Hamilton Central Library fix approved

Councillors approved $635,000 to earthquake strengthen the Hamilton Central Library. Another $87,000 will be used to add ...
TOM LEE/STUFF

Councillors approved $635,000 to earthquake strengthen the Hamilton Central Library. Another $87,000 will be used to add a swipe card access system.

Hamilton Central Library will be fixed.

Councillors have also floated teaming up with for a cafe or similar business to open up the 'bunker'-like building.

The library was closed in November 2016 due to seismic issues, and now Hamilton City Councillors have approved $635,000 to fix it.

The library was closed in November 2016 due to seismic issues.
LIBBY WILSON/STUFF

The library was closed in November 2016 due to seismic issues.

Another $87,000 will be used to add a swipe card access system that will protect staff-only areas and provide faster acess for staff in emergencies.

Councillors were presented with multiple options for the library, including keeping the pop-up, relocating it, or a new build.

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They voted 10-1 for the staff recommendation to bring the Garden Place library up to 34 per cent of the New Build Standard (NBS) rating so the the library can reopen.

That option was the least costly of the ones presented.

Councillor Leo Tooman said he'd recently been to the dentist and been badgered the whole time about the closed central library.

He has to go back on Monday and didn't want to without being able to say it would be fixed, he said.

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All councillors who spoke in favour of fixing the library got applause from a group in the public gallery.

Staff said about 400,000 people visit the central library each year and Cr James Casson said that was proof it is important.

Cr Angela O'Leary called libraries "a rich treasure box of imagination for our community" and finished her speech with "let's do this".

"The response to that is 'let's tax this', which is exactly what we're going to be doing," Cr Garry Mallett said.

He was the sole councillor to vote against the plan, and said a central library was no longer an appropriate way to deliver library services.

"I believe there are higher priorities for our residents."

Mayor Andrew King supported getting the library up and running for now.

But he flagged serious concerns about the model and said he would start discussions on it as part of long-term plan deliberations.

Cr Siggi Henry was keen on opening up the front of the library, saying it looks a bit like a bunker to her.

She asked if there was any chance of a joint library venture with a coffee shop or some other business - an idea popular with several other councillors.

It's definitely a possibility, general manager of community Lance Vervoort said, and a cafe was not the only partner option.

Several councillors were keen to talk about future improvements to the library, such as opening up the entrance.

From an accounting point of view, the central library was a building currently worth nothing, chief executive Richard Briggs said during question time.

"Until such time as we repair it, we can't use it for anything," he said.

So, at its simplest level, the question was about whether to reinstate an asset.

The green light from council means staff can go out to tender for contractors to fix the library, a statement from Hamilton City Libraries Director Rebecca Whitehead said.

The repairs will take about eight months, and timelines will be confirmed once a contractor has been confirmed.

The fix will involve strapping sections of floor together using super-strong carbon fibre strips, as recommended by engineering experts.

When the library was first closed it was expected to be for three to six months, but ten months have now passed.

The extended closure is attracting about 90 complaints a month.

Whitehead said staff appreciate customers' patience and understand the frustration the closure has caused.

"Unfortunately, there isn't a 'quick fix' for our library," Whitehead said.

"It will remain closed for several more months while the repairs are done, so we do need further patience from our customers for a while longer."

 - Stuff

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