Maindee Library: Welcome Back/Welcome Mat

27/11/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library

This blog post is one part of a long overdue progress report. A substantial amount of time has passed since our last update; since the library re-inhabited 79 Chepstow Road, from our temporary home at Holbrook’s, back in June.

Changes have taken place both internally and externally, and over the next few weeks I will be sharing what has been happening.


Preparing to Re-inhabit Maindee Library

25/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Community, Library

Many people have found a home at Maindee Library and have missed the space during its closure. Thankfully the contractors So Exclusive will take away their tools at the start of June and the community will begin to re-inhabit Maindee Library. This blog article gives an idea of the changes that we can expect to see - such as fluted glass in the image below - and how the personal touches to this community building will be made over the summer.

Starting in June we have a range of art and design workshops - from product to interiors and mosaics - as we add personality to the space. Between 10am and 12 midday on Saturday June 2nd product designer David Henshall introduces the work to customise the library shelving system; 3pm-5pm on Monday 11 June architect George Lovesmith helps us plan flooring and fittings and on Wednesday 13 June artist Stephanie Roberts starts her library residency.

In this blog article we give you a guided tour of the spaces in the building. We connect these spaces with the opportunities to add what our art projects have found in Maindee!

Investing in Maindee Library’s Shelving

18/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Learning, Library

We are about to make a series of investments in the fixtures and fittings in the main reading room at Maindee Library. As a place which holds a collection of books we are pleased that the first things to happen is an improvement to the shelves!

As with the spirit of the work done to the building so far, we are looking to create some new and functional from what is there already: we are going to ‘hack’ the current system with an elegant design - see image above - inspired by a group of Cardiff University Architecture Students. This blog explains the process of working with the student group and what happens next.

Maindee Library Refresh Progress 17 May

17/05/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library

The contract with So Exclusive reached a major milestone this week: the photo below captures the moment when the first pane of glass was placed into the roof above our meeting room.

As explained in the last blog post on 11 May, our new meeting room has been created by knocking the old toilet and boiler room through into what used to be the kitchen. We think everyone will be pleased with the personality and elegance of the small spaces in our building - especially as they used to be such dingy rooms.

This blog article gives a little bit more information on the small spaces within the library and the features that we expect to offer.

Progress for Refresh at Maindee Library

11/05/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library

Over the past couple of months So Exclusive Developments have taken charge of the library building and made some big improvements and changes. Their focus has been on the small spaces which support the functionality of the library; the main changes to the main reading room will involve library volunteers, artists and makers and will start again in June 2018.


So Exclusive have now nearly finished all the work to construct and fit out the new meeting room [where the old toilet and kitchen used to be]; they have created a new kitchen space [where the old meeting room was] and made two new toilets in the space between kitchen and meeting room. To service the whole building the electrical systems have been updated, the boiler has been replaced, new radiators installed throughout and the main room has been insulated ready for the colder months.

This blog article provides some photos of the work carried out and also gives a taster of what will happen during the summer months as we go back into the building.

Library Refresh about to get real!

29/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Library

This week we will receive quotations from contractors to carry out the first phase of works to the building. With a written proposal we will then be in a situation to enter a contract for the work; gone will be the big questions about how long the work will take and how much it will cost. 

Contractor visit Maindee Library

This blog is essentially a diary entry written before the big event. We explain some detail about the Arts Council of Wales' socially-engaged process which got us to this stage and some of the challenges which we have confronted - or maybe about to properly face...

Tricia Takes Over!

27/10/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library

From November 2017 Tricia Rogers will be in charge of the rota which organises the library volunteers. She will follow Kim Lambert who has given her time to do the work for the past two years.

Tricia takes over

Typically there are about 20 different people who volunteer at the library each week and roughly 6 different volunteer shifts every day. This blog article gives a little background on how Tricia got involved and what she gets from being involved in the library...


Student Group helps us Test, Cook & Serve

17/10/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library

We are very pleased that four architecture students from UWE in Bristol are getting involved with our project. The group of four postgraduate students - Sammy, Verity, Matt and Brad - will help us design a food and drink serving counter for the library.

Test Cook Serve Team

We want something that could be moved around the building and even taken outside. They have until November 16th to develop and produce their ideas and you will first have the chance to meet them at Library soup event from 4pm on Wednesday 25th October. This blog article gives some background on what they are doing and why it is valuable to our work and also for their learning.


Celebrating Maindee Unlimited at the 2017 AGM

30/09/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library

Another year in the history of Maindee Unlimited, the charity which supports the library, was celebtrated on the evening of Monday September 2017. This meeting was both a chance to present the year to date, including the finances, and also to hear from some other groups in Newport that are taking on creative community-led projects: the Cwtsh and Le Public Space.

