Abandoned by the public sector nearly a decade ago, Carnegie Oldpark stands as a beacon of hope for the new Belfast. We want to fill it with local people, enterprise, education and training, poetry and song — it will buzz with the voices of the local community.
Video published with kind permission from NVTV, the local public service television station for Belfast / http://nvtv.co.uk
We are going to bring this splendid old library back to life.
Over a century ago, Andrew Carnegie gifted over 2,500 libraries across the English-speaking world, a hundred on the island of Ireland, and three in Belfast.
The Falls Road Carnegie Library remains a public library to this day, a fine example of community access to learning. The Donegall Road Carnegie is beautifully restored and now let out to small businesses. We want the Oldpark Carnegie to flourish through the third sector, demonstrating what the local people can contribute to regeneration of an historic part of the city, bringing it back to vibrant and purposeful life.
We are expecting to raise the £1 million necessary for conservation and development, through independent charity, the Northern Ireland Foundation, and then to licence a social enterprise from the community to operate the premises. At this stage we hope that there will be commercial revenue streams from office rental (upstairs), enabling the other rooms to be free for education and training community, arts and social activities.
Our partners, the Lower Oldpark Community Association (LOCA), have served this part of the city for forty years, delivering services, answering need and lobbying for the area, with persistence and skill. We are delighted to be working with them, to restore and to operate this fantastic shared facility.
We are doing this for Belfast. We want to bring back to life this superb example of Victorian architecture for community use. We want to hear the voices of children, the sound of aspiration and the imagination of Oldpark contributing again to our great city.
There is no more exciting place in Northern Ireland to undertake regeneration than in this sector of North Belfast. It sits close to some of the city’s jagged interfaces, next to the reopened Crumlin Road Gaol and the new community hub at the former Girdwood army barracks. Only a stone’s throw from the decaying Crumlin Road Courthouse, we believe that the Oldpark Carnegie can be a beacon of regeneration in the cluster of promising developments across our city.
The project shall be led by the Northern Ireland Foundation, an independent operating charity that has asked Quintin Oliver, its Secretary, and the the purchaser of the Carnegie Oldpark with his partner Fiona MacMillan, to chair the Restoration Committee. Janice Beggs, Manager of LOCA, shall serve as Vice-chair.
An Architectural, Conservation and Heritage Advisory Panel shall oversee the restoration to ensure accuracy in our methods and tools to maintain the integrity of the refurbishment to Carnegie principles. We also expect to provide training and apprenticeships to local people, eager to learn or refresh new skills.
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Carnegie Oldpark Library
46 Oldpark Road
BELFAST BT14 6FR
Published by the Northern Ireland Foundation, Charity No. XT11435
Tel +44 (0)28 9089 1799, http://www.northernireland.foundation