Community council told library is short of space and must expand to cope with books

OPTIONS for returning the library service to its former premises on the Lower Hillhead were put before Lerwick Community Council this week.

A lack of space in the existing premises at St Ringan’s means 60 per cent of its books are being held in storage and library manager Silvija Crook told members in the Town Hall on Monday that more room would allow the library to get “the vast majority” of its stock on display.

Neil Clubb, of the SIC’s capital programme service, said his de­partment’s feasibility study was looking at several different options for the library service. Refurbishing the existing old library and museum building is one option, while a refurbishment along with an addition of two single story extensions is another.

“The initially early sketch proposals highlight only the pos­sible scale and outline of extensions that might be achieved given the limited area within this restricted site,” said Mr Clubb. “Any potential refurbishment or extension of the building will require careful de­tailing and specification of qual­ity materials as discussed with planning.”

In 2002, the library moved into the former United Free Church at St Ringan’s at a cost of £1.2m, but within days of opening the new library attracted criticism for its lack of space for books. It was agreed last year that the council would examine ways of refurbishing and extended the old library centre, which could cost over £2m.

A recent consultation identified the need for, among other things, better study space within the library.

Community councillor Billy Stove said it made a lot of sense to have everyone within the library service in Lerwick working under one roof.

He also suggested either giving St Ringan’s back to the community or even turning it into a council chamber and “getting this shower [the councillors] out of here”.

Councillor Jonathan Wills said it seemed like a “very sensible” plan to sort out the mess created the last time the council tried to resolve library provision in the town.

“I think it should go ahead when we have the money,” he said, adding in the current financial circum­stances he was not optimistic that it would happen any time soon. The different options for refurbish­ment are ex­pect­ed to go before the council later this year, although with a congested capital programme it may face delays.


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