It took me while to find Bury Library as there are so many community buildings in the one area. The Library is based in an impressive building built in 1901 and refurbished in 2005 with an art museum, the archives and I think a tea room. There was some impressive colourful art in the building’s arches which looked really good.
Inside, the library is not that big but there is a study area and computer room extension off the side. Plus, there is a separate adult learning centre in another building. The children’s area was cosy and there was a member of staff answering an enquiry from a child.
Unfortunately, Bury Council is having to close 10 of its 14 libraries: ‘Bitter disappointment’ as Bury set to close 10 libraries
This is the first time I’ve come across a library, archives and … aquarium in the same building. It is an impressive looking building – particularly after the modern ones I have seen recently.
A member of staff stopped me in the foyer to warn me that the computers weren’t working today – which I thought was considerate. The reserved books are left out so that people can pick them up themselves – which I find very trusting. The returned books are sorted into subject while they await shelving which is very helpful for readers. Lots of stock. Open Sundays. All in all scoring lots of points for customer service.
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.
Derby Central Library was built in 1879 but has come under threat recently (Guardian, 27 July 2016)
The library shares the building with a museum and art gallery but they were closed on the Monday I was visiting. However within the library there is a gallery if you look up of old shop-like items.
The library was very busy, loads of stock, security guard, teenage section. All the computers seemed to be in use but I think there may have been a job club running.
It reminded me of Islington because whereas there I noted that the ornate plaster work and cornicing was all painted turquoise, in Derby it’s all painted a deep red.
The Central Library is nestled in amongst the shop front and is the Central Library and Contact Centre. The ground floor has some fiction and the children’s area but there are three more levels above. It is a bit of a rabbit warren with two sets of stairs.
A very impressive music section. Staff and help points on every floor. The children’s area doesn’t feel large enough for the city’s population. There’s a local studies area and an exhibition area which is a large square room. The exhibition area felt a bit empty at the time but had displays about the First World War round the walls.
Even though it’s a Monday morning on a warm day the desks were packed with readers.
Rudimentary booths had been created by sticking display boards between the one- person desks that were by the window.
Security guard, lift, self-issue. The signs outside were green but inside there are blue wooden bookcases with red signs.
Would benefit from some investment.
Luton Central Library is based in a large building with the theatre. Although it is quite an attractive building from a distance, the ground floor approach feels like a boarded up building because of the posters on a black background.
Inside there is a quick choice section downstairs and then the main library is on the first floor with a mezzanine second floor.
The library was not as full as other central libraries on a Saturday although the study tables were all occupied on the higher level.
Luton Central Library still has very good opening hours, open until 7 Monday to Thursday and until 5 Friday, Saturday and even Sunday.
Buckinghamshire County Council doesn’t designate a central library but Aylesbury seemed to have one of the largest libraries and had a separate study centre in the County Hall next door. It seemed like the ideal choice to represent the county. The main lending library is a large open plan building. It was bustling with activity the Saturday morning we were there with a craft activity in the children’s library. The extensive community noticeboards show that there are lots of activities within the library – I was most impressed with the free homework club. In between the shelves of books there was a fossil display from the local museum – always good to see link ups with other community facilities.
I also had a look at the study centre which was rather tucked away, behind the County Hall and on a raised level. Apparently locals have mixed feelings about the County Hall building and call it Pooley’s Folly.
The study centre was smaller than the lending library but had a computer area and study tables that were all in use. There was a tourist information section with a rather interesting map displayed. There was a science display which caught my eye and I spent time reading it all. The separation worked well as the lending library was noisy and the study centre could be quieter but it must be a nuisance to have to staff the two sites.
I wasn’t clear whether there was a third section to Aylesbury libraries’ offerings. I saw some signs pointing to a reference section. I couldn’t understand if that was different to the study centre or (more likely) just an old sign using an old name. The council’s website talks of the County Reserve Stock also being based at Aylesbury and open on Tuesdays.