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.
The entrance to Bradford City Library is quite small but then there’s a much larger area upstairs.
According to Wikipedia this library opened in 2013 after it was found that the previous building housing the library was a fire risk and had asbestos in its walls.
The new library is situated on Centenary Square which has cafes, bars, a theatre, gallery and museum and the stunning town hall and other municipal buildings surrounding a mirror pool. Kids were playing football outside and a film was being projected on the wall.
It was a lovely complex, full of life even on a cold November evening.
The library reminded me a little of Brighton library, particularly upstairs, even though it is much smaller. I think it was the metal and glass stairs, grey carpet and the use of pale wood.
The children’s library has the reading hideaway chairs that are very popular. Only now that I am looking at my photos have I realised that the children’s area was decorated with underpants!
Even though it was Saturday and the library was closing in 30 minutes time there were still about 40 customers and 5 members of staff in the library. It also looked like there was an activity in the adjoining gallery – it was hard to tell where the library ended and the gallery/activity room began which I’m sure is a deliberate attempt to invite people into both spaces.
Southampton Central Library was very impressive. It is a grand building within a civic centre including museums, a concert venue, the Guildhall, council offices and an art gallery and opposite a park. However, when you enter the library is has been recently refurbished and looks and feels very modern.
It’s all very curvy, even the edges of some of the bookcases are curvy.
The only downside of the layout is that I couldn’t find the stairs going up! However, I found the stairs going down.
I like this way of displaying recently returned books with the book covers facing up – there’s even a book there that I was currently reading.
I’m always interested in the study spaces on offer. There were lots of desks dotted around with feature reading lights and also private study rooms.
St Helen’s Central Library was a short walk from the train station as many libraries from the Victorian period are. It is situated in a pedestrian civic square in the Gamble Building (opened in 1896) although quite modern inside.
It has a lovely colourful, hard-wearing children’s area.
The library is very active within the community without having the benefit of an expensively refurbished or new building. St Helens Library Service is used as a case study by the government titled “The art of the possible: libraries as creative hubs” which includes an excellent picture of swimming in the library! In August 2016 the library was given a National Lottery Award for its cultural hubs team.