Eastbourne Library 45th Anniversary

Eastbourne Library is celebrating its’ 45th anniversary on March 20 this year. The Library was a triumph for the community who campaigned from the 1930s for it.

Before the Library opened in 1974 Eastbourne residents relied on small private libraries, such as ‘Mackies Store’.

Eastbourne lending library, incorporating a shop selling stationery, books and fancy goods, c1920s. Ref: 1/2-050268-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
pirvate library
A crowd outside ‘Mackies Store’ at 151 Muritai Rd, Christmas time, 1948. The building was established as a private lending library by the Misses Wadley. W.E.Toms photographer. Eastbourne Historical Society Collection.

The original 1960 plan for a new Eastbourne Borough Council building contained a block of flats on top, but no library! However in October 1968 a referendum for a library was held alongside the local government elections and there was a resounding win for a library – 682 people for, 409 against.

So the plan for the block of the flats was dropped in favour of plans for a library. Construction began on the corner of Rimu Street and Marine Parade in 1973.

BF16-59-26 PLANS - Eastbourne Borough Council Library and Office Building_Page_03
Eastbourne Borough Council and Library Plans, Hutt City Council.
Rimu Street and Marine Parade, 1953. W.E. Toms photographer. Eastbourne Historical Society Collection.
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Eastbourne’s new municipal building in progress. Evening Post 13 February 1973.
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Municipal Building in construction. Evening Post 2 July 1973.
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The Eastbourne Borough Council’s new Municipal Building containing the library. It cost about $160,000 to build. Evening Post 20 March 1974.
Eastbourne, 1985.

The new Eastbourne Borough Council’s Municipal Building, including the Library, was opened by the Minister of Internal Affairs the Hon. Henry May. There were over 500 people enrolled to join on opening day. The buildings were the first offices owned by the Council, despite it being established in 1906.

Courier News, Tuesday 26 March, 1974. Eastbourne Historical Society Collection.
Courier News, Tuesday 26 March, 1974. Eastbourne Historical Society Collection.

At opening time they were still waiting for books to arrive so the Country Library Service in Palmerston North gave Eastbourne their surplus books and rotated the stock every eighteen months. Marie Sweeney (Library Assistant) recalled “Keeping the Library supplied with good books was quite a problem” as the customers loved the books but were initially limited to two books at a time.

Mrs Pat Powell, the first Eastbourne Librarian, 1976. Eastbourne Library Collection.

Mrs Pat Powell reported in 1979 overwhelming support of the Library with comments such as “I don’t know what I would have done without this place to come to”, teenagers showing interest in historic Eastbourne and clubs using the Library. It functioned as the “mainspring of a community”.

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Unknown date. Eastbourne Library Collection.
79 2 (2)
Unknown date. Eastbourne Library Collection.
1979 stories
Unknown date. Eastbourne Library Collection.

In 1987 90% of Eastbourne residents were library members and the library issued 87,000 items a year, averaging 22 items per resident – compared with the national average of 10!

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Mrs Walcott, 1988. Eastbourne Library Collection.
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The Library in 1988 – many potted plants! Eastbourne Library Collection.

At the end of 1989 Eastbourne Borough Council amalgamated with Lower Hutt Council causing controversy in the community. But on the upside Eastbourne people now had access to all 8 Hutt City Libraries!

Bye, Bye, Borough celebrations. Wainuiomata Advertiser, 8 November 1989.
bye bye bye
Bye, Bye, Borough celebrations, 1989.
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Bye, Bye, Borough celebrations, 1989.
Members of the Eastbourne Scottish Country Dance Club perform at the ‘Bye Bye Borough‘ Day, 1989. W.G. Wollerman. Eastbourne Historical Society Collection.

commemoration bk

Further reading:

Eastbourne: a history of the Eastern Bays of Wellington Harbour by Ann Beaglehole with Alison Carew

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