WHEN I set foot in the newly refurbished Mansfield Library I hardly recognised it.
Gone are the drab colours and tired looking bookshelves. The whole of the interior has been gutted and redecorated from scratch, with new carpets and new furniture.
The whole library has been reorganised and transformed – a far cry from the 1977 vintage interior and a massive improvement too.
Library Manager Paula Fraser was obviously enthusiastic about the new facilities as she showed me around the building. The way the books are arranged around the library has been completely changed.
No longer is it necessary to remember the specific decimal classification number for books on the subject you are interested in. Instead of one long numerical sequence, non fiction books are arranged in categories such as Food and Drink or Parents and Children or Poetry.
Within the categories, books are filed according to their classification number to assist staff when looking for requested books. Paula told me that the category system was very popular with the public.
The local history section has been relocated down to the first floor to make it more accessible and a lot of local history books have been rebound or repaired.
It’s hoped that the new location and the attractive way the material is displayed will encourage more people to take an interest in the history of Mansfield and its area.
There is also a Local Democracy section where council minutes and other local government documents can be consulted .
Computers are an essential information tool in any library these days and in Mansfield Library there are no less than 65 computers for public use. Added to this there are areas where the public can bring their own laptops to use the wi-fi facilities.
The children’s section now covers a much bigger area. Paula was keen to point out the special chairs which were impossible to tip over and the special lighting system designed to create an appropriate atmosphere for story times and other special events.
Paula then took me to the mezzanine floor which used to house the local history section, but now contains books for young adults and the sport section as well as a large space where people can socialize and drink coffee.
At present there is just a coffee machine, but the plan is to install a counter where coffee and cake can be served, though no hot food will be available.
Paula explained that most of the money for the refurbishment paid for a new heating system and electrical wiring, but as the building itself was in good shape, money was left over for refurbishing the theatre and installing a new sound system. Films can now be screened there and a programme of events including jazz concerts is now under way.
One thing that struck me about the library has nothing to do with the new surroundings: it is the friendly and welcoming staff. They seem to enjoy working in the new environment .
Paula herself told me that she had only recently moved to Mansfield Library and was a little apprehensive at first, but now she loves it.
I’m very pleased with the way Mansfield Library has been improved so I’ll certainly be calling in there again.
Sutton Library has cause to celebrate, too. December 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of the present building. Celebrations to mark the occasion have been arranged for the week beginning 13th February. On 14th February at 11am I will be on hand in the library to talk to readers about some of the books I have mentioned in my blog and to answer questions about blogging.
Local Book of the Month
‘WALKING close to Sherwood Forest’ is a handy little book describing 12 circular walks mainly to the East and North of Mansfield.
They range in length from 4 to 9 miles . The route of each walk is described in detail and a clear map is provided. All the walks are ‘walked, written and drawn’ by Clive Brown who has compiled more than 30 similar books covering various areas mainly in the Midlands and eastern England. This book cost me just £2.50 from Creswell Crags Visitor Centre, but it is available from several local outlets.