On July 9, 2022, Cambridge Library celebrated 150 years of service to the Waipā community. Since July 9, 1872, the Cambridge Library has moved three times prior to its current location. The library has been in the building at 23 Wilson St since 1998.
The first library for Cambridge residents was first initiated by the Armed Constabulary Forces and was operated by James Mumford.
This library was located in a building that formed part of the Cambridge Primary School previously located on Duke St.
At that time it had 300 books and 30 member subscribers. Mr James Stuart, the school's headmaster at the time acted as an honorary librarian.
In July 1879 and the Subscription Library Reading Room was then located in a former immigrants' cottage on lower Victoria St, not far from the primary school.
In 1882 the Mutual Improvement Society also staged a show to raise money for the library. By 1884 the committee was considering improving the literary stock by renewing a large proportion by means of a Government Grant. This concert paid off Mr Dods' debt and left a surplus of £3 which was put towards new books.
The Borough Council, at the end of 1895, had the opportunity to add a museum to the library and the outgoing mayor James S Bond said "As Cambridge is becoming known far and wide as a health resort, it is one of our first duties to make the town as attractive as possible. Therefore I urge you to leave no stone unturned to carry out the scheme which I have outlined and I appeal to the patriotism of the library committee to assist in this undertaking."
The council did not contribute financially to the library - if it did it would have had to have a say in the management and the library committee would not allow that.
Come 1897 the library boasted 2500 valuable and well-selected books besides a reading room free to visitors and supplied with 40 newspapers, from all parts of the colony.
In the early 1900s proposals for a new library were made in conjunction with proposals for a new town hall. This was to be located in upper Victoria St. In August 1908, the town hall and library were approved by 150 votes to 130.
A competition was arranged to design the building. The town hall to seat 700 people, the library and reading room to accommodate the librarian's office and a chess room and the council chambers not less than 24' × 20'.
In funding the library, mayor W Frank Buckland then applied to the philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, for a grant of £1000 for the new library.
Andrew Carnegie granted the money with the condition that the reading room was absolutely free and persons over 14 years should have the privilege of taking out one book for free.
The number of items at that time was 6000 books valued at £511 and the library had 150 subscribers, 10 per cent of the then population. It was then known as the Carnegie Library and opened in December 1909.
Miss Eva Stubbings was appointed librarian in 1917 and held the position until retiring in 1946. After her death, a memorial table and chairs were provided for the children's section.
A portrait of Andrew Carnegie presented to the library in 1936. With the borough's 50th jubilee approaching suggestions of upgrading the library and perhaps providing an assistant were discussed.
Miss Jean Lang was librarian in 1945, the Cambridge Library joined the Free Library
Country Service which loaned books throughout New Zealand on a population basis and
changed these books three times a year.
While the possibility of a move to the corner of Kirkwood and Lake Sts was raised in the 1960s with the proposal to add a library and art gallery, this never occurred.
After 10 years of deliberations, a new site was found near its former location in lower Victoria St which was home to the swimming baths. the same site as the "cottage" library.
The library opened there in 1977. The architect was R M Mercer, the builder Foster Construction Ltd.
It didn't take long for the library to outgrow its premises and while there was opposition, the library moved in 1998 to its current location alongside the council service centre at 23 Wilson St.
The staff and books have increased to keep pace with the trends and increasing population. The library collection has gone on to computer and the internet was installed.
The implementation of an anti-theft system is in place and charges for books have been introduced.
With the continued growth in population in Cambridge, the library has once again outgrown its location and the debate continues on a new location for the library.
The celebrations of the 150 years have included a virtual tour, podcast with long-serving librarian Rosemary Bublitz, cake cutting, drawing and fact competitions and a wine & cheese event.