 Maindee Unlimited AGM 2017

This blog provides some detail about the evening, with links to the other presentations.

Maindee Library Refresh - Can you Help?

07/09/2017 | Development & Building, Library

We are looking for reliable local trades people and contractors, to carry out the refurbishment works at Maindee Library.  If you can help or know a trade who can, please complete the questionnaire.

Evaluation of Finding Maindee

04/09/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Learning, Library

On Monday 4th we welcomed Endaf Griffiths from Wavehill Consulting to the library for discussion about evaluation; how we are gathering data and how we learn. We had a diverse range of views and perspectives at the meeting, including from PhD researcher Eugene Dubens, Maindee Unlimited trustee Angela Lloyd, artist Stephanie Roberts and somebody quite new to the library Kay Flatten.

Stephanie Roberts and Kay Flatten

This blog article explains the conversation we had and gives an approach to project evaluation. We provide some detail about how we are gathering data and reflecting on practice as we: (1) develop capital projects such as work to Maindee Library; (2) work individuals and organisations as part of our monthly gatherings and running projects such as through New Paths; and (3) how we are learning by doing.

Getting views first changes to Maindee Library

30/08/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library

To accompany our latest film [see below] about the library makeover this blog gives a bit more detail about the options that we have for the small spaces within the library.

Maggie Kim film August 2017

Our architects Sarah and George have looked at different options for the small spaces at the library. Their thinking centres on what people have told us from the questionnaire: a need for better toilet facilities and an attractive meeting space. We now have two main options.

With both options we move the toilets away from their current location at the back of the space and towards the middle. We can therefore make the most of the natural light which comes from the street [via a new opening off the lobby] and light to the rear by creating a new window at the back. 

A key feature of both the options is that they enable these Small Spaces to be rented out independent of the main library space, without compromising privacy [such as for the Road to Wellbeing sessions on Wednesday evenings] or security of the PCs and so on. 

First Phase of Library Makeover

23/08/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library

Thanks for spending time giving us your thoughts and ideas this summer. Maggie and Kim have gathered your questionnaires about the library over July and August and group of library volunteers also had the chance to be architects. Our paid architects have used all these ideas to propose a first phase of works.

We have now defined the first phase of the work to the library: this will concentrate on what we call the small spaces to renovate the toilets, backroom spaces and the meeting room that we hire out. We will also find a more efficient way to heat and cool the building. It will take some time this autumn to get the necessary approval from building control and to find the right contractors. We will get the work done this winter.

Library spaces

This blog article gives background on how we have made these decisions to form this first phase. We explain here how we will develop incrementally, as per the Ideas: People: Places thinking of our principal funders the Arts Council of Wales, to test our ideas as we going along and make changes to the building bit by bit. After the small spaces the other stages of the project will include the main library space, what we call the building envelope [windows and external doors], works to the space in front of the building and a dedicated space for children.

Becoming an Architect!

02/08/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library

On the evening of Tuesday 1st August a group of 12 people involved in Maindee Library were given the chance to be architects. We put on hard hats and made some real progress to understand budgeting, particularly the overheads, but we did get to feel how we can all be deal brokers and decision makers. 

 You be the architect!

The session was hosted by Rosie Poebright, who created a game which put paper money in our hands, and was assisted by George Lovesmith [pictured above left] who is our real life architect. This blog article takes us through the games that we played and how it really helped to build enthusiasm and momentum for the task that we are currently on.

Maindee Library Refresh 2017-2018

26/07/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library

On Thursday 27th July we will host the first of the sessions where Maggie and Kim [pictured left and right below] meet the community who use the library.

Maggie and Kim at the Library

This blog post explains the story of Maindee library and the work to refresh the fabric of the building between autumn 2017 and summer 2018. We tell the story of how the library is run by volunteers and how it functions financially by income earned from room rentals. We also explain how much money we are planning to spend and why we are giving a priority to creative initiatives within the process.

Maindee library is having a make over. Maggie and Kim need your input.

11/07/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Library


Maindee library is having a makeover. We would really like to know your views in order to help this process.

We have attached a simple questionnaire for your consideration and would appreciate it if you return your responses to us by the 31st July 2017 

Should you wish to discuss your thoughts face to face. Volunteers at the library would be more than happy to meet with you. If you have further questions please contact Maggie and Kim. 01633 309443 or email or our Facebook page


10/07/2017 | New Paths, Arts, Community, Library



How Maindee's Community will shape Art & Architecture in the Library

10/07/2017 | New Paths, Arts, Development & Building, Community, Library

We are starting to plan how the Maindee community will shape the artistic and architectural changes which support the refurbishment and re-alignment of the library building.
Over July 2017 library volunteers Maggie and Kim will be leading the conversation where we find out what people want from the space. From August we will start working more closely with artists and makers to try out practical and creative ideas. By the end of summer the pratical and creative should start to come together and the first set of changes should start to appear.
Start of timeline
For a recap on architects Sarah Hollingworth and George Lovesmith and their approach to 'playful provocations', 'invitations to collaborate' and 'practical infrastructure' [as pictured above] please read this blog article from earlier in the summer.
Please read on to find out about the approach that we plan to take and how to get involved.

