I can’t work out if it I in America all over or just parts of it this week, but I do believe that this week might (important word to cover myself if I feel an utter fool when I discover it isn’t at all) be National Libraries Week – something I think we should bring over to the UK as a single day simply isn’t enough and a week really gets in the consciousness. Anyway, back off my soapbox, I thought if this was the case it would be nice to share a little trip I made around the all newly revamped Manchester Central Library a few weeks ago.
I didn’t really know what to expect and as libraries are such wonderful things I was hoping it would be amazing, I wasn’t disappointed so knowing you all love books and the places that home them I thought I would share.
What I think is wonderful about renovated libraries is when they are modernised and yet have the history and the old sense of a library, as I think Liverpool Central Library does. Manchester council were clearly on a similar wave length as you have the wonderful old features like the stain glassed windows and wooden beams (above) and then you walk into something that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi movie set in the future.
It is done again when you look through the clear glass into the wonderful archives brimming with hidden treasures…
Or when you are wandering around the thoroughly modern exhibition, café and seating area and find gems of the old library still being used amongst the new.
Note – I want one of those old archiving files in my house, just saying. It also carries on as you head up to the top floor, the modern architecture meeting the new and somehow, brilliantly, feeling like they were always meant to work together…
I think on of my favourite classic meets modern designs was on the top floor where you find all the reference books and the shelves, which run on a track, meaning much more space, have been given these wonderful new case covers that stop it looking like some old nuclear bunker, which sadly can be a look in the library world…
The other thing I loved about it was how light and airy it was, come on, don’t tell me you couldn’t spend hours sat reading in here? I was pretty much ready to move in.
Now there is a proper library down in the basement, which is again marvellously light, where all the new books of contemporary and classic fiction sit side by side, non fiction, travel etc all waiting in the wings and you can go and borrow books which is most important of course…
Yet for me the most astounding room was the main Reading Room which I am slightly obsessed with.
If ever I am in Manchester you know where to find me, spending a few hours with a book or just sitting people watching and taking in the atmosphere of the place. Marvellous.
It feels like the heart of the place, not just because it is the dead centre and the centre circle of the building, but because you look around and think ‘wow, all these people are using it again, after all those generations before them’ and it seems to highlight exactly why libraries are so important and why we need to keep them, and as many as possible, forever.
It was a wonderful trip and I think I spent about three hours just wandering, not even picking up a book. I should add that the whole time I lived in Manchester this building was the biggest tease in the city. It was closed the whole time but looked so marvellous from the outside and so, so tempting. So it is lovely to see it up and running. Manchester you are very lucky, though I know I am exceptionally lucky having the Liverpool Central Library down the road – I haven’t forgotten.
What do you make of this renovation? Which is your favourite library, where is it and why do you love it so?