The library
Inez Cooper remembers the library as it used to be, a place where you registered your dog, renewed your licence, or paid your power bill - as well as getting out the new Barbara Cartland potboiler.
In 1879 the first library was situated in part of the Police Station and Courthouse in Waterford Road. With the consent of the Police Department, closed book shelves were placed in the Courthouse, which was also provided with newspapers as a reading room. The library remained here until 1913, when a subscription list was opened, and negotiations were made to build a public library. The small white building remains on the Uretara Domain today. Gradually, the town moved from Waterford to its present site.
above: The original Katikati Library at the Uretara Domain.
When I joined the then Tauranga County Council as an Agency Clerk in 1979 the 'office' was a desk tucked away in the back corner of what was then the Katikati Public Library. This was situated in the room now occupied by the Art Gallery on the southern side of the Memorial Hall which now looks out to the supermarket.

Not only did the Agency Clerk take the rates and register dogs, but also payment for the Tauranga Power Board accounts and best of all worked with Traffic Officer Simpson on the issuing of driver's licences. Every June people had to renew their licence and I got to stick different coloured stickers in their little book licences for however many years (up to five) that they choose to pay for. I tested their eyesight by standing them at one side of the room to read from a chart hung on the door on the other side. and when it came to testing the over seventies, we organised a day and a half with two people every fifteen minutes to drive Ian around the block - going left hand out of the Memorial Hall. That was fairly nerve wracking for both the testee and the testor. I remember Dr Joe who used to stop his car opposite the dairy at the corner of Beach Road and Park Roads and leave the door wide open while he ambled over to the shop. Some drivers should not have been on the road and took some persuading from Ian to accept that their licences would not be renewed.

I was talking to a young man the other day who still has his original first licence which was issued by me when he was a schoolboy.

The library today. The building also houses the Western Bay of Plenty District Council offices and the Visitor Information Centre. Yes, you can still pay your rates there...
As I was working every day, the volunteer management committee of the Library allowed me to take responsibility for the day today running of the library and buying books was an excitement we all looked forward to. Our funds came from the subscription people paid annually to belong to the Library and as Tauranga County Council generously provided the premises and paid for the power, all monies went towards books. We bought from an Auckland man who brought a van filled with the latest fiction and a small selection of non-fiction. We would spend $200-$300 every six weeks and the choice was mainly murder mysteries and romances. We had a great selection of Raymond Chandler, Leslie Charteris, Jean Plaidy, Hebe Elsna and Barbara Cartland. Our non-fiction collection was not large and there were no children's books at all.

I remember one young mother who was a great reader who used to come regularly with her small active children and while she browsed the shelves the children had a great time playing at trains with the table and chairs. That convinced some of our older volunteers that children just did not belong in libraries - a far cry from our library today.After the books were selected there was one volunteer who used to take the carton of books home to be covered and some weeks later, after she and her husband had read them, they would come back to the library to be issued.

We were also fortunate to be part of the Country Library Service whereby we were able to have a collection of 350 or more books from the National Library which were exchanged every three or four months. I can remember having to drive down to the Katikati Railway Station where the cartons of books were freighted to, to either collect the incoming books or send off the returned books.

Later in the 1980s the big Country Library Service van used to park out the back of the Memorial Hall and the whole committee used to climb aboard to choose the selection of fiction and non-fiction for our next collection. Needless to say, our own particular choices prevailed, but as there could be eight or more women making the choices, the collection covered a wide range of interests.

The changeover of books was eagerly awaited and within a few days of the books going on the shelves, the shelves were nearly bare. Later we did as school teachers did and travelled to Hamilton to choose books there and that was a good day out with lunch.

It wasn't until the new library was built in 1987 that a children's section was established. The Lions Club and Rotary Club established a fund for children's books and I remember the fun we had travelling to Auckland to Wheelers Book Shop on the North Shore to spend thousands of dollars on children's books. The community was very generous with donations, both of money and old books and we spent many hours preparing the books for the shelves.