Celebrating the Healing Words Project in Maindee

17/06/2017 | Arts, Community, Library

On Tuesday 13th June we had a powerful and enjoyable evening which concluded the Gwent Arts in Health creative writing sessions held at Llyfrgell Maindee Library during May 2017: the Healing Words project.

The session was introduced by Mike Church and was a chance for members of the writing group to read out some of their own work. We also heard from other Newport poets and were able to connect with other people in south Wales doing pioneering work with community building.

Healing Words Maindee Library June 2017

We are grateful to Sarah Goodey from Gwent Arts in Health for managing this work in the library and also for sourcing the funding and other support from the Gwanwyn FestivalLiterature Wales and Newport Live. This blog article provides some reflections on the evening.

Sounds of Maindee - New Project

23/03/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Library

New Paths is pleased to say that Robert Smith (sound recordist and photographer) is embarking on a new project called ‘Sounds of Maindee’. The project will be looking at ways to archive existing work and how to make it available to the community.

Also Robert will be working on collaborations with other artists such as Operasonic, Rohan Bishop, Ismael Velasco and others. His role would be to support their individual visions and apply his skills towards their projects. Contributions start with the Sounds Alive Chepstow Road event on the 22nd of April and the Operasonic performance of Newport Legends at the Riverfront on Sunday July 2nd.

Sounds of Maindee

Looking forward at Maindee Library

05/02/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community, Library

On Saturday 4 February 2017 a wide group of the library volunteers, trustees of Maindee Unlimited and staff got together to discuss the past, present and future of Maindee Library as a community-run space.

Huw Meredydd Owen's model of Maindee Library

As Maindee is part of the Arts Council of Wales [ACW] programme called ‘Ideas: People: Places’ we are encouraged to explore how spaces are used. For example, we will be able to bring in a designer to help us shape the future of the space based on the uses and the people who make it work. This is a very rare opportunity and we are even more fortunate to have some funding from ACW and others to turn our plans into reality. The work to the building will most likely be carried out between autumn 2017 and finish in March 2018.

This blog article recalls the experience of the workshop on Saturday and the start of exciting plans for the next year or so!

Understanding heating (and cooling) a little better

31/01/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library

At this time of the year [i.e. winter] we know that the library takes about 2 hours to heat up in the morning. One of our volunteers has to come in at about 8am so that the building is ready for the public for opening at 10am. We have realised that this is not a sustainable way of heating the space...

Aircon outside units

This little blog article explains something about the advice we got from Lyn Jeffries at local firm Phoenix Aircon about how we could better heat and cool the building. It was a fascinating visit and we finally got to understand what those boxes [pictured above] on the outside of buildings actually do: they both heat and cool spaces.

Read more to find out what this means for the library and many other similar community spaces...

Maindee Stories Opens this Friday, 21st 5-8.30pm

18/10/2016 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Maindee Voices, Community, Learning, Library

Come along and see the extraordinary textile work from the women from Community House's 'Coffee and Laughs' group with members of  Beechwood Stitchers led by fine artist Marion Cheung. Included in the show are books that show the design process and the ideas that went into the work. Show runs until 11th November. There is so much to see!

Volunteering at Maindee Library - can you help?

21/09/2016 | Development & Building, Community, Library

Over the 11 months since re-opening Llyfrgell Maindee Library+ has so far seen 50 people giving up their free time to help continue the library service and a further 27 people have shown interest.

In this article volunteer Kim Lambert explains what volunteers do and why we are always looking for new people to come forward.

Volunteering at Maindee Library


Finding Maindee by learning from other places

04/08/2016 | Finding Maindee, Community, Learning, Library

Much of our work is located at Maindee Library on Chesptow Road. Like all libraries Maindee is part of a network of public resources which help us to understand and interpret the past: alongside archives like in Ebbw Vale and Newport's Museum and Art Gallery.

Through Finding Maindee we have the opportunity to find new ways of working and so understand how people sense and explore their heritage and history throughout their life-course – that’s to say chart where they live through photos like the ones on our Facebook page, through the 1985 Maindee Book and more recently with the different art projects that we are doing in 2016 [such as the tapestry].

Behind the scenes Big Pit

Time and technology moves on and we want to explore ways to keep accounts of our lives, such as the digital collection People's Collection Wales.. This summer we took the time to visit an award-winning museum to see how it explores history.

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