Wellington City Libraries

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Wellington City Libraries
LocationWellington, New Zealand
Size720,000 items

Wellington City Libraries is the public library service for Wellington, New Zealand.

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[1] 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, 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 day-to-day circulation duties.

The high-level portico bridge linking the library building to the WCC service centre building was demolished in 2013 as an earthquake risk.[2][3]


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.

Library closure[edit]

A decision was made by the Wellington City Council 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.[4]

Two pop-up replacement libraries have opened in central Wellington, Arapaki Manners Library[5] (opened in May 2019), and the He Matapihi Molesworth Library[6] (opened in October 2019). Neither of the two has the reading rooms or the opening hours of the Central Library, however. A third library is planned for central Wellington, the Brandon Street Library, and is expected to open in early 2020.[7] A new collection and distribution centre to house Wellington Central Library's collection of 400,000 items will be located in Johnsonville and is expected to become fully operational some time in 2020.[7][8]


Wellington City Libraries has 13 branches open to the public:[9]

  • Arapaki Manners Library[5]
  • Brooklyn Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Brooklyn)
  • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako, Ngaio)
  • He Matapihi Molesworth Library[6]
  • Island Bay Library
  • Johnsonville Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi)
  • Karori Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga)
  • Khandallah Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Tari-Kākā)
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū)
  • Miramar Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Motu-Kairangi)
  • Newtown Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Omaroro)
  • Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-Taia)
  • Wadestown Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari)

Arapaki Manners Library[edit]

The first pop-up replacement for the now closed Wellington Central Library, Arapaki Manners Library, opened at 12 Manners Street on 28 May 2019.[10]

He Matapihi Molesworth Library[edit]

On 27 May 2019, Department of Internal Affairs minister Tracey Martin and National Librarian Bill McNaught announced a partnership between the National Library and Wellington City Council to create a further pop-up space on the ground floor of the Wellington National Library building.[11] On 10 October 2019, this space, named the He Matapihi Molesworth Library, was opened to the public.[6]

Te Awe Library[edit]

The third new central city library to replace the Wellington Central Library is planned to go into the Harbour City Centre on Brandon Street. It is expected to open in May 2020.[8]


  1. ^ "Archives". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Civic Square building bridge may come down". Stuff/Fairfax. 8 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Central city office blocks close for assessment". Stuff/Fairfax. 23 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Central Library closure". Wellington City Council. 19 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Wellington.scoop.co.nz » Pop up library opens in Manners Street, with new council service centre". Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "He Matapihi Molesworth Library now open – Library News". Wellington City Council Libraries blog. 9 October 2019. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Wellington.scoop.co.nz » Wellington to have new library in Brandon Street next year". Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Central Library Closure FAQs". www.wcl.govt.nz. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Our Branches". www.wcl.govt.nz. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  10. ^ "No clear plan to re-house 350,000 items in Wellington's Central Library as pop-up opens". Stuff. 28 May 2019.
  11. ^ "New co-operative space to open at National Library – Library News". Wellington City Council Libraries blog. 27 May 2019. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.

External links[edit]