Birkenhead Public Library


Birkenhead Public Library

Infobox_Library
library_name = Birkenhead Public Library
Te Whare Matauranga o Birkenhead
library_
location = North Shore, New Zealand
established = 1949
num_branches =
collection_size =
annual_circulation =
pop_served = 26,000
budget =
director =
Minister =
num_employees =
website = [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ Birkenhead Library]

Birkenhead Public Library ("Te Whare Matauranga o Birkenhead" in Māori) is part of the North Shore Libraries system 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.Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). "Birkenhead: the kauri suburb," Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.] [Statistics New Zealand. (2006). [http://xtabs.stats.govt.nz/eng/statsbyarea/area_main.asp?rc=02&ta=005 "Community Profiles"] accessed Feb 2007.]

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 [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Collections/Birkenhead/ChelseaArchives.php Archives Collection] of the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.

Though small Birkenhead Public has a significant 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. [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: a history, "Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, pp. 1-3.] ["Computer links Birkenhead to library network," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jan 28, 1986, p. 3.]

Currently, Birkenhead Public is located in temporary quarters in the Birkenhead Leisure Centre, while the dispute over the location and design of its new building is resolved.Watson, Ben. "Waiting game for reserve appeal," "North Shore Times", Jun 9, 2006, p. 6.]

History

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. [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.]

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." ["News of the Day: Library for Birkenhead," "The Auckland Star", May, 31 1934, in "Extracts from the Birkenhead City Council scrapbook", compiled by Colleen Christie, p. 2.]

Yet, in 1949, the Free Birkenhead Public Library was established in the basement of the Council Chambers, opening on November 14. 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 last word in library service," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 6.] Reed, Kim. "Reserve zone change on the books," "North Shore Times", Sep 29, 2005, p. 3.]

The Civic Reserve Library

After the Auckland Harbour Bridge was opened in 1959 the Birkenhead area became much more accessible. [ 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.] By the mid 1960s issues each year had increased dramatically by nearly a hundred thousand items. [Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). "Birkenhead: the kauri suburb", Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.]

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. ["New page in Birkenhead history," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 4] [Christie, Colleen. (1988). "Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection", vol 3, pp. 23-25.] 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." ["New page in Birkenhead history," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 4.] 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. [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead library: a history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.] By 2003 usage of the library had increased still further, to such an extent that it was noticeably affecting service delivery."Birkenhead Library gets $1m expansion," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Aug 23, 2001, p. 11.] 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."Library list of woes make sad reading," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 10, 2003, p. 1.]

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, ["Booktalk group," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 20, 2003.] and author events. ["Handbooks presented to librarian," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 14, 2003.] 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.




Amalgamation

The 1980s saw an increase in the depth and variety of services offered. A Bedford van [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, pp. 1-2.] 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. [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, pp. 2-5.]

Notable too in the late eighties, was the processing of books to create "machine readable codes," [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history," Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 3.] which saw the catalogue shifted from card to microfiche. ["North Shore Times Advertiser", "Computer links Birkenhead to library network," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jan 28, 1986, p. 3.] Borrowers were now directly registered onto the computer, and a new computer management system went live, "the most sophisticated...in the world."Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 4.] 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. ["New system for library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", 12 Dec 1995, p. 3.] "Library surfs the internet," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Sep 19, 1996, p. 38.] [Carmichael, Nikki. "The world's at your fingertips via libraries," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 3, 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). [Norsburgh, Megan. "Supercity swears in its mayors and councillors," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Oct 31, 1989, p. 3.] 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. [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.]

This convergence has continued to this day with the advent of the "eLGAR" conglomerate, the Libraries of the Greater Auckland Region. [The [http://www.elgar.govt.nz/screens/mainmenu2.html eLGAR website] is simply the grouping of all the constituents catalogues. However, in December 2007 they started the [http://elgarpo.blogspot.com/ eLGAR Blog] which aims to be more informative.] Birkenhead Library (as part of the North Shore Libraries system) began a public rollout of the eLGAR Smarter System on June 16 2005. [ Bethell, Michelle. "Borrowing’s a breeze with library’s smart system," "North Shore Times", May 17, 2005, p. 5.]

On May 1 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. [Le Bas, Natalia. 'Historic moment in time," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 9, 2000, p. 11.]

