Details about the closure

On 18 March 2019, the Council received an engineers’ report which revealed that the Central Library building has structural vulnerabilities that mean it may not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake. From this report the Chief Executive of Wellington City Council, in consultation with the Mayor and Councillors, has decided to close the Central Library and the public library car park.

The engineers' report

Engineering Assessment Memo  (1.9MB PDF)
Engineering Assessment  (317KB PDF)

Why did the Council commission the report?

After the Kaikoura earthquake, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), in partnership with the engineering fraternity, commissioned guidelines on how to assess pre-cast concrete flooring systems. These guidelines were published in November 2018. 

The Council commissioned an engineering assessment of the Central Library building using these MBIE guidelines as the library has this flooring system.

When did you receive the report?

We received the engineers’ report on Monday 18 March and we have acted quickly to close the library based on that advice.

Has the engineers’ report been peer reviewed? 

We have engaged a peer review.

What does the report say?

The assessment revealed that the building has structural vulnerabilities that mean it may not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake.

Safety

Is the building safe?

The building is not damaged but the vulnerabilities identified using these new guidelines are such that we have made the decision to close the building to the public and relocate our staff while next steps are planned.

What about the carpark and area around the building and Civic Square?

The public carpark and areas of footpath around the building will also be closed as a precaution, as they lie within the building envelope. 
Wellington Central Library Closure Map (768KB PDF)

Was any other work planned on the building?

Other seismic strengthening work on the Central Library building was already planned. This work would have required us to temporarily close the building to carry out these works. Yesterday’s report means this closure has been brought forward.

Reopening

When will the library reopen?

The building will remain closed until further notice. Now that we have the engineering report we can start to investigate options and make some decisions about what approach we take. Professor Ken Elwood, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland, will lead the process of facilitating a group of construction and engineering industry experts in finding the right way forward for the Central Library building.

Does this mean we’re getting a new library?

At this stage we will continue to gather and consider the wide variety of industry perspectives on the building’s structural vulnerabilities in relation to finding potential remedial engineering and construction solutions. There will most likely be a further peer review of this advice which will ultimately inform a report back to the Council.

Accessing services and Central Library facilities

With the Central Library building closing, how can people access library services?

We are looking at a range of options for continuing to offer library services in the central city, depending on how long the library will be closed for. In the meantime, we are encouraging people to make use of our suburban branch network and our digital library services. You can find more information on our website. We are fully aware of the impact on staff, the public and other tenants of the building and we are working hard on solutions.

What will this mean for library services and for people who currently have items on loan?

We are looking at different ways to offer alternative library services, including making use of our branch network, digital services and other offerings in the central city.
In the meantime, members can continue to access library services via our other Council library branches and website. We are auto-renewing all items currently on loan from the Central Library and will suspend fees for returning items to other branches. Library users should check our website or social media channels for more information.

What if I have something on reserve?

We anticipate these will be available to collect by Monday 25 March. If you have been notified about a reserve that’s ready to collect from the Central Library, we will be in touch with you direct with more information.

What about other facilities within the library building like Citizens Advice Bureau and Clarks Café?

We are talking with Central Library tenants - Citizens Advice Bureau and Clarks Café about alternative options. We’ll be updating our website and social media channels with the latest information as we work through this.

I've booked a meeting room...

Unfortunately these meeting rooms are no longer available for use. You will need to find an alternative venue. Our team is directly contacting anyone who has an existing booking in one of our meeting rooms to let them know and arrange for any room hireage fees to be refunded.

How do I now access Justice of the Peace services?

You can find other JP services in Wellington:
Justice of the Peace service desks - Wellington

Staff

What does this mean for library staff? Will there be job losses?

Our expectation is that there will not be job losses as a result of this closure. We are letting our staff know today about the closure and will talk with individuals about options for them to work in different locations.

How many staff are impacted? / How many staff work in the building?

Around 110 staff work in the building, as well as those working for Clarks Café and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Costs

How much will it cost to repair the library?

Until we know the nature of the repair work we are not in a position to say how much it might cost.

How will you fund the repairs? Is it covered by insurance or will this mean rates increases?

This is still to be worked through, but no, it isn’t covered by insurance.

More information

Where can I go to for more information or if I have a question or concern?

We will be publishing regular updates on our website and via our social media channels.