New look library revealed in Liverpool

Michael Hunt

Liverpool City Council has chosen Inspire Partnership for the £50m Central Library and Archive Private Finance Initiative contract.

Inspire Partnership, which beat competition from three other shortlisted organisations, is a joint venture between:

  • Investors Public Partnerships
  • Asset managers Amber Infrastructure
  • Constructors and investors Shepherd Construction
  • Liverpool-based architects Austin-Smith:Lord
  • Building services engineers Buro Happold
  • Facilities managers Cofely

Liverpool Central Library - Entrance AtriumThe first images of the new look building were released today and it was announced that work on the library in Liverpool city centre is due to start in June 2010.

Plans for the multi-million project were first revealed in May 2008, which replaced a stalled proposal to extensively refurbish the 158-year-old building.

The council revealed its original plan for Central Library almost four years ago after the Government agreed £50m funding through a Private Finance Initiative.

Central Library, located on William Brown Street, has gradually fallen into disrepair over many decades. It suffers from damp and a leaking roof.

Under the scheme, the Grade II-listed parts of the building which date back to 1850, including the façade and Picton, Hornby and Oak reading rooms, will be restored.

The sections behind the façade, built in the 1950s and 1970s following the bombings during the Second World War, will be demolished and rebuilt to make the most of the available space.

Liverpool Central Library - Entrance ForecourtCllr Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "This is the biggest ever single investment in the city's library service and will create a stunning building the whole city can be proud of. A tremendous amount of work has gone into getting to this stage and the project board looked extremely carefully at each of the bids before making a recommendation."

The project will include a new home for the Liverpool Record Office which will house 14km of archives and some of the city's most historic treasures from the last 800 years, such as the original 1207 charter.

The new look Central Library will also include:

  • A new entrance to the main library including a 'literary pavement' and front and rear access
  • Five new floors with better access including meeting rooms and café
  • New repository with capacity for 20 years of new archive space
  • New 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

The building is due to take three months to empty completely from next June, before construction work starts.

A full planning application to redevelop the library will be made on 23 November and a four week public consultation will be held in Central Library throughout December.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge will be publishing a policy review of the public library service next month.

The restored library is due to open again in 2012.

The other three organisations shortlisted were:

  • Community Solutions
  • Information Resources
  • Kajima-Carillion

Your Comments

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It is absolutely wonderful to hear that this building will be brought into the 21st century it is a much used library and a gem in the city centre.

By Tricia

The third proposed ‘Vision’ in the last 8 years. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky – ‘though I won’t be holding my breath!
PS Don’t forget to put a few books in it.

By Sebastian Melmoth

What worries me is where will they put Chambre Hardman collection of 140,000 photos whilst work is in progess?


I think the E Chambre Hardman collection is now maintained by the National Trust. I know his house, at 59 Rodney Street, is in their care. Personally, I’m just as worried about what will happen to the Everton Collection…

By Scouse Tory