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Libraries: who wants ’em?

31 Aug

So another month is upon us and as ever the first day is theme day at City Daily Photo and today’s theme is “libraries“. As I’ve been quiet for a while I thought I’d give you not one but two libraries. Above is Hull Central Library on Prospect Street/Albion Street. The original bit on the right was built ~1900 and there’s been further additions along the way including the startlingly original shoebox on the side added in 1959. I used to live not too far from this place and used it quite a lot until the librarian decided it would be “helpful” to separate paperbacks from hardbacks and to develop a “classics” section (the definition of a classic was quite arbitrary and seemed to be a whim of the shelf stacker). The result was that you could end up trying to find a book in any of three places (Did Melvil Dewey die in vain?). The place seemed to encourage (or at least not stop) children running around playing; all very strange and not at all pleasant. So I’m afraid I gave up and haven’t set foot in the place for years (If my sister, a former head librarian,  reads this no doubt she’ll have a fit). But it seems I’m not alone in turning away from libraries the number of active borrowers is down by 5 million (!) from ten years ago. Now I know public spending cuts have closed branches and reduced book stocks but this decline seems to pre-date the austerity. We are told by the great and the good that libraries are essential but it seems Joe Public has better fish to fry or Pokémon to catch. If they carry on much longer not providing the sort of service people want then the future is indeed bleak for these noble institutions.
Below is the big boy in town; the Brynmor Jones at the University. I’ve shown it before but not lit up like this and also I’ve only just noticed the enormous comma thing in front. How did I miss that? Anyhow this place has coffee bars, an art gallery, WiFi up the ying yang and is open 24 hours a day. Maybe the public libraries could learn a lesson.