The New Library building in Barry
The Library in Barry has moved back to King's Square! The formal opening was at 2pm on January 4th, 2007, and by happy coincidence, I was in town. Strangely, the ceremony was held at what used to be the entrance. Perhaps someone thought that would be fitting as the library was "coming home". The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan (councilor Nic Hodges) performed the opening, though unfortunately what he said was lost to me and, I suspect, many of those gathered as there was only a tantalisingly open door behind him and no sound reinforcement. Nevertheless, I saw the flash of scissors as the tape was cut.
Anyway, the good news is that the Library has now been moved out of its temporary accommodation in the Leisure Centre into a new and pleasant wing of the ex Town Hall. The wing has been added onto the north-west of the building and makes use of the original western staircase; a very nice blending of old and new. A second blending occurs at the rear of the clock tower which has been incorporated into a light well. The north face of the clock is visible through the skylight, too.
What of the important stuff - the books? Well, I started with a look at the children's section (naturally!). And recognised one old friend; "South Sea Adventure", by Willard Price. I remember a fairly bland storyline, but amazing zoological detail and interest. A further quick scan didn't reveal any more books I remember reading when I was young, but quite a few that I (and my children!) have read since. Leon Garfield stands out in that category. I found it difficult to assess whether the number of childrens' books was higher or lower than when I used the library as a child. I'm inclined to say less, but then the area originally occupied by the children section now looks very, very small! Similarly comparing the adult/general areas was dificult, but I feel confident that most people will find the stock to be a valuable resource.
One of the more obviously acceptable features of a modern library are comfortable seats. I say obvious because a lot of commercial bookshops have adopted the idea, but some public libraries were very slow to catch on. Here are comfortable seats. Just right for testing a book, or learning just that little bit here and avoid taking the book out and depriving others of its benefits for a few days. Useful too, for the out-of-town visitor with a spare hour or two...
While books are traditionally what a library is about, this one is keeping up to date with other media: CD, DVD, audio books and, of course, computers. Now if only the wwweb was catalogued properly! The new library was almost instantly looking very busy, and I think the librarians were happy to be in the new building.
Incidentally, the area that housed the library in times past has been converted to a display and gallery area and at the time of opening was hosting the "Vale Artists Unveiled" exhibition by, amongst others, members of a group calling themselves the Vale of Glamorgan Artists (VOGA). (Exhibition close date, 31 Jan 07.) Some of the work was quite good, but taking pictures was banned - unless you paid for them first!