We’ve heard a lot about library closures – both in schools and in the community.
Earlier this month the outgoing Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne warned society “will pay the price in the long term” for closing school and public libraries.
In a letter to his successor, Browne urged them to campaign against their closure. Browne said: “Do everything you can to support libraries – God knows, they need every bit of help they can get nowadays. I find it incredible and outrageous that public and school libraries are being forced to close – we’ll all pay the price in the long term.”
And Philip Pullman has been telling Wales Online that it’s all due to the death of “post-war altruism” and everything being “measured and assessed by cost”. He said: “This approach is tearing apart the invisible bonds of duty and loyalty, belonging and togetherness in the name of an ideology that nothing is more important than money.”
He’s largely right – but there are always counter-examples, and here is one I love – not only a new library extension but an inspiring one. Although it’s not in Wales, it’s not too far away – Coventry!
Foleshill library was originally built in 1913 and sits in a residential suburb.
And it’s been renovated! Not only does it now have improved access for disabled visitors, the extension has created a meeting room and an events and activity room which means it can host story time and reader group sessions for children and be a base for activities hosted by a youth worker who is based at the library.
But what I really like is its curved back wall, designed to demonstrate the library’s core theme of ‘imagination’.
It uses multi-coloured glazed bricks that are vertically stack-bonded to simulate library books, and to represent the multicultural diversity of the community.
But the brilliant thing, which any kids interested in code will love, is that the bricks are positioned to spell a message in Morse code, with one white brick representing a dot and three coloured bricks representing a dash.
Can you work out what it is before I tell you?! Go on, have a go! The link above takes you to a page with Morse code spelled out! And if you click on the pics they will enlarge.
OK, here is comes…… See if you got it right!
The pattern of bricks repeatedly spells out the words ‘Supposing’, ‘I Wonder’ and ‘What If’!
Isn’t that great? Isn’t that how we all dream up our fictions, and what we hope we can inspire kids to do? Well, they do it automatically of course anyway!
Manfred Baker, a Partner at Rush Davis, the project’s architect, told me: “It was important that the design of the building reflected the vibrancy of this multi-cultural area. By using coloured glazed bricks we were able to create a design that had real meaning and represented what the library was all about – imagination.”
So remind me – why do we need libraries?