Contractors are putting the finishing touches to Whanganui's historic Alexander Heritage and Research Library, completed a makeover which has cost more than $600,000 and included earthquake-strengthening of the building on Queens Park.

The project is part of Whanganui District Council's five-year earthquake-strengthening programme for the city's key public buildings. The seismic makeover started with the Royal Whanganui Opera House, with the Whanganui Regional Museum, War Memorial Centre and the Sarjeant Gallery lined up for similar work.

Work on the "Alex" started in December and Rick Grobecker, project manager for the council's property group, said the library collection could be back in its permanent home by August.

During that work the library relocated to a temporary home in the old Post Office building in Ridgway St.


The contract included sandblasting the exterior walls before they were given a special protective coating.

At the same time steel ties were inserted through the outside walls to the double brick walls inside. And three concrete pillars were installed on the north-facing wall, supported by new foundations directly underneath them.

Mr Grobecker said these pillars and a ply diaphragm in the ceiling will stop the building flexing in a major earthquake.

"It's really the only major structural change that's happening inside the building," he said.

And while the construction work draws to a close there's been more good news for the library.

It has been awarded $120,117 by the Lottery WWI Commemorations, Environment and Heritage fund to improve conservation and storage of its heritage collections. The funding will provide a new climate-control system in the collection store and mobile shelving.

The earthquake strengthening project has brought the Alex up to 67 per cent of the building standard.

Improvements also included refurbishing offices and public toilets and an accessibility ramp.