructor from the Country Library service, and those pulled in to read to the kids during the school holidays. Among this "band of honorary assistants" a Mrs Gaidener, Mr Slovey and Mr Odd came in for particular acknowledgement. At the opening of the new library building nearly twenty years later the mayor paid tribute to all the original volunteers.
By 1950 the Borough Council was looking to formally employ someone for £100 a year. Joan Foggin and John Wilson were the first paid staff, while Eleanor Fisher, already working in the library became the first full-time staff member in 1952. She remained the in-charge librarian until her retirement nineteen years later. By 1955 there was a part-time library assistant as well; and soon a fulltime junior was being considered. Growth in library use and opening hours continued, so that by 1968 there were 3 fulltimers and a part-timer to help on Friday nights. Staffing peaked in 1986 with 11.5 full time equivalents, and was subsequently reduced to 8.67. This includes staff spread over seven days, and reflects the high preponderance of part-timers typical of the industry. The decrease in staff occurred despite the onset of Sunday openings and the increase in door-count and issues because, at least in part, amalgamation allowed the centralisation of many departments, such as cataloguing. The onset of computers has also increased efficiency, even to the near complete automation of some services, such as circulation through self-issue machines, which recorded 40% of items borrowed within their first months of installation at Birkenhead in 1995.
The current staff structure is headed by a Community Librarian, with two main senior positions: an Information Services Librarian and a Children and Young Adults Librarian, both of which are full-time positions. Other senior roles include the Weekend Supervisors. The main bulk of staff continues to be Library Assistants, with 1-2 being fulltime. There are also a number of shelvers, generally students. Other occasional staff have included a librarian on exchange from England, and various volunteers, such as a Taskforce Green worker helping with a rebarcoding project, and a student doing a Duke of Edinburgh award.
Services include children's programmes, reference, interloans, internet access, printer-copier, and housebound deliveries.
Children's programmes were in place from early on. Eleanor Fisher persuaded local residents to come in and read to kids during school holidays. Storytime went for an hour once a week, and up to 50 kids attended. Class visits by local schools started in 1954, and became a regular feature. Outside of this collaboration with schools the library offered reading programmes, such as "Go Bush" and later, as part of the North Shore Libraries, the Rakaau Reader scheme. This encouraged reading by setting targets coupled with incentives and visible marks of achievement, such as green, silver, then gold leaves on the Raakau tree (pictured).
From this the library became more involved in the provision of a wider range of holiday activities, like puppet shows and hands-on arts and crafts, such as making hats or murals or cake decorations. On one occasion these were so well subscribed the library held them down the road in the All Saints Church hall. There were events too on such occasions as the library's 50th celebration, and Halloween.
There have been regular appearances by authors, illustrators, storytellers and various speakers, and celebrities from Judy Bailey to Edith the Elf. Others include storyteller Lynne Kriegler, illustrators Trevor Pye, Margaret Beames, Robyn Belton, and Judy Lambert, and writers Lino Nelisi, Tom Bradley, and Jean Bennett, as well as Irish storyteller Nigel De Burca, and two of the Aunties. They were often invited as part of various book festivals, such as the Children's Aim Book Award. Competitions to select favourite reads further raised awareness and use of the books.
Lapsit for preschoolers with their parents was an innovation launched by then Chief Librarian Rata Graham in 1992. These were half-hour sessions of mostly music and song, as well as stories and finger puppetry. Lapsit proved so popular it was extended to twice a week in 1999. It was the precursor to "Rhymetime" now standardised across the entire North Shore Libraries system, a programme specifically designed to encourage active socialisation and the development of reading skills, through the focus on rhythm and rhyme.
The initial Borough Council budget for books was £500 and when it opened in 1949 the library began with a collection of around 1500 items, "swelled by about another twenty books a month." Percy Hurn, a councilor at the time, recalled the first book he selected for the library was "Sunset over France." More prosaically the local newspaper recorded "textbooks on agriculture... a complete set of the books of Walter Scott... and 13 volumes of the works of Thackeray."
Support from the National Library was keenly sought, as it would allow access to "practically every library in the dominion." However this support was qualified: the National Library did not want to encourage "cheap reading" of genre books, such as romance, westerns and detective stories. In the event, when Birkenhead opened nearly half the books present were on extended loan from the National Library. Their "field librarians" continued to provide a regular infusion of books into the Birkenhead collection two or three times a year, for at least a decade. Topics were diverse, from gardening, music, occupations and hobbies, to art, agriculture and home management. Junior books were added in 1953.
One hundred and fifty of the original collection were donations. Items gifted have ranged from the Walter Scott works, to individual titles, to a 34 volume set of Britannica. The Rotary Club provided a $2000 Reference collection for the opening of the 1968 building. Later, Plunkett donated records, while Bob and Norma Inward gave two folios of prints by painters Goldie and Heaphy.
