Us folk up North are rather lucky really. Art galleries, markets, an abundance of niche little bars and restaurants and, reopening in Spring 2014 , the new, improved, refurbished central library. A comfortable, inspiring, modern setting for many a bookish musing is on the cards, a veritable ‘living room‘ for the city centre. However, these wild promises aside, don’t us Mancunians deserve somewhere decent to pick up our books in the meantime?
For a while we had a pretty little temporary ‘city library’ up on Deansgate that was great to nip in for a quick peruse/use of the computers however, this has since been shut up and been replaced by what can only be described as a poor excuse for a temporary measure, however good a glimpse it gives us of what to expect when the big boy opens up next year.
This is all very well but you have no idea how long it took me just to find this corridor. A number of my bookish Mancunian pals had complained about the new arrangements. Firstly saying that the tiny room designated as a ‘library’ is barely big enough for the purpose (once you find it) and because of that has hardly any books in it! A library without books… I had to see this for myself.
After three-quarters of an hour wandering bewildered around the edge of the Christmas markets I happened upon this sign:
Does this look like a library sign to you? It is only because of a tip-off from a fellow book grouper that I knew to follow this random sign, walk for 5 minutes down ornate walkways bustling with the waifs and strays of Manchester and finally arrive here:
The phrase ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ comes to mind. Although we get a pleasant snapshot of what to expect when the central library reopens, the refurbishment a delicate melange of modernity and technology and historical architectural detail that looks great but, what about the books in the meantime? The space is pleasant, much more so than the city library, with computers and all the other crucial bits and bats that people rely on but….with the state our bookstores are in at the moment, however temporary, our city libraries need to cut the mustard when it comes to access to books. And this just isn’t good enough. I’m disappointed Manchester, shame on you.
Manchester Library by Michael Beckwith via Flickr