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. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/csp-min-090904.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Sep 9, 2004.] With limited space available for services the Plunkett, CAB and council Area Office had to find alternative premises. ["Area office on the move," "North Shore Times", Apr 5, 2005, p. 12] ["CAB moves ranks while library is demolished," "North Shore Times",May 31, 2005, p. 34.] 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, [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/2005/CSP-min-140405.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Apr 14, 2005.] and included such things as improved lighting, car park access, and funding for a passenger lift to allow for disabled patrons. [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/csp-min-301104.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Nov 30, 2004.] [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ Birkenhead Library webpage] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Jan 31, 2008.] Since the location was some distance from the town centre a free shuttle bus was provided from Highbury once a week [Reed, Kim. "Free shuttle bus to temporaray library," "North Shore Times", May 19, 2005, pg 8.] 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. [See Controversy over the new building] 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. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2006/Community-board/Birkenhead-Northcote/BNC-Com-brd-mins-August08-06.pdf "Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Aug 8, 2006.] The carpark was chained off, [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2006/Community-board/Birkenhead-Northcote/Birkenhead-northcote-csp-comm-mins-Sept-12-2006.pdf "Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committe"] , North Shore City Council, Sep 6, 2006.] and an alcohol ban was sought. [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2007/Community-boards/Birkenhead-Northcote/Birkenhead-Northcote-community-services-committee-mins-May-8-2007.pdf "Minutes of a meeting of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board Community Services Committe"] , North Shore City Council, May 8, 2006.] In 2007, the War Memorial Park was identified as a "crime hotspot." [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2007/CSP/Community-services-parks-mins-June-14-2007.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Jun 14, 2007.] Meanwhile, patronage of the library since relocation had dropped by 35%.Reed, Kim. "Library hit by more delays," "North Shore Times", Mar 27, 2007, p. 2.] 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. [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2007/CSP/CSP-Minutes-150307.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Mar 15, 2007.]

The Modern Community Library

Brendan Rawson, from the Architecture Office [ [http://www.archoffice.co.nz The Architecture Office - Home ] ] 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. [This is the first recorded meeting. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/csp-min-120804.pdf "Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Aug 12, 13, 24, 2004.] Initial concepts took advantage of the considerable potential for views, and incorporated extensive additional landscaping, from more trees to poppies. [' [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/csp-min-301104.pdf 'Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Nov 30, 2004.] The first completed design, (pictured), evoked the kauri that were once endemic to the region.Reed, Kim. "Deadline looms for library plan feedback," "North Shore Times", Feb 22, 2005, p. 11.] 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. ["Kauri tree planted in reserve," "North Shore Times Advertiser," Aug 11, 1987, p. 17.] 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. [North Shore City Council. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/about_council.htm "About North Shore City Council"] , "North Shore City Council", undated. Accessed Jan 2, 2007; North Shore City Council. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/our_environment/Environmental_education/Sustainable_living_default.htm "Environmental education: sustainable living"] , "North Shore City Council", undated. Accessed Jan 2, 2007..] It aims to lead by example with best practices. [North Shore City Council. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/our_environment/Environmental_education/Leading_by_example.htm "Environmental Education:North Shore City Council leading by example"] , "North Shore City Council", undated. Accessed Jan 2, 2007.] 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 building 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 is now not expected to be finished until 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, [White & White Ltd. "North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study". Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 4.] though it was conceived even then that it would eventually be used as a library space. [Christie, Colleen. (1988). "Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection", Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 3, p. 25.] 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. [Le Bas, Natalie. "Manager supports new library for Birkenhead," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Mar 28, 2002, p. 28;]

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. [White & White Ltd. "North Shore City Council Birkenhead building feasibility study". Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 3.]

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. [Le Bas, Natalie. "Manager supports new library for Birkenhead," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Mar 28, 2002, p. 28.]

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. ["A new library on the books," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 19, 2003, p. 1.] 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. ["North Shore Times", "Library work set to start," "North Shore Times", Jul 16, 2004, p. 3.]

On February 23 2005 public submissions closed, and a fitout of the temporary site in the Leisure Centre was begun. ["Deadline looms for library plan feedback," "North Shore Times", Feb 22, 2005, p. 11.] Total cost for the new library was now expected to be $6.5 million, [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/releases-05/April/Libraries_bigger_than_books.htm "Libraries bigger than books"] , North Shore City Council, Apr 18, 2005.] then $7.3 million.Lotter, Michelle. "Library delays cost $2.2m," "North Shore Times", Dec 6, 2007.] 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. [ [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/csp-min-301104.pdf "Report of a meeting of the Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Nov 27, 28 & Dec 13, 2007.]

