The Central Library was re-opened to the public on 24 April 2003 following the major refurbishment. Opening hours were extended linked to the PSA, following consultations with users and non-users. Huge changes were made to the building and services, reflecting the changing role of public libraries. Help with the layout came from consultants Opening the Book. The lending and reference books were integrated, with new categories for both fiction and non-fiction similar to retail concepts, e.g. 'Sport', 'Mind, body and spirit'.
A new 'Special Services' area was introduced, with equipment for people with disabilities, situated near to the Large Print and Talking Books. The Northgate entrance was also opened up to the public, allowing easy access from the disabled parking bays adjacent. Public toilets were installed on each floor, with disabled access and baby changing facilities available.
Self-issue and self-return was introduced, more public access PCs managed by the iCAM booking system, a new 'Media' area with listening posts, Plasma screens and an e-book service withdrawn in 2007. The ground floor now has one main counter with no separate enquiry desk, aiming to encourage more staff interaction with customers, including floor walking, for which training was given.
In 2004 the Inventor's information point was launched. This was a significant achievement for the Council and the Technet-NW project, as it was the first of its kind to open outside of the major cities and the PATLIB 14-library network. Staff provide an information and advice service and can refer clients to free Patents clinics. In addition, 'Ask about Business', a consortium based service, was launched in 2008, to provide borrowers with wider access to business information and advice.
The Curve is a unique space on the ground floor specifically for young people. It was designed with the advice of students from a local High school. The children's library was completely redesigned with new access to PCs, meeting rooms for study support/class visits and a creche.
Community History now occupies a larger area to allow for expansion of the service. The study area and learning centre were also extended. In addition, a meditation room was introduced, following requests from customers.
Over 70 PCs, all with free Internet access, were installed in every part of the building and are well used. The Media Section, Children's Library, Information Section and meeting rooms all had ICT facilities for the first time. Making the Internet available throughout the building has meant that the newly enlarged Learning Centre and Training Suite can be used by learners more successfully. Use of personal laptops is also now allowed.
Increased use has been made of our improved community rooms and facilities by community and commercial organisations as well as our partners and other Borough departments. Some of these bookings have included use of the creche facilities.
The Hot desk facility has been used by a variety of organisations and services to provide help, advice and information to the community. Currently, drop-in-advice sessions are held by PALs and Macmillan. Staff are publicising sessions and constantly looking for new partners.
At all stages in the process staff and local residents were consulted. During closure periods, staff underwent intensive training in both NOF-ICT and Reader Development. Putting the user first has focused the Library Services approach to service delivery and transformed the library experience for all users. All aspects of service delivery continue to be monitored and evaluated and relevant actions will be taken if needed.
Beacon Status - Libraries as a community resource 2002/03. Finalist in the CILIP Libraries change lives award 2006 - Books on the edge project, targeting homeless and vulnerable young people in Blackburn. 'Established' accreditation to the DfES Quality in Study Support QiSS standard - 2009. The award relates to out of hours learning and the assessment covered all aspects of library service provision for 0 to 19 year olds. QiSS accreditation more usually focuses on schools and nationally, only a few library authorities have achieved recognition.
Type of library
Capita Property Services
Features and services
Audiovisual/Multimedia areas, Baby changing facilities, Cafe/refreshment areas, Equipment provision, Exhibition/display areas, Group study spaces, Hosting of other agencies, Meeting rooms, Open learning provision, Provision of special materials, Services to particular groups, Specialist subject collections, Teaching rooms
Nature of site
Design features, Structural
Access between floors, Access to building, Access within building, Assistive technology, Critical distances, Furniture height, Signage / guiding
Opening the Book
Southerns Office Suppliers
Services and facilities suppliers
Plescon, Insight media (iCAM), Axiell (formerly DS)
Electronic information displays, Internet access, Public access terminals, Self service circulation, Number of public computer terminals: 75