The Henry Field Education Library

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At 6pm on Thursday 16 November, the Henry Field Education Library (Te Puna Ako) closed its doors for the final time for service in its Dovedale location. The Education Library was an integral part of university life for many students and staff with its own unique, relaxed vibe. A mix of UC students, staff and members of Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery school and CCEL were among those who used the space for both study, leisure and inspiration. The atmosphere at the library was always one of staff working together with the students to help them fulfill their needs. Animated conversations on level 1 contributed to a welcoming atmosphere and discussion rooms were consistently full on both floors.

The college library was officially named the Henry Field library in 1984. Henry Field was a prominent New Zealand educational psychologist, educationalist and university professor born in Christchurch. Henry Field was closely affiliated with the college from his days as a student in the 1920’s, then in 1968, he became the first chairman of the Christchurch Teacher’s College Council. His contribution to teacher education in New Zealand is widely recognised and his chairmanship of the College Council until 1976 concluded an association with the college which spanned five decades. On 1 January 2007, the Christchurch College of Education merged with UC and the Henry Field library was added to UC’s collection of wonderful libraries. The Education library hosted collections that support research and teaching in Education, as well as children’s literature titles, including a Māori Classroom Collection and a dedicated reader room filled with school journals.

The space was very open and sunny, with its glass walled walkway on level 2 and arched glass ceiling, an excellent place to gaze upwards for inspiration. The mezzanine floor was built into the north side of the library in the 1990s due to the need for more student study spaces. Upon entering the library, visitors were greeted with the familiar sculpture of a father and son relaxing on a bench. This Donald Petersen sculpture was commissioned by the Christchurch College of Education Council to mark the colleges 125th Jubilee in 2002 and became a trademark of the library since its installation.

The Education Library is now in the process of moving into Te Puna Mātauraka: Central Library. The classroom, Māori classroom, Māori and fiction collections are moving to Level 4 of Central and the academic education collections will be shelved predominantly on Level 7. To recreate the library’s atmosphere from its original location, level 4 at Central will replicate the Education library’s school library look and be presented in a welcoming bicultural space. The Education Library space at Dovedale will become a storage facility, housing art collections.

*For more history on the College, including the library, read W. John Fletcher’s “A sense of community: The Christchurch College of Education 1877-2000” and his subsequent “The End of a Chapter” chronicling the years from 2000-2006. *

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