The first person through the doors of the temporary Rotorua District Library was also the first to walk into the Haupapa St library 25 years ago.

The temporary library on the corner of Pukuatua St and Amohia St opened to the public yesterday after a blessing.

Rotorua's Phyllis Sturmfels, 90, who was the first through the door, said it looked a lot different from when she had a tour with library director Jane Gilbert last week.

"It's nice to see so many people came in early to have a look."


Mrs Sturmfels first started going to the library in the late 1950s.

She said it was now much bigger and "there were no such things as computers when I was young".

"Put it this way, it's just getting better and better."

Blessing of the new temporary library building this morning. Photo/Stephen Parker
Blessing of the new temporary library building this morning. Photo/Stephen Parker

She said her children had grown up using the library and as a family they would have checked out thousands of books over the years.

"In some ways you can say it [the library] is the centre of the whole community."

She is a life member of the Friends of the Library, which has raised thousands of dollars for the facility over the years.

Mrs Gilbert said it felt wonderful to have the new building open.

"It feels good. It's fresh and new. Everybody worked extremely hard. I'm so proud of my staff, they worked extremely hard. The movers couldn't have done it themselves."

Local Stacey Barnett said she thought the new library was "really nice" and open, with a communal and friendly feel.

She said she and son Leon Barnett, 7, went to the library at least once a week as Leon was home-schooled.

Leon had Tourettes Syndrome and the library was somewhere where he felt relaxed and comfortable, she said.

"He feels really happy and confident here."

The re-location of the library is temporary, with the revamp of the Haupapa St building expected to take about 18 months.

Once refurbished, it will share the building with child-health services to be provided by Lakes District Health Board, which will become a tenant.