Milton Keynes Central Library

When we chose to visit Milton Keynes Central Library, the town was celebrating the fact that it had been declared a new town in 1967 making it 50 years old in 2017.

The Library building itself was granted Grade II listed status by English Heritage in August 2015. The ground floor of the library had a customer service point and reference library with stairs to the upper level.

Milton Keynes Central is a very popular library and appears in the top 20 of libraries most visited (at no. 16) and that had the most loans (at no. 9) at the audit in 2014.

The first floor was a large area with a children’s section off the side. The tables were packed with students in every corner and it was hard to take photos without people in. I think this might be the first time I’ve seen a TV (admittedly on silent) in a library.

The children’s library was equally busy. I absolutely adored this home-made sign post beside the door to the children’s library.

You can also see the children were being encouraged to design cows for a public artwork project.

The displays all around the library were all really impressive. Including this 50 favourite authors display and this wall sized knitted/crocheted book covers display.

We also got to witness the staff in action as one of the readers collapsed on the floor and paramedics had to be called out. And, I know it’s sad to include a picture of bins but I am a great believer in recycling. Well done Milton Keynes, here’s to the next 50 years!

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Luton Central Library

Luton Central Library is based in a large building with the theatre. Although it is quite an attractive building from a distance, the ground floor approach feels like a boarded up building because of the posters on a black background.

Inside there is a quick choice section downstairs and then the main library is on the first floor with a mezzanine second floor.

The library was not as full as other central libraries on a Saturday although the study tables were all occupied on the higher level.

Luton Central Library still has very good opening hours, open until 7 Monday to Thursday and until 5 Friday, Saturday and even Sunday.

Aylesbury Library

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Buckinghamshire County Council doesn’t designate a central library but Aylesbury seemed to have one of the largest libraries and had a separate study centre in the County Hall next door. It seemed like the ideal choice to represent the county. The main lending library is a large open plan building. It was bustling with activity the Saturday morning we were there with a craft activity in the children’s library. The extensive community noticeboards show that there are lots of activities within the library – I was most impressed with the free homework club. In between the shelves of books there was a fossil display from the local museum – always good to see link ups with other community facilities.

I also had a look at the study centre which was rather tucked away, behind the County Hall and on a raised level. Apparently locals have mixed feelings about the County Hall building and call it Pooley’s Folly.

The study centre was smaller than the lending library but had a computer area and study tables that were all in use. There was a tourist information section with a rather interesting map displayed. There was a science display which caught my eye and I spent time reading it all. The separation worked well as the lending library was noisy and the study centre could be quieter but it must be a nuisance to have to staff the two sites.

I wasn’t clear  whether there was a third section to Aylesbury libraries’ offerings. I saw some signs pointing to a reference section. I couldn’t understand if that was different to the study centre or (more likely) just an old sign using an old name. The council’s website talks of the County Reserve Stock also being based at Aylesbury and open on Tuesdays.

Hull Central Library

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Peter Church [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Hull is the City of Culture for 2016. I didn’t see any mention of that event anywhere although some buildings were lit up at night. However I get the impression the library is already an active hub in the community. It is a substantial library on several floors, close to the shopping area.

A wonderful music library with two pianos and a mezzanine floor with more study booths.

Spacious children’s library with gated toddler play area.

Teen zone off the children’s library – cool computer chairs.

Reference library and business centre upstairs.

Very good, active twitter account, tying up with the local radio station. Mention of hosting Raspberry Jams.

Beverley Library

East Riding of Yorkshire Council don’t designate a central library so I picked Beverley Library as it is within a community building named Treasure House (great name!)

The Council website says: The East Riding Treasure House is a multi-disciplinary centre for heritage and information services. It contains the East Riding Archives and Local Studies, Beverley Library, a Museum and Beverley Art Gallery. There is also a coffee lounge and gift shop, and you can get a magnificent view of Beverley and the Minster from the tower.

The building opened in 2007 and was largely funded by a National Lottery Heritage grant. The library had a refurbishment in 2008.

There were some interesting animals on display amongst the book shelves, a lovely bright children’s area, a separate IT suite, and an amazing BFG cake on display.

After walking through the modern library you come to an old reference reading room which is a lovely contrast.

Although there are reports that the centre’s opening hours had been reduced it still manages to stay open until 8 several times a week.

North Lincolnshire Central Library

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© Geograph.co.uk

The library in Scunthorpe is North Lincolnshire’s Central Library. It was built in 1974 and looks rather like a modern church building outside but feels a bit dated inside.  It’s on the edge of a shopping area. It had to close for a month while a multi-storey car park next door was demolished and had its opening hours reduced in 2012.

The ground floor has the adult lending and children’s library.

The first floor has non-fiction and reference. I believe there is a another floor which is now offices.

Apprently the library host’s the Scunthorpe Trading Card Club (TCC)

“This takes place every Wednesday at the Central Library from 4pm to 6.45pm. Bring your own deck whether it’s Yugioh, Magic The Gathering, Buddyfight or Cardfight Vanguard and play or trade with other card gaming fans. We operate an official approved club running exclusive sanctioned events for Yugioh, Cardfight Vanguard and Pokemon. The Pokemon Club runs every Saturday.”

 

 

 

Lincoln Central Library

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Lincolnshire Libraries are now run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd. This was quite an embattled process with vocal sides: Save Lincolnshire Libraries site, another perspective. The Guardian wrote about the changeover in January 2016.

Fortunately Lincoln’s Central Library is still standing and well used. There was a handy display showing the history of the library.

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The library has a Carnegie frontage, was extended in the 1990s and given another refurbishment in 2009. The décor still feels quite art deco inspired.

Interesting study booths

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Fabulous castle themed children’s area.

There’s also a rather warm and fun Downtown Abbey inspired tea rooms opposite the library too – Lady Rose’s Edwardian Tea Rooms where we sampled the afternoon tea.