The New Central Library will occupy a prominent site on the corner of Gloucester Street and Cathedral Square

Where will the New Central Library be located?

The New Central Library will occupy a prominent site on the corner of Gloucester Street and Cathedral Square.

How big will it be compared to the old Central Library?

The new Central Library will be about 9,850 square metres, making it the largest public library in the South Island.  The old Central Library was about 7,200 square metres and had insufficient space to meet the growing demand for services.

Why didn’t the Council just repair the old Central Library?

The old library site was designated for the new Convention Centre in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan and the building has been demolished.

Why do we need a new Central Library?

The New Central Library will support suburban libraries, provide access to specialist heritage and cultural collections, and help revitalise the Central City by attracting people to Cathedral Square.

It will have space for exhibitions, and room to provide educational and community programmes that were never possible in the old building. 

For example, there will be activity rooms for things like craft sessions, and the 200 seat community arena will provide a venue for debates, book launches and author talks.

More than half the 320,000 items previously available at the old Central Library are in storage. That is because there is not enough space for them in the  two temporary central city libraries in Manchester and Peterborough Streets.

How will the New Central Library differ from the old one?

The New Central Library is bigger than the old one. It also has many new features based on 2,400 ideas from the public during the Your Library, Your Voice campaign in 2014.
Those features include:

  • Exhibition and performance spaces
  • A 200-seat community arena for author talks and public debates
  • An innovation zone for trialling new technology
  • Areas to relax indoors and out
  • Quiet spaces for reading and study
  • Rooms for meetings, group courses and activities such as craft session
  • Computer laboratory and up to 100 computers
  • Music and film/video editing studios
  • Cafe, espresso bar and retail area
  • Public lockers
  • Buggy and bike parking

What about the lay out of the new building?

The new library is a third larger than the old building and is spread over five levels with each floor having its own special character and range of resources. Wide stairs and ample lifts will ensure easy access for all visitors.

During the Your Library, Your Voice campaign people said they wanted airy reading areas - both indoor and outdoor - with great city views and we responded to this by placing fiction on the top floor

Non fiction is our largest collection and we felt it was important to allot  sufficient space to avoid splitting it over two floors.

  • Ground floor  - public area with direct access from Gloucester Street and Cathedral Square, cafe, retail space and new technology displays.
  • First floor -  200-seat community arena, exhibition space, and family-friendly areas for children and youth
  • Second floor -  Aotearoa New Zealand, Ngāi Tahu, Pasifika and family history reference collections, archives, and an exhibition area for material on loan from other      collections.
  • Third floor – non fiction, quiet reading and study areas, and meeting rooms.
  • Fourth floor – fiction, film and video editing unit, music studio and computer learning centre and two outdoor terraces.

What will the new building look like and who designed it?

Pictures of the building are on the libraries’ website.

The facade of the building reflects the folded nature of the nearby Port Hills with their warm colours and shadows. It also echoes the triangular leaves of the native harakeke flax which originally grew in swamps around the site.

New Zealand company Architectus has worked in partnership with Danish library design experts schmidt hammer lassen. Between them these architects have designed many civic projects here and overseas.

How much will the new library cost and where is the money coming from?

The building is expected to cost up to $85 million, with $75 million contributed by the Council.

This is made up of $60 million from the Council’s facilities rebuild fund, $15 million from a “transformational fund” set aside in the 2013 -14 Annual Plan, and $10 million in philanthropic funding as outlined in the Cost Sharing Agreement with the Crown. The Government has also provided the land.

When will the New Central Library open?

Construction is expected to start in early 2016 and the library is expected to open in 2018.

What library services are available in the Central City in the meantime?

Two temporary libraries service the inner city.
North of Cathedral Square: Central Library Peterborough (91 Peterborough Street)

South of Cathedral Square: Central Library Manchester (36 Manchester Street, on the corner  of Allen Street).

Where can I get further information?

Christchurch City Libraries (external link)

Your Library, Your Voice (external link)