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Community / Library to reopen next week

Photo: SIC

THE SHETLAND Library will reopen to the public in its ‘new’ building with a soft opening on Monday (15 November).

It comes after the library moved out of the nearby former St Ringan’s Church, which is set to become the new venue for council meetings.

The doors will open to the public at the new building at Lower Hillhead – which previously housed the library until 2002 – at 10am on Monday.

However, a new lift in the building is not yet ready – with staff from the mainland due to arrive in Shetland to work on it next week.

The building offers more than 50 per cent additional floor space to display books and materials than the St Ringan’s building.

All library services will now operate under one roof, including book browsing and borrowing and the computer suite.

The move follows months of refurbishment work on the 1960s building, which has seen it extensively modernised and redecorated.

Externally, the building has been re-roofed, with new aluminium curtain walling and modern energy-efficient windows fitted.

The building has also been upgraded internally, including the installation of a new air-source heating system.

In recent weeks, more than 60,000 books and materials have been moved into their new location, along with shelving and furniture and IT equipment.

With most of the book shelves being on wheels, flexible use of spaces is possible, to host library events or to change layouts for different needs.

Contractors are still working to bring the building’s new lift into operation with engineers from the Scottish mainland due to visit early next week.

In the meantime, anyone who may have difficulty accessing the first floor is being asked to contact a member of staff.

During November and December, library services will gradually return to normal, as Shetland Library staff complete work on stock, furnishings and ICT equipment.

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The top floor of the building previously housed the Shetland Museum for many years until the new museum opened in 2007, and Shetland Library also occupied the lower floor of the building until 2002 before moving to St Ringan’s.

Councillors agreed previously in 2015 to fund the refurbishment works, with additional funding approved in 2019.

The library refurbishment project is expected to be completed within the overall allocated budget of £1.6 million.

Construction work was undertaken by local building firm Hunter and Morrisons Limited as the main contractor.

Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee George Smith said: “I am very pleased that after a long spell of refurbishment Shetland Library will reopen its doors to the public.

“The building looks great and it will be so good to be able to have all the library services in under one roof again.

“It is disappointing that there are still some issues with the lift but I know that the library users are keen to enjoy what’s available to them just now.

“Please be patient whilst we get fully functional in the first few weeks of our soft start. We are working to ensure the building will soon be fully available for everyone to enjoy.

“I would like to thank the contractors for their high quality work and Karen Fraser, Library Manager, and all the staff and volunteers in the library service and the wider council who have worked tirelessly to make the building ready for the public to use.”

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