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. [White, Jean. "Report criticises library process," "North Shore Times", Mar 16, 2006, p. 3.] However, an amended Council report by planner Ian Jefferis revealed that the building was to occupy 15% more of the reserve than expected (pictured).Reed, Kim. "Fears that Council breaching own rules," "North Shore Times", Jun 30, 2005, p. 1.] 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. [Reed, Kim. "Library plans thrown out,'" "North Shore Times", Jul 12, 2005, p. 1.]

Rezoning debate

Set back the Council elected to seek rezoning.Reed, Kim. 'Reserve zone change on the books,' "North Shore Times", Sep 29, 2005, p. 3.] ["Council turns focus to new library plans," "North Shore Times", Aug 2, 2005, p. 4.] [ North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/releases-05/September/Birkenhead_Library_back_on_track.htm "Birkenhead Library back on track"] , Sep 23, 2005.] [ North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/releases-05/October/Plan_change_for_Birkenhead_Library_land.htm "Plan change for Birkenhead Library"] , Oct 28, 2005.] 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%. [Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," "North Shore Times", Aug 18, 2005, p. 6.] 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. [Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," "North Shore Times", Aug 18, 2005, p. 6]

In the local paper, the "North Shore Times", there was a steady clamour from both opponents of the project and those in favour. [Letters-to-editor in chronological order to illustrate the diversity of opinions: "Letter to editor: Library Fiasco," "North Shore Times", Jul 19, 2005, p. 6; Glenny, Don. "Letter to editor: Libray compromise," "North Shore Times", Jul 26, 2005, p. 8; Marsh, Terry. "Letter to editor: Devoted reader," "North Shore Times", Aug 2, 2005 p. 10; Denny, A and Cheesman, E. "Letter to editor: Reading matter," "North Shore Times", Aug 9, 2005, p. 6; Scott, Clyde. "Letter to editor: Leave reserve," "North Shore Times", Aug 18, 2005, p. 6; Prangley, K. "Letter to editor: Library claims," "North Shore Times", Aug 30, 2005, p. 10; Keucke, Helen. "Letter to editor: Library option," "North Shore Times", Sep 16, 2005, p. 5; Burn, Peter. "Letter to editor: Birkenhead development," "New Zealand Herald", Feb 28, 2006, p. ?; Milne, Graham. "Letter to editor: Library stuff up," "North Shore Times", Apr 4, 2006, p. 7; Wright, Adrienne. "Letter to editor: Friendly words," "North Shore Times", Mar 23, 2006, p. 7.] 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. [ A background article to indicate the timeframe of the then current Highbury redevelopment, of which Birkenhead Library is a part: North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/releases-2003/august/highbury.htm "Unlocking Highbury's potential"] , Aug 29, 2003.] 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. [ ["Has not the time arrived.."] , "The Tatler", Vol 1, No.1, Feb 17, 1922, p. 6. Article is only of paragraph length.]

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. ["Fate of library up in air," "North Shore Times", Sep 9, 2005, p. 4.] 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. [for Clyde Scott see: Watson, Ben. "Waiting game for reserve appeal," "North Shore Times", Jun 9, 2006, p. 6] [for Peter White see: Thompson, Wayne. "Bitter North Shore planning dispute reaches climax", "New Zealand Herald", Apr 28, 2006, p. A7.] 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. [Reed, Kim. "Call to open fenced park," North Shore Times, Nov 11, 2005, p. 2.] ["Open meeting a chance for library update," "North Shore Times", Sep 23, 2005, p. 3.] 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. ["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.] 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.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.]

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. [Thompson, Wayne. [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=000089A6-8370-1450-A7BF83027AF1010E "Bitter North Shore planning dispute reaches climax"] , "New Zealand Herald", Apr 28, 2006, p. A7.] [Thompson, Wayne. [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=0009BDCB-67C5-13F1-9CD083027AF10017 "Land dispute divides community"] , "New Zealand Herald", Feb 15, 2006, p. A12.]

