IT is hard to envisage what buildings were at the Triangle and Avenue Road before the new spacious state-of-the-art Bournemouth Central Library opened in April 2002.

The library has become such an important part of the town that it almost feels it has always been there.

The Central Library had outgrown its previous home at the Lansdowne and needed to find larger premises. The site on the former grocers Robson's and Sons and Bebbington's Wrought Iron Centre at the Triangle had the benefit of being close to the town centre and had good transport links.

It also had the potential for a much larger building than the former library enabling it to provide better facilities and a better service to bring it into the 21st century.

"In 1893 the Public Libraries Act of 1892 was adopted in Bournemouth and the first Bournemouth Libraries Committee was appointed. In 1895 the mayor, Merton Russell Cotes, opened a public library in Old Christchurch Road, and then in 1901 the Central Library moved to Dean Park Road," said Medi Bernard, Bournemouth Libraries Service and Strategy Manager.

The Central Library at the Lansdowne was built on the site of a house called Peachley, together with the Municipal College. Designed by the borough surveyor, F W Lacey, the land cost £1,500 and the building cost £7,000.

Opened by the mayor, Alderman H.S. McCalmont Hill in 1913, Lansdowne Library consisted of a lending library and a newsroom, a reference library and magazine room, the John BM Camm Reference Library as well as offices.

The lending library contained 23,000 volumes arranged by the Brown subject classification.

In the newsroom there were 34 daily and weekly magazines plus railway guides and directories while in the magazine room there were 60 periodicals plus Quick Reference works such as yearbooks.

The John BM Camm Music Reference Library was the first of its kind in the country. The 1,855 volumes were presented to the town by Camm in 1910.

Over the years the Lansdowne Library was developed internally. In 1924 steel galleries were erected in the Reference Library, in 1936 changes to the newspaper and magazine rooms were carried out and a passenger lift was installed in 1940.

"However by 1939 a review of the Bournemouth Library Service said the Central Library was too small for a town and population the size of Bournemouth. In 1948 the Education Committee was asked to approve the taking over of the Central Library for an extension to the Municipal College. The Public Libraries Committee had to search for a new site for the Central Library,"said Medi.

In 1966 approval for a proposal to build a new Central Library was sought by the Bournemouth Libraries and Museums Committee. In 1996 the plans for a new Central Library were put on hold until Local Government Reorganisation in 1997 when Bournemouth Library Service became part of Bournemouth Borough Council again.

In February 2002 the library at the Lansdowne closed and 65,500 items were transferred to the Triangle, plus new stock worth £500,000 and £250,000 electronic resources and 2,500 metres of shelving was installed in the new library to hold the increased collections.

The library is part of a larger building containing shops and a cafe and took 72 weeks to construct.

On April 24 the new Central Library, which included more than 50 public computers with internet access, toilets and baby changing facilities and a revamped music section where people could listen to music through headphones at listening posts, was launched in style with 500 balloons as the deputy mayor Ben Grower cut the ribbon to mark the public opening.

In June the Arts minister Baroness Blackstone unveiled a plaque to declare the library officially open.

Visits to the new Central Library increased by 118% and over 100 cultural and business events were held in the first year of opening.

Today the library includes an exhibition gallery and meeting rooms. There are specialist music and heritage collections, two archive stores, study space on two floors, a teen zone and a children's zone to encourage young readers. The library holds 78,000 books, 11,000 DVDs and CDs and 18,158 music sets and sheet music.

There are seven regular reading groups, a Family and Local History Club, a weekly Job Club, weekly computer skills sessions, Chess and Scrabble clubs, story times for children, and music events organised by the Friends of Bournemouth Music Library.

The Bournemouth Central Library was awarded the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award in 2003 and has also received a Civic Trust commendation. The Music Library received awards for excellence in 2010 and 2016 from the International Association of Music Libraries and Archives.

For more details on the library's 15th anniversary events contact or call 01202 454848.