It predated the newspaper, the fire station, and even the first brewery.
On this day 150 years ago, the seeds were planted for Tauranga Library by three men at the Masonic Hotel who wanted to provide reading material to locals.
There were less than 250 households at the time, road transport was powered by horse or donkey, and the few roads that weren't dirt were made of pipi shell.
An exhibition will be held at the library's Willow St branch until June 8 to celebrate the 15-year milestone for Tauranga Library.
Since the men met at the Masonic Hotel on April 7, 1871, four locations have been established for Tauranga City Library, including a mobile library.
The library's central branch started in Harington St and occupied two other buildings on Willow St before moving to its present location.
Tauranga City Council community services general manager Gareth Wallis said 2021 marked a significant milestone for the library.
Meanwhile, it also marked the start of a new chapter, as the Willow St library redevelopment is consulted on through the draft Long-term Plan.
"While still issuing over a million books each year and being a source for local research, technology and information access, today's libraries foster a sense of belonging and connection," he said.
"Libraries are a place of diverse events and activities where different generations and people from all avenues of life can gather.
"The evolution into community hubs means the new design needs to be multipurpose and incorporate communal spaces, as well as being a place for learning."
The exhibition will include library minute books from 1871 to 1897, and a catalogue of library archives in digital form on Pae Korokī – Tauranga Archives Online.