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!
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.
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.