Wow. From the first moment I stepped into Manchester Central Library I was impressed. I visited another English city’s central library recently and they said, with a wistful look in their eyes: “If only we could become like Manchester Central Library”. Now I know why.
The beauty of libraries – like all UK online centres – is their diversity; the frustration is … their diversity. However, that long list of things that some libraries want to be or that some libraries want do, Manchester Central Library ticks them all.
- An impressive space, well used. ü
- A blend of old, heritage spaces and modern services enabled and enhanced by technology. ü
- A virtual archive wall, designed for co-use by young and old people together. ü
- A bustling cafe embedded amongst the digital archives. (Including all maps now digitised.) ü
- A business library and support service for businesses. ü
- A music library where you’re encouraged to be noisy. ü
- 3D printing facilities. ü
- Lots and lots of people using it. ü(5 million people a day)
- A media lab with a weekly session for teenagers to learn coding. ü
- Drop in support for basic digital skills. ü
- Human beings smiling and helping. ü
Our Digital Libraries Hub (#digilibraries) is becoming the virtual place to go to talk about digital inclusion and libraries. And later next month I’ll be talking about the role of community assets – such as public libraries and the community centres in the UK online centres network – in deploying digital to tackle social challenges.
In the meanwhile, if you find yourself in Manchester, do pop into the Central Library, as I think you’ll say “wow!”