Newcastle City Library

Newcastle City Library

Project Description

Newcastle City Library, currently one of the largest public libraries in the UK, was built to replace the inadequate 1960s structure previously occupying the site. The new building now combines a library service with a range of other facilities to create an important community space.

Aims and Objectives

The brief required the new library building to be more visible and noticeable within the city centre, and be better integrated and connected to the surrounding public spaces; transparent to make its function clear; easy to self-orientate; and above all, to delight and inspire. Newcastle City Council's approach aims to capitalise on the renewed interest in the library by a surge in national and local visitors by transforming the way library services are delivered

Official Opening

Project Start Date and End Date

A new library was first considered as a result of a Libraries Best Value Review in 2001, and decided that it should go ahead as a Capital of Culture project. Following several rounds of bids to the DCMS, Kajima Consortium was appointed in May 2006. Construction work began in February 2007 with completion in March 2009. Newcastle City Library officially opened in June 2009.

Services Offered

Newcastle City Library occupies 8,300 square metres of space and offers a vast range of books, DVDs and CDs on loan, with the addition of online access to rare book collections from the British Library, and a 24 hour vending machine providing books and DVDs out-of-hours. The building also provides:

  • meeting rooms,
  • a local studies and family history centre,
  • significantly improved access facilities,
  • a cafe opening out onto the newly developed Princess Square,
  • the Bewick Hall performance space, and
  • exhibition facilities.
Newcastle City Library interior

Success Factors 

Risk Factors

Business/Operational Model

Newcastle City Council led the project, in partnership with Kajima Consortium (PFI developer), Tolent Construction, and Ryder Architecture Ltd. The Library, along with another community library at High Heaton, is to be managed by Hard Facilities Management service (Integral UK Ltd) until 2034.

Newcastle City Library artist's impression

Financing and Delivery/Procurement

Measurement and Monitoring


E-architect website

Contact details

Tony Durcan OBEHead of Libraries, Culture and Lifelong LearningNewcastle City CouncilTel: 0191 211 5383