Libraries win Prizes

In these increasingly currency restricted times it has become necessary to find some forms of free entertainment. One of my favourite forms of free entertainment is the Library. My Library is not just any old Library though; my Library has won a prize.

Bizarrely enough, especially when it is considered quite how many basic things the Irish manage to get as wrong as it is possible to get them without a lightning rod (Irish potatoes, anyone?), my local Library is really quite good.
Back in my childhood, my local Library was a tin hut filled with Catherine Cookson and Stephen King novels. It also had roughly 18 copies of Watership Down because Richard Adams lived three doors up and presumably gave them a discount. The Librarian was an ancient harridan who was so unsuited to her job that she not only filed Bridget Jones’ Diary under J, but also kept their copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover beneath the counter.
Once I returned to the homeland I was delighted to discover a vast Library spread over many floors and usefully positioned next door to Iceland where I could buy frozen unnamed meat. Cardiff Library was not the best place to find interesting and readable books but it was a great place to find a band to join.

It was with some trepidation that I approached New Ross Library when I first moved over. I had driven past it several times and was deeply alarmed by its corrugated iron walls and Car Park carpeted in broken glass. Once inside I shuffled up to the counter and asked what would be required to let me join. They asked for my name and address and invited me to pick myself out a swanky Library card from a choice of six. I was thrilled. In the UK I’d had to fill out long forms in triplicate and promise to be a good and upstanding citizen who would not bring the Library into disrepute.
The second thing that shocked me was the staff. They were human. They were, dare I say it, nice. The Head Librarian always asks after my Mammy if she sees me, which more than makes up for her calling me Theodosia (a name which is three syllables too long for everyday conversation).
The third thing that shocked me and which continues to shock me to this day was the selection of books. They were really good.

Recently, the Library has been trying to improve itself even more. There were plans for a mezzanine floor above the office but I’m given the impression they got half way through the work before anybody twigged that it wasn’t going to work without spending a great deal of money re-enforcing the floor. Instead they built themselves a new porch with a fancy automatic door and a new sign.
The new sign is very classy. It is green. The writing is in white. It also features something I had never previously assumed one would need on Library signage.
Braille.

It’s not that I don’t think blind people use the Library. I’m sure the blind population of New Ross avail themselves daily of the fine selection of audio books. I just feel fairly certain in my mind that any blind person in a library is going to require some assistance from somebody who is not blind and so, therefore, is probably already aware that they are entering the Library. I could be wrong of course. Maybe there are people who like to play Audio Book Russian Roulette. We all have to get our kicks somehow.

Anyway. The award was from the National Disability Authority and it was given for Excellence Through Accessibility.

Good to know the Braille achieved something.

1 comments:

Serial said...

Hey Theo - Ever heard of guide dogs? They are very skilled at helping their owners to navigate, but they aren't too good at reading, hence the importance of Braille and tactile signage. Many people with disabilities value their independence fiercely, and deserve every opportunity to be able to use public services without needing someone to hold their hand.