Renewing Our Libraries: Case Studies in Re‐planning and Refurbishment

Mike Freeman (West Midlands CILIP, Coventry, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




Freeman, M. (2011), "Renewing Our Libraries: Case Studies in Re‐planning and Refurbishment", New Library World, Vol. 112 No. 7/8, pp. 384-384.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Recognising the general growing impetus to refurbish and recycle, the author has produced timely and engaging work on renewing and modernising libraries of all types. He brings a wide knowledge and experience to the subject and writes lucidly and with a commendable lack of jargon. The well chosen case studies of library buildings, whilst mostly British, illuminate and expand one's professional knowledge of this area and should enhance most librarians' understanding and competence to deal with this growing sector of professional practice. As the author says, “ the main aim […] is to provide librarians and others with examples […] and the problems that have been overcome […] that lead to successful library refurbishment”.

The book contains 16 case studies of library renewal including three university libraries, a national library and 11 public libraries. Libraries are in a state of transition currently and, with the remorseless squeeze on local and central government spending, one can expect to see a growing demand for more refurbished and remodelling of libraries of all kinds. “Make do and mend” could well be the watchword for the librarians of the future. Libraries are, after all, a massive public asset (the MLA audit of 2008 stated a figure of £1.5 billion as the total value of library buildings in England and Wales) and they must keep up with (or even be ahead of) societal and technological changes. The book's 16 case studies are well chosen and diverse. They span the stylistic spectrum from a Victorian branch library in Staffordshire to an Art Nouveau branch in Derbyshire and the listed central public library of Dublin city. The central library of Malmo – which started life as a hotel – shows clearly how the Swedes have addressed the problem of expansion and refurbishment with vigour and originality.

So, a useful and well written book on a theme which may well occupy librarians' minds increasingly in the near future and a goldmine of examples for librarians entering the refurbishment arena for the first time.

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