As you may already know, the Library space at One Birdcage Walk is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment and will relaunch as the Library and Members’ Hub in September. Work began on 22nd July, so we thought it was time to give you an update and a peek behind-the-scenes.

Impression - Members Hub
Artist’s impression

The project aims to retain and enhance the feel and features of the Library as first conceived in the late 19th century while upgrading the facilities to suit the requirements of 21st century Members. This will include free Wi-Fi, coffee and printing (as before) but with all-new furniture to facilitate ad-hoc meetings and increased plug-in desk availability. The new set-up will be flexible so that the Library can be used more easily for evening events after it closes.

Front section: White ceiling before gold is added.

While extensive works began in late July, improvements have been ongoing since May. These commenced with the installation of new heating/cooling units. Members (and staff!) have already been feeling the benefit. The Central Library Office has been glassed in, with open double doors to welcome enquirers, borrowers and archival users. We’re currently awaiting our “manifestation”, which will make the glass appear frosted with a design based on the ironwork of the balconies that surround the Library (and hide some of the less attractive office equipment behind it).

ceiling painting
Repainting gold details on the Jacobean-style ceiling

There has been some disruption for onsite users (noise and reduced space) but the Library has remained open throughout, with online access and enquiry response unaffected. We’ve even managed to continue to provide postal loans thanks to some intrepid Library staff venturing under the enormous tarpaulins. We will be closing for just one day (Friday 16th August) while the Library is transferred to the Council Room (next door) temporarily, accompanied by the historic models which are contained within it. We’ll be based in the Council Room until the flooring works have been completed, which should be in early September.

Once the floor has dried and the new furniture has arrived and been installed we’ll be ready to welcome IMechE members to the new Library and Members’ Hub (and members of the public by appointment). Come and see us from Monday 16th September, or pop back here for another update once work has been completed.

Library, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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