Manchester City Council is set to invest around £100,000 in a refurbishment for the children’s library based at Central Library.
Plans for the refurbishment are currently being finalised, with potential features including quiet space, a high-backed story-telling chair and “cosy corner”, where children and their parents can sit together to discover new books. Portholes, allowing children to climb through different sections, could be incorporated, as could a blackboard wall for displaying posters and art, while the current garden theme will be retained.
Users of the children's library were asked for their feedback on how the space could be improved during family sessions and under-fives storytimes held early in 2020, before lockdown. Parents said that they were keen to see a larger, more flexible space, with more comfy seating. The refurbishment is provisionally due to be completed by summer 2021.
The news comes as Manchester prepares to begin reopening its libraries to the public for limited browsing from Monday 12 April, in line with Government guidance and regulations. All libraries have been assessed as Covid-secure, with steps in place to minimise risk.
Members will be able to enter the library and browse for a maximum of 30 minutes, with controls on the maximum number of people allowed into the building at any one time in place. PCs will be available to book in advance, or for walk-up customers, for a maximum of one hour. Printing and photocopying facilities are also available, while all issues of books will be via self-service.
Central Library's ground, first and second floors will be reopened to customers, along with the lower ground floor City Library for limited browsing and PC and printer use. The library's famous Reading Room will be available for study, with reduced seating capacity. Access to the Archives+ interactive exhibitions and archives material in the search room and microfilms will be available, with pre-booking required. One-to-one support to enable residents to complete the 2021 Census will also be available at many libraries.
In line with Covid guidelines, all visitors will be required to wear a face covering, unless medically exempt. They will alao be asked to sanitise their hands on entry to the library and to use disinfectant wipes to wipe down any equipment before and after use. Social distancing will be required and signage in place to highlight the necessary measures. Track and trace will also continue to be in place at all libraries.
Opening dates and hours can be found at www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries. As national restrictions are gradually lifted over the next few months, libraries will expand their opening hours and the range of services available.
Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, said: “The children’s library is one of the key features of Central Library and in normal times, is incredibly well-used. That’s why we are planning to invest in its long-term future, making sure that it continues to attract Manchester families and that we offer a whole new look for children to enjoy, after we’re able to safely reopen it to visitors.
“Although there's still a way to go before this can happen, we are now looking forward to beginning the process of reopening our libraries to the public next month, in a careful way which aims to keep all staff and visitors as safe as possible, while providing vital free access to information, learning opportunities and reading for pleasure for all in Manchester."