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Council / Contractor for library refurbishment could be identified in coming months

The old library on Hillhead is set to be refurbished for an estimated £1.6 million. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) is hoping to appoint a contractor for the refurbishment of the old Lerwick Library early next year.

A spokesperson for the SIC said the tendering process is underway for renovating the building at Lower Hillhead.

Library services will move back into the building from their current home a stone’s throw away at the former St Ringan’s church.

The council is hoping to identify a contractor around February or March for the work.

Councillors decided to press ahead with the refurbishment in June, with the total bill expected to come to around £1.6 million.

St Ringan’s is also set to become the new home of council meetings instead of Lerwick Town Hall once library services have moved out, and the council is set to take the opportunity to install hardware to broadcast meetings online.

The refurbishment was first mooted in 2015 but it was put on the back burner after SIC staff were decanted into the building after the local authority’s headquarters at 8 North Ness was evacuated over safety fears in 2016.

The main library service has been located at the former St Ringan’s church since 2002, but it also operates from the adjoining learning centre as well as in some parts of the old library building.

Staff previously told councillors that the proposal to bring library services back under one roof in the old building would be more efficient than the current set-up.

The old library, which contained a museum upstairs, was first opened in 1966.