Romford Central Library

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Romford Central Library looks very interesting on the outside but does feel like a big box on the inside, although admittedly one flooded with light and with very high ceilings.

Local studies was on the floor above and I noticed an IT suite off the side. There was a café area but with just a vending machine.

The children’s library was large and spacious and I loved the images on the sides of the bookcases.

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The children’s library had a “smart table” which I hadn’t seen before (in the picture above it’s just behind the self-issue terminal). Apparently Havering Libraries was one of the first in the country to have one. We couldn’t use it because you had to go the desk with your library card to have it activated. But even in its standby state it looked like a pond and you could ripple the water by touching it. I regret not asking if we could join the library just so my daughter could have a go.

Liverpool Central Library

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Wow, just wow! I’m not going to bother with many words. The giant cardboard Shakespeare characters were in the library during the summer and were designed by students at Birmingham University.

The entrance:

The Picton Reading Room. Amazing but voices and footsteps really echo.

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They held a shush silent disco here:

A vast self-contained children’s area with lots of nooks and crannies for reading (I seriously lost one of my children in here for a couple of minutes and started panicking!)

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Guildhall and City Business Libraries

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It strikes me as quite strange to have one entrance and then one library on the ground floor and a library with a different name on the floor above, but I realise there’s a history there.

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City Business Library. Image: Philafrenzy on Wikimedia

The Guildhall Library’s website explains it best:

In 2009-2010 the Library was transformed again with the former Printed Books section forming the nucleus of the Library you see today. The Prints and Maps and Manuscripts sections moved to London Metropolitan Archives but some major manuscript collections are still housed at Guildhall. Guildhall Library now shares a building with the City Business Library, so users can now move very readily between current and historical business resources as well as having access to the Internet and the Department’s extensive range of online resources. In fact the City Business Library, once called the Commercial Reference Room, has returned to its original home: first housed at Guildhall Library it moved to Basinghall Street in 1970 and later to Brewers’ Hall Garden.

The new Guildhall Library is a major public reference library, very connected with its past, holding a wide range of important works and sources including: a comprehensive collection of printed books on the City of London and its history, the Lloyds Marine Collection, a large collection of pamphlets from the 17th – 19th centuries covering political and social issues, a complete run of the London Gazette from 1665 to the present, extensive parliamentary resources including eighteenth-century poll books and a complete set of House of Commons papers from 1740, broadsides and an unrivalled collection of local and trade directories from 1677 to the present.

They’ve got a good blog at about their exhibitions and events with pictures: https://guildhalllibrarynewsletter.wordpress.com/

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Kensington Central Library

Wood. My first impression was wood. Proper wooden bookcases, wood covered pillars, wood tables, wooden window seats – even the lift is hidden behind wooden doors. It does make the library look quite grand.

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The ground floor has the lending library and an area sectioned off for the children’s library. Upstairs is a large reference library, plenty of computers and a local studies area partitioned by a glass wall. There is a third floor which appears to be rented out to 2 companies.

The tub chairs have wheels on them which I’ve never seen before.

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I was so comfortable here that I actually joined and used a computer for an hour! The staff were very helpful and patient.

Solihull Central Library

 

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Image courtesy of Solihull.gov.uk

 

Solihull Central Library is housed within ‘The Core’, which is a cultural centre including a theatre, café, gallery and a council walk-in centre. It is also the local base for various voluntary and community organisations.

Solihull itself felt like the “posh” end of Birmingham. It was all well kept and we were able to park next door to the Core in a multi-storey. Outside was a homemade beach with children playing on it as it was the summer holidays and a lovely warm Monday in August.

The Core is a large building with the Library mainly at the back area. I hadn’t realised that it had only opened earlier in 2016. The colour scheme was quite purple and funky and I was delighted to see more book benches dotted around.

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Hammersmith Central Library

Hammersmith Library was swathed in scaffolding. But despite the noise and disruption was still full of people. The children’s library looked inviting.

There were plenty of terminals and desks – although all in use. A reading room with local studies and reference material was housed upstairs plus a quiet reading room. I couldn’t go into the reading room as I had bags and did not want to disobey the sign telling me to put them in the locker! The upstairs landing had some special wooden bookcases full of William Morris books. There were some beautiful stained glass windows too.

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St Helens Central Library

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Image courtesy of Geograph.org.uk

 

St Helen’s Central Library was a short walk from the train station as many libraries from the Victorian period are. It is situated in a pedestrian civic square in the Gamble Building (opened in 1896) although quite modern inside.

 

It has a lovely colourful, hard-wearing children’s area.

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The library is very active within the community without having the benefit of an expensively refurbished or new building. St Helens Library Service is used as a case study by the government titled “The art of the possible: libraries as creative hubs” which includes an excellent picture of swimming in the library! In August 2016 the library was given a National Lottery Award for its cultural hubs team.

I love their Twitter logo.

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