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. [Willis, Liz. "Library objector presents own plan," "North Shore Times", Oct 4, 2005, p. 2] [Lynch, Haley. "Library debate hots up," "North Shore Times", Oct 11, 2005, p. 2] 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." [Email recorded verbatim in: ["Report of a meeting: Community Services & Parks Committee"] , North Shore City Council, Oct 28, 2005.] In June 2006 the three independent commissioners approved the rezoning of the district plan (pictured). [North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/Releases-2006/June/Library-to-be-built-on-Nell-Fisher-Reserve.htm "Library to be built on Nell Fisher reserve"] , Jun 1, 2006.] ["Birkenhead Library gets rezoning nod," "The Aucklander", Jun 7, 2006, p. 7.] 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.

Environment court

It was expected then that the library project would be further delayed by two years. ["New library still a year away," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jan 20, 2004, p. 3.] [North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/Releases-2006/July/Appeal-delays-Birkenhead-Library.htm "Appeal delays Birkenhead Library"] , Jul 21, 2006.] 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. [Grant, Kirsten. "Library reconstruction in the doldrums," "The Aucklander", Aug 23, 2006, p. 5.] A hearing was set for May 28 2007. [Reed, Kim. "Reserve rezoning appealed," "North Shore Times", Jul 21, 2006, p. 3] [Grant, Kirsten. "Library reconstruction in the doldrums," "The Aucklander", Aug 23, 2006, p. 5] [North Shore City Council, [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/Releases-2007/February/Court-to-decide-librarys-fate-in-May.htm "Court to decide library's fate in May"] , Feb 28, 2007.] [Cleghorn, Sharron. [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead "Birkenhead Library update"] , Mar 2007.] [Reed, Kim. "Fight over reserve rezoning gets court date," "North Shore Times", May 18, 2007, p. 2.]

Speaking on behalf of the rezoning was Council, Friends of the Library, Plunkett, Jane Sheridan and Jenny Kirk; while speaking against was Abraham Holdings, Graham Milne (Airborne Asia Pacific), Clyde Scott, Peter White and David Brook. [Reed, Kim. "Library hit by more delays," North Shore Times, Mar 27, 2007, p. 2.]

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." [Reed, Kim. "Library decision waits on judge," "North Shore Times", Jul 5, 2007, p. 5] [Donnell, Hayden. "Library delay worth it - objector," "North Shore Times", Sep 11, 2007, p. 7.] 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. [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 [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2007/Community-boards/Birkenhead-Northcote/Birkenhead-Northcote-mins-Dec-04-07wks.pdf "Report of a meeting: Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board"] , North Shore City Council, Dec 4, 2007.]

The steering group was redesignated as the Governance and Advisory Group, (pictured). [North Shore City Council. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/community-services-parks/2005/CSP-MIN-100305.pdf "Report of a meeting Community Parks and Services Committee"] . Mar 10, 2005.] [North Shore City Council. [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/2007/Community-boards/Birkenhead-Northcote/Birkenhead-Northcote-mins-Dec-04-07wks.pdf "Report of a meeting Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board"] . Dec 4, 2007.] Consisting of councillors, community board members, and the Community Services general manager, it was set up to monitor the project more closely. [Lotter, Michelle. "Library delays cost $2.2m," "North Shore Times", Dec 6, 2007, p. 3.]

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. [Willis, Liz. "Public want their library brought back," "North Shore Times", Nov 2, 2006, p. 4.] Work is now due to begin on the new building in June, and is expected to be completed in late 2009. ["Birkenhead library gets green light," "North Shore Times", Aug 23, 2007, p. 2.] [Thompson, Wayne. "Library wins out in bitter Birkenhead land battle," "New Zealand Herald", Aug 20, 2007, p. A5.]

taff structure

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."Birkenhead library: progress with new venture," "North Shore Times", Sep 14, 1940, p. 5.] "Birkenhead Public Library: annual report," "North Shore Times", Jun 13, 1951, p. 5.] 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, ["Birkenhead library: opening ceremony," "North Shore Times", Nov 30, 1949, p. 3.] a passing instructor from the Country Library service, ["Birkenhead library," "North Shore Times", Oct 26, 1949, p. 7.] and those pulled in to read to the kids during the school holidays. [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.] Among this "band of honorary assistants" a Mrs Gaidener, Mr Slovey and Mr Odd came in for particular acknowledgement. [quote from "Birkenhead Public Library: annual report," "North Shore Times", Jun 13, 1951, p. 5.] "Birkenhead library: interesting statistics," "North Shore Times", Oct 11, 1950, p. 3.] At the opening of the new library building nearly twenty years later the mayor paid tribute to all the original volunteers. ["New page in Birkenhead history," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 6.]

