Lancaster Central Library

 

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Lancaster Central Library is in the centre of town, off Market Street, in an old building (I haven’t been able to find an exact date for when it was built). It has two entrances and we accidentally entered at the side entrance that has “Public Library Juniors” carved above the door but isn’t where the children’s library is now. The town’s museum is also next door.

Inside there is a really nice curved ceiling over the main area, with decorated windows which looks very tasteful.

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In an attempt to dress up the building there are colourful silhouettes on the walls that look really good. They look alive and full of movement. There are also quotes painted on the walls and corridors.

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The children’s library is a corner off the main room and had several children reading there. It is decorated with striking large stand-up Roald Dahl books. Plus, there is, of course, the compulsory Elmer rug.

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There’s also posters dotted about advertising the code club and lego club. The Friends of Lancaster Libs Twitter feed and website shows that there are bands and events organised in the library regularly. Apparently Lancaster Central Library pioneered the Get it Loud in Libraries where there are music gigs in libraries. The local seed library, which started in 2015, is often based in the library too, which is a fab idea.

Oddly enough the study/meeting pod is rather close to the children’s library but I suppose there wasn’t anywhere else for it to go. Upstairs there is a more quiet area (and appears to be called the Sanctuary). The library also has the local studies material.

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I really love the lampposts outside, that say ‘Library’ on them. I think they look a bit Dickensian – if you ignore the electricity part!

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Sale Waterside

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Sale Waterside is a very modern building which the library shares with the council and is described as a local arts complex. Although the building is great and I am in favour of these community hubs I feel that the library should have been given more space. Hubs feel quite odd at weekends when the council facilities are all abandoned but the libraries are still open. However, further along the building is the local theatre and art gallery and a restaurant and a pub. Waterside stands on the site of the old civic theatre and town hall and has preserved some of the original features.

There was a well stocked library shop in the vast entrance area, but then moving into the library area the ceilings were comparatively low adding to a feeling of “squashedness”.

The library had plenty of stock and patrons and included the local studies library and a children’s area. It even had a replica of an old shop in a corner.

There were several displays up and I thoroughly enjoyed the women’s suffrage one as I am working on a similar display in my library.

I had to take a picture of the penguin in the foyer as I love penguins. Apparently it was part of a summer public art project in 2016 created by Two by Two Hurrah.

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Riverside House – Rotherham

 

Riverside House reminded me of Rochdale. Both are modern library buildings mixed in with community services in a riverside setting, in a place starting with R, with big curved glass doors and with grey and purple as the décor theme!

The library takes up the ground floor in a U shape. There are swipe gates in the middle for the council staff to access the council offices. The library areas were very nice and modern but not that big. It also includes an exhibition area at one end of the library and some display cases with pottery in at the entrance.

The children’s area was great, with a stage area still kitted out from Halloween and a reading hideaway.

 

 

 

Wakefield Library

Wakefield Library is based with a large modern community building known as Wakefield One. I’m all in favour of these community hubs that include the council offices but one problem I have noticed is that they look a bit uninhabited, and therefore uninviting, on the weekends.

Wakefield One was built in 2011. As it is on a hill and you lose the sense of which floor you’re on as there are breath-taking views from the side windows. I came in on the ground floor but  I felt five storeys up. When you enter the library there is an Anglo-Scandinavian logboat which was so long I couldn’t get it all in one photo! It was found in the River Calder when the Stanley Ferry aqueduct was built in 1838.

The modern interiors of the library are very nice and I love the purple signs and dotty green and black furnishings.

White bookcases really brighten the interior up and even prevent the grey carpet tiles being too dour. There were plenty to people in the library, on the computers and the local studies area. The sign showed there is also a café, museum and business lounge on site as well.

 

 

Manchester Central Library

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the refurbished Central Library for Manchester after the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians conference in June 2017. A whole group of law librarians were shown around the Grade II listed 1934 building which underwent a major refurbishment in March 2014.

We congregated in the hall that had very impressive stained glass windows while we awaited our tour guide. When he arrived and told us about the refurbishment and pointed out that before the refit only 30% of the building was accessible to the public but now it is 70%. This was partly achieved by moving staff offices to a town hall extension.

We were taken up to the fourth floor which is a big circle. All around there is electric powered mobile shelving (it would be inaccurate to call it rolling stack – even though I want to). A really nice touch is that they have put pictures of well known Mancunians across the stack ends which really dresses up the shelves in what would have otherwise been a very boring vista. Every few metres there is a break in the shelving where there are some tables, chairs and study space – all of which were occupied (this was a Saturday afternoon).

There is an enormous reading room in the centre of the library which was packed with students revising for exams. The reference desk is still a feature in the middle but is no longer staffed. In fact it has a glass floor to let some light into the floor below.

We saw the former Chief Librarian’s Office which has now been converted into a meeting room with secret doors. There are other function rooms where they can hold ceremonies. The second floor has a Business and IP Centre run with the British Library to encourage young entrepreneurs. There is a mini lecture theatre where Google have held some talks. The library even has a 3D printer.

There are community dance rooms that can be hired and there was a troupe rehearsing in there while we are looking around. There are restaurant-style circular booths where people can watch footage from the North West Film Archive.

There is a very impressive music library with people playing drums and pianos in amongst the book shelves.

 

Useful study rooms off the corridors.

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There is more book stock and the children’s library in a lower area that feels more modern, however it is less lit by artificial light and feels a bit subterranean. There was also a Nick Sharratt exhibition on outside the reading room.

There is a sizeable café and a local museum section plus the archives area which we didn’t get into.

An incredibly impressive library and community hub. There are similarities to Liverpool as there is the traditional reading room and modern areas. I don’t think I can choose between them.

 

Hull Central Library

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Peter Church [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Hull is the City of Culture for 2016. I didn’t see any mention of that event anywhere although some buildings were lit up at night. However I get the impression the library is already an active hub in the community. It is a substantial library on several floors, close to the shopping area.

A wonderful music library with two pianos and a mezzanine floor with more study booths.

Spacious children’s library with gated toddler play area.

Teen zone off the children’s library – cool computer chairs.

Reference library and business centre upstairs.

Very good, active twitter account, tying up with the local radio station. Mention of hosting Raspberry Jams.

St Helens Central Library

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Image courtesy of Geograph.org.uk

 

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.

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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.

I love their Twitter logo.

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