AMBITIOUS plans have been put forward to transform Hereford library into a modern community hub to serve the whole county.

Details of Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG)'s plans to revolutionise the city's Broad Street library by changing its interior entirely are detailed in a new 16-page document.

HLUG was invited to work with Herefordshire Council to explore options for future service delivery of a library in the city following December's cabinet meeting.

And the group says its ideas for The Rankin Centre – named after philanthropist James Rankin who enabled the library to be built – include the interior being completely replaced, with added floors and virtually double the usable space.

Under the plans, the library would incorporate modern shelving systems and new and innovatory guides for users to ‘discover’ books and digital material.

An opportunity to make use of the museum resources – by creating thematic spaces where relevant books, archives, artefacts and audio visual material can be seen alongside each other – is also pitched.

In its document, HLUG said: "What follows is an entirely new concept in the heart of the city of Hereford. The present building is the county’s central library and houses the main museum in the county.

"At present it fulfils neither of these functions adequately. It should become a major focus for cultural, educational and information seeking activities in the city and the county, as well as an attraction for tourists.

"The proposal has a number of distinctive innovations that include a new way of integrating library and museum offers, and a better way of accessing the library resources by introducing the concept of ‘discoverability’, including an informed gateway to archive sources."

Work to remove asbestos from Hereford Library and Museum – which is currently closed – is due to get under way next month and is expected to take five or six weeks to complete.

Plans to spend £86,000 on the removal were approved at December's cabinet meeting as well as a commitment to spend a further £900,000 on the library.

HLUG says that the library service would need to be transferred to a temporary location in the city while its proposed reconstruction work is carried out.

Its plan also proposes special features for children and space for parents and children while a floor would be dedicated to serious research and would include facilities for the new Herefordshire University.

There would also be a cafe, access to the council's customer services and a special unit for new and established businesses.

"The new centre will be a place for tourists to visit, for residents of the city and county to enjoy and, as a result, will make a major contribution to the local economy," the document states.

"It will become an important landmark in the centre of the city. A magnet for visitors and a community and a cultural hub."

A public meeting chaired by Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, is to take place to discuss the proposals at 6pm on Friday January 29 at the Museum Resource Centre on Friar Street, Hereford.