Plans for Shirley’s controversial new ‘library for the 21st century’ in Parkgate have been revealed.
With four times as many computers, a ‘magical’ storytime apple tree and colourful Suburban Shirley decorative theme, the family-friendly new library is to be a ‘flagship’ for the area.
At its heart is the children’s library surrounded by a tiny white picket fence.
“It’s a library for the 21st century,” said Coun Kate Wild, Cabinet Member for Community Services. “This really is a community hub.”
“Our goal was always to try and create award-winning design,” added Lucy Bayliss, senior architectural designer.
Although Tracey Cox, Head of Libraries, admitted the central children’s library would increase noise, she said: “Libraries are not quiet places anymore.
“The current library is incredibly noisy, with work groups and organisations all on top of each other.
“Noise is part of the 21st century library.”
Construction began this month and is due to open the middle of this year.
The decision to sell the current Church Road library to move to the leased premises in Parkgate scheme has been a contentious issue. But Paul Johnson, Director of Resources, assured local taxpayers that, with the ‘community use’, its overall operating cost including rent would be the same.
That community includes two meeting rooms and a quiet study area – all with moveable walls for when not in use.
It will also have three private ‘meet and greet’ booths for the Shirley Connect Service which will be relocating from Shirley Police Station.
All this in a building with the same square footage as the current library.
But with the flexible rooms and a clever use of space Coun Wild said the new centre offers 25 per cent more “usable space”.
Of course a library is still, first and foremost, about books and Coun Wild said that 86 per cent of current book stock would be move- the rest would be sold, stored or moved to another library as part of the service’s stock management scheme.
It will also include online local history provision, self-service machines, an information point, public printers, chill out area and more.