Wellington City Libraries

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Wellington City Libraries
LocationWellington, New Zealand
Size600,000 books, 450,000 magazines, and 85,000 CDs, DVDs, videos
The original Public Library designed in 1891 and opened in 1893
Sheet 5 in the plans for the original library, drawings circa 1891 See; https://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/archives/search-the-archives for a copy of these plans or more information about the building.
The new Public Library completed in 1937
The Wellington Central Library at its present location

Wellington City Libraries is the public library service for Wellington, New Zealand. The 12 branches house over 600,000 books. The largest is the Wellington Central Library branch.


Wellington Central Library[edit]

The Central Public library (Also known as Wellington Free Library) first opened in 1893 on the corner of Mercer and Wakefield Streets, Designed by William Crichton a prominent architect in his time. The building was demolished in 1945 due to "earthquake concerns" although this is disputable.

The site was later occupied by the City Council Municipal buildings that are still in use today. The Wellington City Council archives https://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/archives/search-the-archives holds the original plans and correspondence for this building, it seems there was concern over the foundations when it was originally built.

In 1937 a new library opened on a block between Mercer and Harris street. The building was subsequently converted into the City Gallery Wellington. In 1991 the new central branch library opened on Victoria and Mercer Streets along the edge of the Civic Square. Ian Athfield of Athfield Architects had designed the new building, which Fletcher Development and Construction built.

The library building consists of three main floors. The ground floor contains fiction, the Sound and Vision centre, the Young Adult and Children's collections and the main circulation desks. The first floor houses the sciences, humanities, arts, music and literature collections. The travel and history and New Zealand reference collections are located on the second floor. Two floors above the Library have until recently[when?] been leased by the Department of Conservation. A basement level serves for vehicle parking and for day-to-day circulation duties.

The high-level portico bridge linking the library building to the WCC service centre building was demolished (2013) as an earthquake risk. [1] [2]

There was a decision to close the Central Library on the Tuesday 19 March 2019, 8:30pm, after receiving advice from engineers that the building has structural vulnerabilities which mean it may not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake. [3]

Corner view of Wellington Central Library


The library has won two New Zealand architectural awards; the Environmental Award in the Carter Holt Harvey Awards in 1992 and the National Award for Architecture 1993 sponsored by the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

In 2006 the New Zealand Music Board honoured the Library with an excellence award for its "Sing along with Stu" storytime-programme.


  1. ^ "Civic Square building bridge may come down". Stuff/Fairfax. 8 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Central city office blocks close for assessment". Stuff/Fairfax. 23 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Central Library closure". Wellington City Council. 19 March 2019.

External links[edit]