New library and information centre set to open in the new year
05 Dec 2017
The refurbished and modernised library area in Hexham’s Queen’s Hall will be opening to the public in the new year, bringing a number of services all under one roof.
Building work will be complete during December, and the services will then start the task of preparing the space to welcome visitors to a new modern and accessible integrated library, customer services and visitor information centre.
Northumberland County Council is investing £500,000 in the project which will breathe new life into the library area and has been designed taking customer needs into account.
The iconic library space started life in the late 1800s as a Corn Exchange, becoming a ballroom in the 1920s - its dancefloor was known for its ‘1,000 springs’ and regular dances and balls saw up to 900 people enjoying themselves there.
In the mid 1970s Northumberland County Council and the former Tynedale District Council jointly purchased the building, and the former ballroom became the town’s library.
Now the whole of the multi-use building is leased to Queen’s Hall Arts, and Northumberland County Council has been working with the trust to reconfigure this stunning space into an integrated library and information centre.
The design has taken into account the historic features of the building, and heritage colour schemes have been used to complement these.
Key original features have been retained within the refurbishment design and sensitively complimented by new features such as architecturally designed staircases and glass partitions which separate some of the private and public spaces on the first floor.
Whilst hosting a number of service functions the original sense of space has been retained by the use of glass balustrades and the design revolving around the double height central space.
The library and visitor information services are currently temporarily housed in the old tourist information building at Wentworth Car Park. They will close there on 2nd January 2017, when staff will start work on moving books and services back into the new space.
The Council’s customer information centre at Hadrian House on Market Street will close for the last time at 5pm on Thursday 11th January, so the service can start the move to the Queen’s Hall.
The new services in the Queen’s Hall are then all scheduled to open to the public on Monday 15th January.
Cllr Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism at Northumberland County Council said:
“I am extremely pleased that this iconic space will soon re-open to the public, after an extensive improvement scheme.
“A much loved facility for the town, it will now provide a number of key services all under one roof. Residents will be able to access services and find the answers to a range of questions about the council all in one place.
“We know that the new year may be a little later than some were expecting for the re-opening - however I know that all of the teams wished to ensure that preparations are not rushed - and that we can provide first class services from day one.”
Geof Keys from Queen’s Hall Arts added:
“We look forward to the library returning and to welcoming new services and users to the building. This development will further strengthen our aim of being a cultural hub for all of the local community.”