On a wet, windy day I went to the Chartwell
library to wile away a few hours. It was the last week of the
school holidays, and the place was a buzz of activity with children
and people everywhere. Rather noisy I thought. No "please
be quiet signs" anywhere. Gone are the days when libraries
and Churches were shrouded in hushed and deathly silence.
I had intended to do a bit of research
about voting. I thought that would be a subject you'd like to
know about. Just joking. I got side tracked when I discover the
huge, flat folder entitled "The NZ Herald 100 years of news."
September 20 1893: Women voters walked
to the polling booth at the Auckland Drill Hall through a pathway
of curious men, to cast some of the first votes by women in New
Zealand. The document allowing women to vote was not without
protest, right up to the last minute before signing.
September 21 1933: (exactly 40 years
later) Mrs E.R. McCombs, the first woman member of parliament
was sworn in. Bellamy's restaurant sign "no ladies admitted"
I began to lose interest in voting and
looked around the library. "What a wonderful place"
I thought to myself. I could live here for 100 years and still
not get bored. There are so many books. New Zealand has a high
per-capita of active readers and a fair few were in the Chartwell
library on a wet school holiday day. I wondered when the library
was built. Who was responsible to getting it built in the first
place? Why was Chartwell chosen? Who made the lovely glass window
With the kind co-operation of the library
staff I had some of the answers: The new library was opened in
August 1984 by the then Hamilton Mayor Ross Jansen. The coloured
window is 6 meters long and was designed by Tauhei glass artist
Jo Shroff and paid for by the Hamilton City Council. The Librarian
then was Andrew Peacocke. Next year will mark 25 years since
the opening of our Chartwell library.
I love the vibrant atmosphere of children
selecting their books, of students on the computers doing their
last minute school assignments, of genealogy buffs searching
for family clues, and of the helpful and polite staff.
I suppose I could have searched the
internet and googled myself silly, but why would I want to miss
out on the pure pleasure of going to our very own library. Chartwell
Library is the largest of the Community Libraries, servicing
the expanding northeastern suburbs of Hamilton, - our treasure
in the neighbourhood.