Located at Campus West in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire’s flagship library has reopened to the public following an extensive improvement scheme.
The library opened its doors on Monday 17th December following a major programme of improvements designed to utilise unused space in the existing building. As well as improving local library facilities, the project has also provided a new home for the countywide Central Resources Library which relocated from Hatfield to Campus West.
Work started on the refurbishment project in May 2012, with Ashe Construction as the main contractor and international consultancy Mace as the architect.
Features of the new library include modern fully furnished community meeting rooms, a reworked Local Studies zone, a new and improved children’s area and improved computer facilities including Wi-Fi. A new baby change area was installed, along with new toilet facilities, whilst additional features include a stunning helix staircase, eco-friendly lighting and heating systems and an improved public lift.
To improve disabled access to the site, a fully accessible entrance has been included at the front of the building, whilst an automated entrance has also been installed at the rear of the building.
Cabinet Member for Hertfordshire Local and Libraries, Councillor Chris Hayward, said:
“Completing refurbishment of the library at Campus West is great news and represents a significant investment in library services. We hope it will encourage new people to come along and explore what their local library has to offer.”
Now open to the public the library has increased its opening hours to 9am – 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm on Saturday and 1pm – 5pm on Sunday. A temporary library facility which was open during the improvement works closed in early December 2012.
Mace Senior Project Manager, Neil Evison, said:
“The existing building had quite poor ventilation and lighting so these aspects of the site were corrected through the installation of a number of key solutions. These solutions included the introduction of large roof lights, automatic ventilation and low energy lighting. Once these elements were in place we then undertook an extensive refurbishment of the site.
“We also introduced a new lift, which involved the re-organisation of an existing lift shaft. Before we worked on this area of the site there was an existing lift but it was not quite up to current standards. Now we have a much better integrated arrangement, with disabled visitors catered for throughout the building.”
“To complete work on the project a small amount of external landscaping work took place and this included the relocation of the main entrance and the incorporation of a DDA compliant entrance.”
Sunsquare Limited is a manufacturer of bespoke flat roof skylights and working on the project the company provided two large sky lights which were installed above the atrium and the main library.
Discussing the project, Sunsquare Limited, Managing Director, Justin Seldis, said:
“This has been a great project to be a part of and it perfectly highlights what we can do as a skylight manufacturer. The sky light above the entrance is an important and dramatic feature of the building.
“At Sunsquare we are a British-based designer, manufacturer and installer and we enjoyed being involved in a project such as this.”
With the library re-opening its doors in December, a festive programme of events was introduced to welcome visitors of all ages back into the library. These events included Storytime Fun for the Under 5’s, Afternoon Tea and Mince Pies, Baby Rhyme Time and a performance of A Christmas Carol by Booster Cushion Theatre.
Commenting on the project, Neil added:
“This project has helped to bring the branch library back to life through a series of important improvements as well as providing a new home for the countywide Central Resources Library. Public feedback has been very good, with many people commenting that the site has a much brighter and comfortable environment.”