It may be humble, but Patearoa’s library is 125 years old.
Locals led by blacksmith Tom Tate raised funds for a library in 1895 and books were stored in the librarian’s house, but as the collection grew it was moved to the building in Chirnside Tce which hadbeen used as a school and church.
This simple corrugated-iron building was later moved next to the hotel and was used as a store.
The library committee was faced with erecting a new building, but had only 14 shillings (about $75).
Local builder Owen Cambridge offered to construct a new library (again in corrugated iron) for 50 ($5000).
Gold-miner Jack Johnston offered a low-interest loan of 5000 and the new building went up in Aitken Rd in 1928.
Many uses . . . Patearoa’s first library building, which dates back to the 1890s, was also used as a school and for church services. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
It took until 1946 to pay off the loan, the repayments often being made in gold as Patearoa still had plenty of miners.
During the 1930s, a windstorm blew a tree across the roof and the stains from the rainwater which seeped through can still be seen on the ceiling.
The library had been built on skids, as there was always the thought of moving it closer to the centre of the village and in 1953 the great move took place, to the present site in Aitken Rd.
Since then, the library has survived at least one flood and stood firm.
All the while, usually with about 30 subscribers, it has bought and loaned books and been a gathering place.
The boom years were from the 1940s to about 1990, when the book bus of the Country Library Service called and books were also loaned by the service.
This system closed in 1989 and the library struggled on with dwindling subscriptions and donated books, but by about 2000 it was little used and it closed.
However, the rich collection of about 3000 books remained and from 2005 a group of local volunteers decided the asset was too good to be wasted.
A great tidy-up ensued.
More books were donated and for the past 15 years the library has been open during holidays for the cribbies, and locals can use it anytime by picking up a key.
Now housing 4000 books and issuing about 250 a year, the Patearoa Library celebrated 125 years in October, with the unveiling of a plaque and a history of the library, The Library Book.