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.
*Not to be confused with the Dudley Library in Buffalo.
Dudley Library doesn’t call itself a central library but it is the largest library within Dudley Metropolitan Council’s area. The library service is contracted out to Greenwich Leisure Limited.
I like the statue at the entrance which is similar to the one we saw in Walsall Library called Little Eva but I can’t find any information about his one. This was another bustling library on the Saturday afternoon we visited. It has lots of nooks and crannies, wooden shelves and comfy blue seating.
I really like the teen section situated on a mezzanine floor with a purple sofa. Fortunately I had a teen on hand to try it out.
The first floor had the local history and non-fiction stock. Nice, bright children’s library with a huge Elmer poster on the ground floor.
There’s a great tale on the internet about one of Dudley’s library books being returned to a library in the USA eight years overdue. Dudley let them keep it.
According to the internet, Huyton Library opened in 1997, however it felt brand new to me. Perhaps it has recently been refurbished although I doubt it as Knowsley had to reduce its libraries opening hours in order to meet budget cuts.
The building is modern although the doorway didn’t look too inviting (as I approached I couldn’t see any signs of life and I thought it might be closed!). Once through the automatic door I could see an art gallery ahead and the library to the right.
The library was a pleasant surprise. The colour scheme of orange and blue really worked. There isn’t an enormous amount of book stock (Knowsley’s population is only about 150,000) but I liked the smaller touches. The knitting corner was lovely, the homemade chalk outline rug in front of the crime section was funny.
The children’s area on a separate mezzanine floor was very spacious, colourful and inviting (I noted the Elmer book boxes – that elephant gets around).
There was a rolling video of locals’ memories from the war in the middle of the library. I found the noise a bit strange but it did prevent the uncomfortable quiet that some libraries can have and there was a quiet study area upstairs.
Also upstairs were computers, reference and a family history section, plus a display about Huyton’s Internment Camp.
The grand piano on the ground floor was a surprise. This is the first time I’ve seen a grand piano in a library but it looked right at home there!
All in all this library is one of my favourites so far.
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.
I think Rutland must be the smallest library authority. It has only four branch libraries and the council’s website doesn’t name any of them as the central library. However, Oakham Library looked like the biggest and it was near to Rutland Water which we wanted to visit.
However when we got there I could clearly see ‘County Library’ etched above the door, so I am happy for this to be the representative library for this county.
The library reminded me of my primary school era architecture. A small library befitting of the area but still had plenty of readers in. Separate study and IT areas off the side and the DVD section was vast.
The children’s library took up about a fifth of the site – which I approve of. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the annual Elmer Day so I have learnt something new!