Borrowing then, as now, was free to ratepayers; those outside the area paid 10 shillings in 1949, and fifty years later, a $100 for an annual subscription. Initially one book was issued to each member, with 2-3d charge for additional items. Newer books were more expensive, as much as 6d Rental charges on fiction were dropped in 1990; though the late 1980s saw them on items such as cds, a practice which became generalised across other multimedia items like cd-roms and DVDs. For a while, Internet access was charged too, at $2 per 15 minutes. At the time it was used mainly for email. In 1994 rental fiction returned with the start of a "Bestseller" book collections; Four years later a similar rental collection of bestseller magazines was started.
The collection size in 1968 was 19,000 items, mostly books and magazine. This increased to over 63,000 items in 1992, and included a much more diverse range of media, from children's puzzles to archives, as well as the provision of stock from other branches, and access to system-wide databases. By 2003 Birkenhead's stock had risen to 67,500. Shortly afterwards, the library was temporarily relocated to the Leisure Centre where there was only room to house 40-50% of the collection.
Currently Adult, Young Adults, Junior, and Large Print collections are subdivided in the traditional manner, into fiction and nonfiction areas with the latter arranged according to the Dewey decimal system. Media other than books are generally collated as separate collections or subdivisions. There are exceptions, such as language material which is collated in the nonfiction 400s. Junior material is separated into the widest range of categories, from board books up through various reading-ages, such as picture books, readers, and various levels of chapter books.
Resources unique to Birkenhead library include the Chelsea Sugar Archives, and its local history photo collection. Apart from these special collections most material is available for lending. Exceptions include newspapers, a Reference Collection interfiled in amongst the main collection, a Quick Reference Collection, and a depository of council documents and other official publications (pictured). The front page of the North Shore Libraries website is itself a web portal, for various council and library resources, including the catalogue.
The library has also tried to provide public space for various activities, such as study and leisure reading, though its history is marked by a struggle to do this consistently. The lack of space meant the popularity of the original library was something of an embarrassment. The 1968 building was more spacious, especially after later alterations. 1973 saw the addition of the mezzanine floor; and 1993, the addition of a Young Adult room, as well as a Large Print lounge. However, there was little room for much expansion, which led to the curtailment of some service development. This was one of the reasons for the new building project started in 2005. The temporary location in the Leisure Centre, offered two tables in the magazine-newspaper-computer area, along with a few sofa chairs. The Children's section also had some seating (pictured). But, after pressure from Cr Hartley the children's play equipment was cut back by more than half. The original costs was to spend $80,000 on the children and the final cost was only $30,000 and the landscaping was also slashed, a reduction that is reflected in the final arrangements.
Located in central Highbury the library is about seven miles (11 km) distant from the more remote areas of Beach Haven and Birkdale. As a consequence, from the mid-1960s there was a persistent call to establish a more convenient branch location. Petitioned by residents the Borough Council considered the possibility of setting up something in the Beach Haven hall on a temporary basis, to see if it would take. They asked the then Chief Librarian Ann Clegg to prepare a report looking into the details.
Her conclusion that a branch was an expensive option, and that it would made more sense to expand the existing library aggrieved locals. They felt her assertion that there was not enough demand by "serious readers" was a misrepresentation of the community's ability and very real need; while the three councillors who'd campaigned on a promise of getting something done, proclaimed the report biased. The Beach Haven Residents and Ratepayers Association started a petition and gathered 700 signatures. There were angry letters in the paper.
In the event Birkenhead bought the mobile van off Takapuna in 1982. This was a 1949 Bedford chassis with a purpose-built body that had already been in service for 35 years, much of it as the first mobile library in Auckland. In fact, as part of the Takapuna City Council in 1977 it had been contracted to visit the outer Birkenhead area once a week. This was reminiscent of the Country Library van, a national service which used to visit Birkenhead Library itself several times a year during an earlier era.
Years of service
With its purchase Birkenhead greatly expanded the mobile service. Capable of stocking up to 2000 items the van now went out five days a week with a full range of items from adult fiction, to magazines, picture books and puzzles, constantly reinvigorated from the main library. As well, it provided a community noticeboard. The van stopped at a different place each day, generally staying between 10am and 4:30pm, closing only for lunch and tea-breaks. This was a length of time commensurate with weekend services. Within a few years though the more common practice was adopted of spending less time at a greater variety of locations.
Initially there were two staff to cope with the influx of registrations, but the sole position was quickly established with Cynthia McKenzie as Birkenhead's first Mobile Librarian. Over its decade of existence the Mobile had half a dozen different librarians, who had to cope with double de-clutching, a leaking roof and stifling heat, as well as the usual duties of a librarian.
