Chichester Public Library celebrated its 50th birthday on 24th January, 2017!
It was designed by the County Architect of 1967, F R Steele and in 2015 it was listed for its architectural interest: “the elegant unbroken rhythm of its curved exterior, and the sculptural quality of its internal spaces, which are carefully lit and expressed in a simple palette of contrasting materials”. Its circular shape is distinctive, although it does not instantly lend itself to the need of a library to display its books on several lengths of straight shelving!
(There was a rumour that the shape arose from a hasty circle on a map, marking where the building might be located, but it does seem that Mr Steele had a penchant for designing circular libraries as he had two more to his name, Crawley and Selsey!)
Prior to 1967 West Sussex library services were based in a range of significant buildings in the city. In the 1920s they were in the former theatre, now Zizzi’s, later in North Pallant, then North Street and finally in West Street. Notable from the information booklet of 1925 is the information that the library was only open for a few hours in the afternoons for public lending, while the rest of the time it was a place for research, information and education.
When it opened in January, 1967, it was not only pioneering in its shape, but it was the first public library to introduce a computerized issue system.
The Library is celebrating its 50th birthday with a number of events. Of particular interest is the information gathered about the year of its opening1967 and the time line of key national and local events since then.
For more information:
Happy Birthday, Chi Library!