In 2007, the Winchester Public Library...
...underwent a complete overhaul.
Now the Winchester Discovery Centre, it still serves the same function as pretty much any other public library. Except, arguably, it does so with more style. Walk into the Discovery Centre, and you're immediately struck by the library-in-the-round atmosphere. The general collections are housed on the ground and upper floors of the circular main room, shelves lining the walls and radiating from the centre like rays of sunshine. The space is white with literary embellishment, adding such a comfortable feel to the space.
Attached to this central area housing most of the general collections are spaces that were added on with the renovation: namely, a city space for community exhibits; a gallery; and a large cafe area, within which are located both plenty of tables for eating and plenty more shelves of the novels collection for reading. For such a relatively small public library--the collections fit neatly into the equivalent of three good-sized rooms--I was impressed by the variety with the collections. For instance, the shelves boast a good number of musical scores and play scripts, ostensibly for use by community groups. I was also impressed by the general organization of the collections: all general collections matierals were placed on very neat shelves, and each of the ray-of-sunshine shelves were boldly and clearly labeled by genre. Each of these genre shelves, additionally, was at least 25% display space.
And the children's department? Oh, it may just be my favorite of any I've yet seen! The fun wall designs of the main part of the library continue here, albeit with a definite kiddie bent:
The children's collections contain everything from parent resources, board and picture books, and early readers to a substantial collection of juvenile and young teen fiction, audiobooks, and nonfiction. The nonfiction collections are actually housed in a sort of round information circle, wherein the bookshelves hug a four-computer information station. Displays were plentiful and useful, placed at a very good level for children's points of view.
From what I could gather via programs fliers and bulletins, the Discovery Centre puts on a number of programs and events for their child patrons. In addition to general rhyme times and story hours, they offer age-specific events (a "buggy day" of baby-friendly activities) and events on themes (jungle, cinema, &c.). While the Discovery Centre doesn't participate in that UK-wide summer reading iniative I've mentioned before, they have definitely boosted their program offerings for the duration of the summer.
Trust me, if I were a kid in Hampshire, I would definitely want to be in this children's department.