Visitor numbers soared when new city library opened in Newcastle
Newcastle City Library opened on 7 June 2009 and has been widely acclaimed by the public, staff and stakeholders. After the first year of operation visitor numbers were up 200% on the old building which occupied the same footprint.
A building to ‘delight and inspire' was the guiding principle. The library combines performance and beauty. It is environmentally responsible, inclusive and fun - a ‘living room for the city'. The library provides a model for C21 library facilities, including access to books and information; a music area and book gallery; the historic Newcastle Collection; and exhibition and performance space. There is more space for customers, better space for children, and books are easier to find.
The front of house / back of house ratio has been reversed so that the public now have access to 70% of the building during normal hours. Innovations include automated book control, self issue and return systems, download points and the British Library's "Turning the Page" system, allowing visitors to browse specialist collections digitally. Through the use of self service technology staff are now free to focus on welcoming people and helping them use the library.
The six storey building has a four storey entrance atrium. It is highly transparent encouraging people to visit and enjoy. An observation deck with pink Arne Jacobsen Swan and Egg chairs gives visitors new views across the city. The entire glazed east elevation features the artwork ‘Four Questions', inspired by interviews with over 1,000 residents.
New hard landscaping has transformed previously drab public realm into attractive terraces. Wayfinding and signage uses vibrant colour coding which is also part of the new branding. Solar panels on the roof generate electricity to pre heat the domestic hot water. A rainwater recycling system provides water to flush the toilets.