Central library is one building that really should get us all sentimental
FOLLOWING the alarm bells generated by Bristol City Council’s neighbourhood consultation of 2017, which indicated that 17 of Bristol’s 27 libraries could close, it was announced in July this year that no library would close; with funding protected for all 27 public libraries until 2020.
Cabinet member for communities Asher Craig denied kicking the can down the road during a cabinet meeting on October 2 when presenting her latest library strategy report.
The future of our library service after 2020 remains uncertain. However, it was made clear in the cabinet meeting that the 12 friends of library groups in Bristol and other community groups would be part of the development of a library strategy.
Whilst I welcome the arrival of new technology, extended hours at central library and more money, I am alarmed by a call for the review of the suitability of library buildings, in particular central library, within her report.
Central library was given to the people of Bristol in 1899. Since its construction in 1906 the iconic building, with statues on the front depicting scenes from the Canterbury Tales and Saint Bede, has provided joy and inspiration to its many users.
In 2013 the basement of central library was leased to a school for 125 years and I am concerned that the rest of central library, money for which was given to the people of Bristol in 1899, could be leased or worse still sold.
Some councillors have not attempted to conceal their support for this scheme in order to raise much needed money in the face of central government austerity. Such councillors say that we shouldn’t be sentimental about buildings. I beg to differ. I believe that central library is one building about which we should be very sentimental.
Not only is it a functioning component of our city’s legacy and story, but it was built with money left by Vincent Stuckey Lean for the people of Bristol to benefit from for generations to come.