The old Children’s Library was tired and lacked any magic, partly due to years without anything but essential investment, but mostly as it had never been conceived as anything more than a functional space for storage of books. The aim was to create an exciting, fantastical space where children can learn and have fun, and in doing so become relaxed around books and inspired to read – in particular those children at the edges of the reading experience.
The new design introduces full height walls of shelves, accessed via flying walkways and gantries, evoking the grand libraries of the past but with a markedly playful and modern twist. Artificial grass covers the floors, while seating/lying down areas in the bay windows overlook the Market Square, linking the spaces directly to the wider community. Staircases and raised walkways (all made of CNC cut Plywood, enabling quick onsite assembly and reducing costs) were designed especially with children in mind and lead to hidden passages and secret shelves. Reading ‘nooks’ of varying sizes are built into the walls of shelves, providing spaces for individual children or small groups to escape into and immerse themselves in their favourite story. It is always busy!
The renovated Children’s Library has been received incredibly positively by Library users and staff alike since re-opening in December 2018. In the first 3 months after the refurbishment was unveiled the Library saw use as a whole increase by 10%, and children’s book loans increase by a staggering 32% (in comparison with previous years). It now represents one of Guernsey’s most valuable community offerings.
Designed by Oliver Westgarth RIBA, whilst Director at CCD.