Ramsgate Library

Yesterday I took a trip to Ramsgate library with a couple of members of staff to see if it could generate ideas for improving the layout of our library.  It was a good opportunity to step outside our normal working environment and see some different approaches to the use of library space.  Personally, I think this is a good idea as it encourages you to look at your own space in a different way and re-appraise the areas that you tend to overlook.

Ramsgate library has only recently re-opened following a massive refurbishment due to arson back in 2004.  Despite suffering massive damage to the interior, the listed facade remained intact.  Due to the damage to the interior, huge changes were made to the layout of the library including the addition of seminar rooms and community spaces.  The result is a very impressive interior that feels very spacious and welcoming compared to many ‘traditional’ libraries.


The entrance is particularly spacious, with only a few small front facing display stands lining the view.  The displays at the front have been colour co-ordinated so that books of a similar colour are grouped together.  This has quite an impact as you walk into the library.  I also really liked the guiding that was written on the pillars throughout the library:


Nice, clean, simple and effective.

Upstairs is also very spacious looking (even with a mezzanine) and has an impressive stained glass window down one end that was partly designed by local school children:


The non-fiction section on this floor is actually dubbed ‘Information’ and is shelved in categories rather than in Dewey.  The feel is very reminiscent of a bookshop and, although I wasn’t sure about the category shelving, it has proven to be popular with the local people and that is, after all, the most important thing for any public library.  Overall, I have to say I was very impressed and hopefully we can generate some ideas from the visit to improve the layout of our library too.

You can see more photos of Ramsgate library here.


3 thoughts on “Ramsgate Library

  1. I find visits to other libraries really useful too, it’s always good to see the different way libraries are laid out and how they operate to help you evaluate your own service.

    There seem to be a lot of similar design ideas at the moment such as forward facing books on display. I recently attended a talk from Rachel Van Riel, from Opening the Book, who spoke about the importance of learning from retail and observing our users; getting users to touch the books as they are more likely to borrow them once they have touched them. I’ve written a blog post about the talk which is scheduled for later this week (I’ve written loads and didn’t want to post them all on the same day!).

  2. Ramsgate Public Library looks amazing…Liverpool City Library definitely needs to take heed…think I might pop down there after work and strategically leave a few networked PCs showing your pictures!!!

    Ramsgate is an excellent example of how ‘space’ can dramatically change ‘place’ – I would definitley spend my Saturday/Sunday afternoon chilling out and reading a book at Ramsgate!!

  3. I think forward facing displays can make such a difference to a library. Too many spine facing books makes the shelves look overly cluttered and makes it harder to find what you are looking for. Jo – I have read a couple of your posts already, sounds like a very interesting discussion and I look forward to reading more (sounds like you have written loads!!).

    Vicki – It is certainly very impressive, both myself and the staff I went with were really enthusiastic about the new look. It was also impressive to learn that they had actually increased their book stock as a result of the work. I’ll be sure to pass on your comments to the Ramsgate team. Whilst photos are helpful, it’s not the same as seeing it for yourself…so now you have a perfect excuse for a week-end in Ramsgate!

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