The Brief

Merthyr Tydfil Public Libraries opened their first co-located libraries at Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre around four years ago. The Central Library in Merthyr is still a busy, bustling location but, developments to the town centre meant that customers were finding it increasingly difficult to access the services. The idea to reinvigorate the café area of the Leisure Centre and provide added value for users was born.

A very small library offering was trialled at the Leisure Centre and it soon became apparent that there was huge scope to develop this more recreational reading offer. A successful MALD grant bid provided the opportunity to fully refurbish the space, making it light, bright and very appealing to users of both the Library and Leisure Centre facilities.

The Solution

FG Library & Learning created a winning design that recognised the more leisure-orientated nature of the space which includes Landscape library shelving, a funky StoryWall in the children’s area, café-style tables and chairs and quiet seating booths with power for laptops and tablets. Given that the variety of soft seating would be used as part of the café area as well as the library, seats were upholstered in stylish stain-repellent and waterproof Halcyon fabric, which is also anti-microbial and bleach-cleanable so ideal for areas that require extra protection.

This brand new, co-located facility has expanded services into the community, making them more accessible and although the library is staffed for 24 hours per week, it is open through self-service from 6.00am to 10.00pm every day.

Initial studies show visitor figures have increased by 139%, and user comments have been incredibly positive. According to Principal Librarian, Jane Sellwood, the benefits of the new facility are already being felt. One customer reported that following a recent accident she struggled to access the town centre but was able to attend physiotherapy sessions in the pool, then grab a coffee, visit the library to choose books and chat, all of which has improved her social life and well being immensely.

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