New Mansfield library is fit for 21st Century

Mansfield Library Refurbishment''Pictured from the left; Libby McCartney, Site Manager, Paula Fraser, Library Manager, David Eberlin, NCC Architect, Co Coun John Cottee, Cabinet Member for Culture and Community, Peter Gow, Head Librarian and Liz Edwards, Project Manager.
Mansfield Library Refurbishment''Pictured from the left; Libby McCartney, Site Manager, Paula Fraser, Library Manager, David Eberlin, NCC Architect, Co Coun John Cottee, Cabinet Member for Culture and Community, Peter Gow, Head Librarian and Liz Edwards, Project Manager.

WORKERS were busy installing enough shelves to display a massive collection of 35,000 books at Mansfield’s gleaming new library this week.

Bosses behind the £3.4m project say they want to create the ‘wow factor’ at the library when it opens its doors for the first time in January.

Most of the construction work at the site is now complete and as Chad discovered during a guided tour on Thursday, many of the key features of the modern new facility are already in place.

Nottinghamshire’s head of libraries Peter Gow said: “The new library is a transformation in the service provided to the people of Mansfield.

“Our aim has been to create something they can be proud of.

It is the largest library in Nottinghamshire and the central one for the county.”

The facility is expected to attract 300,000 visitors every year and Mr Gow says the revamp should increase the number using it by up to 30 per cent.

They will enter the library from West Gate and be confronted with a modern-looking reception area with new carpets, ceiling and lighting.

“The entrance is in the same location as at the old library but virtually everything else is different,” chief architect David Eberlin said.

Another change is the installation of a second lift to the first and second floors.

“The public asked us to provide a second lift in case the other one is being repaired or not working,” Mr Gow said.

“It should be a big help for any people who can’t manage the stairs.”

Those who can use the stairs will have chance to check out a giant digital wallpaper print of a map of the Mansfield area which was drawn in the 1830s.

The Sanderson map sweeps round the wall by the side of the staircase and leads to the first floor, where the majority of the books will be shelved.

“Previously people walked out the lift or reached the top of the stairs and were met by a wall, doors and other barriers,” Mr Gow said.

“We have opened the space up so when you reach this level you can see books and it should make a nice greeting for visitors.”

As well as a stock of around 35,000 books, the library will include 60 computers and also space for people to use lap-tops.

Some of the computers will be located in the ‘Discovery Room’ where they will be used by students from West Notts College during the day before being freed up for the public to use at other times.

Beyond the main area of book shelves is a children’s area, which central librarian Liz Edwards says is 30 per cent larger than at the previous library.

“There will be an interactive reading tunnel and reading tower where children can read and play at the same time,” she said.

“We also think people will like the local studies collection which was previously a bit hidden away but is now better presented and more accessible.”

Overlooking the first floor is a mezzanine level which will include books on science fiction and titles for younger people as well as soft seating for lap-top use and newspaper reading.

Author talks and readings will also take place on the mezzanine level, while the second floor will feature a lecture theatre and meeting rooms.

The whole project marks a major revamp for the West Gate library, which was first opened by the Queen in 1977.

Work began in September last year and for the past 12 months residents have been using a temporary library on Regent Street.

The vast majority of the construction work by the Kier Group has now been done and books and other items are expected to be moved in by November ahead of an opening at the start of 2012.

And despite the controversy surrounding Nottinghamshire County Council’s cuts to library budgets, the cabinet member responsible insists the new facility is proof of County Hall’s determination to enhance to the service.

“We have not closed a single library and this wonderful new facility shows our commitment,” Coun John Cottee, cabinet member for culture and community, said this week.

“People can take books out here and return them to their local library and vice versa, it should be an excellent facility for the people of Mansfield.”

Anyone with questions about the new library should contact Nottinghamshire County Council’s customer service centre on 08449 80 80 80 or email enquiries@nottscc.gov.uk