Issues dropped, and in 1988 the service was reduced from 5 to 2 days a week, in part perhaps due to increasing mechanical difficulties. The once famously reliable van had problems with its radiator ensuring it had to be constantly stopped and attended by the last Mobile Librarian, Malcolm Fletcher. Then it blew a head gasket. With the onset of amalgamation of Birkenhead into the wider North Shore Libraries it was superseded by the system Mobile anyway, and the Bedford was eventually retired in 1992. Not wanted by Motat or the Devenport Museum it eventually went to the North Shore Vintage Car Club. Over its eleven years of operation it had issued over 163 thousand items.
The North Shore Libraries catalogue was launched onto the Internet in June 1995. Shortly afterwards the branches began to demonstrate general internet usage to the public, then to roll out access. By May 1996 Birkenhead was having daily demonstrations. About this time, North Shore Libraries put up their first website. Datacom, whose main role was the provision of the libraries' online catalogue, created the website too, using AOLpress 1.2. This included the establishing of separate webpages for each branch.
A green look 1997-2003
Birkenhead Library's own subsidiary webpage was already well established then, before its subsequent recording on the Internet Archives. It was sited two clicks in from the main page. There was a photo, and the predominant green of the layout matched the official Council colour used in its logo. From this static front a number of subpages could be accessed. These detailed basic facts about the library, such as location, opening hours, and staff contact details. This was to remain unchanged for about five years, apart from minor alterations, such as the inclusion of a branch phone number prominently displayed on the front page, and updates to reflect changes in staffing.
White with columns 2003-2009
In 2003 a more elaborate three-column style was adopted. This marked a shift from Datacom's maintenance to the work of Mike Copley and Trine Romlund hired specifically to build a more functional and professional-looking website for the entire North Shore Libraries. They used PHP templates. Features included a range of photo thumbs illustrating aspects of the library and its services, and a brief note on the history of the library. Three significantly detailed related pages were also added: Birkenhead Local History Books for Sale, Birkenhead Library Collections and Services, and its subpage on the Chelsea Archives.
This remained the style and predominant content of the Birkenhead Library webpage into 2009. Only some minor details changed, such as the link from the North Shore Libraries main page reduced from three to two clicks with the utilisation of drop-down menus; and an increased cross-linking of hyperlinks throughout the North Shore Libraries website.
As part of the redesign of the North Shore Libraries website in July 2009 the Birkenhead page was revamped to its current layout.
Artwork and exhibitions
The library has purchased or had donated a variety of artworks:
- Two bound folios of Charles Goldie prints and watercolour prints of Charles Heaphy. Donated in 1981 and 1983 respectively by Bob & Norma Inward, valued at $750 each.
- Bush walk painting. Presented by the Birkenhead Licencing Trust, valued at $1500. Also "some pottery" and a leatherbound album of the 1988 Birkenhead centenary.
- "Sands of Time in Piha," painting by Michelle Stuart. Donated by Birkenhead Licensing Trust.
- "Polymorphous," a bronzed ceramic sculpture, donated by Ian Firth.
- "Nga Aho Matauranga" (Connections of knowledge) by Toi Te Ritio Mahi.
- "Island Night," handscreen printed acrylic by Sue Pearson.
- Six mural panels. Were located on streetfront alongside main entrance of Civic Reserve Library. Featuring local history heritage of early pioneers, horticulture, sugar factory and township. Done by students from Birkenhead College.
There have also been a number of exhibitions, often work of local artists. These were usually presented on the mezzanine floor of the Civic Reserve library. The first exhibition was a display of books in 1955. Subjects ranged from "poetry to sheep mustering," and included works by William Satchell and Katherine Mansfield. The oldest item was a bible in Maori published in 1840. During the North Shore Arts Festival of 1966 there was an exhibition devoted exclusively to Maori books, sculpture and painting.
Other exhibitions include paintings by Pauline Thompson, Linda Mcneur-Wismer, Betty Eddington, and Susan Durrant, pottery by Peter Collis and Peter Shearer, prints by Julienne Francis, glass sculptures by Carl Houser, and copperwork by Andrew Campbell. A fabric art collection by locals was instigated by Rata Graham and displayed as part of the library's centenary celebrations.
Birkenhead library has had a number of support groups. Volunteers were instrumental in staffing the library in the early days; while the Birkenhead Rotary Club took down the old council quarters in preparation for the new 1968 building. They also donated money to set up the Reference Collection; and later, in 1982, they started the first collection of talking books. Similarly, the Plunkett club of 1980 raised $200 to buy 35 LP recordings of children's fairytales, songs and rhymes.
The Friends of Birkenhead Library were established in November 1990, under the patronage of Keith Sinclair, and continued under Thea Muldoon from 1994. They have advocated strongly for the library, most recently on behalf of the new building, drumming up support through meetings with the Community Board and in the local paper. Along with Plunkett they spoke up for the library at the Environment Court hearing. The Friends have also raised monies for various equipment, such as listening posts and the library's first camera, a Pentax. Speakers at their events have been diverse and have included historian Claudia Orange, writers Muriel Fisher, Sheridan Keith, and Rosemary Menzies, as well as Ann Hartley, a former mayor, Jenny Kirk, a former councillor, and Sergio Gulyaev, a Russian astronomer.
