28 August 2015
Liverpool Central Library has its origins in the William Brown Museum and Library, which was built between 1857 and 1860. (It still shares this building with part of what has become the World Museum.) The library was later extended with the addition of the Picton Reading Room, which was built between 1875 and 1879 and was named after Sir James Allanson Picton (1805-1889), who from 1852 was Chairman of the Library, Museum & Arts Committee. It was designed by Liverpool architect Cornelius Sherlock (1823-1888) and was based on the reading room of London’s British Museum. The Hornby Library was added in 1906 to house Hugh Frederick Hornby’s (1826-1899) collection of rare books and prints which he had left to the city together with £10,000 for the building’s construction. The latter was designed by City Surveyor of Liverpool Thomas Shelmerdine (1845-1921).
The library was badly damaged during World War II when it was bombed in 1941. It was rebuilt in 1957-60 with the facades of the three original buildings, which are all Grade II* listed, being retained.
In 2008 it was announced that the library would be rebuilt as a modern, state-of-the-art facility, which would involved demolishing and replacing the 1950s annexe. Plans by architects Austin-Smith:Lord were shown to the public in 2009 and the main building closed for the £50 million renovation in July 2010. Following completion of the project, the Central Library was re-opened to the public in May 2013.