Stoke Library


The first Stoke library was opened in the 1940's, thanks to the commitment of a group of residents, led by Fred Reed, who were mainly connected with the Stoke School board. The group applied for access to the Country Library Service.  A subscription service was established in the Sunday School room at St Barnabas Anglican Church and run by a committee which appointed a librarian.

Stoke St Barnabas Church

Centenary of St Barnabas Church, Stoke. Nelson Photo News No 40 : March 7, 1964

In 1953 the Stoke Memorial Hall was completed, and realising an opportunity for growth, the committee applied to rehouse the library in the Hall. In 1957 it moved into  the cloakroom  - 183 square feet (17 square metres) in area, and larger than the existing premises, but it did have to move out every time a formal ball was held in the Hall.1

stoke war memorial1

Stoke Memorial Hall. Nelson City Council

Stoke became part of Nelson City in 1958 and its library was no longer entitled to use the Country Library Service. It would have disappeared if the Nelson Institute had not stepped in and agreed to take over its management, alongside the Nelson Library which was then housed in Hardy Street.

In 1965 the library gained its own home, when it was moved into the recently vacated Methodist Church building on Bail Street, which was modified for the purpose but retained its original features: ".. a building that was once a spiritual centre is now a place for knowledge."2

stoke lib sign for prow2

The doors from the Stoke Library, once in the Methodist Church, currently at La Capilla Restaurant on the Appleby Highway

The Library in the Church was opened by Mayor of Nelson, D.N. Strawbridge and Chairman of the Library Committee, Sonja Davies on 18 August  - serving the "young"3 district of Stoke. Designed with families in mind, it had a separate children's area, was open "every afternoon, Friday morning, Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights" and there was a huge increase in size. It was now 1055 sq feet (98 square metres)!

In the same year that the new Stoke Library opened (1965) , Nelson City Council took over the running of Nelson Libraries from the Nelson Institute. In 1972 the Nelson library service became a free, and not a subscription service and the following year Stoke got its first qualified librarian - Paula Friend.

Stoke Library Nelson City Council

Stoke Library Nelson City Council

In a major and much discussed development, a  new Stoke Library building was opened on 9 December 1993 on the proposed Strawbridge Square shopping precinct - on the corner of Putaitai Street and Neale Avenue.  The 1228 square metre site was purchased from New Zealand Post and designed by architect Warren Wiggens with Marian Gunn as Nelson Public Library Manager. It was opened by Mayor Philip Woollaston and he spoke of the building as representing Stoke's "coming of age."4


Grant Palliser's The Oracle-The future is in our hands. Cast Bronze, located adjacent to the Stoke library in 1996. Roxy Matheson

The Library building, while being praised for its interesting roof and building shape,  has provided some challenges. In 2011 there was a major refurbishment, which gave the Library a brighter and more modern feel, however the main challenge of its small size remained. It was apparent that Stoke was the fastest growing area of Nelson, due to the comparative amount of vacant flat land in that area of Nelson City, and the library was unable to provide adequate space for resources and activities for the community. An extension is proposed in the Nelson City Council's Long Term Plan 2015-2025 for 2020/21."5



Sources used in this story

  1. Jones, B. (1965, December) Church into Library: Stoke branch Library, Nelson. New Zealand Libraries, 305-307
  2. Miss Overy (County Library Service) in Stoke Library branch opened (1965, September) Nelson Evening Mail
  3. Stoke Library branch opened (1965, September) Nelson Evening Mail
  4. Clarke, A. (1993, December 10) Nelson Evening Mail
  5. Nelson City Council Long Term Plan 2015-2025:

Want to find out more about the Stoke Library ? View Further Sources here.

Do you have a story about this subject? Find out how to add one here.

Comment on this story

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

Further sources - Stoke Library


  • Jones, B. (1965, December) Church into Library: Stoke branch Library, Nelson. New Zealand Libraries, 305-307
  • Ready for readers (1997, December 4) Nelson Evening Mail
  • New Library for Stoke (1993, December 9) The Leader, p.22