Deal to rebuild Central Library completed

The £50m PFI contract for the renovation and extension of Liverpool Central Library has been signed and building work will begin in November.

The 150-year-old library will close on Friday 23 July and be handed over to the Inspire Partnership, a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure and Shepherd Construction with architects at Austin-Smith:Lord and Cofely as facilities management supplier.

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The sections behind the façade, which were built in the 1950s and 1970s following World War II bomb damage and now suffer from damp and a leaking roof, will be rebuilt to make the most of the available space including a new purpose-built home for Liverpool Record Office.

The new Central Library is scheduled to reopen in late 2012. In the meantime, a temporary library service will operate from Monday 9 August on the second floor of the World Museum Liverpool next door. This service will include access to public computers, audio visual material, business information, newspapers, a collection of directories, family history and local studies sources and a fax and photography service.

Mike Leto, project director of Amber Infrastructure, said: "We are delighted to have reached financial close having worked so hard to reach this point. We can now concentrate on finalising the construction programme and look forward to work starting in November. The development will deliver a fantastic new library and archive in partnership with the city of Liverpool."

Chris Pritchett, partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: "We are obviously delighted that this crucial mile stone has been achieved, particularly in the current economic climate. After our involvement in the FACT Centre and the Bluecoat it is fantastic to be involved in another key cultural building in Liverpool."

Elements of the library project include:

  • New repository with capacity for 20 years of additional storage space for books and archives
  • New entrance to main library, including a 'literary pavement' and front and rear access
  • Five new floors with better access including escalators, lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and café
  • Conservation studio for repairs to the city's masterpieces
  • Rooftop Atrium and terrace overlooking St John's Gardens
  • Re-opening of historic internal entrances to the Picton Reading Room
  • Re-opening of International Library, to original design, as a new children's zone
  • Dedicated room for John James Audubon's celebrated book – Birds of America
  • Doubling the number of public computers
  • Light wells at front and rear to allow library to be naturally lit
  • 24-hour on-street, drop-off book service

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