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.
Although quite a grand building, Northamptonshire Central Library is quite unobtrusive if you approach it from the side, walking along the busy shopping streets. It is a Grade II listed building built in 1910 with statues on the front of John Dryden, Thomas Fuller, George Washington and Andrew Carnegie. I like how it proudly has ‘PUBLIC LIBRARY’ in stone at the top. The building was refurbished in 2009. The registrars have also been based in this building since 2015 so it is called: LibraryPlus.
The library floorplan shows three floors however the stairs down to the basement were roped off when we were there. I don’t know how to get to the local and family history section which is in the basement and called ‘Discover’. Maybe there are other stairs or maybe the basement area was closed as this was the period in between Christmas and New Year?
The children’s area was fenced off and made to look like a castle. It looked really great and had swathes of colourful fabric from the ceiling which made it look quite magical. I could also see an Elmer book box (Elmer gets everywhere).
This library also has the popular spotty chairs. Green is a theme as the walls, the plaster edging on the ceiling and the end of some the bookstacks are green.
The library is also a Business and IP Centre and has an enclosed glass pod that can be hired for meetings.
There was also a display and a social media campaign encouraging customers to download an app so that they can borrow ebooks from the library.
There are some further historical details of the library and a picture of the Carnegie Room on the Carnegie Legacy in England blog.
Unfortunately the library service in Northamptonshire is under threat as the council has launched a consultation on how to save money.
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.
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
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.