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The Leys Institute in St Marys Road was opened in 1905 as a free library, reading room, and mechanics’ institute (adult education in mainly technical subjects). For over 100 years it was a cultural focus of the Ponsonby area. Funded by an endowment of William Leys (1850-1899, a bookbinder by trade, and chairman of the local school committee) with an equal contribution by his brother Thomson Leys (1852-1924, editor of the Auckland Star).
It is still part of the Auckland Libraries, and its meeting rooms are used by community groups.