It's Queenstown Library’s 145th Birthday

Queenstown Library is celebrating its 145th year of service to the community!

Established in March 1877, the original library was situated on the corner of Stanley and Ballarat streets, housed in one of the early stone buildings of the gold rush era. Despite a fierce dispute over a plan to demolish it in the 1960s, the stone building still remains and is now home to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

By 1965, the library building retained its charm on the outside, but the cracks were evident inside — quite literally. With tattered furniture and grubby windows, the interior was dismal. The council of the time decided to replace the building. However, many people, including members of the historical society, opposed the decision. The backlash gained momentum and the ‘Friends of the Old Stone Library’ was formed.

The group’s fight to save the building drew media attention from all over New Zealand. The story made the front page of the Otago Daily Times three days in row and was picked up by the Auckland Weekly News and the New Zealand Herald.

After matter was eventually decided by a referendum on 11 February 1967. The results showed overwhelming opinion in favour of preserving the library — it had been saved!

Marygold Miller, who led the campaign later said: ‘Many people played a part in the battle to save the library, and it was my job to stream their efforts into one channel to create an effective force for preservation, so I feel a personal gratitude towards everyone who so loyally made their contribution to what I believe to be a pleasing result for all.’ (NZ Legacy Vol.23, No.2)

In 1971, Malaghan Public Library opened on the site as an adjoining new building and in June 1999 the Queenstown Library relocated to its current location on Gorge Road.