ANYONE who loves the smell of new books would have enjoyed being amongst the £40,000-worth of volumes at Mansfield’s revamped library last week.
A total of 5,252 people passed through the doors of the West Gate library in its first week serving the town ahead of an official opening ceremony yesterday.
Central librarian Liz Edwards told us during a tour of the £3.4m facility on Thursday that the reaction from visitors had ‘brought a tear to her eye’.
“We have been thrilled by the response,” Liz added. “When I woke up on the first day and the wind was howling I feared no one would be there but it could not have been different.”
Among the remarks left in the library’s comments book during its first few days were ‘you have made a teenager very happy’ and an even younger visitor who had enjoyed ‘reading my book and drinking hot chocolate’.
Visitors enter the library from West Gate and are confronted with a modern-looking reception area with new carpets, ceiling and lighting.
There are now two lifts to the first and second floors as well as a spiral staircase decorated with a giant digital wallpaper print of a map of the Mansfield area 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 are shelved.
Although the library has around 35,000 books on a vast range of subjects, it also offers far more than a traditional library.
Liz is particularly proud of the children’s library section.
“During the consultation with the public people said they wanted a bigger children’s library and that is what they have got,” she said.
“We responded to calls for an improved local studies section and this area is now far more accessible too.”
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.
The library’s transformation has also included the refurbishment of a theatre within the building, with the stage located directly above the cafe in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.
“Most people won’t even be aware the theatre is there,” Liz said. “But we hope to use it for plays and films put on by the library and also hire it out.”
The library’s official reopening yesterday marks the first major revamp for a facility first opened by the Queen in 1977.
And despite the controversy surrounding cuts to library budgets, council leaders insist the new facility is proof of County Hall’s determination to enhance the service.
Coun John Cottee, Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for culture and community, said: “We hope the investment in the new-look facilities will give the people a centre to be proud of which is more than just a library, but is a real focal point for the community.”
• New library has cost £3.4m.
• £40,000 of new books.
• A total of 35,000 books.
• First major refurbishment for the library since it opened in 1977.
• Expected to attract 300,000 visitors every year.
• Set to increase the number using it by up to 30 per cent.
• Around 60 computers for the public to use.
Have your say on the new-look library by leaving your comment below - we will publish a selection of comments in next week’s paper.