Exciting plans for City Central Library’s modern and inviting new home

Published: Friday, 18th December 2020

Exciting images have been unveiled which show the proposed new home of Stoke-on-Trent’s City Central Library.

Plans have been submitted for the large ground floor space at Two Smithfield, with the aim of offering a modern, inviting, flexible facility that can attract more families.

The relocated library would include two levels – with a mezzanine floor created for extra room.

There would be a suite of public computers, as well as a children’s area with space for story time sessions and other activities.

An improved entrance, self-service kiosks, seating, a lift, storage, office spaces, and public toilets with baby changing facilities would also be included.

As well as the main doors, the library would also be connected, via new routes, to the lobby of Two Smithfield and Warner Street.

Designers say the inside of the open-plan library would have the feel of a café-type environment, with inviting views of what is on offer through the building’s large windows.

The city council wants the service’s proposed new home, on the junction between Broad Street and Warner Street in Hanley, to encourage more families to use the space and for visitors to stay longer.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “We’re really excited about these plans. The move would help to bring the library to life with a vibrant, modern space in a fantastic location. We want it to be an amazing, inspiring place that families are eager to visit – where they go to enjoy time together as well as use the wonderful services on offer.

“As someone who loves visiting libraries with their children, I know how important it is to make the experience as attractive as possible for all of our residents. By getting more families into our main library, we can encourage more children to love books and enjoy reading. This will help to further improve literacy levels in the city and encourage our young people to broaden their minds and achieve their ambitions. We’ll also be adding to the growing cultural offer in the city centre, which continues to attract visitors and boost the local economy.

“This modern new library will also form part of Stoke-on-Trent’s wider transformation, which includes the new Clayworks apartments and the Hilton Garden Inn – both now completed, as well as the city centre regeneration area, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery upgrade and other projects. It’s another exiting addition which can help to power up Stoke-on-Trent and transform the city for generations to come.”  

The library’s current site, opposite the John Street car park, is almost 50 years old and has become outdated and expensive to run. The proposed move will create revenue savings of about £100,000 a year.

As part of the plans, the City Archives service – currently on the top floor of the Bethesda Street building – would move to the foyer of the nearby Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

The proposed new location for the library is a three-minute walk away from the existing building and is close to the museum.

Capital investment would fund the move and if the plans are approved, work on the new library at Two Smithfield would be expected to start in the spring. Following a consultation with library users, the services and all staff would be relocated in the summer.

The current library and the new facility would need to close for about four weeks while the move is finalised. During this time, services at the city’s other libraries will still be available to all members. The City Central service will then reopen in Two Smithfield.

The library’s current home is expected to be put up for sale in the spring. A use for the space would then be identified to maximise its potential.

Library users will be given more information about the relocation plans over the next few months.