Meet your new library: 5 book shelves

Age Exchange Library Plans
The Blackheath Village Residents Group has put out an email newsletter, containing more details of the planned library inside Age Exchange. It’s a series of pdf files explaining, among other things, who you should thank for these plans.

The links to the PDF files:

As you can see below, from the wooden models and sketches, someone has spent a fair amount of time and money preparing all of this. It’s a very professional job, prepared by people who obviously have expertise in submitting planning proposals to local councils. Can’t wait to see what becomes of the old library building next year…
Age Exchange Model Lower Ground
I feel it’s my duty to mention that the BVRG would really like you to attend the next Blackheath Assembly. So would I. It will be held at 7:30pm on Thursday, 31st March, at St Matthew Academy, St Joseph’s Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0XX. Here’s a Google Map.

They’d also rather like you to not discuss anything at all about the music festival on this blog, ok?

There is currently a lot of discussion about the NIMBY event application on the Heath, not least by mostly anonymous contributors to the Blackheath Bugle blog. The BVRG view is that these matters are best discussed openly in public forum. An opportunity to do so is at the next Blackheath Assembly meeting.

No more idle chatter over here, hmm? That sort of thing causes trouble, and trouble we do not like, ok? Good. Glad that’s sorted. As you were.

In seriousness, I totally agree that the best way to get local issues resolved is probably face to face in a public forum. That doesn’t mean that an anonymous forum (like this) has no value. It’s just a different kind of forum. Which is why the Age Exchange Library arrangement sits uncomfortably. I don’t want a library in a windowless basement. I want the library that our council is obliged to maintain, without any back room deals made in smoke filled rooms with property developers.

Age Exchange Entrance

Age Exchange Ground Floor

NB: I realise that there is a mobile bookshelf, and a couple of other shelves in different rooms, but 5 bookshelves had a nice ring to it. It’s still tiny when compared to the existing library.


Filed under age exchange, blackheath, books, charities, politics

17 responses to “Meet your new library: 5 book shelves

  1. I wonder if they’re upset because, on balance, most commenters here are hostile to the objectors?

    • I think it’s because my cheap but potent mix of celeb spotting and crummy rumours gets more attention than their site (with a broken email subscription button)…

      • Dr Nick

        Chuckle chuckle.

        I don’t think anybody is “upset” – I do think the two following things:

        1. The BVRG is concerned about trying to get a representative view in a debate. With all due respect to The Blackheath Bugle, a blog (which isn’t a forum, although we are being allowed to use it as one, and thank you) doesn’t guarantee the identity of anyone. For all I know, all the other commentators could be one person using a variety of inventive nicks and opinions.
        That’s more of an attempt at comedy than a realistic criticism, but I hope you get the point – debating the issue in public is more transparent, and also seems to prevent some of the more unjustified and excoriating personal attacks, and channel discussions towards more constructive debate.

        2. Please be clear that the BVRG hasn’t taken a position on the Blackheath music festival. As for many other issues, it publicises public fora, licensing applications, etc. and urges members to get involved if they care.
        The reason is that the membership and the steering committee are often of differing opinions (or of no particular opinion) on issues, as (AFAIK) is currently the case about the Festival.

        The BVRG is really about campaigning on “quality of life” issues, such as: potential 24-hour licensing; cuts in train services; a Cumulative Impact Zone in Blackheath Village; and trying to prevent the closure of the library.

      • Rob, BVRG web bod

        Thanks for the info on the broken button….such are the joys of Windows server security updates!

        You’ll be glad to know that we’re contactable again.

    • Anonymous

      Why should anyone be surprised or upset? Seems logical that net-savvy people who frequent sites like the Bugle are happy to have a festival “on their doorstep” [ie: a long way from their windows] compared with a few hundred not-so-savvy residents who will have their eardrums blasted by said festival literally on their doorstep. Suck it up, miseryguts. Your pain is our gain.

      Excuse me a second, I can’t concentrate when my neighbours are playing their awful Kylie records full blast. I guess I will just have to put up with it, though, otherwise I’ll be branded a selfish sod.

  2. Michele O'Brien

    For those whose local library needs exceed 7,000 books on five shelves round at Age Exchange in traffic-plagued, downtown Blackheath, there’s always Manor House Library just down Lee Park Road road.

    Renovated two years ago by Lewisham Council to a superbly high standard and complete with computers and all mod-con techie things, Manor House Library is a gem set in delightful, award-winning Manor Park.

    You can still smell the newness, there’s no through traffic in the area,
    there’s parking. And the library has an extensive children’s area.

    • Nancy

      I agree! Manor House Library is good. I am happy Age Exchange has settled in Blackheath. I have seen so many older residents just wondering alone around the streets and heath. There will be definitely better use for that location rather than take your kids to read fairy stories. Manor Park also is beautiful and plenty of care.

