Can you tell us a little about yourself......
I am an Architecture student currently undertaking my Masters in Architecture at LJMU, which is my 6th year in University.
You wrote your MA dissertation on Andrew Carnegie libraries in Liverpool, can you tell us what interested you about this topic?
Initially I was interested in the historical background of libraries, however it was my tutor who encouraged me to explore a more specific part of Liverpool Libraries and as a result I researched Andrew Carnegie. I found him fascinating, his philanthropy, his business mind and most of all the libraries he bestowed on Liverpool.
Which of the libraries you studied is your personal favourite and why?
That’s a hard one, my top three are the Walton and Fazakerley library the Sefton Park library and the Andrew Carnegie Library. I like them for all different reasons too.
The Walton and Fazakerley has some great external decoration to it, with a breath taking glass dome internally. Whilst the Sefton park library has a beautiful balcony that runs all the way along the inside of the reading room.
However the Andrew Carnegie Library, it was the most intriguing during my study, especially with not being able to gain access it gave an air of mystery to it, but this library seemed to be slightly different from the others and carried a little more grandeur about it.
What architectural features do the Andrew Carnegie/Thomas Shelmerdine libraries have in common?
Shelmerdine (the architect) used canted bay windows, in the Toxteth library on the side elevation. In the Andrew Carnegie library he again uses this technique featuring them as a major elements of the design, they were positioned to each end of the two main reading rooms creating a neat geometry of junctions with the octagonal entrance tower at one end and at the other end of each reading room an extension of the three centre arch.
There is also limited amount of external decoration on the elevations, similar to the Toxteth Library.
The internal dome is also supported by small iconic columns, similar to the ones at the Andrew Carnegie Library.
What do you find interesting/special/unique about the former ‘The Andrew Carnegie Library’?
I really like all the internal timber panelling detailing, the carved door frames with the names of the rooms engraved into the timber. I think the green tiles are fantastic, they really add warmth to the library, and of course the large octagonal tower.
Finally, what are your thoughts on Lister Steps plans to regenerate the building and reuse it as a community hub?
Unfortunately there are a lot of old buildings that are finding themselves ‘moth-balled’ and forgotten about, and we need to start finding another use for them before we look to knock them down. From an architectural point of view they offer so much to the city, and the structure and building methods were well ahead of their time.
I think it’s a great idea, the building played such an important role in Liverpool’s library development and indeed in the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, that it would be a terrible shame to see it be knocked down, so the fact that Lister Steps are looking to regenerate the building is special.
The initial reason for libraries were to educate people but they also provided a social space for people too. So for Lister Steps to be reinstating a community space for people to meet is great. Now-a-days people become contained in their houses and we socialise through different types of media, which is a shame when you can go to your nearest community space and meet people face to face in such a special building.