Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 34, September 1990

The fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Paeroa's present Public Library building was marked by a simple ceremony and afternoon tea on Saturday 16 June 1990.

The Public Library is one of the oldest institutions in Paeroa. At a public meeting held on 4 December, 1881, it was decided to form a library. At first it was just a bookcase in a public hall, before being housed in a small building in Willoughby Street.

In 1898 the building was moved to the site of the present library and a reading room added. This was subsidised by the Ohinemuri County and was opened on 13 June 1899. The first building was of rimu and kauri construction, 30 feet by 20 feet. There were four large windows, one in each wall, and the hip-roof carried the ventilation.

In 1901 part of the present library site was occupied by a fire station, a long, low, narrow building called the fire shed, which housed the brigade for 23 years.

In 1911 a library site was set aside as a municipal reserve and this is the site where, in 1926, the borough council chambers were erected.

On the formation of the borough in 1915 the library (still in Belmont Road) was passed to the council to administer and it had to pay the county council £650 ($1,300) for the site and the building. As the Paeroa Borough Council did not need two library sections, the vesting of the Normanby Road section was changed.

In 1915 the council made a grant of £7.10.0 ($15.00) to the library committee for general use.

Staffing was voluntary and no salaries were paid. Subscribers numbered 42 who each paid 10/-($1.00) per annum. The book stock in 1918 was 2081 volumes and the issues recorded as 6657, which is something like 160 per subscriber and three books per week each!

At some stage in the 1920's the council began paying a librarian.

In March 1939 the Paeroa Centennial Committee approved plans drawn by Mayor William Marshall to extend the present library and making provision for a women's rest room, plunket room and library facilities.

There was a 25% Government subsidy available as it was a 1940 Centennial project. The cost of the work was £1,580 ($3,160.) It was to be named the Ohinemuri and Paeroa Centennial Memorial Library.

At the time it was hoped that tenders would be called and the work completed so that an opening could be held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the formation of the borough on July 1 1940. However, owing to the Second World War intensifying, the opening was not held until Monday, June 16,1941, and the Mayor of the day, Edwin Edwards, opened Paeroa's "1940 Centennial Memorial Library". It was also on this occasion that Mr Edwards unveiled the Colours of the 6th Hauraki Battalion in the foyer of the building.

In 1969 major renovation of the library was carried out and the reading room and the library were made into one big room.

The list of names of the librarians is probably incomplete but apart from the original John Ritchie, includes W Sullivan (15 years) Miss Priestly, Miss M Shaw, Mrs Anne Thorp, Mrs Halliday, Miss A Kenny (1925-37), Mrs J E Wright (1937-39), Mrs Stewart (1939-43), Mrs Hildar Buckrell (1943-73), Mrs Dorothy Dreadon (1973-85), Mrs Alex Tomlinson and Mrs Pam Miller.