Atrium from stairs

Public welcomes Liverpool’s £50m library

Liverpool's new £50m Central Library designed by Austin-Smith:Lord and built by Shepherd opened on Friday to encouraging reviews from the first visitors. (GALLERY)

The opening coincided with Light Night Liverpool, a one-night arts festival involving performances and exhibitions in more than 50 venues, many staying open until midnight including the new library, which was packed with visitors.

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Comments posted on Twitter as visitors took in the city's latest civic asset included:

The renovation of Liverpool central library is fantastic. Well worth a visit. (Manchester's has its work cut out when it finally reopens). Kev Darton, a graphic designer in Manchester.

Just come from Liverpool Central Library, the remodelling is stunningly good. Graeme Lamb, a writer and photographer in Wirral.

The renovation of Liverpool's Central Library is quite beautiful. The view from the roof terrace across the city is impressive. Stuart Hobday, designer from Liverpool.

New Liverpool Central library is just incredible. What a lovely evening. Emma Thompson, academic librarian, Liverpool.

Building work began on the library in November 2010 and was completed in January 2013. It took four months to re-stock more than four million items ranging from books, DVDs, archives and records. The building originally opened in 1860 but parts of it were damaged by bombing in the Second World War and rebuilt. The 1950s Brown Library and the 1978 eight-storey extension between the Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum were demolished to make way for the new building.

A new five-storey library was built behind the retained grade 2*-listed historic façade. The main features are a new central atrium with domed roof to mirror the Picton Roof and new entrance on William Brown Street. A new five-storey archive and a specialist climate controlled repository which will store the city's archives and rare treasures. The historic Picton Library, Hornby Library and the Oak Room were all restored. Outside, the new entrance features a literary pavement, leading to the entrance of the library, and a literary wall adorning the rear of the building, displaying names of writers and titles from books, cinema and music.

There is a new café located near the entrance and a roof terrace with views across the city.

The library is a PFI contract worth £50m. Inspire Partnership, a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure and Shepherd Construction, was originally appointed to deliver the £50m project. Liverpool City Council agreed a 25-year deal with Inspire Partnership, with Shepherd Construction holding a 19.9% stake and Amber an 80.1% share. However, International Public Partnerships later bought the stake held by Amber. Cofely provided facilities management services and Buro Happold building services.

Images by Mark McNulty

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