A new library in Bradford city centre is to be created after it was discovered that the existing Central Library is no longer fit for purpose.
The Bradford Council decision, which the Telegraph & Argus can exclusively reveal today, brings to an end nearly two years of uncertainty after the Central Library was deemed a fire risk by health and safety experts in October 2011.
To be known as City Library, the new facility will occupy the present Bradford 1 Gallery building and a large unit next to it in City Park.
It will open in December, complete with 60,000 books, 40 computers for public use, study space and Wi-Fi.
The Bradford 1 Gallery will move to Cartwright Hall in Lister Park.
The project will cost £9 million in total, of which £8m will be spent on the Central Library building to make it safe and convert it to offices and conference space for Council workers.
That cash will be clawed back by the Council through savings on rents being paid for privately-owned office space when staff move to the Central Library building and eventual savings on maintenance costs as the bill to rectify the existing library is £4.9m.
West Yorkshire Archive Service and Bradford Libraries Local Studies Library will stay at Central Library on the ground floor where users, using a dedicated entrance, can access archives from December this year.
A temporary children’s library called Park and Read will open in the City Park pavilion from next month until December.
Once the City Library opens in December, Park and Read will relocate to there.
The decision to relocate has been made after asbestos was discovered in Central Library and it was found that work to remedy that would take until at least December 2014.
Council leader Councillor David Green said: “When it was discovered that it wasn’t going to fit in with our timescales with the library we clearly thought about a way forward.
“We did take a look at the bigger picture and the priority for people in Bradford is having access to a high- class central library.
“This gives us the opportunity to look more creatively at things. All the issues we are looking at now and everything we do in the authority now is not about what happens this year or next, but do we have a sustainable future for the next ten to 15 years as well as providing day-to-day services?”
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the Council’s executive member for culture, said: “It is fantastic that we have got this modern, light, airy space to house a library right next to City Park and Centenary Square. It enables us to deliver a 21st century library service.
“It is not just about books, it is about events. If you look at libraries across the district the highest visitor numbers are the ones that hold most events.
“City Library will have modern technology.”