Published statistics extend to 2000, with most detail being recorded for the 1990s when Annual Reports were written for each branch. These statistics give an indication of usage of the library by a variety of measures including membership, issues (yearly and monthly), door count, stock size and number of reference queries.
No statistical correlation has been done with population growth, though the latter has been cited generally in connection with library usage. Also there has been some records of membership numbers in and of themselves, as well as a proportion of the total population. So, for example, in 1971 there were 8,752 members of a borough population of 15,825. That this meant over half the population were members was duly noted. However, by 1992 the population had increased to 31,860, while membership had only risen to 13,162. By 2003 there were 150 new registrations a month.
From the library's inception issues have risen steadily with minor fluctuations, from a little over 8,000 items in 1950 to over 300,000 at the turn of the century (pictured). To date the peak recorded year of the published data has been 1998. In 1957 when issues dropped for the first time, this was attributed to the opening of the Northcote Library. Similarly, while the Civic Reserve building was being constructed the library was relocated to a temporary shop site and the subsequent fall off in 1968 was attributed to this. Other trends visible from the graph include a dip in the 1970s and a rise in the 1990s. Data on the impact of the shift to the Leisure Centre has not been made publicly available yet.
Over its decade of existence the Birkenhead Mobile Library issued nearly 15,000 items a year. At one point, 1984, 24,128 items, equivalent to more than 10% of the building's issue; though on average about half that. On the other hand, Birkenhead as a subset of the whole North Shore Libraries system, has averaged 16% of the total issues. This figure excludes those early years when there were no other libraries on the North Shore, but includes the introduction of branches at Takapuna, Northcote, Devonport, East Coast Bays, Glenfield, and the system Mobile, as well as the start and cessation of Birkenhead's Mobile, the impact of amalgamation, and the shift to and from various buildings.
Branches of North Shore Libraries
- Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.
- Statistics New Zealand. (2006). Community Profiles accessed Feb 2007.
- Graham, Rata (1992). "Birkenhead Library: a history". Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries. pp. 1–3.
- "Computer links Birkenhead to library network". North Shore Times Advertiser. 28 January 1986. p. 3.
- Watson, Ben (9 June 2006). "Waiting game for reserve appeal". North Shore Times. p. 6.
- Thompson, Wayne (17 December 2009). "Price trebles, but the library is back". New Zealand Herald. p. General News, p. 7.
- Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 102.
- Haddon, Kathy. (1993). Birkenhead: the way we were, Birkenhead: North Shore City Council, p. 45.
- "News of the Day: Library for Birkenhead," The Auckland Star, 31 May 1934, in Extracts from the Birkenhead City Council scrapbook, compiled by Colleen Christie, p. 2.
- "The last word in library service," North Shore Times Advertiser, 26 Apr 1968, p. 6.
- Reed, Kim. "Reserve zone change on the books," North Shore Times, 29 Sep 2005, p. 3.
- Titchener, Paul. (1982). 'The naming of Birkenhead,' Beginnings vol. 6, p. 36
- Christie, Colleen. (1989) Birkenhead: a brief account, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Public Library, p. 3.
- Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.
- "New page in Birkenhead history," North Shore Times Advertiser, 26 April 1968, p. 4
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, vol 3, pp. 23-25.
- "New page in Birkenhead history," North Shore Times Advertiser, 26 April 1968, p. 4.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.
- "Birkenhead Library gets $1m expansion," North Shore Times Advertiser, 23 Aug 2001, p. 11.
- "Library list of woes make sad reading," North Shore Times Advertiser, 10 Jun 2003, p. 1.
- "Booktalk group," North Shore Times Advertiser, 20 May 2003.
- "Handbooks presented to librarian," North Shore Times Advertiser, 14 May 2003.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, pp. 1-2.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, pp. 2-5.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 3.
- North Shore Times Advertiser, "Computer links Birkenhead to library network," North Shore Times Advertiser, 28 Jan 1986, p. 3.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 4.
- "New system for library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 12 Dec 1995, p. 3.
- "Library surfs the internet," North Shore Times Advertiser, 19 Sep 1996, p. 38.
- Carmichael, Nikki. "The world's at your fingertips via libraries," North Shore Times Advertiser, 3 May 2002.
- Norsburgh, Megan. "Supercity swears in its mayors and councillors," North Shore Times Advertiser, 31 Oct 1989, p. 3.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 5
- Christie, Colleen. (1989) Birkenhead: A brief account, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Public Library, p. 4.
- "Library celebrates seven day service," North Shore Times, 17 May 2005, p. 11.
- The eLGAR website is simply the grouping of all the constituents catalogues. However, in December 2007 they started the eLGAR Blog which aims to be more informative.
- Bethell, Michelle. "Borrowing’s a breeze with library’s smart system," North Shore Times, 17 May 2005, p. 5.
