A history of the Central Library building on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, 1982 - 2014.
The Canterbury Public Library
The original home of the Canterbury Public Library was on the corner of Hereford Street and Cambridge Terrace, where it was sited for over one hundred years. The search for a suitable site for the new central library extended over several years and it was only after prolonged negotiations and considerable goodwill on the part of the previous owners that the site on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Gloucester Street was secured.
Overlooking the Avon River and the Provincial Council Buildings, and a minute away from Cathedral Square, the building was ideally sited for library purposes.
Design and construction
Warren and Mahoney were the architects and C. S. Luney Limited the principal contractor for the original portion of the library. The Governor-General, Hon. Sir David Beattie, GCMG GCVO, QC, officially opened the building on 2 February 1982.
The building consisted of four storeys with a floor area of 6000 square metres. The ground, first and second floors were linked by an escalator.
The exterior of the building was faced with Nelson marble tiles, and meranti timber was used extensively in the interior. Originally, banners designed by the Christchurch artist Quentin MacFarlane were suspended in the light-well over the escalator. The building was double-glazed and fully air-conditioned.
Additions were completed in 1997 and a further one and a half floors were added. In 2000 the Canterbury Public Library changed its name to Christchurch City Libraries. Further alterations took place in 2001.
Central Library after the earthquakes
The Central Library building suffered non-structural earthquake damage in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The Christchurch City Council received a detailed engineering evaluation of the building following the February and June 2011 earthquakes.
A new central library building is planned for Cathedral Square.
Information about the Gloucester Street Central Library
- Central Library
- Canterbury Public Library opening [890KB PDF]
- A brief history of Christchurch City Libraries
- A Library in the heart of the city
- Heritage photographs
- Library fact sheet
- Papers Index
This was originally derived from the Christchurch City Council handbook of 1998.