Kettering Library to shut as £3.9 million GLaM building works set to start next week
Capacity at the London Road car park will also be reduced as construction begins
Work is set to start on Kettering s £3.9 million GLaM (Gallery Library and Museum) project and as contractors move in, the library building and art gallery will move out - until next Spring.
Kettering Library is set to close on Saturday, with four days' notice given to residents by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) telling of the imminent closure on Saturday, May 29 at 4pm.
The Alfred East Gallery has already been emptied of its treasured 900-piece art collection and put into safe storage to enable the construction work to start.
With no new temporary home for the library yet found, users of the facility face a trek to the nearest alternative lending outlet - all community-run libraries.
A spokesman for NNC said: "The construction stage of the GLaM project - which will see improvements and alterations to Kettering’s Library, Gallery and Museum – is starting soon on site.
"This North Northamptonshire Council scheme secured £3 million from the Getting Building Fund, administered by SEMLEP with match-funding from the council."
The project, which will provide the community with new and upgraded facilities, and a flexible events and workshop space, was given planning approval in January this year.
Kerry Purnell, North Northamptonshire council assistant director for housing and communities, said: “GLaM is a significant project for the town. The improvements to this cultural hub will bring a great deal of enjoyment for residents as well as supporting the local economy.
“Cultural-led regeneration is a fundamental element of delivering Kettering town centre’s vision to be a vibrant place at the heart of the community that is characterful, distinctive, and fun.”
Kettering-based GSSArchitecture is leading on the architectural design to transform the facilities, hoped to be a valuable visitor destination for Kettering.
The site will provide a dedicated business support area to expand the existing British Library led Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire, which provides entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with free access to a wide range of support.
But Kettering town councillor Maggie Don slammed the decision by NNC to give residents such a short amount of notice to find an alternative library.
"It's an absolute disgrace. When we were discussing this last year there was nothing said about closing the library - there were to be partial closures.
"To treat residents and staff like this is a disgrace - I hope this is not a sign of how our new North Northants Council is going to treat residents, and their employees going forward."
Library users have been redirected to libraries in Burton Latimer, Rothwell and Desborough.
Cllr Don said: "Library users are being redirected to the community libraries, the same libraries that would have been closed if local communities hadn't stepped up."
As the buildings are not expected to open until early Spring 2022, the council’s library service is preparing to set up a small alternative provision in the town where services to customers can continue to be offered.
Details have yet to be finalised, but customers will be able to access the quick pick book stock, large print and audio books, a small section of children’s stock, the annual summer reading challenge, reservations for titles brought in from other libraries, information, referrals, and enquiries, bus passes and blue badge advice and referral.
A spokesman said: "Customers are assured that no overdue charges will be imposed on any items that cannot be returned to Kettering Library."
In order to allow safe access for the contractor, a significant section of the lower and upper London Road car park will be used as a site compound, so availability of spaces will be temporarily reduced.
The spokesman added: "We would encourage visitors to the town centre to consider alternative parking at the following car parks: Commercial Road (NN16 8DQ), Wadcroft (NN16 8TH), School Lane (NN16 0DH) and Queen Street (NN16 0BZ)."
The Blitz Tea Room and Cornmarket Exchange will be operating as usual.