As Stratford mayor Neil Volzke unveiled the 6 metre wide, 2.4 metre high light box adorning one of the library walls, a collective wow was heard from those attending the formal re-opening of the Stratford library.
The light box, one of two to be installed as part of the $1million upgrade and redevelopment of the library, feature photographs of local people, as well as "Barry from Te Popo".
Mayor Volzke explains, "we used local photographs for most, however one photograph was sourced from the internet by the design team. We decided he had to be a local, so we informally adopted him, naming him Barry from Te Popo".
Some of those featured in the light box images were present at the official opening to see their images unveiled for the first time.
"It looks awesome," says Coco Tihema (7), whose photo was selected from a range sourced by Director of Community Development for Stratford District Council, Kate Whareaitu.
Coco's picture, was originally taken by the Stratford Press and featured in the paper last year. Kate saw the image online and asked if it could be used for the library.
"We wanted the photos used to show off life in our district, and the people who live here," she says.
Gwelfa Burgess was another model for the lightbox, and says seeing herself "in lights" was going to take some getting used to.
The library was officially opened this morning, with speeches by Chief Executive Matt O'Mara and Mayor Neil Volzke. One of the invited guests for the opening was the former Chief Executive, Sue Davidson, who Neil described as being "the instigator of the redevelopment".
Speaking at the opening, Mayor Neil Volzke had words of praise for the work by Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner Team Architects and ICL Construction Ltd as well as members of council's senior management team. "Kate [Whareaitu] was here at 8pm last night making sure everything was ready for today."
Murali Bhaskar, design director at Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner Team Architects, says from a design point of view he is particularly pleased with the openness of the finished project. "I also like the sense of arrival you get at the entry and the way the layout naturally moves between different distinct zones."
His colleague, Brian Lee, who was the project manager, says as well as the fact it was completed on budget, he has enjoyed seeing "the transformation from a tired, cramped library to what we now see, a light, open building which is connected to the space outside as well, offering a natural flow to Prospero Place".
District librarian, Jonet Moore, says she and her team have been enjoying hearing everyone's positive comments on the new space since they opened their doors last week.
"It really is nice, with lots of light, and that's the first thing everyone comments on, the openness and light."
Council CEO, Matt O'Mara, says the library is a community hub and with 50 per cent more floor space now available to the public, plus lots of great design features such as USB wall charging points and a meeting room, the library was sure be well used by the public for years to come.
He added his appreciation of the generous donations from the TSB Community Trust and the Lottery Grants Board, which along with rates, funded the upgrade.
Once the official opening ceremony was completed, users were free to explore and enjoy the new space, with the younger users able to have their faces painted and enjoy a scavenger hunt through the library as part of the celebrations.
See our Facebook live video of the unveiling of the light box and see next week's Stratford Press for more photos.