Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Tiny Library

My local library is absolutely tiny. It is approximately 10 m x 6 m and is furnished with just two PCs. Every available space is used with three walls lined from floor to ceiling with (mainly) brightly coloured paperbacks. Walking into such a small place with book-lined walls is really quite pleasant: it is warm (insulation from the books) and very cheerful with lots of primary-coloured book spines. Small libraries in historical stately homes with leather-bound, serious looking tomes have a completely different feel to this cheery public library.
Small, but warm and welcoming.

These days I use Bath Central Library. Bath is a small city, but, as the library in the centre is the main library for residents, I was expecting more. There is not much to say about the library's physical appearance and proportions, it is on the top floor of The Podium, a small, 1980s style shopping centre with a car park in the basement, a supermarket on the ground floor,  and a cafe, toilets and the library on the top floor. I have also been rather disappointed by the availability of the library's stock as when I search the catalogue the books I want are nearly always on loan (Bath and North East Somerset charge a £1 reservation fee). The reference collection is not particularly edifying either and this week I searched in vain for a Russian-English dictionary (Russian is not an obscure tongue: it is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is the native language of over 144 million people), a member of staff checked the store for me, but it seems that they really do not have a dictionary for one of the world's major languages! Also, the behaviour of some of the other library users is a bit worrying: recently whilst choosing a book from the shelves I passed by a man sitting down with his socks off clipping his toenails, I admit that I felt quite disgusted.

Rant over.

Despite the number of failings mentioned above (I am trying to moderate my moaning, but I could easily continue), it is wonderful to see a library well-used with so many people using the local history service, browsing the shelves and actually borrowing books rather than just using the IT service.

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