Grassroots solution for Lyttelton Library

Lyttelton is going to get a temporary library in 2016 while the current building is under repair.

Lyttelton is going to get a temporary library for the ten months the London Street building is under repair.

The Trinity Hall, next to the Lyttelton Recreation Centre, is to be temporarily used as a library, as a result of a combined community and Council working party finding a suitable alternate premises.

Councillor Andrew Turner who is a working party and Community Board member, says the community-led solution is a great outcome. "I want to thank Council staff, including Library staff and the community for working together to find a solution that works for all parties. This has been a great collaboration and a great result."

Faced with being without a library building for ten months, the Lyttelton community were feeling the pinch. Although library services, such as the mobile van, pre-school and after school programming, wifi and a lounge concept were going to be provided, no temporary library was available due to high set-up costs and Council budget constraints.

But Lytteltonians value their library space, says Penny Carnaby, chair of the working party.

"Kids come after school (there is no current school library either), crews from boats in port keep in touch with their families via free wifi and users find it not so easy to access other town libraries. Babytimes, Storytimes and other after school programmes are also well used by the community."

At a passionate community meeting, the community pleaded for another solution. So a working party was formed comprising of community representatives and the community board supported by Council staff. Together they came up with alternative venues, worked through the issues of cost, connectivity, loading (library shelving is particularly heavy) and displacement of other community groups.

Ms Carnaby, is pleased that in three short weeks a solution has been found. "This is a win-win for Lyttelton and the library," she says. "The community had a need, the Council listened, the community stepped up to offer positive affordable ideas and a grassroots solution has been found. We are all delighted."

Radio personality Gary McCormick was vocal in his belief the library space was vital for the community and now celebrates the result.

"This has been a fantastic solution, but then Lyttelton is a fantastic community," he says. "When the Loons needed money to continue, the community raised $80,000 in a month. When the library was going to be shut, the community broke into problem solving mode and with tenacity and passion wouldn't let up until a solution was found."

Five different venues and options were looked into but many did not provide the space needed.

The temporary library will house about 80 per cent of the current collection of books and will also provide space for other programmes to continue.

The Working Party also has some new and exciting ideas about how to help get the temporary library open, including the possibility of a family fun day to get the books physically shifted. More information will be available about this soon.

Community representatives of the working party were Penny Carnaby, Krystal Coppell, Gary McCormick, Bridget O'Brien, Luke Parker, Jaimee Pham and Justyn Strother.