Preparing to Re-inhabit Maindee 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!



The lobby has changed a lot. There are now two doors as you come into the building: one to the left which takes you into the main reading room and another which takes you into the new kitchen. The second door uses an existing opening as the builders found the remains of an old doorway - see image below - from when the time when library was Maindee’s fire station.

The floor in the lobby has been levelled and there will soon be a coir mat. A new feature for the lobby will be a blackboard for writing notices - including what's cooking in the kitchen. The old notice board will be placed on the wall to the right hand side.

The other noticeable feature is the colour scheme being used throughout the building. The walls are a light grey / silvery colour and the doors are painted a bright canary yellow: see in the image below the final coat right and left and the undercoat in the middle. This selection of colours is based on Dave Wakeley signs and will be repeated throughout the building.


The kitchen can be accessed from the lobby and the main reading room. Soon this space will be complete with metal worktop surfaces, sinks, taps and kitchen equipment such as the fridge/freezer, dishwasher and oven. Straight away we will be able to make a cup of tea or coffee and do the washing up.

In the later weeks of June we will be fitting wall shelves and buying the equipment for the long term catering operation. John Hallam is the architect of this plan and is keen that a collection of brightly-coloured boxes [for food supplies and other cooking ingredients] stand out against the stainless steel shelves.

Meeting Room

Since last blog article So Exclusive have finished the painting and installed the fluted glass windows in the partition walls - see image below. Aacme Glazing tell us that this type of glazing has only been available again from Pilkington Glass after not being produced by for about 10 years. The library is therefore on the upward curve of fashion.

We feel that this has become a very special space with some interesting angles and plenty of light coming in. There is now a fitted plug extension which retracts from the ceiling and we have purchased some stylish tables and chairs.

The toilets bring the space up to modern standards with one accessible toilet that includes grab rails, alarms and a baby changing facility.


Main Reading Room

You will notice that the long side walls of the main reading room is being repainted in the same scheme as the rest of the space - see image below. There will be some colourful new items for the children's library which our librarian Amanda Wicks has wanted for ages. The children's area remains at the back of the building.

There are also improvements to functional things such as the new radiators, fire alarm system, emergency lighting and things which you cannot see - such as the Rockwool insulation in the ceiling.

What you will recognise from before is the same blue carpet, same welcome desk and the same furniture and fittings. This is intentional as the plan has always been to design this space with the library volunteers and wider community. The first to change starts on Saturday 2nd June with a drop-in session with product designer David Henshall as he finalises designs for the shelving system. More about this work on our blog.

The re-designed shelves - see image above - will bring a lot of natural wood into the space and help us decide on the look and feel for floor cover, blinds and other fittings. We bring back architect George Lovemsith for a workshop session on Monday 11th June - 3pm to 5pm to help plan this work.

The next addition is the creative team will be artist Stephanie Roberts who joins us from Wednesday 13th June. Steph will run a residency through to the end of June and will help us bring detail to different parts of the building.

In July we will see a more significant change to the main space when the new windows to the front and rear will be installed as well as a replacement sky light.

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