Arts Editor Laura Davis enjoys a sneak preview of the wonderful renovation of Central Library
ONE million visitors are expected to visit Liverpool’s revamped Central Library in its first year of opening – double its pre-closure figures.
The city’s head of libraries hopes the £50m development will become a tourist attraction as well as providing an important service to local people.
The William Brown Street complex will open on May 17, comprising a new building behind the original, Victorian façade, as well as three Grade II*-listed reading rooms and a former lecture theatre.
Joyce Little, Liverpool City Council’s head of libraries, said: “We want it to be a visitor destination in its own right and take advantage of tourism.
“We are anticipating we will get up to one million visitors in the first year, dropping to between 750,000 and 800,000 after that.”
Work began in autumn of 2010 with the demolition of the 1950s Brown Library and its 1978 extension, which had replaced the original 1860 building after it was damaged in World War II.
The new building, constructed behind the surviving Victorian façade, features a pavement cafe, to be run by a so far undisclosed international catering company, and a more prominent entrance on William Brown Street.
The project includes a new home for the Liverpool Record Office, housing around 3m items in secure, climate-controlled storage.
A glass dome tops the building, directly above the ground floor “performance circle”, decorated with a poem by Liverpool’s Levi Tafari, while a 22-metre literary pavement, engraved with titles from world books, cinema and music, welcomes visitors.