Dunedin is home to many nationally significant libraries and library collections, offering a rich and varied array of historical and cultural literature to residents, researchers and academics. The Dunedin Public library, New Zealand’s first free public library, was established in Dunedin in 1908. Today, the library is a network of five libraries and two book buses. The per capita use of the library is impressive, with more than a million people through the doors annually and 40,000 individuals participating in events and outreach programmes. Not bad for a city of around 125,000 people!
Even before the Public Library was established there was the Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute which is still in existence today, with its library operating from the central city site it moved to in 1870.
Libraries of national and international significance include the University of Otago Library, the Hocken Library and the Hewitson Library at Knox College. Others are of special significance to southern New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Antarctica. The Dunedin Public Library houses the Reed Collection, an internationally recognised collection of rare and precious books including many of European origin.