The best thing to come out of Auckland's Super City amalgamation is that you can borrow 3.5 million items from 55 libraries from Wellsford to Waiuku. Here we choose our favourite handful.

1. Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre

Nell Fisher Reserve, Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, ph (09) 486 8460

Officially opened in March last year, Birkenhead's library's building has won several design accolades for sustainable architecture, public architecture, and its use of colour. The building is rightly hailed as a community treasure, buzzing with people and action, with cleverly framed views of the harbour and city. All that, and you can take books out as well.

2. Central City Library


46 Lorne St, Auckland, ph (09) 377 0209

Auckland's first library began in 1842 for members of the Auckland Mechanics Institute before Auckland City Council took it over in 1880. It moved to its current site in 1971 from the corner of Wellesley and Kitchener Sts (now the Auckland Art Gallery). With some priceless collections (check out the current photography exhibitions), brilliant magazines and helpful librarians, you could happily while away entire rainy weekends.

3. Manukau Library and Research Centre

3 Osterley Way, Manukau

Opened last month, the town-centre library combines the previously previously separate Manukau Library and Manukau Research Centre. As well as bringing all the resources together, the design of the refurbished site was heavily influenced by Pacific traditions and images, reflecting the culture of its location.

4. New Lynn War Memorial Library

3 Memorial Dr, New Lynn, ph (09) 839 2260

New Lynn's first library opened in 1957. Its glam new building in 2005, designed by Moller Architects, set the landmark for libraries that are about the community, not just books. As part of the revitalised town hub around the train station, it includes state-of-the-art technology and civic art in its design.

5. Sir Edmund Hillary Library, Papakura

Level 1, 209 Great South Rd, ph (09) 978 2665

Opened in late 2010, this stunning building was a parting gift to the community from the former Papakura District Council. Library open every day but Sunday. The building also houses the Papakura Museum on Level 3, ph (09) 298 2003. Take out a book and discover some of Papakura's rich history.

* Find more information on searching, ordering or renewing online.