Look up! – See your library in a new way

One of the activities in our Summer Reading Adventure this season is the Upward Looking Urban Photographer, where we’ve challenged you to look upwards while out and about and notice details that you might have otherwise overlooked.

We’ve had a whole gallery of upwards-looking photos sent into us, and we thought we’d share some of our favourites with you. Maybe one of these photos was taken by you! One of these photos was even taken at one of our libraries. If you haven’t submitted a photo for this activity yet, there’s still plenty of time! The Summer Reading Adventure runs until the 31st of January.

  • What’s that perched atop the iconic Cuba St bucket fountain?
  • A familiar location for some of us! Can you identify which library this is?
  • An encompassing canopy of treetops.
  • You might need to take a second glance to see the floating sculpture here.
  • This building’s original owners may not still be here, but they made sure we’d know who they were!
  • Sunlight catching the edge of the clouds.

Inspired by this activity, we’ve taken our cameras around our libraries and pointed them upwards! In this selection of images you’ll find many artworks, interesting angles, library signage, and ceilings seen from a different perspective – it’s an exploration of library architecture!

We have many libraries scattered around Wellington and they all feature different designs and artworks. This challenge has given us the opportunity to look around our libraries with fresh eyes and rediscover the quirky and interesting parts of our spaces.

Can you figure out where the photo (or photos!) of your library was taken?

  • A rope bridge made of twine and popsicle sticks bridges the gap between two bookshelves.
    Arapaki Library
  • A plastic skeleton perches on a bookshelf with a sign reading 'Young Adult Fiction'. On the ceiling tiles above are movie posters.
    Arapaki Library
  • Spackled ceiling with inset boards meeting in a cross.
    Brooklyn Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Moe-rā
  • Vaulted ceiling with triangular recessed skylights pointing inwards.
    Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako
  • Towards the library entry/exit, and internal five-sided window sits in the pointed ceiling.
    Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako
  • A large red paper flower and strings of red beads and white shells hanging from a red library sign with 'Can we help" written on it.
    Island Bay Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Tapu Te Ranga
  • Reflection of the library in the round security mirror by the door.
    Island Bay Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Tapu Te Ranga
  • Three pictures in a collage. Top: view of the children's area and the coloured triangular pieces of sound-baffling fitting in with the three-pronged lights. Centre: Looking up towards artworks by Robin Kahukiwa and Melvin Day. Bottom: Woven harakeke artwork Whetūrangi on the wall above and below a long window.
    Johnsonville Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi
  • A spine-like plastic guard around power cables attaches into a ceiling tile.
    Kai Ūpoko | Library offices
  • Looking upwards at the vertical word 'Library' on a red background.
    Karori Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Three narrow windows in a white wall look out onto the street and blue sky. A conical light hangs on the left, the bottom level with the top corner of a narrow window.
    Karori Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Checkered glass tiles set in the corner of the building, photographed from the inside.
    Khandallah Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Tari-kākā
  • Natural wood balcony with stuffed aniimals liiking down, a skylight above, and long tapestry hanging to the left.
    Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū o Patukawenga
  • Coloured paper letters spelling 'Children's Area' on the wall below small high windows with wooden blinds.
    Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū o Patukawenga
  • A blue pillar with outreaching metal struts atop it, in front of a corner window.
    Miramar Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Motu-kairangi
  • A triangular internal window above a mural of a beach with swimming child, reading octopus, and books flying through the air. In the window, a silhouette of a librarian waves.
    Miramar Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Motu-kairangi
  • Wooden beams on the right angle up to the natural wooden ceiling. On the left a wooden taniwha attached to a colourful painted wall looks up towards the peak of the ceiling.
    Newtown Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Ngā Puna Waiora
  • A round, curved, three-dimensional artwork on the ceiling. Shades of blue, with koru like tentacles reaching out from the centre.
    Newtown Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Ngā Puna Waiora
  • The corner of the building. Orange-toned wood on the ceiling, with a large corner window looking towards a Pohutukawa tree with vibrant red flowers.
    Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-Taia
  • Up past bookshelves of children's fiction are triangular fin artworks, then above those metal beams cross the wooden ceiling.
    Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-Taia
  • Diagonal industrial beam cuts across decorated upper walls above fiction shelves
    Te Awe Library
  • Decorated 1900s eave overhanging the footpath, with a yellow 'Te Awe Library' sign hanging from it.
    Te Awe Library
  • A backless tall shelf of extra large books. Behind this shelf, seen through the gaps in the shelf, are yet more bookshelves.
    Te Pātaka Collection and Distribution Centre
  • Square windows, photo taken looking inside. A vase of roses, a succulent, and a yellow sign with the word 'hot' peak over the windowsill.
    Te Pātaka Collection and Distribution Centre
  • A spiral cord hangs next to a skylight with a red beam across it. Blue sky with fluffy clouds outside.
    Wadestown Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari
  • Diagonal angular ceiling line, with a square light in the ceiling and recessed skylight
    Wadestown Library | Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari

