I saw this quote on the board behind the desk of a school librarian I visited recently in Christchurch. The quote fit many aspects of the unique situation at that location. The high school had land and wanted a new library, but they had no money to build it. The city wanted to put a branch library in the neighborhood and had the money to build the library, but no land to build it on. They partnered to create a shared library, purpose built for the situation. When visiting it during the school day, it was cool to see the students along side the community members using the space. It is staffed with both city and school librarians.
Tūranga (Central Library) in Christchurch
The Christchurch City web page states:
"Tūranga fosters life-long learning and is the place for information, inspiration and entertainment."
As part of rebuilding the central business district in Christchurch after the 2010 earthquake, the new central library was built. There was controversy over the cost and investment made, but the result was a visionary process and product. Seeing it has been on the top of my to-do list in New Zealand since I first heard about it. I new the architecture would be amazing, but I was surprised at the whole package.
For starters, they reorganized the traditional categories of the library. The first floor, Connection, honors the Maori value of welcome, hosting, and building connections before jumping into the work of it. There is a full cafe, high demand items like DVDs, the magazines that people just needing a warm spot often frequent, spaces for games, and new books.
The ground floor also has a section for a rotating, interactive, museum like exhibit. When I was there the exhibit was on technology past and present. Industry folks were sponsoring and supporting the exhibit with staff.
The first floor, community, is a lot about families and children. It has another cafe that is open to the whole area, interesting spaces for small groups to meet, traditional children's stacks, and activity sections.
The second floor, identity, is all about individual and cultural knowledge. It has the Maori and Pasifika collections, ancestry research section, and interesting spaces for meeting and studying.
The third floor, discovery, has much of the typical nonfiction section, except the cultural pieces that were on the second floor and the engineering pieces that will be on the next floor. The spaces for patrons become more individual and quiet oriented. The fourth floor, creativity, again becomes more group oriented with a makerspace lab, computer room, and other digital tool access points.
Tūranga has expanded what a library can be. It is beyond access to information - but embraces the power that the information brings. I appreciate the organization being more in line with aspects of healthy human development:
It comes from the bottom up, with one being the foundation for the next.