The Children's Library of Upper Riccarton

A Very Busy Library

The advantages of being out in the public eye, on a street frontage, very quickly became obvious. Window displays now became an added activity - the most popular of all time being the fluffy baby chickens in an incubator as part of a display celebrating Easter. By the end of the first year in the new library, president Joan Fazackerly, could report the number of books issued as being 26,676, the membership as now at 1,374. This was composed of 474 annual subscription members and 900 3d [three-pence] a time members. Among the innovations had been the establishment of an "Intermediate" section (later renamed Older Children's section) and matching smocks for all the voluntary staff, made by the women themselves.

As was common for many libraries in that era dust-covers made of thick paper, covered with ads for local businesses, were purchased. These were orange and apart from protecting the covers of the books themselves also made it easy for parents to locate the library book in the child's room.

Children queuing up at the counter in 1958.Children queuing up at the counter in 1958.

Although the mothers now had a building, with all capital and maintenance costs met, the constant need to raise money for books, by grants and fundraising activities remained. A successful dance at the Yaldhurst Memorial Hall in late 1958 netted a very satisfactory 30 pounds. Not long after a film evening was run in Riccarton at the Rex Theatre [better known by its later name the "Avenue International"] on a Sunday night. A certain amount of "red tape", typical of that highly regulated era, had to be negotiated first. Permission was sought, and granted by the Riccarton Town Clerk subject to a list of six conditions, including that the films be G rated and the names of the films be submitted to the Borough Council for prior approval!! And also that "a senior male of the permanent staff of the theatre is attendance during the whole of the screening."

In later years socials would become a regular annual or bi-annual feature. Often these took the form of ladies only luncheon, particularly at Christmas time. Venues over the years included the Hotel Russley, The Trans Hotel, the Plaza Lounge, Cokers Hotel or Behrens Restaurant. They were usually well attended.

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