At the beginning of the week I met with Jan Wilkinson (University Librarian and Director of The John Rylands Library) as part of my formal welcome to the Library. The effort that goes into the induction process for new Library staff is fantastic and being given the opportunity to meet with Jan, hear about her ambitions for the Library and being asked to share our own views was also very encouraging.
As I mentioned last week, we are currently in the process of refining some of the finer details around key areas of the Main Library Redevelopment, from wayfinding and signage to interior finishes and joinery. As part of this work I have been spending some time with Jonathan Minshull (Head of Catering Operations, Catering) in order to assess how we should configure the proposed new café and improve on our current storage arrangements. I have visited a number of other catering outlets in the University and have spoken with staff about what works best for them and any lessons they have learnt along the way. Next week we start our consultation on the café menu offer, so if you’re in the Library keep your eyes peeled as Martin Smith (Executive Head Chef, Catering) will be on hand with a variety of food and drink for you to sample and critique.
The Main Library is a complex building and one of the most challenging aspects of the Redevelopment is to reconfigure the space in order to incorporate services that will move in once the Joule Library has closed. In the Blue Basement, for example, we need to ensure best use of the area for services and teams that require access to the service yard and lifts. Andrzej Stawiarz (Deputy Building Superintendent, House Services) and I have subsequently spent several hours examining floor plans of the area and exploring the labyrinth that is the Library’s basement in order to draw up some possibilities for improving on the architect’s current plans. Hopefully we have arrived at a very useful solution and we look forward to presenting this to the design team.
The Main Library Redevelopment will also provide significantly improved staff areas. These spaces will be fitted out with brand new furniture including desks, chairs and storage and this week we are opening up the trial furniture space for all Library staff to visit. Library staff will be able to find details about this on the Library intranet. It’s crucial that we have as much input into the project as possible and this is one exercise that we are very excited about delivering. We hope that Library staff will find this useful and we’re look forward to receiving their comments and feedback.
Although the majority of my time is spent focusing on the Redevelopment, I am also responsible for linking with the other Estates Masterplan projects that include Library or Library-related spaces. This includes MECD, Coupland 3, Alliance MBS and Fallowfield development. Although each project is being delivered in a different way and they are all at various stages in their development, I plan to become more involved in all of them over the next six months.
On Wednesday I had the opportunity to visit the Coupland 3 development and had a walk through the buildings with Mark Valentine (Capital Projects Manager, Estates). Mark was the project manager for the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and he has good knowledge of the Library, its significant role in the University and its service delivery. As the Coupland 3 development will contain Library related spaces, Mark and I are looking at how we can provide further input into the project. The Coupland 3 site (incorporating the Schunk Building) has been completely gutted, revealing a lot of the building’s original structure and architectural features. It was fascinating to walk through the spaces and see evidence across floors and walls where offices, rooms and partition walls had been added over time. It’s now very common to find redevelopment projects completing a full cycle of building adaptation, resulting in the spaces returning to their original structural design. I look forward to becoming more involved in this project.
No matter where your interests lie there’s something for everyone this weekend as Manchester offers up a feast of festivals. Manchester Literature Festival, Design Manchester, Homegrown Festival, Women in Comedy Festival, Northern Vegan Festival, A Carefully Planned Festival and Gatley Food and Drink Festival are all happening in and around Manchester so be sure to make the most of it.
Have a great weekend,
Mike Kelly (Library Space Project Manager)