Library membership is free and 192,000 people - more than half the city’s population - are active library members.

Three generations of people using the libraryAt about 9850 m2 the New Central Library will be the largest public library in the South Island, and the second largest in the country. It will support 19 community, digital, and mobile libraries which last year hosted 3.7 million visits and issued almost 4.5 million items.

The library will appeal to a very broad cross section of the community. Along with fiction and non-fiction, it will have a wide range of loan material and programmes.

The 2013 Census showed 21.99 per cent of the population in Christchurch don't have home internet access. With free  Wi-Fi and internet access, up to 100 computers, and free training in digital skills the library can help improve digital literacy.

Using a tablet in the library

A librarian gives tips on using a tablet

A typical day in the New Central Library might include:

  • Budding authors gathering in the 200 seat community arena for a seminar on self-publishing technology.
  • Toddlers taking part in interactive story telling sessions, playing in the kids’ zone and trying out the latest educational computer games.
  • Teens working on their own music tracks, videos and film clips in the editing suites.
  • School children using “maker spaces” to create art works and learn basic bike maintenance.
  • Students meeting for study groups and consulting online academic journals.
  • Business people researching new markets with assistance from roving library staff with mobile devices.
  • New migrants chatting in an English conversation group on one of the outdoor terraces.
  • Central City office workers browsing magazines and checking out the latest technology in the innovation zone.
  • Job seekers learning CV writing and doing free online digital training.
  • Tourists logging into free Wi-Fi to find out about places to visit and make online bookings.
  • Retirees learning how to use social media to keep in touch with grandchildren overseas.
  • History buffs using specialist collections and digital archives to research family trees.