Our Milestones

June 4, 2008 at 9:59 am | Posted in Centenary, City Library, Events, Library_News | Leave a comment

Since Dunedin Public Library’s opening in 1908 our history has been of continuous growth and improvement of collections and services. Almost every year there has been some noteworthy development. Here are some of the most significant or interesting:

  • 1908 The Library opened its doors to the public on 2 December. The Librarian was Scottish-born William Barker McEwan.
  • 1910 The Children’s Reading Room opened, providing both reference and lending services to children aged 10 and over. The age limit would subsequently be lowered.
  • 1911 The Lending Library for adults opened (so children were able to borrow books before this privilege was extended to adults).
  • 1913 Robert McNab offered his library to the City. At that time the collection amounted to 4200 items. Careful development has seen it grow to over 92,000.
  • 1919 All but two of the staff were laid low with influenza, and the Library was closed for a month.
  • 1933 Archie Dunningham became City Librarian.
  • 1936 Dorothy Neal, later Dorothy Neal White and later still Dorothy Neal White Ballantyne, became Children’s Librarian. She would become one of New Zealand’s greatest-ever children’s librarians and advocates for children’s books. Also in that year the free/rental policy (which still persists) was introduced, the Library Bindery was established, and the collection of sheet music began.
  • 1938 The Hospital Library Service began at the Public Hospital.
  • 1939 The framed pictures lending service began, and the Children’s Library moved to the Club House building in Moray Place.
  • 1946 The Children’s Library was relocated to Stuart Street.
  • 1947 The Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection was gifted to the City.
  • 1950 The Book Bus service began.
  • 1960 Ada Fache became City Librarian.
  • 1968 Mary Ronnie became City Librarian.
  • 1969 The House-bound Readers’ service began.
  • 1976 Michael Wooliscroft became City Librarian.
  • 1981 The present Library building opened.
  • 1987 Norah Familton became City Librarian.
  • 1989 Allison Dobbie became City Librarian, the Colin McCahon painting Otago Peninsula was bequeathed to the Library, and local body amalgamation brought the Mosgiel, Port Chalmers, Blueskin Bay, and Waikouaiti Libraries into the Dunedin Public Libraries network.
  • 1993 The present Dynix automated library system was introduced.
  • 2001 The LearnIT Centre, offering free Internet access, was opened.
  • 2002 Bernie Hawke became City Librarian.
  • 2003 The new Reed Gallery opened on the third floor.
  • 2008 We celebrate our Centenary, and look forward to another century of progress and service to the people of Dunedin!

Barbara Frame
Centenary Coordinator


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