Manchester City Council – The Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre

The Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre opened in February 2016 – a new-build, combined facility in Levenshulme, which cost £9.1 million. This case study forms part of the Different delivery models – libraries (in-house) section of our online Culture Hub.

This centre sits at the heart of one of Manchester’s most diverse communities. The library is open 90 hours per week over seven days, which is achieved through maximising the use of radio-frequency identification and self-serving PCs and printing. There is dedicated library staff presence for 30 hours a week, with leisure staff supervising the space outside of these hours.

The library is an integral part of the centre with access to a wide range of library services and a suite of PCs, as well as Wi-Fi, an attractive children’s library, comfortable seating areas and study spaces, along with a wide range of books for all ages. From inception, the design of the ground floor space was led by the aspiration that the leisure and library offers would be seamless to the customer. The joint reception area overlooks both aspects of the service, ensuring – through design – that customers see the space as blended and coherent.

Library staff worked in close partnership with leisure centre staff and other council officers to really influence the way that the new services are delivered on site. In particular, they readily adjusted to the new collaborative approach. As a result, leisure and library services are now available from 6.30am until 10pm, seven days a week.

Impact of the project

The focus for all staff is the delivery of good services to the residents of Levenshulme. Since opening, the centre has been a great success with local residents and use of the library has risen dramatically with the seven-day offer. The centre has achieved all of its targets and surpassed expectations.

Recent performance figures show a 146 per cent increase in library members, an 80 per cent increase in visits and a 29 per cent increase in book lending. The 2016 PLUS library users survey by CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) showed that 93 per cent of customers surveyed judged the interior and exterior attractiveness of the Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre to be ‘good’ or ‘very good’.


This case study has been developed in conjunction with Arts Council England