(Above) The new entrance forecourt at Liverpool Central Library. Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council has announced that Inspire Partnership will carry out the £50 million redevelopment of Central Library after eclipsing competition from three other shortlisted organisations.
The library is set to close in June 2010, with work to resurrect the historic features of the library and create brand new spaces inside the building beginning three months later, after the site has been emptied.
Under the development scheme the Grade-II listed areas of the building, which date back to 1850 and include the facade and the famous Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading rooms, will be restored.
The sections built in the 1950s and 1970s following wartime bomb damage will be demolished and rebuilt to create an exciting new space.
The new entrance atrium at Liverpool Central Library. Liverpool City Council
"By refurbishing the beautiful 19th century facade and the historic reading rooms, while creating brand new spaces and facilities inside, the people of Liverpool will get the best of both worlds, and set a great example to the rest of the country of how a really effective 21st century library service can look," said Culture minister Margaret Hodge.
The new-look library will include a home for the Liverpool Records office, housing 14km of archives and some of the city's most historic treasures from the past 800 years.
There will also be five new floors with better access, a new entrance and modern IT facilities to allow young people to download music and games onto MP3 players through computer Wi-Fi access.
"This is the biggest single investment in the city's library service and will create a stunning building the whole city can be proud of," said Council leader Warren Bradley.
"It will transform Central Library into a place where reading and learning is exciting and stimulating and provide a new home for books, which will remain at the heart of the service."