Sector: Cultural, Education
The design of Nuneaton library goes back to 1946 when the borough council decided that its bomb-damaged central area should be rebuilt to an overall master design prepared by Frederick Gibberd in association with the borough engineer. The area involved is about sixty acres and over the years the Borough kept steadfastly to the overall concept.
At the time the Council constructed a new by-pass road; laid out a central open space, called “The George Eliot Memorial Garden”; and built flats for which they won a housing medal; and other buildings such as offices and shops. The library was formally opened on 15th November 1962 and at the time a new police station and Magistrates’ Courts were also under construction.
The library is one of the key buildings in the civic group, having a prominent site adjacent to the parish church and the then new road system. All its facades are of equal importance, either as broad compositions seen from the new road or as intimate ones from the internal pedestrian system.
The library is designed as two distinct blocks, each performing a different function. The main building, which is the library proper, is a large rectangular, single-storey structure, accommodating the lending reference and other large rooms. Adjoining it is a two storey wing containing miscellaneous accommodation such as reading, lecture and staff rooms.
The main library was designed in collaboration with Mr. S. H. Barlow, the borough librarian. At the time it was accepted that there can be no finality in library accommodation and therefore the building was designed to give flexible accommodation, which can be varied as particular departments expand or contract. It is a large rectangle which is top lit and can be sub-divided on a 10 ft. square gird by demountable partitions or book cases, as desired.
At the time of opening the partitions define three main types of floor area: the general library reference, reference library and special collection and, in addition, there are music and picture libraries which were expanding. At the hub of these Spaces is an enquiry area which is open in appearance so that the staff are not remote from the public and which extends into the working side of the library.
Externally the building consists of stone-faced concrete piers alternating with windows, which are carried to the ground so that the library’s activities can be seen from the outside. Above this wall and window system is a deep frieze faced with light grey mosaic and pierced by semi-circular clerestory windows, which form an unbroken rhythm round the whole building. On the entrance front the semi-circular windows are projected forward in the form of barrel vaults over the metal and glass entrance lobby.