Culture Minister's call for a library revolution answered in Worcester 02.12.09

Culture Minister's call for a library revolution answered in Worcester 02.12.09

02 December 2009

Europe’s first fully-integrated public and university library will be a model of the new era of libraries called for by Culture Minister Margaret Hodge yesterday (1st December).



Europe’s first fully-integrated public and university library will be a model of the new era of libraries called for by Culture Minister Margaret Hodge yesterday (1st December).

Members of the public will share books and facilities with students and academics at Worcester Library and History Centre in this innovative joint project between the University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council.

Publishing a far-reaching consultation paper on the future of libraries today, Ms Hodge said libraries must offer new structures, new services and new ways of working in order to fit in with modern society.

 Worcester’s new library promises to have all of this and more, being the first in Europe to be fully integrated, allowing members of the public access to resources usually only available to university students. The new Library will put in place use of new technology and new ways of working which are currently being piloted throughout Worcestershire's Library Service and will become a flagship for the county.

The initiative won praise from Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke during a recent visit to the University, when he described it as “a very enlightened idea" and "a great benefit both to the academic community and to local citizens”.

“I’m astonished we don’t combine a city library with a university elsewhere in the UK,” he said.

The library, which will open in early 2012, will challenge the old-fashioned stereotype of libraries by providing an excellent example of integrated partnership working.  The combined facility includes an extensive children’s library, 800 study stations, and also incorporates the Worcestershire Record Office, Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service and aWorcestershire Hub Customer Service Centre.

It  will appeal to a wide range of users, from the student rushing in to grab a much-needed course book for their essay who will be able to use the quick self-service machines to issue their book; the school class which can gather in the Children's library, or outside on the Black Pear Island; to the researcher who can draw out books and journals from the extensive collection, and then use the Record Office and the Archaeology Service to continue to delve into the history of their research topic.

 The building will be open from early morning until late in the evening so that everyone can make the most of the facilities.

Anne Hannaford, a member of the Joint Project Board, summed up the new building as "an exciting combination of facilities that, as the first of its kind in Europe, will attract international attention as well as serving the local, regional and national community".

She said: “The use of space targets different users' needs, with an outside area to teach young children; a place to experience touch and sound through the latest audiovisual technology; a section to read and study quietly with research books and laptops; somewhere to sit and chatter and grab a cup of coffee; a room to meet with business colleagues to discuss and present ideas.”

Kathy Kirk, also a member of the Joint Project Board, said: “When thinking about the new centre we started out with a blank piece of paper and developed ideas through consultation with existing and potential users of the services. We will also be adopting the best practice from within the county's library service.”

Kathy added: "The development of Worcester Library and History Centre will raise aspirations of the community across the county, encouraging the retention skills and knowledge in the region and providing an integrated site to fulfil a wide variety of information, interest and learning needs".

 

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