In the Loop for National Libraries Day

And so to the final instalment of the National Libraries Day adventure in Glasgow. To find out why it was called “In the Loop” and the hashtag was #nldshoogle you’ll need to go back and read the last two posts!

We are very lucky in Glasgow in that there are no plans to close any library branches. We visited four very different ones: GoMA, Hillhead, Partick and the Gorbals. The differences were both architectural and in the communities served. However, what they all had in common was staff with shining enthusiasm, not least our tour guide, Myra Paterson, who gave up her day off to take us round. In each branch, big efforts had been made to make the place attractive with book displays and artwork, and it was stressed that the service was not “one size fits all”: staff really knew their communities and did their best to target services to their needs. I saw and learned a lot in each place, too much to tell here, but perhaps I was most impressed by the children’s sections. These were all bright and attractive and we heard tales of packed Bounce and Rhyme sessions and other events. This, to me, was the hub of the library – where the next generation will become literate and learn to love books and reading.

GoMA The Library at GoMA has a long history. It dates back, as Stirling’s Library, to the eighteenth century and at one time occupied the whole of the Royal Exchange Building. Now, it is in the basement with the modern art gallery taking up the rest of the space. A basement sounds gloomy, but it’s not – they have made the most of it and it feels bright and welcoming. The cafe is at the entrance along with piles of books for quick selection – as a city centre branch, they have a lot of commuter trade.

Here are the early arrivals waiting to get in, Isabel, Shayna, David, Cathy and Lauren:


A cup of coffee called – Lynn has now joined us (and love Lauren’s T-shirt):


And looking the other way, you can see Myra, our tour guide, in green and Kathleen:


I had let my membership of the public library lapse, but here I am having rejoined with my shiny new ticket:


Finally, here is part of the children’s shelves – they make a lovely contrast with Clare’s coat!


Hillhead A few stops by Glasgow Subway and we were at Hillhead Library on Byres Road, the hub of the West End. This is the flagship for Glasgow Libraries, their busiest by some way, serving a fairly affluent community and close to Glasgow University so with a large student population too. It dates from the 1970s and looks like not much has happened since to upgrade it, but apparently some renovations are due soon. Here’s the gang on its way in:


Here’s an overview from the gallery:


And here’s the fabulous picture book train (do hope they lose that terrible 70s carpet in the refurbishment):


At Hillhead, we were joined by children’s author Lynne Rickards who also lives locally. Lynne and I have chatted on Twitter for some time, and I have bought her books for the library I work in, so it was lovely to meet her at last, though I seem to have missed her in all the photographs. Never mind, you can see her on her website and the excellent blog she writes for children.

Partick After a break for lunch in the Curler’s Rest, another Glasgow institution, we shoogled one stop on the Subway to Partick Library. I was surprised to learn that it only dates from the 1950s, because it looks much older; however it was apparently built to plans drawn up 30 years before. By the time we arrived at the fairly grand entrance, the Glasgow weather was doing its worst so nobody felt like posing:


You can see by the size of the windows how tall the ceilings must be, and it’s certainly palatial inside with the biggest children’s area I have seen. You could hold a ball there, and they probably have! This colourful rug caught my eye, as did the excellent displays throughout, including the one on movie books:



Gorbals Our longest Subway journey led to the last stop of the day, Gorbals Library and Learning Centre. Too many people think that the Gorbals of No mean city still exists, but it’s long gone and even much of what replaced it has now been demolished. The library dates from 2004 so is the newest building we visited, but by this time I was fed up with getting wet and so have no exterior pictures. Being wet also made us especially grateful for the tea and coffee that John made us in the meeting room:


The Learning Centre at the front has nearly 40 PCs, and the Digital Inclusion Team works with local community members to increase their confidence in using the latest technology. The Library is at the back, which makes it feel a bit tucked away but, as usual, there was a fabulous children’s section which really jumped out at me:


There had been a “10 green bottles” effect throughout the day, so the five of us who were left wended our weary way back across the Clyde to the City Centre. It had been a really interesting day: as I said at the beginning, I found the staff to be uniformly enthusiastic and I can’t thank Myra and the others who hosted us in the branches enough. It has also been very useful for cross-sectoral networking and from this will certainly grow some visits specifically for chartership candidates and, I hope, many other useful contacts and connections.