Libraries, World Book Nights, the doldrums and borough councils

from lea bridge librayUnited Dairies to FoneBazzar. Smiley face.

View from the first floor of the adjacent Lea Bridge Library.


I always disliked Lea Bridge Library in down-trodden Leyton E10.. I used to come home from University and be upset that the dire miserable corner building was like a market-place rather than a library. I used to work in Golders Green Library where quiet was standard and books were plentiful. I knew what was what. Then in later years I was not surprised when former members of the various PSAs (PTAs) I used to belong to were runnin’ tings as “Friends of Lea Bridge Library”. I thought best to let them get on with it. The staff were obviously demoralised and probably sick of people asking about their opening hours.

Two years ago when I went to collect my Eid at the Town Hall tickets and was treated like an alien, the children were noisy…. naturally. The computer desks had  chewing gum stuck under them and crisp crumbs on top, and notices flapped around old sellotape on every pillar. Erk!

From the top of the library building we can see the grandiose “Markhouse Parade” lettering above an opposite unit and between the pigeons flying crazily from ledge to window sill. The trees are glorious. Only David Boote can tell us about The Parade because all these years I never knew the shops next to the Post Office were parading. I will say the small Post Office is nicer than the one in Mare Street Hackney and that they sell beautiful greeting cards and nursery items.

I twice in my life wanted to photograph the Carnegie Library but thought better of it.

When I asked that my World Book Night books be delivered for two years running to Lea Bridge Library I believed I was promoting the joint and trying to give it respect in my head.  Coincidentally the standard of the give-away books matched old Lea Bridge Library. The printers missed an opportunity to upgrade the paper. I say ‘old’ because the Library has had a refurbishment and lo and behold the council reduced the opening hours. Sod’s Law!

I collected my books from the on-duty-disinterested and gave then away to people who will find the small font irritating. I was forced to apologise as though I had done the book-binding personally.  I won’t be asked to do World Book Night 2014.

A couple of years ago, you entered the library by massive brown uncleaned doors into a vestibule  of beautiful brown and shiny marble tiles  which were always masked by community notices. The tiles curved upwards decorating a rich brown wooden staircase. Not so now. Through a glass door you enter a tiny book area and a children’s space next to a silent computer suite where more than a couple of clients are actually from the local betting shops during race fixtures. I know these things. I know my community. My heart does not race at the sight of the changes.

The library building may be out of the doldrums but its Lea Bridge Leyton neighbours are still in the mire. The surrounding shops and outlets are dirty-looking, forever changing hands  and need a good hose-down.

The locals must act for themselves now.

The Mill in Coppermill Lane E17 negotiated with the Borough Council for local community groups to use the freshly carpeted community room in Lea Bridge Library. Whoever knew it was there? Any council is all too ready to let The Big Society manage things as long as reports come in. I say that because a couple of years ago squatters took over the emptied Friern Barnet Library building in Colney Hatch Lane, North London and, instead of issuing bailiff notices, the clever Council went into negotiations with the cleverer squatters to keep the building in use. Easy peasy, eh? The guys inside know how to fix the electrics, to  drain the plumbing and how to check shelves. Good on them.

LEA bRIDGE LIBRARYCredit to JuliaC2006 Flickr account.

towards friendshiop garden lea bridge libraryThe Friendship Garden trees from the top/first floor window of Lea Bridge Library, a Carnegie Library.  (Hide the lead!) .

The “Friends of Lea Bridge Library” made this garden public-friendly. No dogs are allowed but are cans of brew? I wouldn’t feel comfortable there.


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