Swiss Cottage Library

Swiss Cottage 5c

A recent trip to London for a book launch at the British Library allowed me an opportunity to visit Swiss Cottage Library. This is the central library for the London Borough of Camden. It was built in 1964 to a design by Basil Spence and underwent a clean and interior improvements in 2003.

It is an oval building with two circles at either end; fiction and arts at one end and CDs and science at the other end. In between there is an art gallery, the children’s library, a learning centre, the magazine reading room and a cafe.

Each circular end has two spiral staircases leading to a mezzanine. There were bookcases all round the walls and coming out in spokes. Each divided area had a desk populated by a reader or two. The design allows lots of light in without having to sacrifice wallspace to windows.

The children’s library, according to Wikipedia, was designed by Laura Ford who took her inspiration from Ordnance Survey maps and it certainly is green but I can see how it would help kids’ imaginations soar.

Swiss Cottage 3

Southampton Central Library

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My first fountain!

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.

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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.

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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.

Mansfield Central Library


Mansfield Central Library is based in the corner of a shopping centre. There is a lobby downstairs with a desk and some self-issue machines, stairs and lifts. I wasn’t positive the Library was open as there wasn’t any activity in the foyer. Once upstairs I found a really modern library.



I loved the curvy bookcase set up that can be seen from the mezzanine. It helps section off the children’s area and local studies area. There were, what looked like, two grannies having a picnic with their grandchild on a table in the children’s area.


The mezzanine above was great but empty of readers. There was another floor above that which was gated off but looks like it is probably used for events.

The need for two security guards wandering around was worrying.