Loughborough Central Library


I walked into the new extension which felt up-to-date, welcoming and clean. However, this was the first time I’ve seen a (money) donation point in a library – slightly alarming.

There was a large book sale in the middle dominating the shop area. The signs were all modern and clear. I liked the seats snug between bookcases, many of which were on wheels.

The ladybird Shakespeare listening chair caught my eye but I was too scared of it to sit in it!


Off to the side of the of the new build is a ramp to the 1905 Carnegie library which now houses the children’s library and the local studies library which felt like a museum.


I didn’t see a great many members of staff but it was lunchtime. I also liked the ICT suite, the cycling maps, the public loos and the park opposite with marching band.

Leicester Central Library


Leicester Central Library was hiding under a lot of scaffolding but we found the entrance in the end.

This library is another Carnegie Library and reminded me of the old Croydon reference library – similar architecture, floor and doors. Built in 1905 it is arranged on two floors. It still has a lovely ceiling and there were busts in the windows.

The heavy old wooden doors are automatic which is handy but made us jump as you don’t expect Edwardian doors to open by themselves!

Reading the local press from 2010 (and the BBC here), the lending and reference libraries used to be in two different buildings but were merged to save money. That does explain the kind of squashed hodge-potch that has been created although on principle I do prefer reference and lending services to be in the same place. Hopefully in the future there will be the money to address the layout properly.

The children’s library upstairs was just a corner but looked inviting – what a bright and clean rug! And look Elmer Day was also celebrated here recently. It must be annoying for parents that it is upstairs but there is a lift.

The sign made it clear which material was upstairs but I didn’t find the stairs that inviting even though they were decorated.

Even though we were there 20 minutes before closing time on a Saturday it was still very well populated. But unfortunately it’s the kind of library where you have to ask for a key to use the loos. I liked the ‘newspaper bar’ – a long wooden worktop area with storage of old papers underneath and then the surface was ideal for reading broadsheet newspapers.

The @Leicesterlibrar twitter feed is worth subscribing to if you’re local.

Welwyn Garden City Central Library

Welwyn Garden City opened this new library at the end of 2012. It still feels very new and modern. I liked the funky seating areas.

The library wasn’t as full as the others I’ve visited lately but it was a Wednesday rather than a Saturday.

The library has a big sweeping, wood and metal central staircase.

Welwyn GC (6)

Downstairs had the children’s library, local studies, fiction and non-fiction lending books. Upstairs had plenty of study desks and reference material and nice views. I was attracted to the official publications section – probably because it was the day before the Brexit referendum. The stock was organised and easy to navigate with informative posters and leaflets provided on the shelves.

Welwyn GC (4)

There were fewer computers than in some of the other libraries but lots of study areas and places to plug in laptops. I didn’t see an opportunity to search the catalogue.

Oakham Library

I think Rutland must be the smallest library authority. It has only four branch libraries and the council’s website doesn’t name any of them as the central library. However, Oakham Library looked like the biggest and it was near to Rutland Water which we wanted to visit.

However when we got there I could clearly see ‘County Library’ etched above the door, so I am happy for this to be the representative library for this county.

The library reminded me of my primary school era architecture. A small library befitting of the area but still had plenty of readers in. Separate study and IT areas off the side and the DVD section was vast.

The children’s library took up about a fifth of the site – which I approve of. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the annual Elmer Day so I have learnt something new!