Investigations and Consultations

When people ask me “why do you enjoy working in facilities?” the answer is usually “because of the variety of things that can happen” and this week has been the perfect example of this.

The Main Library is a large and complex building and in undertaking such an extensive project as the Main Library Redevelopment, a huge range of preparation work is required. Many aspects of this work are undertaken by specialist contractors and, in my role as Library Space Project Manager, I’m able to observe a wide range of technical operations being undertaken and to learn from a number of disciplines. In this sense, I feel very lucky about the opportunities for continual development that the role entails.

I observed a smoke test carried out in Green 2 which is a useful procedure for understanding what hidden cavities and passageways are present within a space. In the Library’s case we were able to get a better idea of what lies behind the shelving and modern partitions that comprise the group study rooms.

Old photo of Green Area, Main Library
Archive images of Green Area, Main Library

Claire Hughes (Manchester Doctoral College Manager) and I met and discussed the potential of developing postgraduate and researcher spaces in the Manchester Doctoral College and Main Library. Claire carried out a large consultation with postgraduates to help inform the development of the PGR Space that will form part of the new Coupland building. It was a great opportunity to learn from the findings of this consultation and to discuss how both projects will meet the needs of the people using them and complement each other.

We’ve just finished a communications plan that outlines the information we’ll be sharing with you next semester. In any project, effective and timely communication is critical in order to keep people informed of progress and to provide a two way communication channel. This is particularly crucial when the project involves one of the University’s most significant services, such as the Library. The plan will ensure that all stakeholders are clear about what to expect over the course of the Redevelopment.

I caught up with Jonathan Minshull (Head of Catering Operations) to look at the design of the café space in Main Library. Having recently visited other catering operations in similar facilities, we chatted about how best to utilise the space we have whilst ensuring an efficient service to customers through the most effective operating model. We had a good talk and I am very excited about the prospects that the new café will offer the Library and all its users.

We have also finalised a project proposal for the Manchester Business School MBA course whereby a range of students will support the Main Library Redevelopment by looking at our decant strategy and the associated risk management. This is a fantastic opportunity for the students to gain some real-world experience and I’m confident that the Library will get just as much out of this part of the project as the students will.

My highlight of the week was the second round of design presentations to staff, following on from the two successful dates in July. Once again, the presentations were well received and we had great feedback and input from a large number of staff. It was important to show how comments from the first presentations have already helped to shape both our current thinking and the design plans directly. Although we won’t be able to implement every idea, we are carefully considering every suggestion and comment made and we aim to respond to every one of them.

Design presentation
Design presentation

It’s the last bank holiday of the year and I hope you enjoy the extra-long weekend, whether you’ve got a busy three days planned or you’re simply looking forward to relaxing. If you’re going to be lounging on the sofa, why not visit the Manchester Museum’s Citizen Science website. This is a fantastic scheme which allows anyone to sign up and help to catalogue the Museum’s collection. I’m off to the Liverpool International Music Festival on Thursday evening to celebrate the life of Gil Scott Heron. As part of the event there will be speeches by Ndaba Mandela (the grandson of Nelson Mandela) and performances by Talib Kwali, Aswad, The Christians and Craig Charles. To follow on, I’ll be cheering Lancashire Lightning at the County Cricket finals day at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Saturday.

Until next week,

Mike Kelly, Library Space Project Manager

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