Central Library closure

Wellington Central Library is closed until further notice. We're working hard to minimise disruption while continuing to add to our central city library replacement services.

Future of the Central Library

Consultation on the future of the Central Library is open until 5pm, Monday 7 September.

We have developed a Statement of Proposal (SOP) outlining the issues with the building, the practicable options available and the factors they were assessed against to help you make your decision. We will also be running events at our libraries; the Planning for Growth information kiosk and online.

Have your say or register for the latest updates on events via Lets talk future of the Central Library 

You can also pick up a copy of the Statement of Proposal and submission form from your local library branch. Or you can order these by emailing centrallibrarysubmission@wcc.govt.nz

Students studying in the library.

The Central Library was not damaged in the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, however it was re-assessed after a change to the Government’s seismic performance assessment criteria guidelines for buildings. A decision was made to close the building on 19 March 2019, including the public car park and the footpath around the library. 

We realise this closure affects many people, and are working hard to minimise disruption while continuing to add to our central city library replacement services. You can find information about the closure and what’s happening to our services on Wellington City Libraries’ website

Since the closure we moved to: 

  • investigate and develop options for the library so the Council can make a decision on the future of the building in October 2020. This included engaging engineering, architecture and building experts at workshops to provide advice, and carry out peer reviews of the options proposed. 
  • set up an interim network of three smaller libraries in the CBD. Arapaki Manners Library and He Matapihi Molesworth Library opened in April and October 2019 respectively. Opening Te Awe Library in Brandon Street was delayed until 14 July 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
  • develop a Collection and Distribution Centre (CDC) in Johnsonville to house the remaining Central Library collection. Since July customers have been able to reserve fiction books from the CDC through the online library catalogue for free. Items are then to the library branch of the customers’ choice for pick up. We are now adding the non-fiction titles to the catalogue, before we move onto how we can make the reference collections accessible.
  • install a new hoarding and artwork around the building which celebrates the life of J.C. Sturm, also known as Jacquie Baxter. This artwork provides vibrancy to the area as we work through the long term future of the building and Te Ngākau — Civic Precinct.
  • You can read the full timeline on the Wellington City Libraries website.

We also have investigated the future options for Central Library services so that the Council can consider this when looking at options for the Central Library building. We planned to take the summary of options to Council in on 24 March to allow them to make informed decisions on the future development of Te Ngākau as a whole. This meeting was deferred due to the COVID-19 lockdown. 

In light of the effects of COVID-19, a revised paper focused on providing the range of scenarios available to strengthen and refurbish the Central Library, alongside other options to accommodate Central Library services was presented to Council on Wednesday 27 May. At the meeting, the Mayor and Councillors were also asked to approve an extensive public engagement programme to ensure the wishes of Wellingtonians are built into any decisions made on the building and the service. 

At the meeting Councillors requested officers to investigate options to speed up the decision-making process and report back the following week.  

On Wednesday 3 June the Mayor and Councillors were presented with an expedited process and timelines for decision-making for the Central Library (link below). This approach was approved, along with the high level public engagement and consultation programme to ensure the wishes of Wellingtonians are built into any decisions made on the building and the service for approval.  

The future of the Central Library is part of the Council’s bigger Te Ngākau – Civic Precinct redevelopment programme of work. This focuses on how the Central Library and other buildings in the precinct are affected by the new seismic performance assessment criteria guidelines in relation to their structural design and/or construction. Most will require strengthening and redevelopment works, as well as services upgrades and varying levels of redevelopment. 

We need to make sure that minimum service levels (the standard of services provided to the occupants for amenities and maintenance) are able to be maintained and that buildings are compliant and fit for purpose for the community, now and in the future. You can read more on our website about the redevelopment of Te Ngākau – Civic Precinct.

Details about the closure

Earlier updates on Central Library

Media release – 27 July 2020

Share your views on the future of the Central Library

Media Release – 21 July 2020

Amendments to Statement of Proposal on the future Central Library

Media release – 16 July 2020

Council Statement on the future of the Central Library

Updates from 27 May and 3 June 2020

On Wednesday 27 May, Wellington City Council considered information on the range of scenarios available to strengthen and refurbish the Central Library, alongside other options to accommodate Central Library services. Councillors requested officers to investigate options to speed up the decision-making process and report back the following week.  

On Wednesday 3 June,  the Mayor and Councillors were presented with an expedited process and timelines for decision-making for the Central Library (link below). This approach was approved, along with the high level public engagement programme. You can read the Council papers, media release and options for the remediating the service and building.


Estimated cost summaries for each solution provided by an independent Quantity surveyor: 

Media Release 22 May 2020

Council to set direction for future Central Library services

Message from the Chief Executive 31 July 2019.

We’re pleased to announce that Professor Ken Elwood, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland, has agreed to lead the process of facilitating a group of construction and engineering industry experts in finding the right way forward for the Central Library building.

Read the full statement Prof Elwood to lead Central Library experts.

Message from the Chief Executive 12 July 2019

Given the high public interest in the Central Library building, as well as the broader Civic Precinct, what follows is an update on where we are at with this work and an indication of the process from here.  

Read the full statement (470KB PDF)

— Kevin Lavery, Chief Executive

Engineering Assessment Memo  (1.9MB PDF)
Aurecon Engineering Assessment  (317KB PDF)
WSP OPUS Peer Review of Assessment (861KB PDF)

Accessing library services and facilities

You can find information about where to access our interim libraries in the city centre, and reserve books from the CDC at the Wellington City Libraries website.

Details about the closure
Wellington Central Library closure map  (768KB PDF)
Library branches in the central city and Suburbs
Library opening hours
Community centres

Citizens Advice Bureau and Justice of the Peace service desk

These services are available at the James Smith Building on the corner of Manners Street and Cuba. You can reach them on 04 472 2466 or www.cab.org.nz.

Citizen Advice Bureau hours are:

  • Monday: 9.30am-5.15pm
  • Tuesday to Thursday: 930am-6.30pm
  • Friday: 9.30am-3.30pm
  • Saturday: 11am-1pm

Justice of the Peace service desk hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 12pm-2pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday evening: 5pm-6pm
  • Wednesday evening: 5pm-6.30pm
  • Saturday: 11am-12.30pm

Find a JP: justiceofthepeace.org.nz 

Contacting Wellington City Libraries

Contact our Library team directly via enquiries@wcl.govt.nz or 04 801 4040.