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William Leys was Chairman of the Ponsonby School Committee in the late 1800s. Leys was concerned about the education of the boys he saw loitering on local street corners. After his death in 1899, funds provided from his bequest and by his brother, Thomson Leys, made possible the building of the Leys Institute Library in 1905. In 1906 a gymnasium was added to the complex, built from a donation made by local resident, William Mason.
In the early 1900s the complex was a vibrant community centre, with an active library, gym and halls used by various clubs. In addition to gifting the library to Auckland in 1964, the family bequeathed trusts that still help to maintain it to this day.
William Leys left a substantial bequest for the building of the library.
Crowds flocked to the opening of the Leys Institute in 1905.
Leys Institute Library reading room, early 1900s.
Across our libraries we have language collections, consisting of books, music CDs, and magazines in more than 30 languages.
Some language collections move around the different libraries. If you don’t find what you’re looking for at an individual library, check the catalogue links below to see what is available, and where.
Explore the wealth of Auckland Libraries' heritage collections.
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