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High-tech business centre to be created at Ipswich County Library to help fledgling entrepreneurs

11:34 28 October 2014

Ipswich library set to convert upstairs space into Enterprise and Technology space.

Ipswich library set to convert upstairs space into Enterprise and Technology space.

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.

Ipswich library set to convert upstairs space into Enterprise and Technology space.  
Pictured Krystal Vittles, Alison Wheeler and Marion Harvey Ipswich library set to convert upstairs space into Enterprise and Technology space. Pictured Krystal Vittles, Alison Wheeler and Marion Harvey

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.”

5 comments

  • I agree with Sentinel Red - I think this is long overdue. Its the central library for Ipswich and Suffolk, arguably very easily accessible by foot, bike, car, park and ride, bus (two bus stations nearby) and train (transfer to bus required). Why on earth they created a "hub" on the fifth floor at the waterfront with poor transport links and inadequate parking is beyond me... it should have always been at the library. This should allow improvements to the computer terminals too over time. EEHub has no news on their website about this, I wonder whether its strictly aimed at start-ups or whether its inclusive to all... what the costs are etc.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

  • I think this is a good move. The library building has been an under used facility for a long time. As much as people have affection for libraries they have limited value to anyone that doesnt want childrens books, paperback novels or a book on weight loss. As a mature student a few years ago, all the books I needed were often shipped up from the British Library. With books increasingly online, a million pound budget is increasingly less good value for money. Libraries of the future will increasingly need to be online resources with rooms full of computers and not rooms full of paperbacks. With still so many people excluded from computer technology by income and location, access to online services will become increasingly relevant, so if projects like this enable the library to remain in use then it has to be good!

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    Sentinel Red

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

  • Dear Penguin. With the advance in technology and the instant availability of reading material online, there can only be a limited number of people who need to go to the library to read a book. Generations further on, it is inevitable there will no longer be a requirement for a Library.

    Report this comment

    David White

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

  • Forget about learning anything and pretend you're making money. Just about sums our society up.

    Report this comment

    Tamara Knight

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

  • Thanks for another uncritical propaganda piece. No mention, though, of the savage cuts to library services which are forcing them to seek these other funding streams. No mention that the library system is now run almost entirely by unpaid volunteers. Thanks to this government's divisive and reactionary policies libraries have become the Cinderella service, constantly on the verge of going under. Future generations will look back on this time and we will be shamed for what we did to civic society.

    Report this comment

    Origami Penguin

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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