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Old Library Refurbishment Project

Shetland Islands Council has decided to refurbish the old library/museum and bring the building up to modern standards. When it is complete the Library, currently spread over three buildings will move into the upgraded building.

*This project was first approved in 2016, but then there was three years delay for various reasons, in which time the costs increased. On 11 June 2019 Shetland Islands Council approved the increased spend, so the project should be completed in 2020. Most of the information below was posted at the time of our 2016 consultations in anticipation of the move. Now that the project has a clearer timescale, we will post more information as we have it. Thank you for your patience!

Report to Council 11 June 2019 + Appendix A + Appendix B (business justification case) [PDFs]

Planning application - change of use to Library January 2017

FAQ sheet - summary of Frequently Asked Questions about the project [PDF]

Report: summary of 2016 survey and Open Day feedack [PDF]

Background information flyer for Summer 2016 survey [PDF]

Old Library refurbishment - press release June 2016

Zetland County Library Quinquennial Report 1964-1969 [PDF]

(The above report by the then County Librarian George W. Longmuir is a wonderful snapshot of Shetland Library service when the new Library opened.)


Open Day

Old Library

On Saturday 2 July 2016 we held an Open Day in the old library/museum - it was to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the building and also to consult about the planned upgrade and repair. We did short tours of the dilapidated old museum so people could see the Library's future premises. An exhibition of information and old photos stayed up in the Old Library until the end of 2018.


Photos (click to enlarge)

Old Library back gallery 2016

The old Museum today is quite delapidated and a lot of windows have been boarded up due to cracking. It is very hot in summer and very cold in winter due to this original 1960s single glazing! Part of this floor is used as storage for reserve books by the Library and the area has been well used for varios purposes since the Museum moved out in 2007. It is a little bit leaky now, though!

Old Library ground floor 2016 Downstairs, what was the old Library and basement houses Library offices and workshops, a book reserve, an events/meeting room and three other departments - SIC Procurement, Child and Adult Protection and Throughcare and Aftercare. Bookbug currently takes place here.
Old Library interior 1966

Old Library, 1966: central area including the original light well. The light well was floored over in later years as the Museum needed more working space. The library occupied the ground floor and basement. Photo by Dennis Coutts

Old Library reading room 1966

Old Library, 1966: the old reference and reading room, which is currently used for Bookbug and many other things. Photo by Dennis Coutts

Old Museum front gallery Old Museum, 1966: front gallery. Note the windows through to the central light well, later blocked off. The museum occupied the first floor of the building. Photo by Dennis Coutts
Old Museum gallery

Old Museum, 1966: back gallery and lecture room. We still have a few of the original chairs - the 1960s style and design carried through into furniture and fittings. Photo by Dennis Coutts

Old Museum North Gallery Old Museum, 1966: North gallery. You could walk right around the building through each of the galleries. Photo by Dennis Coutts
Old Library Museum from Town Hall 1966

Library/Museum, 1966: View from Town Hall. There are wonderful views from the big windows all round the first floor. Controlling the heat and light from all that glass was always a problem though. Photo by Dennis Coutts

Shetland Library 1980s picture lending Main library 1980s, looking towards the Shetland room (kept locked and could be used on request). By the late 1980s the Library had opened 7 extra school branches so the Lerwick building became very much a hub for a wider service.
Shetland Library 1980s issue desk Main library area, 1980s. Before automation, a lot of desk work involved filing tickets, and behind the scenes there were lots of catalogue cards, labels, customer cards and book tickets to type and stamp. Conditions were really cramped behind the scenes until we got extra premises behind the Library in at 64 St Olaf Street.
Shetland Library 1980s, children's room

Children's room, 1980s. The mural was painted by Morag Macinnes from Orkney, who worked at the Library then, Many people miss the room with 'a door you could close' but it could cause problems when parents left children unsupervised!



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