Monday, 17 September 2007

Oldham Public Library

On Thursday SINTO organised a mini-bus trip to Oldham to see their new public library.

Opened in April 2006 it provides more than double the space of the old library. Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre has been shortlisted for the 2007 Prime Minister's Better Public Buildings Award.

Bringing together children’s, adult and reference libraries, as well as a performance space, IT-intensive teaching rooms, art rooms and a crèche, it is the second phase of the new cultural quarter in Oldham, breathing new life into a previously neglected part of the town.

The building relies predominantly on natural ventilation and light, minimising energy consumption. Rainwater from the green roof is collected, treated, stored in tanks in the basement area and used to flush toilets throughout the building which significantly reduces mains water usage.

The impressive entrance to the building, shared with Gallery Oldham, features a glass exterior wall and attractive modern sculpture. From the lobby ccstomers pass through to the library and lifelong learning area. The latter consists of a number of IT equiped classrooms and work spaces which house a wide range of day or evening classes which can be booked at the reception desk. The library itself is on two floors which are well lit by natural light and the overall impression is modern, light and uncluttered. The architecture features strong lines and large windows which provide spectacular views of the surrounding moors.

The building cost £12m as was built under the Private Finance Initiative. This means that the library service is effectively a tennant in the building and the library staff described the benefits and drawbacks of this arrangement. During the design stage the library had to provide an "output specification" which was then interpreted by the architect.

The library has been a success in terms of customer feedbackand in greatly increased visitor numbers. The staff were open about some problems with the building but on the whole they felt that it worked well.


Anonymous said...

12 pounds? My, that is cheap!

Carl said...

Sorry, that should have been £12 plus £11,999988 tax = £12m