Author Michael Morpurgo spoke to Red Maids’ 600 pupils before officially opening the new library. He said: “The heart and soul of any school is its library – a place of knowledge and understanding.”
The library has been built in a two-storey void in the centre of the historic main school building where the old, red-brick external walls now create a new living space with a contemporary, urban feel.
Headmistress, Isabel Tobias, said: “We have used our imagination and vision to create a learning environment that blends the old with the new and meets the needs of our students now and in the future.
“The resulting space is modern, light, warm and comfortable and equipped with Kindles, iPads, an extensive electronic library, and of course thousands of books to support our students’ research and independent study.”
Brightly-coloured fixtures and fittings, bold lighting and a library desk, made entirely from 1,000 recycled books, complete the transformation.
The Pearson Library, as it is now known, is named after Michael Pearson, who taught at Red Maids’ between 1983 and 2000. Anthropologist and TV presenter Alice Roberts – herself a former Red Maid – said: ‘Mr Pearson was a fantastic English teacher. I think he thought he’d ‘lost’ me to sciences when I chose my A levels, but I always loved literature and writing. It’s fantastic that Red Maids is remembering an inspiring teacher in this way.’
Michael Morpurgo added: “I am delighted this library has been named after a teacher – that’s exactly how it should be.”
This major development has also involved extensive modernisation and expansion of the school’s dining hall, which sits below the new library, and a new visitor reception area
The school bursar, Peter Taylor, said: “Our builders, Integral, have worked closely with us and our architects, Stride Treglown, to overcome the challenges of creating these bold new spaces in an old building. We are delighted with the results.”