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, [Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). "Birkenhead: the kauri suburb", Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 102.] 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. ["Joined library for three months - stayed two decades," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Feb 23, 1971, p. 12.] By 1955 there was a part-time library assistant as well; ["Library report records issue of 35,000 books," "North Shore Times", Nov 23, 1955, p. 2.] and soon a fulltime junior was being considered. ["Birkenhead public library report," "North Shore Advertiser", May 27, 1959, p. 3.] Growth in library use and opening hours continued, ["Birkenhead Public Library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 6.] [North Shore Libraries. "Annual Reports: 1990-1992 & 1998/1999", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] so that by 1968 there were 3 fulltimers and a part-timer to help on Friday nights. ["Birkenhead Librarian's reports to Borough Council, "North Shore Times", Apr 26, 1961, p. 7.] ["New page in Birkenhead history," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 5.] Staffing peaked in 1986 with 11.5 full time equivalents, and was subsequently reduced to 8.67. [Graham, Rata. Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.] 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. [Graham, Rata. Birkenhead library: a history, Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 5.] 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.North Shore Libraries. "Annual report 1995/1996", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.]

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.North Shore Libraries. "Annual reports: 1990-2000", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] Other occasional staff have included a librarian on exchange from England, ["Trip of a lifetime," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Feb 16, 1989, p. 9.] and various volunteers, such as a Taskforce Green worker helping with a rebarcoding project, and a student doing a Duke of Edinburgh award. ["Library celebrates," North Shore Times Advertiser, Sep 7, 1988, p. 27.]

ervices

Services include children's programmes, reference, interloans, internet access, printer-copier, and housebound deliveries.

Children's programmes

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. [Christie, Colleen. (1988). "Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection", Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 1, p. 105.] Class visits by local schools started in 1954, and became a regular feature. ["Birkenhead Public Library: annual report on progress," "North Shore Times", Jul 21, 1954, p. 1.] ["Library story hour in January," "North Shore Advertiser", Dec 21, 1960, p. 4.] 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). ["Learning the love of books," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Feb 2, 1999, p. 5.] [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Kids/Rakau/ Raakau] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Dec 20, 2007.]

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. ["Birkenhead Children's Librarian retires," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Nov 25, 1980, p. 29.] There were events too on such occasions as the library's 50th celebration, and Halloween. ["Events mark library's 50th anniversary," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Feb 2, 1999, p. 9.] ["Goosebumps party haunting experience," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 22, 1997, p. 2.]

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. ["Kids take part in book festival," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 18 1995 p. 11.] Competitions to select favourite reads further raised awareness and use of the books. ["Party and competition for children," "3 Bs Bulletin", Apr 11, 1996, p. 5.]

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. [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead library: a history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 7.] Lapsit proved so popular it was extended to twice a week in 1999. [North Shore Libraries. "Annual Review: 1999/2000", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] 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. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Kids/Lapsit.php Rhymetime] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Jan 20, 2008.]

Resources

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, [1499 quoted in "The last word in library service," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 26, 1968, p. 6. Cf 1600 in "Birkenhead Library: opening ceremony," "North Shore Times", Nov 30, 1949, p. 3.] "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." Christie, Colleen. (1988). "Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection", Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vo1 1, p. 114.] 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." ["Birkenhead Library," "North Shore Times", Nov 9, 1949, p. 7.]

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."Birkenhead Library: opening ceremony," "North Shore Times", Nov 30, 1949, p. 3.] Their "field librarians" continued to provide a regular infusion of books into the Birkenhead collection two or three times a year, ["Birkenhead Library scheme makes good progress," "North Shore Times", Oct 14, 1953, p. 7.] for at least a decade. ["Birkenhead Public Library report," "North Shore Advertiser", May 27, 1959, p. 3.] Topics were diverse, from gardening, music, occupations and hobbies, to art, agriculture and home management. Junior books were added in 1953. ["Birkenhead Library scheme makes good progress," "North Shore Times, Oct 14, 1953, p. 7.]

