Library Quest: St Anne's Valley
Another working day and another library, this time the closest in the network to home and in a way the successor to the library that set me thinking about Nottingham’s library system.
Though the Carlton Road building is quite lovely, it wasn’t very fit for a modern library, possibly if radical improvements had been made through the 80’s, 90’s & 00’s and some of the asbestos removed and the roof repaired it’d be suitable still? However its a moot point because this library was replaced with a much more functional public space on St Anne’s Wells Road, much closer to the community this building was intended to serve. Sadly the building is on the council’s disposal list (not demolition, but sale) and needs real cash to renovate it and ensure its survival, I do not believe the building to be listed with a grade but it is considered by the council to be worth sparing as part of the general aesthetic of the area and for its pleasing appearance. The local paper suggests that the property was purchased in Dec 2018 but if so there is no sign of any work and the building is deteriorating rapidly especially the brick facings below the drip course. There is an extensive set of resources on the Nottingham City Council website about this building. Fun for infrastructure nerds, there are diagrams.
My preference would be to see this building continue in public use as a bit of social infrastructure, however the cash injections needed to ensure its survival would require the property to have a real financial value and sadly, that’s the housing market, so housing for people with money, not resources for people without. Would you like to live in an old library? I would.
The St Anne’s Valley Centre was built in part to replace a number of public buildings in the area. It includes the library, a medical centre and a pharmacy as well as a help desk, some youth services and an office for Nottingham City Homes, the council arm that handles housing in the city, St Anne’s Valley has a high concentration of city owned houses and residencies of all sizes.
This was the first library I’d visited that had been built in the modern age of information and it showed. The resources here were excellent. The public access PCs were at a purpose built desk with clean lines, angled seating (for privacy and good use of space) as well as very modern mounted monitors with the small tower unit for the computer secured to the back. There were a couple of other work stations dotted about the space too. Along the long window were some reading tables (a lady was sat eating her lunch here) and even a sofa (a young man was sleeping on it). There was a play area adjoining the children’s book section which was also at the end of long rows of chairs, the waiting area for the clinic next door.
The library was busy and I didn’t feel inclined to approach the desks and ask the assistants there if I could use my laptop here. I could, clearly. There were sockets at every desk for power. Additionally adjacent to the library space were two meeting rooms (there may have been more) and I’d be very interested to find out if the public can book these. I think there was a mum’s group using one when I arrived.
On a practical level it makes a lot of sense combining the library with other services in a bigger building. The space was well equipped and pleasant to work in. It seemed to be a space that a good variety of people were using and a safe space too. I’ll be frank, St Anne’s doesn’t have a great reputation as an area, though like any neighbourhood, the stories are far worse than the reality. It’s the sort of place that you tell students not to wonder around. No doubt these prejudices are wrapped up with all kinds of racist beliefs and classism. I briefly worked out of the old St Anne’s Police Station (little more than a port-a-cabin) in the late 2000’s and can confirm that in law enforcement circles, the St Anne’s beat was not considered a nice one.
As my closest library which I can walk to and back from in about 30 minutes, I’ll certainly be going to work there again.
Today’s thumbnail is an Adcock & Shipley saw of some sort (no I don’t need to know) from “the Asset Strippers” at Tate Britain.