Bath’s Central Library on the move!

Bath Central Library is on the move – as part of plans by Bath & North East Somerset Council save money and  modernise library services across the district.

bath library
Bath Central Library

Next year, it’s going to relocate to the top two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street. 

Going to be a tough job fitting in Bath Central Library – plus its study area – onto the top two floors of the One Stop Shop!

 Following the success of the joint library and One Stop Shop in Keynsham, B&NES say they want to see Bath’s Central Library and Midsomer Norton Library modernised to reflect the changing way people use the library service.

The plans for Bath Central Library:

Relocating the library to the first two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street.

More computers and improved Wi-Fi access will be available to make the most of new technology and support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be available in January with work expected to start following public feedback in the spring, with the work expected to last around nine months.

To ensure a continuous library service, a temporary library will be created in The Podium while work is carried out on the new location.

The public will be encouraged to give feedback on the plans early in the new year to help shape the final layout.

bath central library
Bath Central Library

Data collected by Bath Central Library over an average week shows how people use the library:

52% wanted to book a computer or print something out

19% wanted information

9% wanted to renew or borrow books

6% wanted a particular item

5% wanted help with their account

4% wanted help with computers or photocopiers

2% wanted newspapers

2% wanted to hand items in

1% wanted to join the library

The plans put forward by the Council will create a modern service offering access to more computers, improved Wi-Fi facilities and more family space, with continued access to the 3 million books available through the Libraries West system.

Work on the new design is underway and a first draft of the plans will be ready in the New Year when comments from members of the public will be welcome.

bath central library
Bath Central Library

The plans for Midsomer Norton Library:

Relocating the library to the One Stop Shop at The Hollies.

There will be more computers and improved Wi-Fi access to make the most of new technology to support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be shared with the community in January for comment and feedback.

All three million books will continue be available for members of the public to access through Libraries West and local history books will be added to the archive collection and be available to everyone in a modernised facility in The Guildhall.

Cllr Martin Veal
Cllr Martin Veal

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The plans we are putting forward will ensure that B&NES residents have access to a modern library service which is both sustainable for the future and fits with the way in which people are now using library services.

“For example, we know that people are increasingly using our libraries to access computers and information as well as attending family events, rather than simply browsing for books.

“Our plans will therefore offer more computers, improved Wi-Fi and new technology to support digital access as well as offering more child and family-friendly facilities, whilst continuing to provide access to the three million books available through Libraries West.

“At the same time, the Council is facing extremely challenging times as it looks to balance its budget. By co-locating our libraries with other community services these changes will not only provide a modern library service to residents but will also help the Council towards achieving the large savings it has to make in the coming years.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council needs to save £49 million over four years. Modernising the library service will contribute £800,000 a year towards these savings by co-locating the libraries with other public services and freeing-up current premises such as the Podium which can then generate an income for the Council through leasing opportunities.

Designs for the new facilities will be available in the New Year when members of the public will be encouraged to comment and provide feedback.

No doubt  there will be many who think the move from the Podium will leave Waitrose room to add a mini John Lewis of sorts? There is also no mention of possible job losses from the library service?

One reliable source tells me the vacated space will have to be converted into offices to house the council staff dislodged from Lewis House by the library move.


  1. Typical B&NES consultation – ask the public to comment only after all the plans and designs have been done in private.

    B&NES has long needed a decent library and one of the acknowledged problems with the existing one is that it’s on the first floor without a street frontage. (Indeed I believe that was one reason why B&NES turned down an invitation to re-locate to Southgate.) I can’t see this proposal will address that problem. And the other issue is the city archives – wasn’t the idea to bring both services together on the same site? Also, what does ‘continuing to provide access to’ really mean? Will there me as many books out on open shelving?

    What about converting the entire basement of the Guildhall into a new library/archive centre rather than the grotty Lewis House? Something designed to demonstrate civic pride rather than cost-cutting?

    (By the way, doesn’t B&NES lease the Podium space with a condition that it’s used as a library?)

  2. My very 1st job was as a library assistant with Bath Libraries. I was based in the children’s library, with odd excursions to the lending library, the reference library and Vicoria Art Gallery. It was 1964. The lending library was on the ground floor of the building right opposite Pulteney Bridge, Victoria Art Gallery was on the top floor. The children’s library was a shop frontage further along the parade just before the entrance to the market. The reference library was in a building in Queen’s Square. I moved to live out of England In 1972, but stayed working as a librarian in education and legal libraries for most of my career until retiring in but in later years I visited the library in the Podium and was very impressed. I did think that it wasn’t very accessible to most Bathonians though. There is always going to be change and progress to adapt to changing social requirements. Good luck to everyone in this latest change.

      1. Some extra space in the basement is being converted. It’s not ideal for them to be in the basement but at least they are now all under one roof.

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