Elma Turner's 'small but mighty' Pop-up Library just got bigger

25/01/2023 3:49pm
Library staff welcome the public to the Elma Turner Pop-up Library extension through the new entrance off the Library carpark on 25 January 2023.
Library staff welcome the public to the Elma Turner Pop-up Library extension through the new entrance off the Library carpark on 25 January 2023.

Nelson City Council is delighted to announce the Elma Turner Pop-up Library extended into the Maitai River side of the building on Wednesday 25 January.

To allow library staff to prepare for the opening, the Pop-up was closed in the morning and opened from 1pm. 

“The extension is the result of weeks of hard work over the holiday period from engineers, builders and Council staff,” says Nelson Mayor Nick Smith, who leads the Library Reopening Taskforce. 

“With the ceiling grid and ceiling tiles now braced and secured, library staff and contractors have moved 240 shelves and 8,000 books into the newly strengthened space. 

“This extension opening is an important step to getting the building fully reopened. The safety of staff and the public is Council’s top priority. This is a place where everyone in the community, including families, children and seniors, spend a lot of time, and it’s essential we make sure these repairs are done to a high standard. 

“It is a real confidence booster to have this major stage of strengthening work done on time and on budget, but the more complex structural work on the southern end of the building is still ahead of us. The Taskforce will continue to work with Council staff and our contractors to get this work completed so we can return to full service and full capacity.” 

There are now two entrances into the Pop-up Library – the existing one by the Pop-up Playground into the Children’s Area, and a second one accessible from the Library carpark directly into the extension. Signs are posted directing people to both entrances. 

Contractors have installed a ramp up to the new entrance adjacent to the Library carpark, with a wider turning platform to increase access for people with wheelchairs and mobility scooters. It may still be difficult to fit large mobility scooters inside, and we have a wheelchair available for customers who need to leave their scooters outside.  

The additional space means we can make more books, DVDs, magazines, newspapers and other items available on the floor for you to enjoy. We are also able to increase the number of computers and study spaces available for members of the public. 

Many of our much-missed library programmes will also return: 

  • The Children’s library will return to its normal space in the area next to the playground, and we will be able to resume our Small Times and after-school activities. 
  • More library programmes will be back, including our Library Knitters, Bookchat, STEM Writers, Shared Reading, Tea & Tales and author talks. You can see a schedule of these programmes on our events calendar
  • The Activity Room will be available for community group bookings during our opening hours. You can fill out a booking form through our website.   

Although work on the Pop-up Library Extension is now complete, strengthening work is ongoing in other areas of the building, and the Pop-up may still be a little noisy while this work takes place. We do have headphones available for tamariki to wear and the Stoke and Nightingale Memorial Libraries will be open as normal. 

“Staff are so excited to welcome Whakatū Nelson back into this section of Elma Turner Library,” says Manager Libraries Sarina Barron.  

“Thank you so much for your patience and support as we complete this important strengthening work. We really appreciate the love the community has shown this small-but-mighty Pop-up. Huge thanks are also due to the hardworking staff and contractors who have been putting in long hours behind the scenes to get the building open as quickly as possible.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the strengthening work consist of?   

  1. The ceiling tiles need to be clipped securely to the ceiling grid.   
  2. The ceiling grid needs lateral bracing to the roofing structure to prevent movement during an earthquake.   
  3. The ceiling tile system needs to be properly secured at the edges with floating edge pieces to enable some movement during an earthquake, but without failing.  
  4. The structural connections between the exterior walls and the roof bracing system in the southern end of the building (next to Halifax Street) need to be redesigned and strengthened.   

How long will it take?  

The work is being done in two stages.    

  • Stage One (Completed) raised the Children’s area and the Activity Room to 67% NBS.    
  • Stage Two will cover the remainder of the Library. This work has been divided into Phase 1, Phase 2a, Phase 2b and Phase 2c. Phase 1 has been completed and Phase 2a is next.   

Phased approaches:   

  • Phase 1 has expanded the area of the Pop-up Library into the Maitai River side of the building. Done!  
  • Phase 2a will cover the central public area, the entrance foyer and the returns room, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of summer 2023. However, the Phase 2a area may not open to the public until after Phase 2b (detailed below) is completed, as space will be required for storage of library collections during construction.  
  • Phases 2b and 2c include the structural work in the library’s southern section and staff areas. Construction of Phases 2b and 2c will take approximately 10 weeks from the date a building consent is granted, and completion is currently estimated for the end of June 2023. 

Is the library open while work is taking place? 

Yes! The Elma Turner Pop-up Library hours remain the same. Check the Nelson Public Libraries website for the most up to date hours for all three libraries. 

What is a Detailed Seismic Assessment (DSA) Report and why did Council request one?  

Broadly speaking, a DSA is a detailed, modelled assessment of the likely seismic behaviour of a building. When doing a DSA, engineers will assess the vulnerability of all critical elements in the building (such as columns, floors, parapets, and heavy exterior cladding) that could present a significant life safety hazard during an earthquake. Each of the elements gets a score expressed in terms of the percentage of New Building Standard (% NBS) achieved. % NBS is an index used to characterise the expected seismic response of a building to earthquake shaking. It helps identify buildings that represent a higher seismic risk than a similar new building, built to current Building Code standards (implemented following the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes).  
Having accurate, externally reviewed data helps us make informed decisions, which is especially important when there is the potential of significant impact to the public.  
Did Council really have to close the building? Couldn’t the library have stayed open?  
While there was no legal obligation to close, Council was not prepared to accept the level of risk when it came to a high-traffic public facility with a number of vulnerable users. The DSA confirms this approach. Council, in its responsibility as a landowner, absolutely must make the building safe for staff and the community who need to use it now and in the future.   
MBIE issued new guidance on seismically vulnerable buildings in July 2022 advising that most seismically vulnerable buildings are not imminently dangerous and can remain occupied while seismic remediation work is planned, funded and undertaken. The building could be occupied in its current state; however, we are opting to take a conservative approach by keeping Elma Turner Library closed while this work takes place. This also ensures work can be completed in business hours and done quickly.  
Can I read the DSA report?  
Yes, we have made the report available to the public online here.