A new state-of-the-art library has opened in the centre of Barnsley as the “cornerstone” of a £180m regeneration project.
Part of the Glass Works scheme, the new facility officially opened its doors on Saturday 13th July with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a poetry reading by Ian McMillan.
The four-storey library is situated in the Lightbox building, which has a transparent glass exterior designed to illuminate Barnsley’s new town square.
Each of the floors provide digital services including cutting-edge virtual reality, a training suite with a 65-inch interactive touch screen and tablet computers.
Fully accessible, it also includes a sanctuary room for people with autism and will host a music and memories group supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, designed for people living with dementia and their carers.
A lab on the ground floor will be used to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from a young age, while children will also be encouraged to learn coding. Meanwhile, the library’s events space will act as a multi-purpose venue for events, workshops and activities, while its rooftop terrace will offers views of the town centre. The whole Glass Works development, which will include shops, a cinema, market and bowling alley, is scheduled for completion in 2021.
Councillor Jenny Platts, spokesperson for adults and communities at Barnsley Council, said: “We can’t wait to welcome everyone to explore this sophisticated community hub and dynamic social space to meet and learn in."
The opening is a rare piece of good news for UK libraries, which have been at risk of closing due to budget cuts in recent years. Facilities in Essex are some of the most recent to come under threat, with the county council now proposing to hand scores of them to community groups.
Statistics have also shown the number of books being borrowed in the UK has fallen dramatically, with campaigner Tim Coates arguing not enough money has been spent on book stock and councils have shifted too far towards making the facilities community hubs.