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Napier Library Upgrade

New Napier Library CounterPlanning Started: October 2007
Construction Started: 14 May 2011
Completed: June 2011

The recent upgrade of Napier's city library has streamlined interior spaces, sharpening up the way in which the building functions and enhancing its strong architectural form.

From the public's perspective, the changes effected by Alexander Construction may appear subtle, but Library Manager Sheryl Reed says they are proving very satisfying for all concerned.

Users are appreciating more open airier spaces, the continuous arrangement of reception counters and a new location for the returns area in the library foyer.

For young borrowers, the children's issue desk has been resurfaced and repainted, and Herb the Vegetarian Dragon, a favourite book character, makes his appearance where they return their books.

The new location for the returns area - which incorporates an afterhours slot on the outside wall to the right of the entry - brings together returning and lending operations.

Staff, who had a say in the redesign, can now clear returned books and other items without crossing in front of the entrance door. Structural barriers have been removed and wall windows put in place so they can more readily attend to borrowers' needs.

Behind the scenes, the library turned into a hive of industry in early May as builders, painters and other trades moved in to carry out changes that originated in a Napier City Council review undertaken in 2007.

As work progressed, the pace quickened and the library closed for a week to allow for structural alterations.

Several new offices were created in the former returns area - one for staff and the other to house disk cleaning and diagnostic equipment.

For the first time, the library is equipped with an accessibility toilet, built off the foyer.

Some 22 interior columns were refreshed with cream paint, and elsewhere greater use has been made of the navy and bronze corporate colours of Napier City Council's Community Development department.

The redesign was the work of Judd Dougan Team Architects Ltd. Project architect Paul Dougan says the more minimalistic look is a salute to the building's original Modernist architecture - a style which espoused the concept of form following function. Guy Natusch, who was assisted by Neil Fenwick in designing the library in 1986, describes it as "a modern building of its time".

Lighting is next to be upgraded. Existing suspended fluorescent fixtures are to be lifted up against the ceilings to enhance the clean lines of the interior spaces and throw more light. Then, any 'black spots' will be addressed.

The most recent phase of work follows the upgrade of the area fronting the entrance. Wing walls have created a semi-enclosed courtyard and are topped with garden beds now planted with primula.

The curving sweep of wall better defines access for pedestrians using the library and Civic Building and provides a screen between the courtyard and Station Street vehicle traffic.

The public is making good use of bench seating fitted to enhance the forecourt's use as an outdoors meeting spot. It is anticipated that the space will also develop as a venue for al fresco musical productions, book readings and library display.

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