30 October 2009


  • Inspire Partnership chosen to redevelop Liverpool Central Library
  • Historic building to undergo £50m transformation
  • Work will start in 2010 and be completed in 2012
  • First images and a DVD fly-through available for media

ONE of the biggest library redevelopments in the UK has moved a major step closer.

Liverpool City Council has chosen Inspire Partnership for the £50 million Liverpool Central Library and Archive PFI contract, following an exhaustive Europe-wide search for a blue chip development partner.

The successful contractor - which beat off competition from three other short listed organisations - is a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure / and Shepherd Construction.

Today, the first stunning images of the new-look building were released and it was announced that work is due to start next summer.

Central Library – which is located in the heart of Liverpool’s cultural quarter on William Brown Street - has gradually fallen into disrepair over many decades. It suffers from damp and a leaking roof.

Under the scheme, the Grade II listed parts of the building which date back to 1850, including the façade and famous Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading Rooms, will be restored to their former glory.

The sections behind the façade which were built in the 1950s and 1970s following World War Two bomb damage will be demolished and rebuilt to make the most of the available space. The new library will be open and inviting giving the public access to enhanced facilities in a landmark building.

Council leader Warren Bradley said: “This is the biggest ever single investment in the city’s library service and will create a stunning building the whole city can be proud of.

“A tremendous amount of work has gone into getting to this stage and the Project Board looked extremely carefully at each of the bids before making a recommendation.

“This scheme will enable us to upgrade and restore the much loved historic parts of the building, creating a first-class 21st century facility which is right at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter.

“It will transform Central Library into a place where reading and learning is exciting and stimulating, and provide a new home for books, which will remain at the heart of the service.”

The project will include a new home for the Liverpool Record Office which will house some of the city’s most historic treasures from the last 800 years - such as the original 1207 charter - in purpose built secure, climate controlled storage.

There will also be state-of-the-art IT facilities which will allow young people to download music and games onto MP3 and MP4 players, with wi-fi and access to computers.


The new look library will also include:

  • New entrance to main library, including front and rear access
  • Re-opening of historic internal entrances to the Picton Reading Room
  • Five new floors with capacity for 20 years of new archive space
  • New light well’s at front and rear to naturally light library
  • New conservation studio for repairs to the city’s masterpieces
  • Dedicated room to John James Audubon’s Birds of America
  • New rooftop terrace overlooking St. John’s Gardens
  • Better access including escalators, lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and café
  • Re-opening of International Library, to original design, as a new children’s zone
  • Doubling the number of public computers

The building is due to close in June 2010, and will take three months to empty completely before construction work commences.

Joyce Little, Head of Liverpool’s Libraries and Information Service, said: “The historic parts of the building are magnificent, and this scheme will enable us to restore them to their former glory.

“The two redevelopments that took place after the Second World War do not fit together very well and it is hard for people to find their way around the building.

“This much-needed scheme gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the building into one of the best libraries in the country.

“I am delighted with the quality of the successful bid, and we are now preparing in earnest to empty the building and move the project forward.”

Mike Leto from Inspire Partnership said: “The Inspire Partnership team is truly proud to have been awarded this opportunity to deliver a world class library experience for the City of Liverpool and to contribute an outstanding feature of historical, aesthetic and cultural importance to the Liverpool landscape.”

A full planning application will be made on November 23 and a four week public consultation event will be held in Central Library throughout December.



  • Liverpool Central Library archives include millions of unique items ranging from letters from Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Disraeli, Gladstone, Florence Nightingale and George Stephenson to a recently re-discovered schoolboy essay by Paul McCartney.
  • The foundation stone for Central Library was laid in 1852, and it was one of the first public libraries in the country.
  • Former staff include writer Ramsey Campbell and former Coronation Street star Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden).
  • The Library owns one of the few publicly available copies of John James Audubon's famous Birds of America books.


  • Images and a fly through of the new library are available free of charge from the Newscentre.

For further information please contact Mike Doran, Liverpool City Council news officer, on 0151 225 2611 or 07740 918615

For further information from Liverpool, please visit www.liverpool.gov.uk

Back to press releases