West Bromwich Central Library is the central library for Sandwell Council. It is another Carnegie library, opened in 1906 and is incredibly grand both inside and out. There are paintings in the entrance stairwell and fresco paintings on the walls of the library which seem to be depicting scenes from Canterbury Tales. The library’s ceilings are painted in colourful reds and purples, there’s a lot of use of green tiles and some fancy leather chairs. There is a metal spiral staircase (although not in use) and leaded windows.
I think this is the first library I’ve seen with fitness equipment in but it may well be there temporarily as part of a fitness campaign. It’s also the first time I’ve noticed a photo booth – very useful. There was a TV on the wall, as I’ve seen in many libraries now, but this was the first time the sound was on! There was a door to a café but that was closed.
It’s also the first library with a foosball table! Unfortunately we couldn’t play as you had to hand in your library card in order to get the ball and we weren’t members. The librarian tried to encourage us to join – pointing out it’s free – but I explained we weren’t local.
When we chose to visit Milton Keynes Central Library, the town was celebrating the fact that it had been declared a new town in 1967 making it 50 years old in 2017.
The Library building itself was granted Grade II listed status by English Heritage in August 2015. The ground floor of the library had a customer service point and reference library with stairs to the upper level.
Milton Keynes Central is a very popular library and appears in the top 20 of libraries most visited (at no. 16) and that had the most loans (at no. 9) at the audit in 2014.
The first floor was a large area with a children’s section off the side. The tables were packed with students in every corner and it was hard to take photos without people in. I think this might be the first time I’ve seen a TV (admittedly on silent) in a library.
The children’s library was equally busy. I absolutely adored this home-made sign post beside the door to the children’s library.
You can also see the children were being encouraged to design cows for a public artwork project.
The displays all around the library were all really impressive. Including this 50 favourite authors display and this wall sized knitted/crocheted book covers display.
We also got to witness the staff in action as one of the readers collapsed on the floor and paramedics had to be called out. And, I know it’s sad to include a picture of bins but I am a great believer in recycling. Well done Milton Keynes, here’s to the next 50 years!