Bridgeton Library opened in December 2012 in the Olympia, a former variety theatre and cinema, redeveloped with the help of Clyde Gateway. I’ve visited several times before, as it’s just across the road from Glasgow Women’s Library which is now based in its old premises – see my post on Scottish Women on Wikipedia, an event GWL held in Bridgeton Library, for photos of the interior. This visit was organised by MmITS (Multimedia Information and Technology Scotland) specifically to look at the Mediatheque.
However, before we did that Sally Clegg told us a bit about the plans behind the new library and we had a tour of the rest of the building. Bridgeton is an area of multiple deprivation and Glasgow Libraries wanted to do something different for the community. They used focus groups, although not all the ideas were practical – one man requested that children should be banned! In fact, the library now has a very attractive children’s library complete with Julia Donaldson mural. Overall, it is a bright and welcoming place with clear zoning. It has a training suite (which we used for the Wikipedia event) and 32 PCs in total, as opposed to just 6 in the old library. A Turning Pages table shares library information and information and work from the community – there is a Book Group and groups for poetry and creative writing. Issues have tripled since the move and Bridgeton has gone from the bottom five to the top ten of Glasgow’s 32 libraries – that seems pretty good to me, although they are still hoping for more.
The Library occupies the ground floor of the building. At the moment, the top floor is a huge, unoccupied loft space with good views over the roofs of Bridgeton. The middle floor is used by Boxing Scotland – apparently, boxers have been training there for the Commonwealth Games but it was empty when we passed.
Finally, it was on to the Mediatheque which opened a little later than the library – almost a year ago. Karen Gillies and Stephen MacPherson talked us through this. From purpose-built booths you can access a digital jukebox of over 2000 items from the BFI Archive, including some Scottish material but nothing local to Bridgeton as yet. Stephen had provided a list of sites he thought might interest us – I was particularly taken by Whatsoever a man soweth, a silent film from 1917 warning soldiers about the perils of loose women. The unfortunately named (Private?) Dick was rescued from peril several times by fearsome-looking busybodies and despatched to a VD clinic to see the consequences of falling. I then chanced upon a lovely little set of films with people from Gateshead talking about their reactions to the building of the Angel of the North. After that we had tea and biscuits and further chat before heading home with our goody bags. Thanks to all the staff at Bridgeton for showing us this wonderful initiative, and to MmITS for organising the visit. The Mediatheque is free to use during library opening hours.
This was not the only library visit I have been on in the last couple of weeks. I also went to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Library with SALCTG and wrote it up on the SALCTG blog. It’s another fascinating building – if you want to take a look yourself the Crush Hall (with a monthly changing exhibition) and the Library Reading Room are open to the public on Monday afternoons from 2pm till 5pm.