It is great news that the Hereford Library building on Broad Street has at last reopened its doors to the public, after a longer-than-expected process of cleaning out its old asbestos.
The even better news is that the new library space looks terrific, as I discovered when I visited it the other day. The ceiling has been raised and new lighting added, there is a new suite of computers which local people can use for free, while WISH (Wellbeing Information and Signposting for Herefordshire) is now also operating out of the library.
It is a very light and attractive space, which has obviously got off to a great start, and was bustling with energy and enthusiasm.
The cleaning and refitting process not been an easy one, and congratulations are in order to all those involved, especially the Library Service and Herefordshire Council, who have also provided a pop-up service in the Town Hall. By far the largest group of active borrowers are children aged 5-9 years old, followed by adults between 65 and 69; this really is a public service that spans the generations.
But now we need to focus on the future. This is just the first phase of a series of planned improvements. During my visit the library staff were kind enough to show me some of the further space they are hoping to open upstairs, which has beautiful industrial iron beams and corbels. There is huge potential there.
However, the Broad Street building houses just part of the county-wide Library Service, and it is also home to the Hereford Museum and Gallery, and the Woolhope Room, headquarters of the amazing Woolhope Club, which has been exploring every aspect of Herefordshire’s history and natural landscape since 1851.
With the active support and co-operation of all these groups, there are some very interesting exciting proposals in the pipeline to renew the building as a whole, under the umbrella of the 31 Broad Street Project Group.
More details are at http://www.31broadstreet.org.uk. Why not get involved and give them your support? Or drop by and visit the Museum and Art Gallery? Their exhibition to celebrate the life and work of the brilliant Herefordshire artist Brian Hatton is running till March 25th. Whether you’re out shopping or out with the kids over half term, it’s all well worth a visit.