Helpfully, we could see the library building from the road with “West Berkshire Libraries” on it. Outside there was a wonderful mosaic – although there were some improvement works that were worryingly close!
The design on the side of the wall in the entrance area was also striking.
The library is a modern building on two floors with the usual setup of fiction and children’s downstairs and local history and reference upstairs. Upstairs also had a well decked-out room that could be hired called the Carnegie Room.
I really liked the quotes on the side of the movable bookcases, although some were hard to read.
West Berkshire libraries was considering closing all its branch libraries in 2016.
Newbury library has views of the next- door canal and park and as this was a hot, summers Saturday in July we enjoyed an ice cream by the pedalos.
Reading Central Library is a large red brick building on four floors. According to Wikipedia it was built in 1985. This library has a river (or brook) running under it. The gallery upstairs is named after it – Holy Brook.
Even though we arrived at the library 20 minutes before closure time on a summer Saturday there were still lots of people in the library on the three floors that were open. The children’s library is a castle theme and there was evidence of the summer reading scheme being promoted.
It was a well stocked and well-used library, if showing it’s age a little.
Like all local authorities budget cuts have forced the council to discuss reducing the number of hours the library is open.
Cumbria Council is another area that doesn’t designate a central library. Cumbria is a large area with many libraries and book drops. Carlisle appeared to be the biggest library and had the local studies facility so that was the one I chose to visit to represent the region. Regardless, this was a wonderful opportunity to visit the Lake District and Carlisle for a few days.
Carlisle Library is housed within – and above – a shopping centre. This always worries me as I am concerned that people may not remember that their local library is still there, as it is above them, but I do see the benefit of people being able to pop in to the library at the same time as going to the shops. I also expect people drop off teenagers and elderly parents who would prefer to sit and read while retail therapy can take place for other members of the family.
The library feels quite modern and yet a bit industrial because of the tubing on display which I assume is for air conditioning. The fiction and children’s library is on the entrance floor (the first floor of the shopping centre) and then the next floor above has reference and local studies material.
There were comfy tub chairs clustered around windows and study carrels too. I had got to the library just a few minutes after it opened on a May Tuesday and there were already plenty of customers arriving and settling down for some reading or studying.
This was another library that was full of displays – which I like. I hope they are able to change them and mix them up occasionally.
Lancaster Central Library is in the centre of town, off Market Street, in an old building (I haven’t been able to find an exact date for when it was built). It has two entrances and we accidentally entered at the side entrance that has “Public Library Juniors” carved above the door but isn’t where the children’s library is now. The town’s museum is also next door.
Inside there is a really nice curved ceiling over the main area, with decorated windows which looks very tasteful.
In an attempt to dress up the building there are colourful silhouettes on the walls that look really good. They look alive and full of movement. There are also quotes painted on the walls and corridors.
The children’s library is a corner off the main room and had several children reading there. It is decorated with striking large stand-up Roald Dahl books. Plus, there is, of course, the compulsory Elmer rug.
There’s also posters dotted about advertising the code club and lego club. The Friends of Lancaster Libs Twitter feed and website shows that there are bands and events organised in the library regularly. Apparently Lancaster Central Library pioneered the Get it Loud in Libraries where there are music gigs in libraries. The local seed library, which started in 2015, is often based in the library too, which is a fab idea.
Oddly enough the study/meeting pod is rather close to the children’s library but I suppose there wasn’t anywhere else for it to go. Upstairs there is a more quiet area (and appears to be called the Sanctuary). The library also has the local studies material.
I really love the lampposts outside, that say ‘Library’ on them. I think they look a bit Dickensian – if you ignore the electricity part!
Brixton Central Library was the first Tate free library that I have visited – it makes a change from all the Carnegies. If you haven’t heard of Henry Tate he is the man who endowed the original Tate Gallery in London and whose sugar company became Tate & Lyle.
Brixton Library is the central library for the London Borough of Lambeth. I have an affection for this library as my father worked here in his early twenties (where he first used a photocopier) and the library is always in the press being supported by its community so I was looking forward to visiting.
I was a little disappointed by the entrance but a sign explained that the door hinges were over a hundred years old and had to be sent off for repair and that these were temporary doors – fair enough. The library is now over 120 years old (built in 1893) and, if you have time, take a look at the excellent old postcards and photos on the BrixtonBuzz website showing how the Library and the Tate Gardens have changed over the years.
Inside, the library feels very modern, with some older features still retained – like the spiral staircase in the corner. I am only just realising now that I look at the photos that most of the libraries I have visited have carpet or industrial flooring and yet Brixton has wood (or wood effect) which made the space feel warm in a homey sense.
I was captivated by the glow on top of the DVD cabinets. I don’t know why – maybe I was a moth in a former life. I couldn’t see where they plugged in and I wondered if the staff go home and kick themselves that they forgot to turn them off.
I wasn’t sure whether upstairs was also open to the public but as I saw a few people go up – I also ventured upstairs. The reference and study areas were upstairs and very busy with most desks filled (it was a Monday afternoon in April). There was even a queue at the enquiry desk.
I really like the signs on the wall that look like street signs and the modern study pod was cool.
The library is a short walk from the tube station and on the way you pass Electric Avenue. I spent the rest of the day with Eddie Grant’s song in my head and researched the street’s history.
Oldham library has a lovely approach – it feels like it has its own front garden. The new building is from 2006. It has a nice café, a gallery and a performance space. Its address is the cultural quarter. I really like its name – the “library and lifelong learning centre”.
Inside it was very modern, open plan with concrete pillars and splashes of red. There were large floor to ceiling picture windows on several sides. Between the book stacks there were sofas and chairs next to the windows arranged in a sitting room format. They looked like lovely spots to sit and read.
The children’s and teens’ library upstairs was extensive with study desks, comfy sofas, another picture window and high computer desks.
Interestingly the staff all wear T-shirts. I am in favour of staff being identifiable, usually by a badge, but I wouldn’t be keen on having to wear a uniform.
Sale Waterside is a very modern building which the library shares with the council and is described as a local arts complex. Although the building is great and I am in favour of these community hubs I feel that the library should have been given more space. Hubs feel quite odd at weekends when the council facilities are all abandoned but the libraries are still open. However, further along the building is the local theatre and art gallery and a restaurant and a pub. Waterside stands on the site of the old civic theatre and town hall and has preserved some of the original features.
There was a well stocked library shop in the vast entrance area, but then moving into the library area the ceilings were comparatively low adding to a feeling of “squashedness”.
The library had plenty of stock and patrons and included the local studies library and a children’s area. It even had a replica of an old shop in a corner.
There were several displays up and I thoroughly enjoyed the women’s suffrage one as I am working on a similar display in my library.
I had to take a picture of the penguin in the foyer as I love penguins. Apparently it was part of a summer public art project in 2016 created by Two by Two Hurrah.