It was nice on entry to be greeted with these children’s model making exhibits (below). And draped over the balcony above were banners made locally to mark the marches for women’s suffrage that took place over 100 years ago.
The library was built in 1986 and refurbished inside in 2012. It still looks in good nick with modern signs and bookcases and clean carpets. The library is on three floors with a central atrium. The children’s library was off to the side and too busy with kids for me to be able to take a photo. In 2013-14 Redbridge Central Library was the 14th busiest in England.
As the library shares the building with the museum they have placed some exhibits in amongst the bookshelves which is a nice touch.
There is also a Hub Central – a popular space for business start-ups, where you can use your library card to enable the use of a tablet – not seen a hublet unit before.
On-site there was also the Hardback cafe (where I presume the Hardbacks book group meets) and I saw a knitting group in action. There were few seats available as it was so busy and people were making good use of the quiet study area. There were plenty of staff about – they wore uniforms of black T-shirts and fleeces so they were easily identifiable.
Tameside Central Library in Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester, is in an old Victorian building with the library downstairs and an art gallery upstairs. According to the web the building was once a school.
The art gallery upstairs was particularly lovely. The library was shabby but I was told that the service is moving soon. The foyer and flooring were very grand. There was an old booth in the reception area that reminded me of a box office and made me feel like I was entering a theatre.
The main library room had a red wrought iron mezzanine floor. The book shelves on the mezzanine looked largely empty but there were students studying at the desks.
I loved the “Blooming Good Books” display with copies of book jackets growing on the tree. The children’s area looked colourful and inviting and had some children playing in it.
Along a corridor there was a separate reference reading room and two computer rooms. There were signs to the adjacent local studies and archives centre. Even the large print stock was in a room of its own. I can see how this building requires a lot of staff but I am disappointed to read reports that the number of qualified librarians will be cut after the change over to the new service.
There were other signs of under-investment such as a ventilation or heating grate that was making an awful racket in a corner. As I usually comment on the chairs I have to point out how threadbare they were at Ashton.
I look forward to seeing the new library service when it has moved and I wonder what will become of this building.
The Lord Louis Library is in Newport on the Isle of Wight. It was opened in 1981 and named after Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin and diplomat, and opened by his wife, Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
Newport is in the centre of the Isle of Wight and although it doesn’t explicitly claim to be the central library, Newport is the biggest town on the Island. We go to the Isle of Wight on holiday. A lot.
The library is in a very central location, beside the bus station and near the shops. I think there is a park and pavilion behind but we visited in torrential rain (typical British summer) so I didn’t try out the greenery.
The central part of the library is an octagonal shape with a mezzanine, with further areas coming off it. However there is not a great deal of room for books on the upper level. They have done their best to dress up the library with colourful signage, artwork on the walls and the children’s library has a huge tree structure.
We visited on a weekday and there were several people in the library, reading, researching or just sheltering in from the rain. The staff were happy and helpful but the building is feeling run down and the stock neglected.
The Isle of Wight library service is suffering from budget cuts and recently reorganised closing a couple of libraries and moving the library service headquarters to the Lord Louis Library. Another sign of cuts was the need to put out book crates to catch the rainwater dripping into the library.
It took me a while to find Bury Library as there are so many community buildings in the one area. The Library is based in an impressive building built in 1901 and refurbished in 2005 with an art museum, the archives and I think a tea room. There was some impressive colourful art in the building’s arches which looked really good.
Inside, the library is not that big but there is a study area and computer room extension off the side. Plus, there is a separate adult learning centre in another building. The children’s area was cosy and there was a member of staff answering an enquiry from a child.
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!
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.
This is the first time I’ve walked into a library and entered a shop. Admittedly it was a shop full of stationery, cards and gifts with a small gallery space. The Library was through the shop and to the right – past the screens displaying bus times and racks of tourist leaflets.
The vast library inside was quite a surprise….
… and that was just the ground floor.
I loved the funky purple chairs and there was a cool wavy bench that I tried to take a picture of but people kept sitting on it – the cheek!
I particularly liked the special Young Persons area which – rather amusingly – had two OAPs sitting right behind the sign.
There was a café that was very much part of the space with the tables arranged in a social setting so you sat “with” strangers. It seemed that readers were permitted to eat and drink throughout the library.
The children’s library was wonderfully vibrant and colourful and full of active children. Sensibly they had their own set of toilets separate from the adult ones. The back wall was an art installation by Kate Malone Ceramics called Wall of a Thousand Stories.
“The artist was inspired by her own bedtime stories with daughter Scarlet; “We make up tales by taking three random things and weaving a story together that will include these three elements.” This interactive work is used by children, families and groups to inspire and enhance story telling. “
The only qualm I had with the library was that the stairs didn’t look very inviting and I wasn’t sure we were allowed upstairs at all. The sign was rather unobtrusive and I didn’t realise at first that the entire reference section was upstairs on another spacious floor with a Rare Books reading room and study area along one wall.
I have referred people to this library many times but never actually been myself.
As I had some time to kill in London before going to see Dara O’Briain it seemed like a perfect opportunity.
Despite the aid of Google maps I walked round in circles a couple of times before I found it. It was obscured by some building work out front. But if I’d actually looked up instead of at my phone I would have noticed a flag with “Library” on it!
This was a good old fashioned library on 3 floors with the traditional municipal staircase handrails and floors. Drunks being told to talk quietly, people needing help with the internet from some very patient staff. Some slightly smelly customers but also students studying amongst the art and drama books.
There were plenty of community leaflets and posters and a couple of displays. One small display case attracted my attention and has proved very memorable. A piece of work by Julia Mason called Uprooted (main picture above). Absolute gem in a rather tucked away library.