First Phase of Library Makeover

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.

What did we learn from the questionnaires?

First of all it is worth saying these surveys were worth doing, so thanks to everyone who entered their comments and thanks to everybody who encouraged others to fill them in.

We received both some very detailed reponses and some that were very direct and to the point. We were also really pleased with the representation, approximately half came from people who are library users, a quarter were our library volunteers and nearly a quarter were agencies and individuals who hire the meeting room or the main space. We are happy that the representation is not biased.

A lot of useful feedback came from the people who regularly use the meeting spaces, such as for the baby clinic and the counselling. Though they like the friendly atmosphere that volunteers create in the library, they said that the space could do with being updated and that the toilet is not well-located. From the library volunteers we got the feeling that storage is lacking and that the heating systems needs to be improved. We also had a lot of interest in the outdoor space in front of the library and strong support for developing a space for children. 

One of the questions we asked was about disrupting the library - or closing it altogether during the changes. The majority would ideally like the library to keep going or for services to be relocated. We have therefore decided to have a distinct first phase of work to what we call small spaces [see below]. We hope that this will will not be too disruptive to the main library space.

In terms of communication we also learned that people were happy to see updates on social media such as Facebook. We also noted that the outside of the building could be better used to promote what it going on. And to tell people that this is a library!


First phase - changes to the small spaces and services

Over the next week we will provide more detail about this first set of tasks. In brief we will be looking to improve the spaces next to the main room, to include the toilet, storage space, kitchen and the space that we rent out. Our architects George and Sarah will be making detailed drawings, getting building regulations and getting ready to seek quote. As part of this work the heating could be modified to make it more efficient or changed altogether. We aim to get this work underway from the autumn.

We have some specific questions about the layout of these small spaces. In brief there is one option to have the meeting room at the quiet end of the building, where the toilet is now, or a second option for the meeting room to broadly remain where it is now. Next week we will present some drawings to illustrate.


Helping us to find contractors

We have never taken on such a project before and we are not known by local builders and contractors like plumbers, electricians and so on.

If you have any recommendations then please send them to Sheena on


The other phases

These are most likely to be the other focuses in the library building.

Main Spaces

Most likely this will include the main space within the library and to include shelving and equipment. We will also look at windows and doors. Some good ideas came through about a cafe within the main space, so we will start to trial ideas with the cafe in the autumn and furniture in the winter before signing off and seeking quotes from contractors and makers.

An area for children

Maindee Library has always had space for children. Since being run by volunteers we have added regular craft activities and there is a specific book section. We will look to invest some money in this space.

Outside spaces

There was a lot of interest in improving the outside space. We hope to develop growing areas, include some seating and also new signage.


Lots going on at the moment. We will keep you updated on progress.


Related Links

Having the chance to be architects on August 1st

The inspiration from our funders at the Arts Council of Wales

Send Sheena contractor recommendations to

Share on Social Media

Posts Archive

Page 1 of 15  >  >>

Blog Categories

Supported by:

Lottery Funded Logo Garfield Weston Logo Esmee Fairbairn Logo Arts Council Wales Logo Lottery Funded Logo Lottery Funded Logo