High-tech business centre to be created at Ipswich County Library to help fledgling entrepreneurs
11:34 28 October 2014
Part of Ipswich County Library is to be turned into a business hub, providing services for new entrepreneurs as part of a relaunch in the new year.
The arts library on the top floor of the building in Northgate Street is to be moved into the main library on the ground floor with some of the more specialist services like music manuscripts being held in reserve.
The top floor will become a high-tech business centre providing services that newly self-employed people could not afford on their own.
The library service is working with the Suffolk Chamber and the Eastern Enterprise Hub on the scheme – and it would also provide access to business professionals who could give new entrepreneurs advice about starting out.
Suffolk Libraries general manager Alison Wheeler said: “We want to be able to offer new businesses space and facilities they can use to get started. We are looking at bringing in new technology, like 3D printing, that business start-ups can use.”
She emphasised that the move should not affect the running of the library significantly. The second floor arts library was not heavily used – often there is only one or two people in it, and it is not unusual for the arts library to be completely empty.
The library service continues to evolve as it becomes much more than just about lending books.
The budget for buying new stock is ring-fenced and at about £1million a year, Suffolk has much more to spend than many other parts of the country.
A new strategy for the library service looking ahead to 2020 has recently been drawn up, looking at new ways it can become part of the communities it serves.
Mrs Wheeler said every library in Suffolk had taken on new services over the last few years, and the fact it was now managed independently from the county council meant individual libraries were able to tailor what they did to the local communities they served.
Stradbroke Library has recently become home to a new post office for the village and Felixstowe library is expected to become the new home of the town’s tourist information centre.
The government has commissioned a report on the future of public libraries from publisher and entrepreneur William Sieghart who has visited the county as part of his research.
He was impressed with what he saw, telling Suffolk Libraries managers: “You’re doing something utterly remarkable.”