29.4.16….There will be many in the city (and maybe beyond too) for whom the growing attack, savaging, closure of Carnegie-endowed libraries by Local Authority Councils is only now impinging on consciousness. The growing attention on the one Hove possesses – so good it is Grade 2 Listed inside and out – only slowly dawned on the rank and file Conservative Councillors in Brighton & Hove as a serious issue pretty recently, so I am thinking the public needs the backstory as the battle to save it becomes starkly, revealngly, dramatic.
“Where books are shelved does not matter” said Cllr Dan Yates at the Economic Development & Culture Committee meeting of March 10th. If you are talking about a box with a door into it and shelves, with some computer points, that is debateable. When you are talking about a building belonging to the tap root of a town or country’s heritage, and very identity in the world, you need to think how dumping that is any different to middle eastern terrorist fanatics smashing up ancient archaeology and artifacts, destroying museum contents. It is a Category issue, different in degree only.
Hove’s Carnegie Library building is just as important as all the books that come & go through it.
Hove was a Town in its own right, with its own council and its own borders before being taken over by Brighton; and, until it burned down in 1966 (to this day people say it was arson), Hove had a huge Victorian Town Hall of some grandeur. On its border with Brighton, until early this century, stood The West Pier – also mysteriously burned down (deffo by arson). So what has Hove got by way of public-access heritage architecture that speaks of civic pride and identity, of its history and length of existence….hmmmm….Hove Library? We are not some pop-up clone town or Milton Keynes.
It is important to have those reference points, to retain the libraries created by endowment from the American, Andrew Carnegie, from that era when education of the masses became a thing. It is said that the past informs the future, and as Britain does still struggle to find a way forward and away from the now lost economic power the Empire gave it, to find a different economic stability, we surely need the enduring legacy, the architectural compare & contrast to remind us of how we were in those days of new industrialisation, education, power growing for the masses as well as from the deeper layers of our cultural tap root going back in time. The erosion of cultural identity also erodes confidence.
Even if you don’t give a stuff for the country’s cultural tap root/heritage, if you care that the proposal to close the Carnegie involves reducing the library service by 60% as it is ‘merged’ into the back end of Hove Museum (with an extension built on), then maybe read on?