- Le Bas, Natalia (9 May 2000). "Historic moment in time". North Shore Times Advertiser. p. 11.
- Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 9 September 2004.
- "Area office on the move," North Shore Times, 5 April 2005, p. 12
- "CAB moves ranks while library is demolished," North Shore Times,31 May 2005, p. 34.
- Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 14 April 2005.
- Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 30 November 2004.
- Birkenhead Library webpage, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 31 Jan 2008.
- Reed, Kim. "Free shuttle bus to temporaray library," North Shore Times, 19 May 2005, pg 8.
- See Controversy over the new building
- Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committee, North Shore City Council, 8 Aug 2006.
- Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committee, North Shore City Council, 6 Sep 2006.Archived October 16, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committee, North Shore City Council, 8 May 2006.
- Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 14 Jun 2007.
- Reed, Kim. "Library hit by more delays," North Shore Times, 27 Mar 2007, p. 2.
- Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 15 Mar 2007.
- The Architecture Office - Home
- This is the first recorded meeting. Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 12, 13, 24 Aug 2004.
- 'Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 30 November 2004.
- Reed, Kim (22 February 2005). "Deadline looms for library plan feedback". North Shore Times. p. 11.
- "Kauri tree planted in reserve". North Shore Times Advertiser. 11 August 1987. p. 17.
- North Shore City Council. "About North Shore City Council", North Shore City Council, undated. Accessed 2 Jan 2007; North Shore City Council. "Environmental education: sustainable living", North Shore City Council, undated. Accessed 2 Jan 2007.. Archived February 2, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- North Shore City Council. "Environmental Education:North Shore City Council leading by example", North Shore City Council, undated. Accessed 2 Jan 2007. Archived October 1, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- White & White Ltd. North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study. Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 4.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 3, p. 25.
- Le Bas, Natalie. "Manager supports new library for Birkenhead," North Shore Times Advertiser, 28 Mar 2002, p. 28;
- White & White Ltd. North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study. Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 3.
- Le Bas, Natalie. "Manager supports new library for Birkenhead," North Shore Times Advertiser, 28 Mar 2002, p. 28.
- "A new library on the books," North Shore Times Advertiser, 19 Jun 2003, p. 1.
- North Shore Times, "Library work set to start," North Shore Times, 16 Jul 2004, p. 3.
- "Deadline looms for library plan feedback," North Shore Times, 22 Feb 2005, p. 11.
- "Libraries bigger than books", North Shore City Council, 18 April 2005.
- Lotter, Michelle. "Library delays cost $2.2m," North Shore Times, 6 Dec 2007.
- Report of a meeting of the Community Services & Parks Committee, North Shore City Council, 27, 28 Nov & 13 Dec 2007.
- White, Jean. "Report criticises library process," North Shore Times, 16 Mar 2006, p. 3.
- Reed, Kim. "Fears that Council breaching own rules," North Shore Times, 30 Jun 2005, p. 1.
- Reed, Kim. "Library plans thrown out,'" North Shore Times, 12 Jul 2005, p. 1.
- Reed, Kim. 'Reserve zone change on the books,' North Shore Times, 29 Sep 2005, p. 3.
- "Council turns focus to new library plans," North Shore Times, 2 Aug 2005, p. 4.
- North Shore City Council, "Birkenhead Library back on track", 23 Sep 2005.
- North Shore City Council, "Plan change for Birkenhead Library", 28 Oct 2005.
- Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," North Shore Times, 18 Aug 2005, p. 6.
- Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," North Shore Times, 18 Aug 2005, p. 6
- Letters-to-editor in chronological order to illustrate the diversity of opinions: "Letter to editor: Library Fiasco," North Shore Times, 19 Jul 2005, p. 6; Glenny, Don. "Letter to editor: Library compromise," North Shore Times, 26 Jul 2005, p. 8; Marsh, Terry. "Letter to editor: Devoted reader," North Shore Times, 2 Aug 2005 p. 10; Denny, A and Cheesman, E. "Letter to editor: Reading matter," North Shore Times, 9 Aug 2005, p. 6; Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," North Shore Times, 18 Aug 2005, p. 6; Prangley, K. "Letter to editor: Library claims," North Shore Times, 30 Aug 2005, p. 10; Keucke, Helen. "Letter to editor: Library option," North Shore Times, 16 Sep 2005, p. 5; Burn, Peter. "Letter to editor: Birkenhead development," New Zealand Herald, 28 Feb 2006, p. ?; Milne, Graham. "Letter to editor: Library stuff up," North Shore Times, 4 April 2006, p. 7; Wright, Adrienne. "Letter to editor: Friendly words," North Shore Times, 23 Mar 2006, p. 7.
- A background article to indicate the timeframe of the then current Highbury redevelopment, of which Birkenhead Library is a part: North Shore City Council, "Unlocking Highbury's potential", 29 Aug 2003.
