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£27million library is proving popular
11:30am Tuesday 29th October 2013 in Echo News
IT cost £27million to build and is a long-awaited addition to Southend town centre’s “education quarter”, joining the South Essex College and University of Essex campuses.
Three weeks after it opened, the landmark Southend Forum library and learning centre seems popular with students and residents alike.
Library manager, Angela Breakey, said: “This is a fantastic building with a lot to offer.
The idea is for there to be something for everyone, and I think there is.
“I think with new things, you’re always going to have some positive and some negative feedback, but the majority of the feedback we’ve had has been very positive.”
The Forum’s shared public and study library – the first of its kind in the country – is the result of a partnership between Southend Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College.
The building is home to a new library, a new home for the Focal Point art gallery and teaching and learning facilities, including a 200-seat lecture theatre.
Ruth Hazel, of the Focal Point gallery, said: “It’s been really busy. We’ve had so many visitors, and the students have been very interactive with the gallery. The gallery runs talks in conjunction with the college, and will be looking to expand that in the near future.”
Andy Rees, head of higher education, access and counselling at South Essex College, says the reaction from students has been very positive.
He said: “Students are really excited about the space. The layout is great and the access to staff is something they really appreciate. The floor is always busy. You rarely find an empty room, even in the evenings.
“Students like the fact the public gallery is just a few floors below. There’s a good crossover between the different areas.”
Rebecca Bowerman, project officer for the University of Essex at the Forum, is similarly impressed. She said: “The new facilities have been really well received by students. It’s great to see them making the most of the open study spaces.”
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