One of our other Summer Reading Adventure activities challenges you to go back in time using Wellington Recollect and find an image of your library taken in decades gone by. We find it very fascinating to go and look through the pictures and see the different library layouts and different buildings there have been over the years. Can you spot anything from our upward-looking-photos in the pictures of your library on Recollect?

Visiting Your Library with Children at Level 2

The day has finally come! Five of our libraries (Johnsonville, Cummings Park (Ngaio), Karori, Newtown, and Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie)) are back open to the public, with two more (Arapaki Manners and Wadestown) opening on Monday. Check here for all the details! Although we’re back, things might look a little bit different. Here’s what you can expect to see when you visit one of our libraries during Level 2:

  • A security guard or librarian checking people off as they enter. Because we have to be careful about how many people can be in the library at once, we have to tick you off and take your details as you come in. Sometimes this will mean you’ll need to wait a little while to get in — don’t worry, everything we’re doing is to try to keep you and your family safe.
  • People keeping far apart. When you’re in the library, you’ll see people trying to keep 2m apart as they make their way through the building picking up books. Please remember to keep inside your bubble at all times, and be patient if you need to wait for someone to leave a shelf before you can leap in and grab the book you want!
  • Lots of hand sanitiser! We’re providing a whole bunch of hand sanitiser so everyone can keep clean and safe. Remember, washing your hands often is the best way to kill germs, so make sure you remember to sanitise your hands after touching your face, and before you enter or leave the library.
  • No comfy chairs to sit and read in. We want you to keep your visit as short as possible — pop in, grab your books, and head back home so the next person can enter the library. We know it’s very tempting to find somewhere cosy at the library to curl up and read a book, but to help keep everyone safe and happy, please save the reading for when you get home.
  • No storytimes or other library activities. During Level 2 of the lockdown, we won’t be able to run any of our regular programmes and activities, like Preschool Storytime, Baby Rock and Rhyme, Let’s Go LEGO, Code Club, or CRAFTerschool in person at the library. We’re still running a bunch of these activities online, so be sure to check out our Facebook page and Family Lockdown Challenge blog posts to join in!
  • No big family groups visiting together. Generally, we want to keep groups of people entering the library as small as possible. If you can, look at the library catalogue online, decide what you want, reserve it if you’d like, and send one person from your bubble to the library to collect it. That might not always be possible, which is fine, but just remember to stick inside your bubble if you are visiting the library in a group.

Our librarians are very excited to see you back again — here’s a photo of the staff at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi giving you a wave and a smile! Make sure to give the librarians a big smile and wave back when you see them as well — it will make them very happy!

Come and visit us! We’re happy to be back online.


A library poem


Author Julia Donaldson has written many awesome books, that you’ll probably know – The Gruffalo, The Smartest Giant in Town and Room on the Broom,  and has now written a really cool poem about libraries and the special places they are:




Everyone is welcome to walk through the door.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.

There are books in boxes and books on shelves.

They’re free for you to borrow, so help yourselves.

Come and meet your heroes, old and new,

From William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh.

You can look into the Mirror or read The Times,

Or bring along a toddler to chant some rhymes.

The librarian’s a friend who loves to lend,

So see if there’s a book that she can recommend.

Read that book, and if you’re bitten

You can borrow all the other ones the author’s written.

Are you into battles or biography?

Are you keen on gerbils or geography?

Gardening or ghosts? Sharks or science fiction?

There’s something here for everyone, whatever your addiction.

There are students revising, deep in concentration,

And school kids doing projects, finding inspiration.

Over in the corner there’s a table with seating,

So come along and join in the Book Club meeting.

Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow,

And help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow.