Readers approve latest chapter in library’s history

Author Graham Hurley opens the newly refurbished Central Library in Portsmouth joined by Councillor Leo Madden, far left, councillor Lee Hunt, right, and library service manager Lindy Elliott, far right.  'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (110346-2)
Author Graham Hurley opens the newly refurbished Central Library in Portsmouth joined by Councillor Leo Madden, far left, councillor Lee Hunt, right, and library service manager Lindy Elliott, far right. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (110346-2)
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HUNDREDS of readers turned up to visit Portsmouth’s Central Library for its first day of reopening.

After five months of closure due to flooding, the city’s refurbished main library reopened yesterday to the delight of parents, students and residents.

And those who visited the revamped facility in Guildhall Square gave it their seal of approval.

Lindy Elliott, library services manager, admitted there was a silver lining to the flood on August 18, when taps that had been left running caused damage throughout the building.

Water seeped into the facility’s concrete support structures which took two months to dry before the four-storey site could be carpeted, repainted and redesigned.

Mrs Elliott said: ‘We were all devastated after the flooding but what seemed a tragedy turned into an opportunity for us to deliver four years’ worth of projects in a few months.

‘We were also lucky that while the building was left soggy, all the books were really dry – apart from one from the navy collection.’

The Norrish Central Library was officially declared open at 10am by crime author Graham Hurley.

It now boasts The Arthur Conan Doyle Archive Collection in the new Portsmouth History Centre for local historical and literary resources on the second floor.

The first floor has been developed as a reference area with a specialist languages section, the ground floor hosts children and teen libraries and the third floor houses a learning centre for all ages.

Mrs Elliot, who is facing a reduced budget next year of £371,000, a 10 per cent cut, said: ‘It’s a relief to have our home back.’

Reflecting on the wider context of library closures nationwide, she added: ‘This is a good day for our city.’

Two 16-year-olds from Portsmouth have been charged with one count each of causing criminal damage to the Norrish Central Library, causing more than £150,000 in damage, on August 18.

The defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.