Nelson’s Elma Turner Library on Halifax St is set to undergo a $14.9 million redevelopment in 2021/22, with the possibility of it growing into the ex-Mediterranean Foods building, shown on the left. Photo: Kate Russell.

$14.9M earmarked for library


The future of Nelson’s library is in your hands.

$14.9 million has been set aside in Nelson City Council’s Long Term Plan for the re-development of the Elma Turner Library in 2021/22.

But a vision for the upgrade is yet to be determined, because council is seeking community input both on the elements and services that should be included in the scope of the project.

“Whether we keep it the same size, refurbish the existing building, or whether we go for a new development or an extension to the existing development – we want people to tell us,” says Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese.

There is also the possibility that the existing 28-year-old riverside building could branch out into the adjacent ex-Mediterranean Foods building, which council acquired in 2006 for any future library developments.

Rachel says they’ve already had “plenty” of feedback from resident’s surveys and through library users and are also keen to collaborate with adjoining landowners.

“We’ve heard that people like the riverside location and we’ve also had feedback from people who said they would support a café in the library as well as more community gathering spaces,” she told Nelson Weekly.

“We know the library is really important to many residents – it’s a busy space. Libraries are community living rooms, great social connectors and a place for learning and education.”

She says the $14.9 million budget is council’s “best estimate” at this stage, which would be adjusted up or down as the project progresses. The 2021/22 timeframe also reflects that “they are realistic about the time-scale for significant building projects”.

Timing of the Stoke Library re-development would be coordinated around this project so there is a continuity of public library services for Nelson residents.

But for now, council wants your ideas.

“We are really keen to hear any thoughts people have and how they want their library to function. For people who use the library a lot, tell us your ideas, what you love about it and what else you’d like to see,” Rachel says.

“There may be different groups in the community who want to see the library offering different services, whether that’s older people or whether that’s youth. Making sure that it’s an accessible space for an aging population is also really important.”

“And if people think, look, this isn’t important and it’s not a top priority, then we want to hear from them too. We’ve got choices around setting the priorities for the next ten years.

Consultation on Nelson’s Long Term Plan 2018-28 closes on 23 April. Submissions can be made online at, by emailing [email protected] or you can pick up feedback forms at the council’s customer service desk or any public library.