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. ["Birkenhead Library scheme makes good progress," "North Shore Times," Oct 14, 1953, p. 7.] The Rotary Club provided a $2000 Reference collection for the opening of the 1968 building. ["Birkenhead Rotary Club completed project.." "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jul 1, 1969, p. 16.] Later, Plunkett donated records, while Bob and Norma Inward gave two folios of prints by painters Goldie and Heaphy."Fairytales on record," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Mar 13, 1980, p. 2.] "Gift of Charles Heaphy's work to Birkenhead library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 2, 1983, p. 1.]

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. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Policies/FeesAndCharges.php Service Charges] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Feb 5, 2008.] Initially one book was issued to each member, with 2-3d charge for additional items. Newer books were more expensive, as much as 6d [Christie, Colleen. (1988). "Back then: oral history interviews from the Birkenhead Public Library collection", Birkenhead: Birkenhead City Council, vol 2, p. 47.] Rental charges on fiction were dropped in 1990; [North Shore Libraries. "Annual report 1990/1991", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] 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. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Policies/FeesAndCharges.php Fees] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Feb 5, 2008.] For a while, Internet access was charged too, at $2 per 15 minutes. At the time it was used mainly for email. [North Shore Libraries. "Annual report 1999/2000", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] In 1994 rental fiction returned with the start of a "Bestseller" book collections; [North Shore Libraries. "Annual report 1994/1995", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] Four years later a similar rental collection of bestseller magazines was started. [North Shore Libraries. "Annual report 1997/1998", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.]

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.Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 8.] 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. [ [http://www.elgar.govt.nz/search~S6/ Catalogue] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Feb 5, 2008.]

Resources unique to Birkenhead library include the Chelsea Sugar Archives, and its local history photo collection. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Collections/Birkenhead/ Birkenhead collections] , North Shore Libraries. Accessed Feb 5, 2008.] 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. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/ North Shore Libraries website] . Accessed Feb 5, 2008.]

Public space

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. ["Birkenhead library," "North Shore Times", Sep 12, 1951, p. 5.] The 1968 building was more spacious, especially after later alterations. 1973 saw the addition of the mezzanine floor; [White & White Ltd. North Shore City Council "Birkenhead building feasibility study". Tauranga: White & White Ltd, 2000, p. 4.] and 1993, the addition of a Young Adult room, as well as a Large Print lounge."More space for library at Birkenhead," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Nov 11, 1993, p. 36.] However, there was little room for much expansion, which led to the curtailment of some service development. [Graham, Rata. (1992). "Birkenhead Library: A history", Birkenhead: North Shore Libraries, p. 9.] This was one of the reasons for the new building project started in 2005. The current temporary location in the Leisure Centre, offers two tables in the magazine-newspaper-computer area, along with a few sofa chairs. The Children's section also has some seating (pictured).

Mobile library

Origins

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. ["Library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Nov 29, 1977, p. 5.]

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. ["Storm over library," "North Shore Times Adverstiser", Apr 11, 1978, p. 7.] [ [Letters to the editor] , "North Shore Times Advertiser", Apr 20, 1978, p. 14.]

In the event Birkenhead bought the mobile van off Takapuna in 1982. ["Birkenhead Borough Council has purchased TCC mobile van," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 13, 1983, p. 5.] 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."Van features in window display," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Aug 6, 1985, p. 7.] 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. ["Library help for Birkenhead people," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 13, 1982, p. 5.] 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. [ [Mobile] , "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 10, 1982, p. 3.] 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. ["Sharron Cleghorn loves her library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Sep 5, 1987, p. 1.] ["Cooling system in mobile makes library uncomfortable," "North Shore Times Advertiser", May 10, 1988, p. 11.]

Retirement

Issues dropped, ["Mobile library use drops," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 18, 1986, p. 8.] and in 1988 the service was reduced from 5 to 2 days a week, ["Mobile library service halved," "Shore News", Jul 10, 1991, p. 1.] 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. ["Bookworms bemoan van's passing," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jul 16, 1991, p. 3.] 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. ["Wheels move slowly on mobile van," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Sep 7, 1991, p. 3.] Over its eleven years of operation it had issued over 163 thousand items.North Shore Libraries. "Annual report: 1990/1991", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.]

