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Central Library relocation may cost over €1 million

While an architect and professional designer still need to be consulted, the report claims that, “at prima facie it transpires that the property can be turned into the proposed library”.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
15 July 2014, 8:07am
No. 8, Old Mint Street in Valletta is the new proposed premises for Malta’s main lending library
No. 8, Old Mint Street in Valletta is the new proposed premises for Malta’s main lending library
The proposed relocation of the Central Public Library from Belt is-Sebh in Floriana to a more central location in Valletta may cost upwards of €1 million, according to a proposal presented by Malta Libraries to the Ministry for Education.

A recently published NSO report revealed a substantial dip in loans from public libraries over the last year, with Malta Libraries suggesting that a more easily accessible and centrally located library would be a key solution to the problem, with the proposed new location being 8, Old Mint Street in Valletta.

However, according to the Malta Libraries report, the pinpointed site is currently in a precarious state and will need substantial work if it is to suitably and safely house the new library premises.

The report details how site visits confirmed the building to be a “dangerous structure”.

A visit to the site was organised by the Permanent Secretary for Education and Employment last February, however, “since it was a rainy day with water seeping from the ceiling and flooding whole areas of the premises, mainly the common areas were visited,” Malta Libraries CEO Oliver Mamo writes in the report.

He adds that a follow-up visit on 24 April confirmed that “the building was classified as a dangerous structure and only following the removal of such danger can the building be properly surveyed”.

The report then goes on to list the necessary improvements that would need to be implemented in order for the space to become a viable venue to serve as a public library.

“The building is being evaluated in terms of a footprint of circa 169m2 with an assumption of the area volume contained within that footprint, allowing the establishment of five floors.

“Internal configuration deemed to be currently a clean slate and can be altered or shaped by a suitably appointed designer.

“Accessibility to the building especially for infant strollers and wheelchairs is improved through an area regeneration project whereby the current gradient of the street is diminished through the establishment of a partial pedestrian area.”

While an architect and professional designer still need to be consulted, the report claims that, “at prima facie it transpires that the property can be turned into the proposed library”.

The report does not provide any concrete costs for the necessary work which needs to be done – “since they are beyond Malta Libraries’ competence to forecast” – but suggests that the cost may amount to €1 million, “due to the variable design element”.

The report justifies the fact that the Old Mint Street site would be smaller than the Floriana library by making a comparison to the Birkirkara branch library – which lies in a “prime location” and would, according to the report, make up for the space deficit with the benefit of being centrally located and easily accessible to all.

According to the report, accessibility remains one of the key problems as far as the current Central Public Library is concerned, with issues related to mobility being one of the key factors that a site in Valletta is being sought after to accommodate the library.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...