OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

Hornsey Library (that's our library in Haringey Park) is due for a bit of a revamp. The libraries service hopes to give the contract for the works to someone soon, though they say they haven't yet decided quite what to do. You can read some thoughts on the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum blog, and the subject will be included in their AGM.

I happened to find myself in the library in Market Harborough yesterday, and I was quite impressed. The central part of the children's library is defined by an arch of interesting shaped beams. I'm not sure what they represent. The library is in a Victorian building which used to be a corset factory. Perhaps the beams mimic those in the building's roof space, or maybe they echo the bones in a corset. My first glimpse of them suggested nodding donkeys. Whatever, they are interesting and create a good space for the children's books.

 By contrast our library is set in a 1960s concrete building with flat roofs. It has always been a library. Historic England says of it (in entry number 1246935) "The library was designed with wit and vivacity, to impart a sense of energy and modernity to reading and cultural events."  Hmmm!

Perhaps it is this heritage which has set the tone of the latest proposals.

Take the view of the possible entrance hall.

This is a brutal view. I think the building's style might be brutalist(?). A blank wall, a row of electronic guardians, and channels for us to pass through. I think this has caught the tone of the reinforced concrete very nicely. I'm struggling to find the wit and vivacity.

There is a view of the main library area.

I feel quite sorry for these cardboard cut outs waiting for their plane to take off, or perhaps for their turn to be sucked up into the giant matter transporters placed in the ceiling. At least they have a few books to look at while they wait.

Another delightful feature of the Market Harborough library is a series of displays, both in real life (including a 200 year old dog skeleton) and animated on a screen, showing the history of the area. Hornsey Library has an impressive engraved glass window "overlooking the garden court, is an engraved [window] depicting Hornsey past and present, from the church tower of 1500 to the new library and designed by Frederick J Mitchell ARCA". A history display would not go amiss in our library. Interesting things have happened here  - from Oswald Mosley rallies to Queen's first gig, from the 60s sit ins at Hornsey College of Art to the founding of  a world famous festival chorus by a chap who used to run kiddies singing session the library annex.

If you have any views on the proposed changes or have suggestions to make try popping into the CENF AGM, or reply to the blog on their website.

Tags: hornsey library, library upgrade

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1960s English modernism perhaps - and the very sixties concrete cladding always reminds me of the other Hornsea, in the form of Hornsea Pottery.

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