09 August 2011

Webcam to show Central Library refurb live

From: Manchester Evening News

Book-lovers will soon be given an insight into the transformation of Manchester’s Central Libra­ry under plans to fit a webcam inside the building’s famous dome.

The live link-up will give a behind the scenes glimpse of the multi-million pound renovation work going on inside the landmark city centre building.

The site has been stripped of some one million books and closed to the public during a three-year building project. But testing has started on a camera that could be fitted inside the dome of the Reading Room – the library’s most famous feature – to allow visitors to enjoy a bird’s eye view of what is going on inside.

It is expected that images from the camera would be streamed on to the council’s website.

A town hall spokesman said it was an idea that was being explored by officers but was still in the early stages.

The city’s huge collection of books were sent into underground storage in the Cheshire salt mines last year to allow workmen to start on site. The salt mines are thought to offer the best atmosphere in which to preserve the manuscripts.

The redevelopment will see the 60m diameter Shakespeare Hall on the ground floor, currently closed to the public beyond the front entrance, opened as a ‘centre of excellence for archive storage’ and the book storage ‘stacks’ replaced with exhibition space, a café, research and computer space and an amphitheatre-style performance area for readings.

Webcam viewers will also see the floor of the domed Reading Room removed while work takes place, with an exact replica rebuilt afterwards.

The refurbishment of Vincent Harris’s circular building, completed in 1934, is part of the wider modernisation of the Town Hall complex and St Peter’s Square. Facilities will be brought up to date and the buildings’ listed features restored to their former glory.

As the M.E.N reported last month, the city’s famous Rates Hall will be among the architectural treasures opened to the public again following the work.

The stunning 200ft-long hall, which runs the length of the town hall extension and was historically where residents went to pay their taxes, will become a ‘one-stop shop’ for town hall services.

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