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Part of the new library, above, at St Mary's, Lichfield, which has attracted thousands more visitors since its opening in December 2018 after a £1.4m refurbishment.

Thousands congregate at new library in former church

Visitors to a new library building more than doubled in the first full month after opening its doors.

Lichfield library welcomed 27,021 visitors last month to its new location, compared to 12,977 in January 2018.

The 108 per cent year-on-year increase follows the move in December from the previous library to the former St Mary’s Church, after Staffordshire County Council spent £1.4 million restoring and adapting the landmark building in Lichfield city centre.

Gill Heath, the county council’s Cabinet member responsible for Libraries, said:

The new library is a remarkable achievement and the people of Lichfield are clearly thrilled by it.

Thousands more people are visiting it every week and we’ve signed up 392 new members at the same time.”

The library, with more than 15,000 books, computers, free wi-fi access and children’s reading area is spread across the ground floor of the 19th century church building.

On the first floor is a mezzanine, overlooking part of the library, with a flexible performance and exhibition space with seating for more than 130, managed by the Guild of St Mary’s, and a Staffordshire County Council local history access point for digitised archive collections.

The redesign has retained the church’s large stained glass window, exposed the original columns, incorporated etched glass screens into the new layout and kept the altar, choir stalls and pews at the east end in the IT study area.

Gill Heath said:

Not only does the library have first class facilities, but the design makes fantastic use of the building’s size to create a real sense of space and calm.”

The county council’s investment and 30-year lease on the ground floor not only guaranteed the library’s presence in the city for a generation, it gave the Guild the long term security to develop the arts and performance side.

Also present on the ground floor is Lichfield District Council’s tourist information service.