Librarian hopes new Dún Laoghaire library will ‘wow’ public

What the controversial €36.6m building is like inside

The new central library and cultural centre in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

The new central library and cultural centre in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sun, Jul 13, 2014, 23:02

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county librarian Maireád Owens says she is filled with excitement and apprehension in the lead up to the opening of the €36.6 million controversial new seafront library and cultural centre.

The building became the most debated issue during the local elections when it was criticised as a “monstrosity”.

Dlr Lexicon is the official name for the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown library and cultural centre, which is due to open in full in October and partly for the Mountain-to-Sea festival in September.

Owens said the name “Lexicon” was chosen as it stood for knowledge and words.

The centre will house about 80,000 items, including books, CDs and DVDs, for people to borrow. More than 50 mobile devices such as laptops, iPads, and Kindles will be available for people to use.

Grand staircase

“When people walk through the door I hope they get a sense of ‘wow’,” says Owens. “ You’re met by a large grand staircase and lots of light. That area is the living room space, which we hope to keep open a lot of the time.

“I’m really excited at the centre. It’s a stunning public space and quite extraordinary. I also have a certain level of apprehension hoping the community will love it and realise it’s a building for them. The criticism has been hard.”

Owens said the interior was decorated in neutral tones of browns and blues, had large, open civic spaces at the park side of the building and small, snug rooms on the other side.

“To balance out the large busier areas there are cosy, intimate and quieter spots throughout.”

European oak was used for the shelves, stairs and furniture, and shades of blue for the carpet and sofas.

“This is to allow the colour to come from books,” she said.

There are two entrances. One is accessed by walking in from the harbour and up along the side of the building and through the café. The main entrance is on Haigh Terrace, off Georges Street, through a revolving glass door.

Taster collection

Owens said to the left of the stairs at the main entrance there are shelves displaying a “taster collection” of what is available in the library, and a place where people can read magazines, books or go online.

To the right of the stairs is an automatic book sorter which will be able to receive books 24 hours a day.

On the same level towards the seafront is a long art gallery with an audio-visual “mini-gallery” at the end of the room.