Sitting on Regent Circus, on the the opposite side to Rudi’s, and on the site of the ‘temporary’ library that was somewhat long-term, lies Swindon central library.
Designed by council architects Nic Newland and Tony Currivan its 71, 405 bricks and 18, 415 roof tiles cost the princely sum of £10, 214, 930.00. Princess Anne performed the official opening of the library on 22nd May 2009.
An award winning library
Built for Swindon Borough Council by Wilmott Dixon Construction, the library won a national commendation in the prestigious RICS (Royal Institution Chartered Surveyors) awards. It seems that the building narrowly missed winning the top sustainability category award. It was though singled out by the judges for a special commendation thanks to the efficient use of resources and the provision of a sustainable environment. One that met the needs of the people then as well future generations.
Earlier that year (2009) Swindon central library won the south west regional sustainability award. That prize qualified the library to go forward to the final. There it was up against international schemes as well as others from across the UK.
Said James Gregory, RICS south west regional chair, ‘this is terrific news for our town. The RICS awards are acknowledged as among the most prestigious accolades given to buildings attaining the highest standards. Not only does the library tick the box in terms of sustainability it makes an important contribution to the community ..’
The library’s original brief was one of providing a vibrant and appealing image that fitted with the character and fabric of Swindon town centre.
Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame presented the awards.
Modern Library provision in Swindon
Following the adoption of the Public Libraries Act, Swindon’s first library opened on August 14, 1943 inside McIlroys department store in Regent Street. The library was located in the store after plans to house it in the Mechanics’ Institute fell through and proved hugely popular, being home to around 22,000 books.
The opening of Central Junior Library for children followed one week later in the former electricity showrooms, now Rudi’s, at Regent Circus.
The library moved into two mobile units at Regent Circus in March 1949. And there it remained for 57 years until the new library opened in 2008. The new library housed over 77,000 books, free public-access computers and Swindon’s Local Studies collection.
In recent years, the Library Shop has been a welcome addition. It sells books, art by local artists and gifts. Central Library has become a popular venue for a wide range of community and cultural events and activities, with plans to expand these.
Five years earlier, and celebrating their 20 year anniversaries in 2023, Highworth and North Swindon Libraries opened. Although Highworth has had a library service for 60 years, it has been 20 years in its current location above the Co-op Supermarket, opening in October 2003. North Swindon Library at the Orbital Shopping Centre opened a few months earlier in May 2003 and was the first library in the then new ‘Northern Development’, which had previously been farmland.
A month after the central library opened, Park library reopened in a new and larger building as part of the redevelopment of Cavendish Square.