Lord Louis Library

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.

 

Stockport Central Library

Stockport Central Library looks and feels like a Carnegie library because it is one! Inside it has an amazing domed roof, collumns inside and stained glass windows.

There were plenty of people still studying and using the library even at 3:10 on a Saturday. There’s a reference and reading area. Upstairs are the computer and local studies facilities.

The children’s library and a magical looking Narnia door:

There is public art all over the library which gives it a great feel. Including a “knitted jungle”.

 

I’ve seen stained glass windows like this before.

Bury Central Library

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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.

 

Unfortunately, Bury Council is having to close 10 of its 14 libraries: ‘Bitter disappointment’ as Bury set to close 10 libraries

Milton Keynes Central Library

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!

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Beverley Library

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.

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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Brighton Jubilee Library

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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….

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… 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.

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Reproduced with permission from Kate Malone

According to the Brighton-hove.gov website:

“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.