Webpage development

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. ["Surfing in the library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 21, 1996, p. ?.] ["Libraries internet access," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 12, 1997.] By May 1996 Birkenhead was having daily demonstrations. About this time, North Shore Libraries put up their first website. [1997 at least is the first recorded instance by the Internet Archive. [http://web.archive.org/web/19980204213851/http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/ North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated Feb 19, 1997)] Internet Archive, Feb 4, 1998] Datacom, whose main role was the provision of the libraries' online catalogue, created the website too, using AOLpress 1.2. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20030811073049/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/credits.php North Shore Libraries: Credits (undated)] , Internet Archives, Oct 7, 2003. AOLpress mentioned in page source.] This included the establishing of separate webpages for each branch. [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. [http://web.archive.org/web/19980204213851/http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/ North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated Feb 19, 1997)] Internet Archive, Feb 4, 1998; [http://web.archive.org/web/20000711081904/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/libraries.htm#Libraries North Shore Libraries homepage (last updated Jul 1999)] , Internet Archive, Aug 19, 2000.]

A green look 1997-2003

Birkenhead Library's own subsidiary webpage was already well established then, before its subsequent recording on the Internet Archive (pictured). [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20001217000300/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/birkenhead.htm North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (last updated July 2000)] , Internet Archive, Mar 30, 2001.] 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 2003-2008

In 2003 a more elaborate three-column style was adopted (pictured). [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20030822052635/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (undated)] , Internet Archive, Oct 7, 2003.] 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. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20030811073049/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/credits.php North Shore Libraries: Credits (undated)] , Internet Archives, Oct 7, 2003. PHP mentioned in pagesource.] 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 2008. [ [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ Birkenhead Library webpage (current)] , North Shore Libraries. This is the current page link, so may not remain relevant to footnote for long. This is latest archived: [http://web.archive.org/web/20070429212824/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (undated)] , Internet Archives, Jun 9, 2007. The Internet Archive records generally becomes available after six months. ] 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.

Current display

The Birkenhead webpage was not updated to reflect the library's shift in location to the Leisure Centre until October 2005, despite the fact that the previous building was demolished in May. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050924155124/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead (undated)] , Internet Archive, Oct 25, 2005.] This was indicative of the contrast between the branch pages and the North Shore Libraries website as a whole. The former remained more or less as static markers; while the presentation of the latter became increasingly dynamic. In this interim period, for examples, there had also been a shift to an entirely new computer system and a national election. Coverage of both of these events was restricted to the main North Shore Libraries website. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050630011851/http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/ North Shore Libraries: Our smart new catalogue (undated)] , Internet Archive, Jun 30, 2005.] [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050822123710/http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/ North Shore Libraries: Election 05 (undated)] , Internet Archive, Aug 22, 2005.] Similarly, localised versions of system-wide activitites, such as children's lapsits and author visits, have been collated into the main Kids and Events sections. Recently the occasional newsletter about the ongoing development of the new library has been displayed on Birkenhead Library's frontpage. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20070429212824/www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/ North Shore Libraries: Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre update April 2007] , Internet Archive, Jun 8, 2007.] However, these have not had unique urls; and are replaced as they are updated, rather than archived.

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. ["Farwell to the council, and 'xmas' for library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Oct 5, 1989, p. 9.]
*"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.North Shore Libraries. "Annual report: 1993/1994", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.]
*"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. ["Pupils help to brighten library," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jul 4, 1989, p. 31.]

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. ["88 books covering 100 years of publishing," "North Shore Times", Sep 29, 1955, p. 5.] During the North Shore Arts Festival of 1966 there was an exhibition devoted exclusively to Maori books, sculpture and painting. ["Maori poet to read at Birkenhead," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Dec 22, 1966, p. 3.]

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. [North Shore Libraries. "Annual reports: 1997-2000", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.]

upport groups

Birkenhead library has had a number of support groups. Volunteers were instrumental in staffing the library in the early days; ["Mayor lauds library's many helpers," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Nov 9 1967, p. 3.] while the Birkenhead Rotary Club took down the old council quarters in preparation for the new 1968 building. [Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Council, p. 101.] They also donated money to set up the Reference Collection; and later, in 1982, they started the first collection of talking books. ["Birkenhead Rotary Club completed project..," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jul 1, 1969, p. 16.] ["Collection established," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 29, 1982, p. 4.] 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. ["Pressure goes on library plans," "North Shore Times", Mar 11, 2004 p. 5.] [Wright, Adrienne (Chairwoman, Friends of Birkenhead Library). "Letter to editor: Friendly words," "North Shore Times", Mar 23, 2006, p. 7.] 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. [North Shore Libraries. "Annual report: 1994/1995", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] 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.

