Church Street library wins over Frank Skinner

LIBRARY lovers everywhere rose up in anger when comedian Frank Skinner described local libraries as “musty, uninspiring places” in his weekly column for The Times.

But there were none more annoyed than Lisson Grove resident Don MacKenzie.

Mr MacKenzie felt so incensed about the comments he invited the comedian to pay a visit to his local library.

And lo and behold the Fantasy Football star took up his offer and came along to Church Street library last Wednesday.

Patsy Brogan, one of the library assistants, said the Brummy funny man was so impressed by what he saw he agreed to become a member.

She said: “He came along and they showed him all over the library. He was introduced to the self service machines and then he went to the non-fiction section and had his picture taken. Then my Deputy Manager challenged him to join the library.

“He was quite funny because he came up to the counter and he couldn’t remember his own postcode so we had to look it up on postcode finder on the internet.

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“We said to him ‘don’t lose your library card because it will cost you �3 for another one’. He was very charming and funny and I think we totally changed his mind.”

The Church Street library re-opened to great fanfare in August following a �2.5million makeover.

The renovations have transformed the previously cramped, dilapidated building it into a modern hi-tech creation.

The three-storey structure now includes a learning centre filled with new computers, separate children’s and adult floors and a large space for community use.

Meanwhile, the piece de resistance is the ‘teen zone’ which has been fitted with a gaming area and a two flat screen TVs, as well as books chosen by the teenagers themselves.

In the face of such high quality facilities, Mr Skinner was forced to admit in his most recent column that his views on libraries had been somewhat “out-of-date”.

He wrote: “The library had loads of computers. The general feel of the place was a cross between a clean, efficient secondary school and a cybercaf�. No one was whispering. With the staff’s encouragement, I actually joined the library, and proceeded to choose a book. I wanted Tony Blair’s memoirs but that had already been stolen so I opted to re-read Nineteen Eighty-Four. At last, George Orwell fans can reclaim the Big Brother franchise.

“The smiling lady on the front desk pointed towards a machine on the wall. I put my newly issued card in a slot, scanned the book and got a slip showing the return date, which doubled as a bookmark.

“I’m already seeing that date as a target. I work better with a deadline. Incidentally, I can return the book to any library in the borough and, you guessed it, renew it online.

“There are many classes and events at the library. It really seems to be, as Don said, a communal asset. When I criticised local libraries I didn’t know exactly what I was attacking.”