New landmark library to open in July following delays in building schedule

An opening date for Barnsley’s new Lightbox library has been announced for July, putting the project around nine months behind its original completion date.

Last chapter: Barnsley's new Lightbox library nears completion
Last chapter: Barnsley's new Lightbox library nears completion

The project, called Library @ the Lightbox, was due to open in the Autumn of last year but the project was slowed by the presence of Sough Dyke, which runs beneath part of the town centre, which caused construction problems with the foundations.

It was hoped the facilities would have been open in the Spring, but the date has now been confirmed as Saturday July 13.

The building replaces the temporary library, opened in Wellington Street, to replace the 1970s building in Shambles Street, demolished following public opposition to make way for the new college building.

The new Lightbox, so-called because of its large expanses of glass which will create an aura of light externally, is regarded as a key element of the Glass Works redevelopment of the town centre and is the first new-build part of the scheme to be completed.

Most of the Glass Works will be housed in the structure which was previously the Metropolitan Centre, which has been stripped back to its skeleton and rebuild for modern purposes.

The Lightbox will represent a step away from a traditional library, though providing books will remain a key part of its function.

It will also feature digital technology, including virtual reality equipment and a training suite with 65 interactive touch screen computers and other technological innovations.

Facilities will be provided over four floors, including a sanctuary room for those with autism and space will be available to host sessions by a music and memories group, through the Alzheimer’s Society, for those with dementia.

The library will also provide another events space in the town centre, suitable for workshops and it will also host health and wellbeing support services, including counselling and drop-in sessions with midwives and health visitors.

The building will also have a cafe,bar and restaurant adjacent to the library, intended to provide a new food and drink destination in the town centre.

Coun Jenny Platts, the council’s spokesman for communities, said: “This modern and adaptable facility will be a welcoming hub for everyone to enjoy and will inspire families, individuals, community groups and the next generation to learn, discover and explore.

“The Library @ the Lightbox leads the council’s programme to provide better quality libraries across the borough, which meet the needs and expectations of today’s library users. It's particularly exciting as we want to encourage more people to make the most of their local library.”