Blackburn Central Library boss Kath Sutton is excited about the £2 million ‘back to the future’ transformation of her workplace to its original 1930 architectural glory.
While the inside continues its transformation to an online information hub as well as store of thousands of books, this week the 1970’s crumbling concrete facade started to be taken off.
In 18-months the building will return to the landmark it was in 1930 when the Blackburn Co-op Emporium opened as the town’s premier department store with everything from men’s tailoring through ladies fashion, groceries, and hardware to a ballroom and restaurant.
Mrs Sutton, a Librarian since 1980 and working in the Northgate building since 1996, said: “I am really excited.
“It’s going to be a really impressive and beautiful building balancing together the town’s heritage with a modern community hub which holds not just a storehouse of books but a whole lot of other things.
“It should attract people in.
“Being a librarian is very different from when I started - livelier, more interesting, more varied and noisier.
“The ‘Shush culture’ is gone but we have a lovely quiet area where people can study or just read in comfort.
“We do a lot to bring children in and foster a love of literature.
“We are constantly working to provide 21st century services but our main business is still books.”
Mrs Sutton admitted to a steady fall in loans of books from 168,950 enquiries and 430,373 loans in 2009-2010 to 130,350 enquiries and 257,092 loans in 2012-2013 but said: “I think it’s well worth spending the money. It will be fantastic and secure the future of a really important part of Blackburn life.”
When Prime Minister Harold Wilson opened the new library in 1975, it was the model of modernity but Mrs Sutton thinks the 1930-exterior and the hi-tech interior strikes the right note for the future.
Blackburn with Darwen council culture boss Damian Talbot agrees: “I am pleased Blackburn Library will be transformed to its original 1930 glory. This will not only ensure the building's facade is safe but enhance its appearance and contribute to regeneration of the Northgate area.
“Once completed it will sit better alongside the other public buildings that surround it.”