- ["Has not the time arrived.."], The Tatler, Vol 1, No.1, Feb 17, 1922, p. 6. Article is only of paragraph length.
- "Fate of library up in air," North Shore Times, 9 Sep 2005, p. 4.
- for Clyde Scott see: Watson, Ben. "Waiting game for reserve appeal," North Shore Times, 9 Jun 2006, p. 6
- for Peter White see: Thompson, Wayne. "Bitter North Shore planning dispute reaches climax", New Zealand Herald, 28 April 2006, p. A7.
- Reed, Kim. "Call to open fenced park," North Shore Times, 11 Nov 2005, p. 2.
- "Open meeting a chance for library update," North Shore Times, 23 Sep 2005, p. 3.
- "Wind Assessment of Nell Fisher Reserve, Birkenhead." Attachment 8 in North Shore City Council, North Shore City district plan (operative in part) decisions on submissions and further submissions in respect of plan change 14 : re-zone Nell Fisher Reserve, Birkenhead, Takapuna: North Shore, 2006.
- North Shore City Council. North Shore City district plan (operative in part) decisions on submissions and further submissions in respect of plan change 14 : re-zone Nell Fisher Reserve, Birkenhead. Takapuna: North Shore, 2006.
- Thompson, Wayne. "Bitter North Shore planning dispute reaches climax", New Zealand Herald, 28 April 2006, p. A7.
- Thompson, Wayne. "Land dispute divides community", New Zealand Herald, 15 Feb 2006, p. A12.
- Willis, Liz. "Library objector presents own plan," North Shore Times, 4 Oct 2005, p. 2
- Lynch, Haley. "Library debate hots up," North Shore Times, 11 Oct 2005, p. 2
- Email recorded verbatim in: [Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee], North Shore City Council, 28 Oct 2005.
- North Shore City Council, "Library to be built on Nell Fisher reserve", 1 Jun 2006.
- "Birkenhead Library gets rezoning nod," The Aucklander, 7 Jun 2006, p. 7.
- "New library still a year away," North Shore Times Advertiser, 20 Jan 2004, p. 3.
- North Shore City Council, "Appeal delays Birkenhead Library", 21 Jul 2006.
- Grant, Kirsten. "Library reconstruction in the doldrums," The Aucklander, 23 Aug 2006, p. 5.
- Reed, Kim. "Reserve rezoning appealed," North Shore Times, 21 Jul 2006, p. 3
- Grant, Kirsten. "Library reconstruction in the doldrums," The Aucklander, 23 Aug 2006, p. 5
- North Shore City Council, "Court to decide library's fate in May", 28 Feb 2007.
- Cleghorn, Sharron. "Birkenhead Library update", Mar 2007.
- Reed, Kim. "Fight over reserve rezoning gets court date," North Shore Times, 18 May 2007, p. 2.
- Reed, Kim. "Library hit by more delays," North Shore Times, 27 Mar 2007, p. 2.
- Reed, Kim. "Library decision waits on judge," North Shore Times, 5 Jul 2007, p. 5
- Donnell, Hayden. "Library delay worth it - objector," North Shore Times, 11 Sep 2007, p. 7.
- Available figures are approximate. From mentioned sources original library floorspace said to be 650 m2 or 735 m2; and original new design 1100 m2 to 1200 m2. Also, floorspace figures of 750 m2 and "about 1000 m2" given. For these latter see: Cleghorn, Sharron. "Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre Project Status November 2007," in Report of a meeting: Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board, North Shore City Council, 4 Dec 2007.
- North Shore City Council. Report of a meeting Community Parks and Services Committee. 10 Mar 2005.
- North Shore City Council. Report of a meeting Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board. 4 Dec 2007.
- Lotter, Michelle. "Library delays cost $2.2m," North Shore Times, 6 Dec 2007, p. 3.
- Willis, Liz. "Public want their library brought back," North Shore Times, 2 Nov 2006, p. 4.
- "Birkenhead library gets green light," North Shore Times, 23 Aug 2007, p. 2.
- Thompson, Wayne. "Library wins out in bitter Birkenhead land battle," New Zealand Herald, 20 Aug 2007, p. A5.
- "Birkenhead library: progress with new venture," North Shore Times, 14 Sep 1940, p. 5.
- "Birkenhead Public Library: annual report," North Shore Times, 13 Jun 1951, p. 5.
- "Birkenhead library: opening ceremony," North Shore Times, 30 November 1949, p. 3.
- "Birkenhead library," North Shore Times, 26 Oct 1949, p. 7.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol. 1, p. 49 & vol. 2, p. 49.
- quote from "Birkenhead Public Library: annual report," North Shore Times, 13 Jun 1951, p. 5.
- "Birkenhead library: interesting statistics," North Shore Times, 11 Oct 1950, p. 3.
- "New page in Birkenhead history," North Shore Times Advertiser, 26 April 1968, p. 6.
- Fisher, Muriel; Hilder, Wenman (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb. Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council. p. 102.
