Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Books for the masses

There could be a new library for Woolwich?
If it's not just rumour, this will be a good thing.

I've worried about the demise of The Library for years. You just don't know how well they are used. When I lived in the district of Lewishamshire, I used to make use of the Open Learning Centre, a cheap way to boost my basic computing skills.

I must admit that I love libraries, but can't stand reading, so I'm my own worst enemy. Libraries have recognised people like me and spread their net by introducing CDs, DVDs, internet access and probably start selling sacks of potatoes by the front door. Even though I've not taken a book out of the library since library membership cards were pieces of card folded into a small pocket, I use libraries alot. Borrowing CDs is a great way of trying out new flavas (I think that's yoof talk). Of course, I could flick through iTunes Music Store instead.

Well, if Woolwich does get a new library, I hope it's a proper library, a proper building for learning and reading, not just an uninspiring room with a 'community centre' next door and a 'family creche'. Screaming kids and 'SILENCE' just don't go together.

When Peckham Library opened, I went to visit straight away. Being a bit of a literary heathen, yet again, I didn't go for the books, I went for the architecture. The building is fantastic. I'm a big fan of modern architecture and this looked great. A bold statement for London architecture and helped put another much maligned and forgotten part of our city on the architectural map. My only thought was that I wished there were more books. Minor detail or does it just reflect the changing role of the library?

If the Thames Gateway project happens, Woolwich has to play a big part in it. It's all very well reporting bold headlines in the local press about a potential development of the largest shopping centre in Europe, or whatever it's meant to be, but if it's cheap and tacky architecture, it'll be Europe's largest crap shopping centre.

I've very little trust in town planners, I mean, just look at the tens of thousands of acres of dull, uninspired new housing estates. Did I hear someone say "Thamesmead"? It'd be a good thing to get involved now to get our voices heard and try to get quality rather than quantity into Woolwich & The Thames Gateway. Largest shopping centre in Europe? Big doesn't equal good.


philhuk said...

got a source for that rumour? Wouldn't it be nice if Greenwich Council cared about Plumstead as well? Woolwich has a library (of fair size), compared to Plumstead which has a little place on the high street and then the little place on the Slade. The Council seems to care about spending money in Woolwich at all costs and screw the rest of Borough's local amenity requirements. As I say though, where did you hear the rumour?


Plum said...

Very well but I want to come back to the Shopping Mall rumour. Google tells me that there's no such thing as "largest shopping centre in Woolwich".

However there are plans to build the largest Tesco superstore in Woolwich.

Raffles said...

Is this News Shopper story the source?


Raffles said...

Sorry - you can't see the end of web link. Add 'php' to it and it should work.

philhuk said...

that is probably the source. Plumstead is missing out on any investment. It's crazy in my opinion.

SF-02 said...

The Council has plans to build 3 new libraries. 1 in Woolwich when the new council buildings are constructed. 1 in Eltham when the new leisure centre is built, and 1 in East Greenwich where the old Hospital stood which will house new council buildings. A good idea as East Greenwich library is in a crumbling old building (you should see the roof out the back) and an inconvenient location.
Plumstead library is not that small compared to others in the borough, and the town does have 2. There is empty space upstairs in the old council museum, but its not really a priority.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if architects are the best arbiters of the basic needs of public spaces, they seem to want to create a legacy for themselves rather than a cosy nook for the reflective. The experience of climbing up see-through stairs, to be greeted by an atrium that would make Sherpa Tensing queasy....... I wonder what Lutyens might have come up with, or Pugin perhaps might appeal? Much as I admire the Libeskind approach, do we really want a monument, or a comfortable place to inhabit ? Anything is better than HRH and his ideas though. To others in Plumstead I would ask. Do you want your butter spread thinly (very thinly) on many slices of bread or generously on a few?