New chapter for library of the future

The library of the future was yesterday launched in Liverpool.

Previously Spellow Library, situated in the heart of Walton in North Liverpool, was open just three days a week and typical for a 1960s building had poor accessibility, no toilets, and limited services.

Now following a radical, community-led makeover – the renamed Spellow Hub will be the first facility of its kind in the north of England to offer a complete “education to employment” service for people of all abilities.

Improving the accessibility of the County Road building was a key priority for the project, enabling people to visit the revamped hub who previously would have been unable.

Fitted with a new ramped entrance, platform lift and induction loop for hearing aid users, the building is also the first in the city to be retrofitted with a Changing Place provision, providing a wheelchair accessible toilet, ceiling hoist, adjustable changing bed and change facilities for carers.

Spellow Hub will be open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, offering:

  • Library services – with full digital access, including free use of tablets (Self-service on Tuesday and Friday).
  • An enterprise business service.
  • Training and skills programmes for long-term unemployed.
  • Free to use “smart” classrooms, bookable online via
  • Flexible spaces for learning i.e. coding workshops, parent & toddler groups etc.
  • A One Stop Shop to access Council services – open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm.
  • Art gallery fixtures to celebrate local creativity.

The transformational refurbishment, funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Liverpool City Region Town Centre Fund, which has led to a raft of improvements to the County ward, has also seen more than a fifth of the building previously used for back office storage unlocked for community use.

Its opening is seen as a vital step in the regeneration of the area which lies in the third most deprived ward in the UK and is also set to be affected by Everton FC’s move away from nearby Goodison Park in the next two years.

Spellow Hub will officially open with a gala event, attended by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, which will see a host of activities and demonstrations from key partners and school children throughout the day.

The opening coincides with International Poetry Day and will include a showcase of “Poetry on the Pillar”, a Culture Liverpool project which saw local young people create poems and artwork which recently brightened up the Queens Drive underpass which lies half a mile from Spellow Hub.

Councillor Harry Doyle, Cabinet Member for Culture and Libraries, said, “Spellow Hub is just wow! If you saw what it looked like before, you won’t recognise it. It’s the same building from the outside, but inside it’s been completely transformed into this wonderfully welcoming, inclusive and safe space.

“It’s been designed to encourage learning and creativity for people of all abilities and you can feel that the moment you walk through the door. The equipment and resources on offer are just top notch.

“The people of Walton have been very patient waiting for their library to re-open – and thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Town Centre Fund they’ve been rewarded because they’re getting a fantastic facility that is so much more than a library.

“Spellow Hub has set a template for how Councils can serve a community and help it thrive, providing access to education, training and employment and it also sets the blueprint for how we can engage with other partners to deliver services together under one roof.

“The convenience and accessibility of Spellow Hub, as well as the quality of its facilities and the depth of its services, means its value to the people of Walton will be immeasurable. It’s a place to learn, to meet and to shine. And I’m sure they will.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “Having been the Member of Parliament for Walton, I know just how invaluable a reinvigorated community asset like Spellow Hub will be for local people. Because, for far too long, areas like ours have been starved of any real ambitious funding from government that has meant many of our precious community hubs have fallen on hard times.

“It is only because of devolution that we can chart our own course and invest in transformational projects that will breathe new life into parts of our communities, which have been crying out for investment for decades.

“Working with Liverpool City Council, we have developed an incredible space that local people can rightly be proud of, one which gives them access to training and opportunities that will help them to realise their potential. I, for one, cannot wait to see the space finally open and, hopefully, become a much-loved part of the community once again.”

Image: Spellow Hub has been transformed from a 1960s library to a 21st century learning and creative centre

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