“Exemplary” new £40 million Newcastle City Library unveiled

By Culture24 Staff | 09 March 2009
A picture of a glass building on a street at night

A Private Finance Initiative by the DCMS has funded the new centre, which will open in June. Picture courtesy Newcastle City Council

A futuristic new £40 million library in Newcastle has been completed following a two-year building project.

The towering construction, which is one of the largest libraries in the country, will formally open in June, featuring new facilities across six floors, a 180-seat performance space, an observation tower offering panoramic views across the city and a range of environmentally-friendly innovations.

Andrew Motion, Chairman of The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, said the building was “exemplary, heart-warming and inspirational.”

“Newcastle’s new public library is both a beacon – sending out messages about the multitude of vital services that a first-class modern library offers – and a magnet, attracting every part of the community in a great city to share in the benefits that it provides,” he proclaimed. “It is a place to delve into and extend the self.”

A picture of the inside of a library with light flooding in through windows

Building features include a staircase leading visitors through six levels. Picture courtesy Newcastle City Council

A Private Finance Initiative by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport funded the scheme on the New Bridge Street site where the old City Library was closed in September 2006, eventually being demolished ten months later.

“Newcastle’s new central library is everything that a modern, city-centre library should be and I welcome the completion of this beautiful and uplifting space,” said Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism.

“It will provide a home for a broad range of services as well as places for people to meet, learn and enjoy themselves.

“Culture plays a vital role in any thriving centre and this new library is a testament to the vision of Newcastle City Council. I hope that it will be a source of inspiration for all its communities for many, many years to come.”

A picture of the inside of a building, looking up at the ceiling where a series of lights glimmer back

Andrew Motion said the design was "inspirational". Picture courtesy Newcastle City Council

MLA Chief Executive Roy Clare heralded the site as a literary epicentre for Tyneside. “The completion of the brand new library is a superb milestone for Newcastle and an inspiration for the other 148 library authorities in England,” he declared.

“When it opens to the public visitors will find a wide range of books and reference resources, digital materials and access to archive collections and a building that speaks of style, learning, confidence and a warm welcome.”

Ian Kennedy, lead architect of the project for local designers Ryder Architecture, said: “We wanted the City Library to be a symbol of creative design and a model of 21st century library facilities.

“It will provide broad access to knowledge and other cultural resources and it will celebrate lifelong learning and social inclusion. It will be a delight to use, visit and pass by, inspiring local, civic and regional pride.”

The Newcastle Libraries PFI totals £40.2 million - it includes two new buildings, the City Library (contract value £24M) and High Heaton Community Library (contract value £1 million, completed September 2008).

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