£50m Redevelopment for Liverpool Central Library

Liverpool Central Library - Aerial View
Liverpool Central Library - Aerial View

More exciting developments on William Brown Street, I’m so glad the circular Picton and Hornby rooms will ‘be restored to their former glory’

New Central Library to Inspire
One of the biggest library redevelopments in the UK has moved a major step closer.

Liverpool City Council has chosen Inspire Partnership for the £50 million Liverpool Central Library and Archive PFI contract, following an exhaustive Europe-wide search for a blue chip development partner.

The successful contractor – which beat off competition from three other short listed organisations – is a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure / and Shepherd Construction.

Today, the first stunning images of the new-look building were released and it was announced that work is due to start next summer.

Central Library – which is located in the heart of Liverpool’s cultural quarter 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 famous Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading Rooms, will be restored to their former glory.

The sections behind the façade which were built in the 1950s and 1970s following World War II bomb damage will be demolished and rebuilt to make the most of the available space.  The new library will be open and inviting giving the public access to enhanced facilities in a landmark building.

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 – in purpose built secure, climate controlled storage.

There will also be state-of-the-art IT facilities which will allow young people to download music and games onto MP3 and MP4 players, with wi-fi and access to computers.

The new look Central Library will also include:

¨              New entrance to main library, including a ‘literary pavement’ and front and rear access
¨              Five new floors with better access including escalators, lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and café
¨              New repository with capacity for 20 years of new archive space
¨              New conservation studio for repairs to the city’s masterpieces
¨              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
¨              Dedicated room to John James Audubon’s celebrated book – Birds of America
¨              Doubling the number of public computers
¨              New light well’s at front and rear to allow library to be naturally lit
¨              New 24 hour on-street, drop-off book service

The building is due to close in June 2010, and will take three months to empty completely before construction work commences.

Joyce Little, Head of Liverpool’s Libraries and Information Service, said: “The historic parts of the building are magnificent, and this scheme will enable us to restore them to their former glory.

“The two redevelopments that took place after the Second World War do not fit together very well and it is hard for people to find their way around the building.

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

Central Library - Entrance - Atrium
Central Library - Entrance - Atrium
Central Library - Entrance Forecourt
Central Library - Entrance Forecourt