When I was young I used to enjoy visits to libraries, they were a place of refuge. Peaceful, quiet, a nice atmosphere, the smell of books. And I enjoyed reading.
Now .it's all changed.
My local library ( as have most of the libraries in the city) has been refurbished and renamed a community hub.
Now there are few books, .lots of computers, uniformed security guards, meeting rooms, help and advice experts on council services, jobs & benefits. And finally the local post office has closed down and moved into this library itself.
On one side of the room there is a bookcase and next to it a queue of people using the post office.
I miss the old traditional libraries. With wooden bookshelves, books, a librarian and cardboard library tickets in books with dated stamps.
The old libraries with wooden bookshelves and actual books had a certain magic.
Since childhood I felt safe and at peace in a library. Reading old and new books, the smell of the paper.
Now they are almost gone. The library I visited yesterday, is awful. Actually I had a two hour meeting there with my mental health employment advisor and I was using the computer applying for my latest job. A part time post paying £26ph.
The computer desks take up more space than the book shelves. There was a uniformed security guard with a radio and possibly a camera built into his uniform. There was a long queue to use the three post office counters. The bookshelves are metal and plastic. There was a loud children's group in one corner.
I have been concerned about meetings involving private sensitive information being held in public spaces in libraries within ear shot of other people. I would definitely want such a meeting to take place somewhere private. I had to pay for a meeting room in my village hall in order to see my Union rep while off work. She wasn't allowed to visit my home and I did not feel comfortable talking about work problems in a cafe or library where other customers might know me or my boss. Does the library you go to have a private meeting room? Some do.
I used to meet as many of my social work clients as I could at coffee shops. It put them more at ease as well as me and it was more pleasant. But of course if people are of the paranoid type regarding personal information etc or they just don’t like being in public places for whatever reason, I wouldn’t suggest meeting them in a public place, although I guess that I was relying on them (whoever I suggested a coffee shop meeting too) to say no if they didn’t want to and not everybody can say no so easily. But I suppose you can’t please all the people all the time.
When I go to see the advisor or support worker or whatever she’s called, at the better lives thing (referred by job centre) I will only see her if we can go in a private office but not to protect my information as such, it’s just that it’s an open plan office which doesn’t suit me, so when I get there, if there wasn’t an available office space, I would just leave. So far, I’ve only been twice, a private office was available. It’s disruptive to her but I wouldn’t be able to sit talking to her in the middle of an open plan office. The last time I went there was even a team meeting going on. There’s no way I could have concentrated on her questions with that going on. But I didn’t see it as an issue. I just knew we would need to find another space or rearrange or cancel the meeting.
I remember my meetings at Reed in partnership and their crowded open plan office.
A new client a couple of feet away from me was being asked.
This is the kind of thing I often overhear in libraries and it really worries me. I am not sure people are given a proper choice about where employment meetings are held.
They must have the same set up wherever they are. Open plan offices don’t suit me so she knows that if I have an appointment, she needs to book a private office. I don’t know if I’m going to continue going anyway because even in the private office, the lights give me a headache.
Why does it worry you?