Thursday, April 21, 2016
Familiar Places: TE HĀPUA: HALSWELL CENTRE
As we enter the library, we are struck by the natural light and spaciousness and the cheerful, modern décor with its tasteful, uncluttered displays. And while our former library embraced families and children, there are now at times children running through the library without the least feeling of disturbance. Others are playing foosball, Play Station games or the latest board games.
Reading children still abound, but they might be next to a giant teddy bear or swinging in a bubble chair. Young students fill the Learning Centre eagerly doing technology based activities and there are others in the Makerspace that is fully equipped with an electronic drum kit and keyboard. Many of the computers are in use, as are some of the spaces where you can plug in your own laptop.
Pre-schoolers play in the central area which has large cushioned couches while Mums, Dads and Grandparents eagerly grab the chance to chat. The days of when a library was a place when everyone had to be silent so the readers could read are long gone and that had meant shorter stays for caregivers. Here people are lingering much longer. The sheer volume of activities means boredom is eliminated and minutes and even hours can pass by quickly.
The number of resources available is also perhaps a little overwhelming. We have now have access to 45,000 items, sixteen free internet computers, one family history computer, three dedicated children's computers and thirty Learning Centre computers. The latest equipment has to be mastered by new staff, as well the public who are trying it all out. Some of the skills that can be mastered here are creating 3D prints, Lego animations, musical CDs and DVDs.
There are after school classes, Computer Literacy day time classes for adults and programmes designed for the local schools. Prior to the new library opening, it was often said that there weren't a lot of spaces in our community that were youth centred. That complaint has been completely abolished. While the library has been designed for all residents, the planners have clearly understood and designed for their younger users.
Having seven meeting rooms of different sizes in Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre means that the public are also arriving for other various community activities such as Yoga/ Pilates, Weight Watchers and for residents who have been a little while in Halswell, it will be hard to not bump into people who they know here. Perhaps this is the greatest achievement of the Halswell centre is that it is providing a place like the traditional market square, where you meet and greet the people who we live with. This had been sorely lacking in Halswell and the supermarket was never really designed to be a place to chat.
Halswell's new Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre is a fine engineering feat, a community centre, an educational facility and an entertainment complex, but in a sense it represents much more than that. Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre symbolises the post-earthquake journey of this area: the enormous expansion into this area and the repair and replacement of damaged buildings. It represents a new era of living here: an era that is preparing itself for the large population that is settling here and all the new opportunities that that brings for all of us to embrace.