As is often the case with big projects, volumes of work can arrive in waves, and the past week has certainly been a fine example of this!
The last few weeks have seen the Main Library Redevelopment reviewed in line with the effects of a general rise in output within the construction industry. Following this, we’ve spent much of the past seven days reassessing our priorities for the Redevelopment to ensure that they underpin the decisions we take going forward. The variations in age, construction and condition between the building parts that make up Main Library also pose challenges to our aspirations of what purpose they need to fulfil now and in the future. We are very fortunate to have a wealth of experience across the entire Project Team (our colleagues in the Library, architects, Estates staff and specialist contractors to name a few) to help guide the decisions process.
Our priorities were discussed at the first Library Design Meeting of the year, attended by the Library Leadership Team, the Project Team and colleagues from Estates. We discussed the current status of the Redevelopment, outlined the issues and challenges across the building and identified key areas to focus on, in order for the architects to further develop the proposal (including provisional outcomes and timescales). We will be presented with this in a couple of weeks at the next Design Meeting.
Due to the current reassessment of the Redevelopment, we have ensured Library staff and colleagues are kept up to speed with developments through the timely release of information. This has been coordinated very successfully by Adam Cooper (Internal Communications Officer) with clear direction from Penny Hicks (Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications). Adam and I recently met with the Redevelopment Champions and gave them a deeper insight into the work continuing behind the scenes and answered some of the questions and queries that they had. Having looked at a range of other library redevelopment projects, we are also looking at opportunities to improve our communication plan.
I met with two colleagues who have been involved with a number of Library and Higher Education redevelopment projects last week and discussed lessons that had been learnt from similar projects to our own. We spent some time discussing the Lancaster and Hull projects. It was an extremely useful meeting. I believe it is crucial to take on board as much information as possible from other projects and use these to help guide your own decision making processes. I also met with Sue Hoskins (Library Development Project Client Lead, University of Salford), who will be embarking on a major refurbishment of their Library in the summer. I showed Sue our Main Library and discussed with her our challenges, and general design themes across many Higher Education libraries.
This week I will be visiting the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen. I am very privileged to be able to attend this Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries event; “University challenge: transforming your academic library”. I will be with a range of colleagues looking at the current status of library building and design, in particular focusing on the transformation of libraries to suit the needs of present and future users. There will be talks from Diane Bruxvoort (University Librarian and Director, University of Aberdeen), Alison Stevenson (Head of Learning Resources, Glasgow School of Art), and Susan Ashworth, (University Librarian of Glasgow University). I will also have the opportunity to tour the Sir Duncan Rice Library which has scooped both RIAS and RIBA awards since it opened in September 2012.
After the excitement of the Chinese New Year, February could be a month to explore some of the other delights around our great city. There is a great article by Grace Harding on The Idyll called “Taking time out in Manchester” which also features our very own The John Rylands Library. There is also a fascinating exhibition entitled “The Imitation Game” taking place at the Manchester Art Gallery until 5 June 2016, inspired by Alan Turing’s Turing Test.
I hope you have a nice week and thanks for reading,
Mike Kelly (Library Space Project Manager).