Wednesday, July 16 - Pipeline plans to re-vamp Exeter Central Library

EXETER Central Library could become a major cultural centre for the South West once funds are secured.

EXETER Central Library could become a major cultural centre for the South West once funds are secured.

The vision for a new city library moves forward next week when Devon County Council and Exeter city councillors will visit the library to see the scope for the development.

Plans were announced in 2006 to create a centre on the site and the area surrounding the library in the city's Musgrave Row.

Inspired by initiatives in Swindon, Brighton, Norwich and Peckham, the plans capture the potential for libraries to take over a wider community role at the same time as remaining true to their core purpose of providing a free lending public service.

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Funding sources are currently being assessed.

The vision so far includes:

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* A landmark building enhancing the appearance of the area

* A modern extended library with extensive stocks of books, audio visual and other media, an information and study area, ICT and learning suite, a children's library and activity area, together with self issue and booking facilities, for people of all ages.

* Gallery and exhibition spaces for local and national temporary exhibitions which could be linked to national museums and galleries.

* A performance space for music, drama or literary events which would complement rather than compete with others in the city

* Customer service and information area

flexible meeting spaces and a café

Devon County Council leader Brian Greenslade will be meeting Devon County Council executive member for culture, councillor Sheila Hobden and Exeter City Council leader councillor Adrian Fullam next week to discuss the latest developments on the project.

They will all tour the library and talk to staff.

Councillor Brian Greenslade said: "This is an ambitious project which will provide dramatic enhancement to area. We are proud to be working together with Exeter City Council and a number of other organisations in the city to push this vision forward."

Exeter City Council Leader, Councillor Adrian Fullam, said: "We welcome the initiative. Investment in Exeter's city centre library demonstrates Devon County Council's commitment to making a real contribution to Exeter`s vision for the cultural quarter.

"This complements Exeter City Council`s £million investment in the museum and the ever growing activities of the Phoenix Arts Centre which we are pleased to support."

Exeter Central Library is the most popular in Devon and was designed nearly 50 years ago to replace the original building which was bombed in the war.

"Exeter Central Library is showing its age," said Councillor Sheila Hobden. "We could have planned a refurbishment but the availability of land in the area makes a new development a much more viable project. Exeter has grown significantly in recent times and the Princesshay development has really raised the bar in terms of the quality that people expect. We want to meet and exceed that challenge.

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