- "Joined library for three months - stayed two decades". North Shore Times Advertiser. 23 February 1971. p. 12.
- "Library report records issue of 35,000 books". North Shore Times. 23 November 1955. p. 2.
- "Birkenhead public library report". North Shore Advertiser. 27 May 1959. p. 3.
- "Birkenhead Public Library". North Shore Times Advertiser. 26 April 1968. p. 6.
- Annual Reports: 1990-1992 & 1998/1999. Takapuna, North Shore City Council: North Shore Libraries.
- "Birkenhead Librarian's reports to Borough Council". North Shore Times. 26 April 1961. p. 7.
- "New page in Birkenhead history". North Shore Times Advertiser. 26 April 1968. p. 5.
- Graham, Rata. Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.
- Graham, Rata. Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 5.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report 1995/1996, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual reports: 1990-2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- "Trip of a lifetime," North Shore Times Advertiser, 16 Feb 1989, p. 9.
- "Library celebrates," North Shore Times Advertiser, 7 Sep 1988, p. 27.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 1, p. 105.
- "Birkenhead Public Library: annual report on progress," North Shore Times, 21 Jul 1954, p. 1.
- "Library story hour in January," North Shore Advertiser, 21 Dec 1960, p. 4.
- "Learning the love of books," North Shore Times Advertiser, 2 Feb 1999, p. 5.
- Raakau, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 20 Dec 2007.
- "Birkenhead Children's Librarian retires," North Shore Times Advertiser, 25 Nov 1980, p. 29.
- "Events mark library's 50th anniversary," North Shore Times Advertiser, 2 Feb 1999, p. 9.
- "Goosebumps party haunting experience," North Shore Times Advertiser, 22 May 1997, p. 2.
- "Kids take part in book festival," North Shore Times Advertiser, 18 Apr 1995 p. 11.
- "Party and competition for children," 3 Bs Bulletin, 11 Apr 1996, p. 5.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 7.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual Review: 1999/2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- Rhymetime, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 20 Jan 2008.
- 1499 quoted in "The last word in library service," North Shore Times Advertiser, 26 Apr 1968, p. 6. Cf 1600 in "Birkenhead Library: opening ceremony," North Shore Times, 30 November 1949, p. 3.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vo1 1, p. 114.
- "Birkenhead Library," North Shore Times, 9 Nov 1949, p. 7.
- "Birkenhead Library: opening ceremony". North Shore Times. 30 November 1949. p. 3.
- "Birkenhead Library scheme makes good progress". North Shore Times. 14 October 1953. p. 7.
- "Birkenhead Public Library report". North Shore Advertiser. 27 May 1959. p. 3.
- "Birkenhead Library scheme makes good progress," North Shore Times, 14 Oct 1953, p. 7.
- "Birkenhead Rotary Club completed project.." North Shore Times Advertiser, 1 Jul 1969, p. 16.
- "Fairytales on record," North Shore Times Advertiser, 13 Mar 1980, p. 2.
- "Gift of Charles Heaphy's work to Birkenhead library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 2 Jun 1983, p. 1.
- Service Charges, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 5 Feb 2008.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 2, p. 47.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report 1990/1991, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- Fees, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 5 Feb 2008.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report 1999/2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report 1994/1995, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report 1997/1998, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.
- Catalogue, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 5 Feb 2008.
- Birkenhead collections, North Shore Libraries. Accessed 5 Feb 2008.
- North Shore Libraries website. Accessed 5 Feb 2008.
- "Birkenhead library," North Shore Times, 12 Sep 1951, p. 5.
- White & White Ltd. North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study. Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 4.
- "More space for library at Birkenhead," North Shore Times Advertiser, 11 Nov 1993, p. 36.
- Graham, Rata. (1992). Birkenhead Library: A history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 9.
- North Shore Times, "Play equipment costs unacceptable",26 March 2009, p.2.
- "Library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 29 Nov 1977, p. 5.
- "Storm over library," North Shore Times Adverstiser, 11 Apr 1978, p. 7.
- [Letters to the editor], North Shore Times Advertiser, 20 Apr 1978, p. 14.
- "Birkenhead Borough Council has purchased TCC mobile van," North Shore Times Advertiser, 13 May 1983, p. 5.
- "Van features in window display," North Shore Times Advertiser, 6 Aug 1985, p. 7.
- "Library help for Birkenhead people," North Shore Times Advertiser, 13 May 1982, p. 5.
- [Mobile], North Shore Times Advertiser, 10 Jun 1982, p. 3.
- "Sharron Cleghorn loves her library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 5 Sep 1987, p. 1.
- "Cooling system in mobile makes library uncomfortable," North Shore Times Advertiser, 10 May 1988, p. 11.
- "Mobile library use drops," North Shore Times Advertiser, 18 Jun 1986, p. 8.
- "Mobile library service halved," Shore News, 10 Jul 1991, p. 1.
