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21 Dec 2016
Words are powerful, they can change the fate of nations. How much more powerful then must then the building built to contain them be?A venerable land mark is celebrating; the Rangiora Library opened 20 years ago today.
On Saturday, December 21, 1996, Aileen Inch - wife of the man whose name graces the building - cut the ribbon to officially open the Trevor Inch Memorial Library. Trevor Inch was first mayor of the Waimakariri District after its formation in 1989 – he was mayor of Rangiora previously – and had worked hard to upgrade the library during his term. He unfortunately died soon after his resignation from office in 1995.
Some librarians who were fresh faces into the field in 1996 are now veterans of the trade and still cater to the literary needs of the district.Waimakariri Libraries people and places coordinator Mark O’Connell fell into library work by chance, but the library has become and important part of his life. ‘‘I started in 1988 and the new library opened in 1996. I applied for the job, I got it and it was great. It’s very important to me, it’s a great place. You see so many people and 99 per cent of the interactions are positive, you can’t ask for better than that.’’ He met his wife Sally in the early days of his career and the pair had wedding photos taken in the old library building – which formed part of today’s library.
The library and the council swapped buildings in 1966, the plan being for the library to take over the old council chambers temporarily. The Chamber Gallery – now an art gallery but previously the council chambers – was the main library building before the modern building was complete, along with what are now the meeting room and the Citizens Advice Bureau. The style of the old building set the tone for the new, with one of the divergences being the inclusion of corrugated iron on the external walls as a symbolic link to the district’s rural heritage.
Space was one of the luxuries the new building brought to the table, O’Connell said.‘‘We can get more people in the new building, there were only two or three tables in the old building and there were books stacked under the shelves, it was pretty chocker.’’
O’Connell said that over the 20 year life span of the new library things have changed markedly, ‘‘We’ve gone from being mostly books to being cutting edge with technology. There’s things we couldn’t imagine. I can’t imagine the [future] technology, I couldn’t imagine what we have now 20 years ago.’’
After twenty years in the new library, seeing many in the district grow and develop their literary interest over the years, O’Connell is humble about the part he, his co-workers and their work place have played in many lives‘‘Well I guess you’re just contributing and that’s great.’’