Usage statistics

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. [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).]

Membership

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. ["Library in demand," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Jun 15, 1971, p. 22.] 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.

Issues

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. ["Decline in library book issues," "North Shore Times", Nov 21, 1956, p. 1.] 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. ["Fewer books issued at Birkenhead," "North Shore Times Advertiser", Feb 22, 1968, p. 8.] 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. [Figures derived from tables in North Shore Libraries. "Annual reports: 1990-2000", Takapuna, North Shore City Council.] 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.

Notes

Annotated bibliography

*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.
* [http://www.archive.org/index.php| 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.
* [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/agendas_minutes/Overview.htm| 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.
* [http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/your_council/news_releases/newsrel.htm| 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.
* [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/| North Shore Libraries website] . See also the [http://www.shorelibraries.govt.nz/Locations/Birkenhead/| Birkenhead branch pages] .

*"North Shore Times", and other local newspapers. Different variants of NST can be confusing. It should be noted that on Jun 23, 1966, the "North Shore Times" and the "North Shore Advertiser" merged to become the "North Shore Times Advertiser". Then on March 9 2004, the name changed to "North Shore Times". For index see [http://www.localhistoryonline.org.nz/cgi-bin/PUI| 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, ie well before any actual plan eventuated.

Branches of North Shore Libraries

Navbox
name = North Shore Libraries
title = North Shore Libraries
list1 =
Albany Village • Birkenhead • Devonport • East Coast Bays • Glenfield • Mobile • Northcote • Takapuna


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Public library — The Toronto Reference Library, centerpiece of the Toronto Public Library system …   Wikipedia

  • Birkenhead, New Zealand — Infobox New Zealand suburbs name = Birkenhead caption1 = The sugar refinery, a local landmark. city1 = North Shore City city2 = ward = established = 1883 (Approx.) area = population = popdate = trainstations = ferryterminals = Birkenhead Ferry… …   Wikipedia

  • Birkenhead — For other uses, see Birkenhead (disambiguation). Coordinates: 53°23′35″N 3°00′50″W / 53.393°N 3.014°W / 53.393; 3.014 …   Wikipedia

  • Public transport in Auckland — Public transport in Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand, is served by three modes bus, train and ferry. A relatively extensive tram system was dismantled after the first half of the 20th century. Services are provided by various transport… …   Wikipedia

  • Chelsea Sugar Refinery — Chelsea Sugar Refinery, as seen from Birkenhead Wharf The Chelsea Sugar Refinery, also known colloquially as Chelsea and the sugar works , is a long established business and landmark in Birkenhead, New Zealand, located on the northern shore of… …   Wikipedia

  • Chelsea Sugar Refinery — Chelsea Sugar Refinery, vom Anleger in Birkenhead aus gesehen Die Chelsea Sugar Refinery, in Auckland umgangssprachlich als Chelsea oder sugar works bezeichnet, ist eine Zuckerraffinerie in Birkenhead, einem Vorort von North Shore City in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Religious debates over the Harry Potter series — A page from The Nervous Witch , a tract written by fundamentalist Jack Chick, depicting the purportedly occult dangers of the Harry Potter series. Religious debates over the Harry Potter series of books by J. K. Rowling stem largely from… …   Wikipedia

  • Bibliotheque publique — Bibliothèque publique Bibliothèque publique moderne (Chambéry) Une bibliothèque publique est une bibliothèque ouverte au grand public, permettant la lecture sur place et, en général, le prêt à domicile. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bibliothèque Publique — moderne (Chambéry) Une bibliothèque publique est une bibliothèque ouverte au grand public, permettant la lecture sur place et, en général, le prêt à domicile. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bibliothèque de lecture publique — Bibliothèque publique Bibliothèque publique moderne (Chambéry) Une bibliothèque publique est une bibliothèque ouverte au grand public, permettant la lecture sur place et, en général, le prêt à domicile. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français