The Curve, Slough


One word – Lego!

This library was really nice which was an unexpected surprise. We arrived early – about 9:40, on a Saturday and wandered around the ground floor – it took me a while to realise that the rest of the library (on the floors above) was opening later at 10am.

This building is called a cultural hub with a performance space, museum, register office and much more. The Curve is next door to the local shopping centre so it is easy to pop in when you’re going to the shops. On the other side of the building is a very attractive church so the building was designed to make the best of the view and has glass on that side. This let in a lot of light and as the building is largely furnished with white it had a heavenly feel. There was even a little reading patio on the church side of the Curve.

The ground floor had a cafe, although not open yet that day, some computer terminals, a help point and some displays of books, but once we got upstairs the ‘real’ library started.

What really excited me though was the children’s library – one of the biggest and best I have seen so far. I presume Lego helped with financial support as they have an office based in Slough and that is why it was Lego themed. There were large Lego models everywhere, Lego character stickers on the windows and a Lego portrait on the wall that looked like a tapestry and was tactile rather than hidden behind glass. There was a craft area with tables and a sink and worktops to make it easier to run craft sessions.


The other feature that really impressed me with this library was the museum pods. Dotted around the building there were at least 7, maybe 10, small square pods that were themed on different topics. You could step inside and read boards about Slough in Victorian times, or go inside another one and find it decked out like a kitchen in the inter-war period. The structures added colour and interest amongst the white and grey calm of the rest of the building.

Huddersfield Central Library

Huddersfiled c Mark Anderson
Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery 2005 cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Mark

Huddersfield Library and Information Centre is the main library in the Kirklees Libraries. It is a Grade II building that stands quite proudly on the edge of a rather dated shopping area.

The library is on three floors with an art gallery on the top floor. There are all the usual amenities: lending and reference libraries, children’s library, local studies, archives, visitors centre and meeting room. There’s even mention of a transcription service.

Although areas show signs of modernisation some of the carpet, furniture and signage could do with updating.

There was a nice level of activity and the staff were chatting away happily giving the impression it was a harmonious place to be.

There was a wonderful Harry Potter exhibition on when I visited and looking at their impressive Twitter feed (@kirkleeslibrary) the network of Kirklees Libraries offer a range of activities, clubs to encourage readers to use the service.

Unfortunately, local news reports that the service is under threat as the council has to cut its budget again in 2018, with a consultation starting in January.

I leave you with the entry from the Historic England website regarding the features that warranted its Grade II listing:

Library and Art Gallery built in 1937, designed by E H Ashburner, steel framed and faced with local pink stone. The plan form is square with a central atrium containing the main staircase through three storeys plus basement. Main entrance facade has protruding central section with central entrance doorway with ogee-curved consoles supporting a cornice, flanked by two tall metal-framed rectangular windows with slightly recessed architraves, plus five at first floor level with cornice above. Decorative panel above cornice. Three windows on each side on ground and first floors. Second floor has no external windows. Bas-relief frieze in classical style between ground and first floor windows on either side. Windows continue in same style throughout, including basement windows to sides. Two free-standing statues in classical style with modernist influence flanking entrance steps, representing Spirits of Literature and Art, by James Woodford. Right return has similar facade with a projecting centre of 8 windows, those on the ground floor have moulded stone surrounds and hood moulds, the 8 windows above have flush surrounds. INTERIOR: Entrance hall with original coffered ceiling and lights, marble lined. Fine Imperial staircase to all floors with brass handrail. Floor paved with chequer design (hidden by carpet). Landing walls panelled in wood veneer, landing floor with original cork tiles. Meeting room also fully panelled in wood veneer with original doors and fittings. Some original bookcases in library and original doors throughout. Built 1937, opened as a library and art gallery in 1940, still in original use.

Sheffield Central Library


Sheffield (1)cropped

There was a football match on the Saturday I visited Sheffield so I had to pass about 40 police officers on my seven minute walk from the station to the library. There were even police on horses – I had to resist the urge to point out they were on a cycle path. It made for a rather intimidating atmosphere so I was pleased to find the sanctuary of the library.

It’s a large building with a museum, gallery, café and local studies facility. The stairwell had a very interesting fabric exhibit cascading down – reminiscent of birds.

Various sections of the library were on different floors behind grand doors so I didn’t venture in to all of them such as the local studies library or the computer room. The main library had a modern entrance and then sturdy wooden bookcases with plenty of book stock.

There’s a brilliant article on the BBC website about the history of the building from when it celebrated 75 years in 2009. It’s now a grade II listed building but was cutting edge in 1934 with a ventilation and vacuuming system.

There were plans to build a hotel within the library building and build a new library but that seems to have stalled.

Grays Library

Grays (2)

The largest library in the Thurrock area is Grays Library. From outside, the building did not look appealing. I wasn’t sure the library was even in there. I could see it was the theatre and a sign for the registry office but it wasn’t until I got to the door that I could see an opening hours sign for the library and the museum.

However, once I was in the building a lovely warm garlicky smell was emanating from the café and the foyer area was lovely. I walked past the box office and to the back of the ground floor where there was an entrance to the library.

According to the internet there was a Carnegie library here that was built in 1903 but  this library was built in 1968 behind it. I don’t know when the original was demolished.

It was a Monday morning and there was plenty of staff and customers already settled in for the day. My overall impression of the library was blue. The carpet was very blue, the seats were blue, even the bulbs in the lights in the toilet were blue. The first bookcase I came across was labelled “misery memoirs” – so clearly the person who put that together was feeling “blue”.


The fiction and large children’s area were on the ground floor. A central wooden staircase led up to a mezzanine floor where the non-fiction material was held, more computers and then leading off to a computer room, local studies and the museum.

A nice community complex on the inside – shame about the outside.