2 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

had changed, the need

had changed, the need now was so much greater, and after due debate it was resolved to establish a Lincoln library and to build a reading room. 1 It was hoped that the project would be helped by a grant from the Provincial Government Library Fund and the Lincoln Book Club offered to donate money for the purchase of books. Apart from telling us that there was a functioning book club in Lincoln at that time nothing else is known about it. Having decided to build a library it was then necessary to find a suitable site. After a long debate, during which sites in the school grounds and the township were rejected, William Tod’s offer of 32 perches, opposite the school and adjacent to the Presbyterian Church, was accepted. This sliver of land, now the site of Liffey Cottage, was separated from a much larger paddock of Tod’s by the planned line of the railway, and was bought for five shillings. The annual subscription was set at five shillings and a working committee of five was elected: Messrs A.C. Knight, R. Wright, W. Tod, H. Moffat and the Revd. A.P. O'Callaghan. It was decided that the school committee would manage the library, even if only on a temporary basis, and that books were to be bought in Melbourne because they cost a third less than in Christchurch and it would be ridiculous to do otherwise! At a meeting three months later the working committee reported that the Provincial Government would give a pound for pound subsidy on any amount raised up to 100 pounds with an additional grant of 50 pounds towards the purchase of books. 2 Strangely, the subsidy offended some people because it seemed to favour urban areas where raising money would be relatively much easier! A committee was then formed to canvass the district for subscriptions and Mr. J.T. Matson was asked to value the 32 perches which were vested in the names of Messrs Knight, Meyenberg and the Revd. O’Callaghan as trustees for the residents of the Lincoln school district to whom the land was given. A few days later the committee reported that the 32 perches had been valued at 25 pounds by Mr. Matson who had generously waived his fee as a donation to the fund. The appeal for subscriptions realised 52 pounds and this, together with the value of the land and one pound five shillings donated by the Lincoln Book Club, encouraged the committee to make a further appeal for funds. 3 This appeal, followed by a gift auction at which a cabbage sold for 13 shillings, brought funds to a total of 102 pounds, enough to qualify for the government subsidy. The decision to 156

establish a library was made in 1873, building began early in 1874 and in July of that year the building was completed and ready for business. It was a splendid building, 20 feet x 15 feet, with a 6 feet x 6 feet porch, lined with Baltic pine, and the interior, fitted with five shelves, each 15 feet long, was stained and varnished and a credit to Henry Meyenberg the contractor. 4 To enhance the appearance of the building a paling fence was built along the front boundary and the neighbouring Presbyterians were asked to remove the gorse from the fence between the church and the library. The maintenance of the fences was an ongoing chore and gorse always needed cutting. The community was proud of its new library building and since there was no public hall for local groups to meet, the new facility was seen by some as an alternative to the schoolroom and hotel. Thus the Lincoln Brass Band 5 was allowed use of the building for practice one night a week on condition that they paid for lighting and heating, and the Orange Lodge No 14 was permitted to use the building at two pounds per annum with the requirement that the Master took responsibility for any damage to, or loss of books. 6 Lincoln now has neither a brass band nor an Orange Lodge and to date there are no available details relating to either, although the lodge may have been that which was established in Prebbleton at about that time. Business began as soon as the books ordered from Melbourne were shelved. Subscribers could borrow books between 7 pm and 8 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, later reduced to twice a week, and were helped by a paid librarian who received five pounds five shillings per annum. This may have been too little, for later the honorarium increased to ten pounds a year, but the position was hard to fill and mostly the library was staffed by volunteers. A boy was employed to light the fire in winter so that the room was warm for the 7 pm opening. The library flourished in the first years and the number of subscribers, who not only had access to books but also to local and overseas newspapers, rose rapidly. As a consequence, the committee decided not to increase the annual subscription until it was realised that a subscription of ten shillings was necessary in order to qualify for government grants. 7 In order to compensate for the inevitable increase in subscription members were given the opportunity to pay quarterly. Nevertheless, the committee was always trying to cut costs, and although books were now being bought in Christchurch they also approached other local libraries to join them in "sending home" for books. The Dunsandel 157

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