Issue 19: 10 October 2008

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The Auckland University College Library in the Arts Building (ClockTower), 1931 from Keith Sinclair, A History of the University of Auckland 1883-1983, Auckland, 1983, p. 147

Auckland University College, established in 1883, lacked almost of the accepted university facilities, including a library. Such books as were available were kept by the appropriate professors in their cramped rooms. But in 1884 the College Council acknowledged the existence of at least a notional library with the resolution: “That a vulcanized rubber stamp be procured, and the books belonging to the Council be marked therewith as such, and that a Classified Catalogue of the Library be formed.”

An 1888 report on library organisation commented: “so long as the books constituting the Library are deposited in the several detached buildings in which the classes are now conducted, it would be impossible to frame any rules which would prove satisfactory for the securing of a uniform management.”

Plans for the University’s first permanent Arts Building brought a flurry of excitement, and in its excitement, and in its anxiety to provide for all foreseeable future requirements the Council called for a modification to Mr Lippincott’s plans to provide an additional 8ft of reader space in the Library wing. For the first time the University had a Library worthy of the name, well proportioned, spacious, quiet and dignified. But its heyday was all too brief. Barely 20 years after its opening it was beginning to feel the pressure from increasing student numbers.

A tardy recognition of the University’s continuing expansion, coupled with dissensions over the permanent site, delayed building operations until the 1960s, and it was 1968 before the Library took possession of its handsome new building. But already the books and readers have claimed part of the concourse and the former Bindery, dispossessed the English Department, and are knocking at the floors of the Law School.

Extracts from “Library News”, University of Auckland News, 9, 6, 1979, pp.30, 36-37.