Plans for a Barbican Library community room approved

The new community room in Barbican Library, which I wrote about here, is going ahead at a cost of £449,550.

A report to the City Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries committee says the sum has been awarded from the Community Infrastructure Levy Neighbourhood Fund. It goes to the Barbican Association and Department of Community and Children’s Services.

“The room will be self-contained within the library space. It will be acoustically protected and have an external entrance to enable access outside of library hours.

“Groups will be able to hire the room, with local community groups able to pay a lower hire charge. The library service will also use the room to enhance its programme of events and activities for library users, as well as for study/reading space when the room is not hired out.

“The work is expected to begin in September 2023 and take 12 weeks. The Barbican Library Team and the Barbican Association will work together to promote the room to local community groups and other potential hirers.

“It is anticipated that the hire fees for the room will significantly contribute towards eliminating the need to charge late return fines across all three City of London lending libraries”.

The report adds:

“When the library opened in 1982, it was seen as the epitome of a modern public library. However, since that time, public library use has radically changed, from only providing books and other loan items and answering enquiries, to a much more diverse offering as a ‘community hub’.

“Barbican Library was designed to be open-planned and, unlike modern public library buildings, it has no enclosed spaces for library events, private hire and meetings. The Barbican Listed Building Management Guidelines exist to preserve the integrity of the original architecture and this constantly presents library staff with a number of creative challenges: talks, adult education classes and health checks take place in the open library space; staff meetings and reading groups take place in the staffroom and the Head of Barbican and Community Libraries’ office is the only suitable space for recruitment interviews”.

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