Date Range1893-1997DescriptionIn 1892, the Wellington Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute was taken over by the Wellington City Council and became the first municipal library in New Zealand. The reading room of the Central Library opened on the 23rd of April 1893. The building remained in use until the late 1930's, when the new central Public Library (now the City Art Gallery) was opened. The Newtown Branch Library was opened in 1902, becoming the first branch library in New Zealand. Between 1905 and the 1950's a further 10 branch libraries were opened - Brooklyn, Island Bay, Johnsonville, Karori, Khandallah, Lyall Bay/ Kilbirnie, Ngaio/ Cummings Park, Miramar, Tawa/Mervyn Kemp, Wadestown - and also a mobile service in 1947. The Wellington Library was often referred to as the Central Library.
In 1951 the services moved from subscription-funded to a free service, except for the rental section. Chief Librarians include Thomas William Rowe (1893-1904), Herbert Baillie (1904-1928), Joseph Norris (1928-1946), Stuart Perry (1946-1973), Brian McKeon (1973-1994), Jane Hill (1994-) Until the restructing that took effect in September 1991, the public library acted as a stand-alone unit. After that, it was managed through the Culture and Recreation Division and, later, other Council sections. It moved into its new building in 1991. In 1997 the name Wellington City Libraries was adopted formally to cover the Central Library and all branches and activities.