7 Dec 2017

An audio visual suite with a green screen and recording studio will be part of the dazzling array of latest technology on offer at Tūranga.

The $92 million library, being built on the corner of Gloucester St and Cathedral Square, will feature a large part of a floor devoted to hands-on smart technology such as laser cutters, virtual reality goggles, 3D printers, and robotics.

Danny McNeil, who is a Learning Specialist Special Projects for Christchurch City Libraries, is part of a team tasked with investigating some of the leading technology that will be available for free to library users when the facility opens next year.

He sees his role as road-testing what is available and making sure it fits with what the local community wants and needs. He believes it will surpass public expectations. “We’ve done the homework and the research into what’s out there because it’s very important we get the right tools for the job and that they will last the distance.”

The technology on offer will put Tūranga on a par with other world-leading public facilities, he says. “I’d say we’d be one of the few libraries anywhere to have a laser cutter for instance. We’re also hoping to have humanoid robots that people will be able to programme and control.”

Mr McNeil is particularly excited about the audio visual suite and what it will offer, especially for groups and individuals who would not normally be able to afford to hire a commercial recording studio to cut a CD. “It’s going to be amazing. There will be a green screen, electronic music generation MIDIs, and it will be well-stocked with musical instruments.”

A creative studio area will provide 3D printers and computers featuring the latest design software. “My job is that whatever we put in there is really worthwhile people coming in for,” Mr McNeil says. “We want people in the community to understand the technology and be really engaged with it, so it has to be relevant and it has to be accessible.”

Tūranga will be the largest library in the South Island, covering five floors and offering a 200-seat community arena, a cafe and a children's playground. 

As the flagship of the city’s libraries network, Tūranga will retain the largest print collection while showcasing and celebrating Christchurch and Canterbury heritage and taonga, telling people’s unique stories locally, nationally and globally. It is expected to attract 3000 visitors when it opens next year. 

Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson says the Council wants Tūranga to become a world-class facility fostering life-long learning and inspiring knowledge so it makes sense for it to be cutting-edge in terms of the technology it provides.

“Tūranga will be jam-packed with smart technology and a raft of services. It will be the digital, cultural and community heart of Christchurch and enable all users to participate fully in the changing world.”