Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



The Hive – A multifarious library with a great variety of functions


The Hive is an intriguing example of how a library is able to hold a great diversity of functions under one roof. The library is a fully integrated public and university library and additionally The Hive houses public services, a café, meeting rooms and an archive and archaeology service.

At the same time the great variety of functions, resources and materials provided by The Hive create a large and varied group of users. 


The Hive is located in Worcester and is the first fully integrated public and university library in the UK. The library opened in July 2012 and is a result of cooperation between the University of Worcester and Worcester County Council. The university and county council have aimed to include both the students and the public.

The library is situated between the university campus and the city centre and it is meant to bring together and integrate the city and the university and strengthen the already existing bond between the city council and the university.

The name of the library refers partly to the various activities and the cohesion the library helps to create in the area and partly the building’s distinctive honeycombed appearance.  

In addition to a public and university library The Hive contains several other functions. The building is divided into five levels and each level has a theme and name. To get a better understanding of The Hive’s numerous functions, zones and resources each level is presented below. 

Level 0: Shared Study

Level 0 is called “Shared study” and is mainly intended for the young people. The floor is simply one large open space with seating spread across the area, smaller study zones and gaming zone with PCs. The floor is separated from the rest of the library and this way the young people has been given their own space.   

Level 1: Discover

The main entrance of The Hive is located on the first level. On one side of the entrance the library’s café is located and on the other side Worcestershire Hub, the public services, is located.

The theme of this floor, “Discover”, refers mainly to the large, colorful children’s library. The children’s library is one of the largest in the UK and children of all ages have been taken into account. Smaller spaces in the children’s section have been created to meet different activities and needs.

The immersed area “Story Pit” is among other things used for storytelling while “Activity Area” is used for education and play – the messier kind as well since the room has an integrated sink.

“The Oasis” is a closed soundproof space which is mainly used when classes with children with special needs visit the library. At the back of the children’s library a teaching collection is located. This collection is intended for the student teachers from the university nearby. 

Level 2: Explore the Past

On the second floor Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology is located. Apart from a local studies and archaeology library The Hive also provides a large self-service area for using microform and internet sources.

For instance the users can access a large multitouch table called “Touch History” that allows the users to browse digital resources like old photos and sources.

Under the guidance of staff the users can access an area for consulting original archives and it is possible to talk to archaeologists and access the archaeological records as well.

Besides Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology meeting spaces and a business centre is found on this floor as well. The spaces can be rent for half a day or an entire day. 

Level 3: Read, learn and imagine

Level 3 contains The Hive’s collection of fiction, non-fiction and university resources. The Hive has chosen to fully integrate the university books in the remaining collection of books and to help the users and staff to recognize the different types of books the university books is marked with a light blue colour on the spine.

The integration of the two book collections has led to the university students borrow and use more “regular” books and the other library users borrow more university books. In addition to the collection of books study and reading zones are provided on this floor as well. Alongside the large windows comfortable seating and couches invite the users to relax, read and enjoy the view.   

Level 4: Research, quiet study

From the library’s smallest and highest floor the users have a great view of Worcester and the surrounding nature. The space is a quiet zone with work stations intended for users who need tranquility and absorption when reading or researching. The floor also gives access to a small special collection and periodicals.


Not only does The Hive bring together numerous functions and groups of users under one roof it also aims at sustainability, which has been incorporated from the beginning. Among other things The Hive harvests rainwater and greywater and the building is heated by biomass boilers and cooled down by the nearby river Severn.

The architecture and layout of the building ensure maximum use of the natural daylight which reduces the power consumption of the Hive and, at the same time natural ventilation is integrated in the building which ensures a comfortable temperature in the summer.

The surrounding area contributes to The Hives sustainable profile as well. For instance the plantation is thoroughly chosen to fit into and support the micro-ecosystem of the area.      

18. Sep 2017 at. 13:47

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