Auckland University College Library, 1931.4
Friday morning, May 26, 1933 and there are only a few Auckland University College students in the Library. It is vacation and the College has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Silence now prevails but at other times music from gramophones and piano-playing in the students’ block wafts through the windows. Or, less pleasantly, the Librarian sharply calls out for silence. 1
The main Library on Princes Street [in the ClockTower building] measures 5,640 sq feet and was opened six years ago. Past the Lippincott table by the main door with its Library plan and charts outlining the Dewey classification system,2 the Librarian sits at the imposing semi-circular central desk, kept warm by a radiator.
Because it is a vacation week day, the Library opened at 9am and will close at 5pm, without shutting for lunch as happens during term3
, to the frustration of students. No freshers or seniors search the author and subject catalogue cards
in the wooden cabinets. However, a young woman gets assistance from the Librarian, as recommended by the Students’ Association Handbook, which notes, “You will find the Librarian and the Catalogues are complementary.”2
Borrowing a book takes a little time as the Librarian writes in a ledger
the borrower’s name, the date and the volume’s accession number
or call number. Restricted to borrowing two books at a time for 14 days, it is easy to incur the one-penny-a-day overdue fine, even though the Library regulations are pasted in each book. Also, there is a notice-book, “…in which a student desirous of obtaining a book already in circulation may enter his name and the title of the book desired.” 3
The College’s 1307 students, 13 professors and 29 lecturers have more reading material to choose from than ever before; most of the 25,000 books and periodicals are in the main Library, the rest in departmental libraries. But on this day, these riches are being enjoyed by only a few.
Jo Birks, Special Collections
1Johnson, O. (1988). The true university: a short history of the University of Auckland Library 1883-1986. Auckland : University of Auckland Library.
2Auckland University College. Students’ Association. (1933). Auckland University College handbook for 1933.
3Auckland University College. (1933). Auckland University College Calendar for the year 1933.
4University of Auckland. Library. History series. MSS & Archives E-10, items 3.1, 2.1.3, 8.2, 11.2. Special Collections.