[Note: This took place before it was announced that Nottingham City Council have sold the library building as office space. At time of writing there is no clear plan as to what they are going to do with the library].
I managed to visit three different sites during Heritage Open Weekend in September, (yep, that behind with writing things up again!) where places in England open up for free or access is granted to places normally closed to the public. One of the options available that caught my eye was a behind the scenes tour of Nottingham Central Library which is my local library.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but actually it was a very informative hour. The tour began with a brief history of the building. The library moved there in 1977 (before my time!) but before that it was a furniture store, whose founder Henry Baker, had the building built around 1899.
We then moved up to the fourth floor, normally closed to the public, and were able to take in the views, the Council House looking particularly lovely from that vantage point.
We then moved down the floors taking in some points of interest such as the stained glass windows which I’ve often wondered about and which will be familiar to any library user. They were brought over from the library’s previous site – now Nottingham Trent University’s Arkwright building and represent printer’s marks.
Next was the area really hidden away from the public, the basement, where not just books are stored but old maps, photo albums that have been donated by the public, old playbills and lots of old newspaper journals, far more than I realised they were holding there.
One other feature of interest was seeing how far out under the street the basement reaches. The first picture was taken in the basement looking up, the second is outside in the street, near the bus stops directly in front of the library.
It was well worth doing and our guides were excellent. Hopefully some common sense will prevail and the library is moved to a suitable new home still based within the city centre.
You can see a few more photos of my visit here.