Barnsley – New Central Library

The council demolished the town’s central library a few years ago and they promised they would replace it, which they’ve now done and the new building opened in 2019 in the heart of Barnsley’s Light Box regeneration area. I normally cringe when I see that a new library has been constructed, as too often they’re worse than what they replaced, but the arrangement here wasn’t as bad as I feared.

As is partly visible here, I was impressed at how much seating there was, with power sockets readily available.

Everything felt modern, although it’s not the most inspiring of buildings given that it looks like an office block.

The maps collection, probably not used that much, but it’s a very useful resource for a library to have, especially when it’s presented neatly like this.

I don’t know how true this is, but a member of library staff told a visitor that this chair made out of cardboard cost the council £750 and they’ve put it in the corner so that no-one sits in it. I have no further comment to add about this.

Clever, use an environmental reason to justify just leaving the exposed concrete on the stairways. The signage in the building is appalling though, I’m not sure why they need to keep it a secret of where things are located. However, the fiction section is on the first floor and the reference section is on the second floor, that’s the main divide.

I was suitably impressed by the entire set-up, with the staff being friendly, although there seemed to be a lot of them and they frequently looked bored. There’s plenty of space, lots of seats, a decent selection of local history books and a clean environment which was quiet. I say quiet, the public were quiet, the staff seemed to want to create an atmosphere more akin to a busy pub, but it’s easy to be critical…… Having written that, I went to look at the reviews of the library and this seems to be a common problem, so I think someone’s suggestion of a quiet area for the staff to sit in might be a useful benefit.

I can’t imagine that this library came cheap, but these things should perhaps always be a little expensive to do properly (although I’d rather they spent more money on books rather than decadent furniture).