Lincoln Central Library

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Lincolnshire Libraries are now run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd. This was quite an embattled process with vocal sides: Save Lincolnshire Libraries site, another perspective. The Guardian wrote about the changeover in January 2016.

Fortunately Lincoln’s Central Library is still standing and well used. There was a handy display showing the history of the library.

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The library has a Carnegie frontage, was extended in the 1990s and given another refurbishment in 2009. The décor still feels quite art deco inspired.

Interesting study booths

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Fabulous castle themed children’s area.

There’s also a rather warm and fun Downton Abbey inspired tea rooms opposite the library too – Lady Rose’s Edwardian Tea Rooms where we sampled the afternoon tea.

 

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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Islington Central Library

I have one word – turquoise.

Islington Central Library should have been a short walk from the tube but I went the wrong way – twice. When I found it I entered from a modern entrance on the side street but it is actually quite an old building (built in 1906) on Holloway Road.

The end of the bookcases were covered in fabric, possibly to make them also function as noticeboard. The fabric was turquoise. The library is on three floors: lending library on the ground floor, children’s library on the second floor and reference on the third floor.

An area of the ground floor has a full height ceiling which is ornate but at some point the detailing has been painted – turquoise! And again on the third floor.

There were plenty of people in the library, studying, looking through the books and on the computers on the ground floor and in the reference library. There was a security guard sitting in the reference library watching over the computer users.

These types of signs look decidedly old fashioned now:

The children’s library on the 1st floor looked really good but it had automatic doors so I didn’t feel I could go in as I didn’t have any kids with me. It had a more modern colour scheme so I can only assume that it has been refurbished recently.

 

 

Loughborough Central Library

 

I walked into the new extension which felt up-to-date, welcoming and clean. However, this was the first time I’ve seen a (money) donation point in a library – slightly alarming.

There was a large book sale in the middle dominating the shop area. The signs were all modern and clear. I liked the seats snug between bookcases, many of which were on wheels.

The ladybird Shakespeare listening chair caught my eye but I was too scared of it to sit in it!

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Off to the side of the of the new build is a ramp to the 1905 Carnegie library which now houses the children’s library and the local studies library which felt like a museum.

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I didn’t see a great many members of staff but it was lunchtime. I also liked the ICT suite, the cycling maps, the public loos and the park opposite with marching band.

Leicester Central Library

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Leicester Central Library was hiding under a lot of scaffolding but we found the entrance in the end.

This library is another Carnegie Library and reminded me of the old Croydon reference library – similar architecture, floor and doors. Built in 1905 it is arranged on two floors. It still has a lovely ceiling and there were busts in the windows.

The heavy old wooden doors are automatic which is handy but made us jump as you don’t expect Edwardian doors to open by themselves!

Reading the local press from 2010 (and the BBC here), the lending and reference libraries used to be in two different buildings but were merged to save money. That does explain the kind of squashed hodge-potch that has been created although on principle I do prefer reference and lending services to be in the same place. Hopefully in the future there will be the money to address the layout properly.

The children’s library upstairs was just a corner but looked inviting – what a bright and clean rug! And look Elmer Day was also celebrated here recently. It must be annoying for parents that it is upstairs but there is a lift.

The sign made it clear which material was upstairs but I didn’t find the stairs that inviting even though they were decorated.

Even though we were there 20 minutes before closing time on a Saturday it was still very well populated. But unfortunately it’s the kind of library where you have to ask for a key to use the loos. I liked the ‘newspaper bar’ – a long wooden worktop area with storage of old papers underneath and then the surface was ideal for reading broadsheet newspapers.

The @Leicesterlibrar twitter feed is worth subscribing to if you’re local.

Ipswich Central Library

We entered the library through a modern glass automatic door and then discovered that there was an old entrance at the front of the building. From the front this library reminded me of Croydon Central Library, a red brick gothic style, with a new interior behind the façade.

This library building was originally opened in 1924 and is a “Carnegie library” (built with money from the Carnegie Trust). It was then refurbished in 1994. However, upstairs they have retained the Northgate reading room in the original style which felt very grand. It had lovely solid desks, and bookcases, a vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows – you can even get married there. I can see how it would be a wonderful place to study particularly if you wanted a studious environment with some gravitas and history. It was packed with people and I felt I couldn’t intrude and take a picture.

As I had my two daughters with me I spent most of my time examining the children’s section. There was a really extensive collection of teen and young adult literature. There was a junior novel sections and “Grabbit books”. Lots of displays of books to tempt people and there were plenty of items we wanted to take home.

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I was also impressed that they still have a dedicated music and drama section with enquiry desk. Admittedly, nobody was at the desk on this Friday morning but the main customer service desk was a long low inviting desk so I felt I could easily approach the staff there.