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THE LIBRARY SITE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 631, 9 May 1882
THE LIBRARY SITE.
A public meeting was held last evening at the Town Hall, to consider tho question of the Library site. There was an excellent attendance, tho Hall being well filled.
His Worship the Mayor occupied the chair, and opened the proceedings by reading the advertisement convening the meeting, following this up by a few remarks, in which he advocated a portion of the reserve occupied by the Fire Brigade as a very suitable site for the Library. The reserve, as they were aware, was situated at the corner of Cass street and Wakanni road, and was as centrally situated as could be desired, while it possessed the further advantage of being immediately available, whereas considerable delay might ensue if a Government reserve was selected. He favored a central site, but hoped that the squares would be left in-
tact. When the rest of the town was built over it would bo time enough to commence on the squares, and even then it would bo undesirable that they should ho touched; there was plenty of country available between tins and Itakaia, if need be, for building purposes without that. (Laughter and applause.) He was decidedly against the squares being interfered with. (Applause.) Mr Purnell, who was received with applause, said ho was not one of those who
had taken an active part hitherto in what had been called the “ battle of the sites,” but he took a great interest in the Library, and he was glad to see so many present
that evening. He trusted they would evince as much interest in the Library in the future as they had proved they took that night by attending in such large numbers. The adage said that when things got to the worst they were bound to mend, and perhaps the burning of the Library had been for the best, for the lire had awakened an interest in the institution which was not likely to soon die away. He had much pleasure in moving —“That, in the opinion of this meeting, nf A\ La
the old Library site ia nob sufficiently central, and that Government be requested to grant to the Library Committee a portion of the reserve at the junction of East and Wills streets, next to the Post-office; but in the event of such application being refused, the next best site obtainable would be on reserve No. 7C6, 'at the juncj t>on of Havelock street with Baring
square west.” Probably the Fire Brigade reserve would be the beat after all. He
was unaware, in fact, until the Mayor mentioned it, that the latter reserve would be available. The general feeling was that the old site was not suitable.
(Loud applause.) Some two or three there were who held that tho former site
was the best, and they had been called hard names in consequence ; but ho thought that they were perfectly entitled to their own opinions. With regard to the proposal to make the site Baring' square east, he must endorse every word, that had fallen from the Mayor on the propossl. It was highly desirable that every city or town should possess certain open spaces as lungs or breathing places, .. and sanitary authorities were unanimous on the point. No, he was strongly op-, posed to any interference with Baring square, and was sure that the County ; Council would not grant one penny of their promised subsidy .of L2OO to the Library Committee if the latter site was selected. The only other reserve available was next the Post-office, and he thought Government would readily grant this site. If they could get a lease of the reserve for twenty-one years it would answer the purpose, as in all probability by the end of that time the Library would ho in a sufficiently flourishing condition to purchase a site of its own. Had he been aware that the Fire Brigade reserve was available for the purpose of the Library he would certainly have proposed it in preference to the site next the Posfcoffice. . , The Mayor remarked at this stage, that he thought that there would be no difficulty about the Fire Brigade reserve, and if the Brigade found their space too bmifced at any time, why there was a nice little reserve they could have further along, which would suit them admirably. (Applause.) Mr Purnell, resuming, said that it was not usual for a speaker to propose an amendment to his own proposition in the middle of his speech, but, under the circumstances, be should ask leave to amend his resolution in favour of the Fire Brigade reserve, which, as be had previously informed them, he had been unaware until just before was available. The latter reserve was not any better, in fact it was not quite so good as the reserve adjoining the Post Office, and it was more readily obtainable, and on that account he favored it. There was one other matter he would mention before patting his resolution in its amended f,,rm, °and that was that he hoped the Library Committee would take that meetino' in good part, and not get their backs up? (Laughter.) Something Had been said about a public meeting usurping the functions of the Committee in selecting a site, but this was mere nonsense. The Library was not intended for the benefit of the few, but was for all. (Loud applause.) He trusted that if put on a proper basis, the greater part of the residents would become subscribers. Ashburton possessed a population, including the town and neighborhood, of about 3,0C6 persons, flud yet only about 120 of that number were subscribers to the Library. He thought this pointed to something radically wrong in connection with the institution. no hoped that the Library Committee would not be too timid in erecting the Library, Useless extravagance was, of course, to be avoided, hut for every reason it was desirable that a good building should be wi iwit.hw than a trumpery one which would he of no real use. The Public Library should form the centre of a group of institutions for the intellectual recreation of the residents. There had recently been a debating society established here, and sincerely he hoped that it would succeed, and this ought to form one portion of the group he had just spoken -of. If the Library stood alone it would never be so successful. This town was very much in want of amusements. Beyond a few travelling companies, there were positively no means of recreation here. The publichouses were nightly full of young men,’ and resorting to public-houses in this way was not a good thing for them. If the Good Templars and Oddfellows and other friendly bodies Were to help the Library Committee in the object they had in view they would be helping forward their own cause at the same time. He trusted there would be no diffidence amongst those present in expressing their views on the subject under discussion, for it was important that an expression of public opinion was taken on the matter. His amended . resolution read —“ That in the opinion of this meeting the old Library site was not sufficiently central, and