  3. ThePirateKing

    Blimey – that is a small library area.

    I still can’t shift the feeling that the ancient do-gooders who quickly stopped fighting for the real (bigger) library and jumped ship to support the new tiny library in the Age Exchange centre have in fact done the wider village no good at all.

    • Anonymous

      Gosh, I didn’t realise someone had done an analysis of the median age of BlackSoc and BVRG membership. Could you reveal what it is?

      • Gosh, I love passive aggressive anonymous comments.

      • ThePirateKing

        The average age of the main committee of the Blackheath Society is about 70 I’d reckon. (No idea of the BVRG – I wasn’t meaning them.)

        If the Blackheath Society would like to post their ages I’m happy to work out the average.

        Nothing against old folks – retired people have more time for such things as sitting on committees, but its hardly a surprise that they view the Music Fest with horror. What amazes me is that they are prepared to waste so much of their time and energy and money fighting a music festival, but did very little to actually fight the village library being closed down.

  4. Gina Raggett

    Someone please correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but by my calculations the proposed “main library area” at AE measures somewhere in the region of 5m x 5m. It’s in a basement with no windows and much of the available space is taken up by a help desk and the need to allow people room to get in and out of the platform lift.
    The children’s area seems to encompass a whopping 2m x 2m with no provision, as far as one can tell, for buggies.
    At least those awful book things won’t be adding to the clutter which is just as well as AE are confidently expecting library visits to total 92,000 visits a year. I make that around 45 visits per hour. Since most visits will of necessity involve using the new machines to order and return books, the queues should be quite something.
    And for this Lewisham are said to be forking out £150K in transitional costs? Surely Blackheath deserves better.

  5. Gill S

    The 3D model is on display in the Age Exchange cafe, together with a comments book. There’s also a notice saying that the architects will be available to discuss the plans on particular dates — I didn’t make a note of these because they were all in the afternoons, which I can’t make. But I think there will be more of these sessions planned, hopefully at different times of day. It would be interesting to hear the architects’ response to the issues about space, windows, etc — perhaps if they’re reading this blog they could join in and give their comments?

  6. Gina Raggett

    The Pirate King: “I still can’t shift the feeling that the ancient do-gooders who quickly stopped fighting for the real (bigger) library and jumped ship to support the new tiny library in the Age Exchange centre have in fact done the wider village no good at all.”

    How I agree with the Pirate! And I’m sick of being told by Lewisham that AE’s was the only proposal being put forward. “Only” doesn’t mean adequate and in this instance certainly doesn’t mean cheap. Lewisham should have opted to rent out the top floor at Blackheath Grove and continue running the proper library themselves.

    As for Gill S, I’m not sure what talking to AE’s architects would achieve. If the brief was to squeeze a library into a 16-foot square cellar and provide a children’s area the size of a double bed, they’ve done as asked.

    But there will be an opportunity to put questions at a public meeting in the Civic Suite at the Catford Town Hall on Tuesday 12 April from 4pm – 8pm. Apparently AE will be represented.

  7. Gill S

    I was just voicing a fairly neutral thought, Gina — literally, “It would be interesting to hear the architects’ response …”. Here’s another neutral thought: “It will be interesting to hear the outcome of the 12 April public meeting.” If you are at that meeting, I’ll look forward to hearing your feedback on it.

  8. Gina Raggett

    Hallo Gill S
    Unfortunately, AE didn’t turn up at the meeting on 12 April, but here is what I have gleaned from various written – and I believe reliable – sources.
    – Assuming the money is found*, the AE proposals will undoubtedly lead to much improved reminiscence services and a bigger cafe.
    * LBL still insists (20/04/11)that no decision has been taken about financial support for AE’s plans.
    – Other than the above, there appear to be very few benefits to the wider community. 1) The 2m square space allocated for children’s activities is particularly inadequate. This is sad, given that many local schools have no library of their own; 2) There is no provision for community groups and activities being displaced from the Village library. (The Bakehouse will continue to be available for a fee, as it is at present.) 3) There will be no after-hours openings, which further restricts community use. Computer-using teenagers and those in employment will be the biggest losers here.
    – Some of the claims made by AE appear to be unsustainable. 1) LBL has confirmed it will aim to fulfil book orders within one week, not within 24 hours as claimed. 2) LBL has stated that some book orders MAY be free of charge, but that for others there will be a fee, currently 50p per volume. 3) The much-vaunted automated book ordering system is rapidly gaining notoriety for its frequent breakdowns and scarcely fulfils the promise of a “significantly improved” library service as promised by AE.
    All in all, the plans are a bit of a slap in the face for library users. But there will be a bigger cafe and lord knows, Blackheath really needs yet another one.

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