- "Bookworms bemoan van's passing," North Shore Times Advertiser, 16 Jul 1991, p. 3.
- "Wheels move slowly on mobile van," North Shore Times Advertiser, 7 Sep 1991, p. 3.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report: 1990/1991, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- "Surfing in the library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 21 Jun 1996, p. ?.
- "Libraries internet access," North Shore Times Advertiser, 12 Jun 1997.
- 1997 at least is the first recorded instance by the Internet Archive. North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated 19 Feb 1997) Internet Archive, 4 Feb 1998
- North Shore Libraries: Credits (undated), Internet Archives, 7 Oct 2003. AOLpress mentioned in page source.
- While the look of the various branches online was not recorded by the Internet Archive they did show there were links off this main page, which is indicative. North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated 19 Feb 1997) Internet Archive, 4 Feb 1998; North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated Jul 1999), Internet Archive, 19 Aug 2000.
- North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (last updated July 2000), Internet Archive, 30 Mar 2001.
- North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (undated), Internet Archive, 7 Oct 2003.
- North Shore Libraries: Credits (undated), Internet Archives, 7 Oct 2003. PHP mentioned in pagesource.
- Birkenhead Library webpage, North Shore Libraries. Note, the Internet Archive records generally becomes available after six months.
- Birkenhead Library webpage, North Shore Libraries.
- "Farwell to the council, and 'xmas' for library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 5 Oct 1989, p. 9.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report: 1993/1994, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- "Pupils help to brighten library," North Shore Times Advertiser, 4 Jul 1989, p. 31.
- "88 books covering 100 years of publishing," North Shore Times, 29 Sep 1955, p. 5.
- "Maori poet to read at Birkenhead," North Shore Times Advertiser, 22 Dec 1966, p. 3.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual reports: 1997-2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- "Mayor lauds library's many helpers," North Shore Times Advertiser, 9 Nov 1967, p. 3.
- Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.
- "Birkenhead Rotary Club completed project..," North Shore Times Advertiser, 1 Jul 1969, p. 16.
- "Collection established," North Shore Times Advertiser, 29 Jun 1982, p. 4.
- "Pressure goes on library plans," North Shore Times, 11 Mar 2004 p. 5.
- Wright, Adrienne (Chairwoman, Friends of Birkenhead Library). "Letter to editor: Friendly words," North Shore Times, 23 Mar 2006, p. 7.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual report: 1994/1995, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual reports: 1990-2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council. Note, when a figure for a year is cited this refers to a financial year "as at 31 March or 30 June." (See Annual Report 1990/1991). Monthly figures were also collated into semesters (4 month periods), then quarters (3 month periods).
- "Library in demand," North Shore Times Advertiser, 15 Jun 1971, p. 22.
- "Decline in library book issues," North Shore Times, 21 Nov 1956, p. 1.
- "Fewer books issued at Birkenhead," North Shore Times Advertiser, 22 Feb 1968, p. 8.
- Figures derived from tables in North Shore Libraries. Annual reports: 1990-2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council.
- Christie, Colleen. (1988). Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection, vo1 1-3, Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council. Recollections by retired local residents. As such, no sourcing or verification of claims within.
- Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council. A couple of pages on library only.
- Graham, Rata.(1992). Birkenhead Library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries. Main resource putting library in historical context, with some analysis.
- Haddon, Kathy. (1993). Birkenhead: the way we were, Birkenhead: North Shore City Council. A couple of pages on library only.
- Internet Archive. Contains snapshots of early stages of North Shore Libraries website. Does not include images used or many subpages. No records of various OPACs or DRA software used.
- North Shore City Council. North Shore City district plan (operative in part) decisions on submissions and further submissions in respect of plan change 14 : re-zone Nell Fisher Reserve, Birkenhead. Takapuna: North Shore, 2006.
- North Shore City Council and Community Board minutes. In particular, the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board and the Community Services & Parks Committee. Full text of minutes, but appendixed reports not included.
- North Shore City Council media releases. Often published verbatim and unattributed in North Shore Times.
- North Shore Libraries. Annual reports: 1990-2000, Takapuna, North Shore City Council. Separate volumes for each year. Brief records of events for each branch, plus statistics. Little analysis, explanation or forecasting other than in City Librarian's prefaces.
- North Shore Libraries website. See also the Birkenhead branch pages.
- North Shore Times, and other local newspapers. Different variants of NST can be confusing. It should be noted that on 23 Jun 1966, the North Shore Times and the North Shore Advertiser merged to become the North Shore Times Advertiser. Then on 9 March 2004, the name changed to North Shore Times. For index see Local History Online. There is also a card catalogue index for the pre-1995 articles at Takapuna Library. Microfiche, as well as some hardcopy fulltext available.
- White & White Ltd. North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study. Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p4. Considers possibilities of refurbishment and complete rebuild options, i.e. well before any actual plan eventuated.