that the Borough Council be asked for a portion o' the Fire Brigade reserve.” Mr Ward (whose appearance on the platform was greeted with applause), had i much pleasure in seconding Mr Purnell’s resolution. (Renewed applause). It was not his intention when he entered that ’ hall to take any part in the proceedings at ; all, but since the last speaker had alluded to the Library Committee in the way he had, he felt bound to speak a word in their defence. The Library Committee were not at all opposed to a central site, and had done their best to secure one, and yet they had had a coarse expression applied to them by one of the local papers for their opposition to such a site. Fop the proprietor of that paper, he (the speaker) had always entertained the " highest respect, but they should not put ’ such things in the paper. They had dona the best they could under all the circumstances, but very little interest was taken : in the Library. At the annual general meeting of subscribers twelve or fourteen persons attended, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that the • officers for ihe year were elected, one
gentleman present actually proposing Sir Julius Vogel as a member of Committee, turning the proceedings into ridicule. They were not bound, he would repeat, to the former site, and they were not going against the public, whose co-opera-tion and assistance they desired. They wanted the public to come forward and help them as one man. (Applause). Mr St. Hill; Mr Purnell has spoken disparagingly—(uproar, and cries of “sit down.”) Mr Hughes was going to second Mr Parnell’s resolution, but a better man coming forward, be gave way. He knew the old Library Committee had worked
hard, but as Mr Purnell had said there
was “something radically wrong” somewhere. The Library was in the wrong place, on its old site. He favored the
Mayor’s proposition. The Fire Brigade reserve was surrounded by good roads and
could bo easily reached, even on a dark night. Ho thought all were in favor of a
site on this side the line —except those few who resided on the other side. (Loud laughter.) He had heard people say that new books, reviews, papers and magazines were always disappearing at the old Library, and the subscribers generally might go and whistle for them. It was little he got from the Library himself, but he was a sulscriber, and could bear testimony to the energy of the old Committee in canvassing for subscribers. To return to tbe question of site, he thought the old site was a good one for sea-gulls (laughter) but not for the people of Ashbuiton. He favored the Fire Brigade section. (Applause ) Mr J. E. Buchanan proposed as an amendment—“ That Baring square east, subject to the approval of th,e County Council, be allocated as a site for the
Public Library.” A central site was wanted, he thought they all agreed, and the Brigade reserve was not central. lie was sure people would lose their way and break their legs in getting round those corners. (Laughter.) The delay involved in getting Baring square east allotted to them as a reserve was really no objection at all, and he was sure the County Council would not object to the latter site. The Council might object to the square being used for purposes of individual enterprise, but would not for a public purpose like the one under discussion. The amendment was seconded by Mr Hogg, who expressed himself in favor of the site adjoining the Post-office, failing the obtaining of Baring square east. Mr James Bradley hoped the resolution would be carried. Otherwise a delay of five or six months must result. There was another reason in addition to those mentioned, why he thought the old Library was not popular—it was not sufficiently comfortable. If the Library was not made as comfortable as people’s own homes it would not be patronised. The institution should be made as attractive as well as useful, as possible.. Mr G. W. Andrews urged that the square should be at once as the Government might take it from them at some future time, and turn it into a source of revenue for their own purposes. Mr Purnell would like to say a few
words on the amendment. He would like to point out that whatever resolutions they might pass, there was not the slightest hope of obtaining Baring square east as a site. Governmeut would never grant it. The Borough was bound to take the opinion of the burgesses on the question of site, but at the same time there was no liklihood at all of the square being given to them as a site for the Library. They should not mistake the shadow for the substance. If they asked for the Fire Brigade site they would probably get it, but if they asked for Baring square east they would only meet with a refusal. He trusted they would do something practical that night, and not allow the meeting to end in smoke. Mr St Hill thought that it was unmitigated rot—(laughter) —to suggest that Governmeut might become so impoverished as to be reduced to take away their squares. The Library Committee were in favor of the Fire Brigade site, but found obstacles in their way, and so abandoned the idea. He suggested the Borough should give the Committee the Brigade reserve site and the old site as well, as an endowment. (Laughter and applause.) Mr Cates (from the body of the hall): “ Well, Mr Chairman —” (roars of laughter and cries of ‘‘platform.”) Mr Cates got upon the platform, and met with a most enthusiastic reception; indeed ho could hardly hear himself speak, much less render himself audible to-those in front of him. The gist of Mr Cates’s speech was consideration at the hands of the public for the “poor countryman from the country.” Mr Cates descended amidst yells of delight from the audience.
The Mayor remarked, in reference to the fears expressed by a former speaker that the Government might take away the public squares from them, that Government had no power to do anything of the kind. They might as well sell the streets. The squares belonged to the residents. The amendment was put, and only 13 hands were held up in favor of it. Tho original motion was then put, and only three voted against it. The Mayor, in declaring the resolution carried, expressed the hope that there would be no more trouble about tho Li-
brary site. Mr Poyntz said a resolution had been placed in his hands, which he would read to them. It ran:—“ That the Mayor be requested to use his best endeavors to give effect to the previous resolution.” Seconded by Mr Hughes and carried unanimously. The Mayor assured the meeting that no effort should be wanting on his part to meet their wishes, and he was glad to think that there were no very serious obstacles in the way of those wishes being carried out. Mr W. H. Zouch proposed a hearty vote of thanks to the Chair, which was carried with acclamation, and tho proceedings terminated.
THE LIBRARY SITE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 631, 9 May 1882
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