After a return visit to Bougainville in April 2009, Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip, established the Bougainville Library Trust in New Zealand to fund and support a library.
In response a group of local people established the Bougainville Heritage Foundation.
The library is being built in Arawa. Local people see the library as an important step in the rebuilding process after the devastation caused by a decade of conflict. It will be built of local materials by local people in a sustainable mix of traditional and modern methods.
The aim is to rebuild the island’s cultural confidence and to instill among the younger population a sense of pride in where they come from as well as providing a window to a larger world.
Participation by the local community in the design, construction and running of the library was regarded as the most important aspect of this project.
The local infrastructure precluded any form of air conditioning for the library. Instead the design of the building has to rely on ventilation and orientation to keep it cool. The form borrows from traditional “long houses” which are kept low with wide overhanging eaves and raised off the ground to allow air circulation through the floor and up through the roof. The long axis of the building runs East - West to reduce the effect of low sun angles in the early morning and afternoon. A “pop-up” roof over the library assists the flow of air through the building and allows more light into the interior.
When the concept of building a Library and Culture Centre was raised the local response was immediate and emotional. The local people had been looking for a focal point to reconnect with their cultural roots and the idea of a library, a place where their children could read, stories could be gathered and retold, was grasped in an instant. The subsequent establishment, by local people, of the Bougainville Heritage Foundation has been recognised as a significant milestone on the path to rebuilding Bougainville.