On a wet Friday in mid-October, a significant milestone in the regeneration of Cathedral Square was reached. The doors to Tūranga – the new central library – were opened to the public.
At nearly 10,000 square metres, it is the largest public library in the South Island. But its significance for the local community amounts to more than just floorspace. The city has not had a central library since 2011. In that time, technologies have continued to advance and the modern library environment is very different from what it was in the past, where people of all ages were required to be seen and not heard.
One thing that has not changed, however, is the role of libraries – particularly central libraries – in a community. At a library, we all have the same level of access to information. At a library, everyone is equal. The value of that equity cannot be underestimated. Nor can the impact Tūranga will have on the vibrancy of Christchurch’s central city, particularly Cathedral Square.
This milestone in the city’s regeneration includes the significant philanthropic support for Tūranga. Through the recently-established Christchurch Foundation, $2.5 million has been gifted by TSB, Spark and Southbase to support the library’s operational overheads.
The momentum being created by the combination of philanthropic support, private sector investment and public sector commitment will ensure the Square becomes an example-of-progress as much as a work-in-progress. It also demonstrates how all sectors working together on a best-for-city approach could work outside Cathedral Square.