City Library Prayer Space

City Library Prayer Space
Hilary Beaton
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City Library Prayer Space

Dunedin City Library's prayer space is open to people of any faith or no faith.

The Spiritual and Prayer Space in the Dunedin City Library was formally opened on Tuesday, 10 August with a karakia by representatives of mana whenua and comments by those members of the multifaith community organisations that participated in the consultation on its development. The space has been created in response to requests from library customers for a quiet space for prayer and reflection. The space is available to all members of the public for this purpose and is open to people of any faith or no faith.

Prior to the opening of the prayer space, staff had witnessed students practising their spirituality with whatever space was available or convenient. Through conversations with library staff and by researching other such facilities, internationally, Dunedin City Library discovered that their experiences were more common than anticipated. Worldwide, numerous libraries have transformed spaces into areas for various spiritual practices to provide a user-centred environment.

Public libraries believe that preserving dignity and affirming the value of our community members is critical in times of change and uncertainty. As part of a commitment to respect and support people of all backgrounds and in recognition of their spiritual well-being, Dunedin City Library worked with their community to better understand their needs for a place to pray.

The space is an area of 30 m2 divided into two separate rooms, each accommodating up to six people at any one time, with one room for women only, and the other room for men and women. People can book the space in advance or request the use of the space on arrival. The rooms are locked to protect the privacy of users and to mitigate any inappropriate use by library visitors. Admission to the space is on request only.

 The development of the space is consistent with the role of the public library to provide a range of safe and welcoming spaces for the community to use while reflecting the increasing diversity of Dunedin’s communities.

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