1 EAGLETON NOTES: Liverpool Central Library

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Monday, 17 December 2018

Liverpool Central Library

There's nothing like a good catchy name for making something memorable. Having been brought up in Liverpool and been involved professionally many years ago with the Library, Museum and Art Gallery which were three joined or adjacent buildings on William Brown Street owned by Liverpool City Council I knew the three edifices simply as The Musuem, The Central Library but always the Walker Art Gallery. I have discovered over the years since that one only has to mention "The Walker" in art circles and someone in the company will know it well.

The Central Library had a magnificent circular reading room called The Picton Reading Room. Most of the Library has been completely revamped in recent years to bring it into the digital age. However, the magnificent Picton Library remains, as always, a haven of peace and tranquillity in the modern world. 

Liverpool University had many libraries open for studying in but when I was there the beautiful new Arts Library with it's adjacent lawns had just opened and I wrote many an essay seated looking longingly at students basking in the summer sun outside.  Later when I was studying at the Liverpool Polytechnic (a mass of dislocated buildings in the city which had been the College of Commerce and the Technical College etc) there was no library that I can recall and I often retired to The Picton instead.

The Picton Reading Room from William Brown Street
The Picton: no pen and paper these days
The Picton: a better idea of its magnificance
The incredible, and beautiful, interior of the new Central Library

28 comments:

  1. I love libraries. I have hardly ever been to Liverpool - once when writing an article, when I had a whirlwind tour of some extraordinary places and I met some amazing characters - but it was all so whirlwind I hardly remember it now! And, again when I went on the week that the Tate Liverpool opened. (by coincidence). And that was a long time ago. I know there are all kinds of other things there which reflect Liverpool's interesting history, and many more things to see now.

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    1. Jenny, I was in Tate Liverpool in October. I really must catch up with my blog posts. Liverpool has many tourist riches 'in your face' and a plethora or riches if one seeks them out.

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  2. Beautiful Library!
    The library here is small but beautiful...except they took out the tables and bookshelves in the main room, and added sofas! It not looks like a lounge instead of a library. I still have yet to grasp they no longer have an encyclopedia. The cost of yearly updates issue.

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    1. Maywyn, I'm surprised that any libraries still have encyclopedias any. When we all Google at the drop of a hat few people must ever use them. Our library in Stornoway is very good and is a good place to explore for books on a subject you may not know much about. It also has plenty of novels (which, I admit, I rarely borrow). I notice when I go in that there are a number of regulars in the easy chairs reading the newspapers.

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  3. I knew that Liverpool has a wealth of historical buildings but I didn't know about The Picton Library. Thanks for sharing this...and the way that The Central Library soars upwards - magnificent!

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    1. Yes, YP, when I was in Liverpool in October I did some reminiscing and visited a few buildings from my younger days just to see what had changed. In some cases the answer was 'Very little'.

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  4. Libraries are attractive buildings these days rather than the rigid lines of before.

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  5. I do know The Walker, because I had a painting in there once. They used to do an annual competition, which I think was called 'Young Contemporaries'; I didn't win!

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    1. Yes, Cro, the Walker had many competitions including, of course, the John Moores Exhibition. In 1967 I was standing just behind John Moores at the opening when he made the comment that Hockney (who had just won the JM prize) was going to be one of Britain's greatest artists. Of course a pronouncement by the great man would always become a fact. It was rumoured that he'd already bought some of his early works.

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    2. Yes, of course, it was the John Moores show. My memory isn't what it was!

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    3. Cro, I am impressed - very impressed.

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  6. I seem to remember your brother having written about the library some years ago, but maybe I am mixing it up in my memory with having read about it somewhere else. Anyway, it is a truly magnificent building, as is the modern library. There is just something about libraries I still find hard to resist, even though my days as a working Librarian have ended as long ago as 1992.
    As I don't move in art circles (!), I have not heard of The Walker before.

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    1. I'd be very surprised, Meike, if CJ hadn't blogged about it. Libraries are irresistible to me too. I did blog about the Walker Art Gallery back in 2010 (here) but I think that was just before we followed each other.

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  7. Our library used to be in a Porta-cabin but then few of us could read and write in those days.
    These are wonderful, I think that both Glasgow and Liverpool are underrated for their architectural magnificence.

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    1. When I first came to Lewis our library was housed in portacabins. Now our Stornoway library is right in the centre of town and a very useful resource for the digital age.

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  8. Love this, and it makes memories come flooding back of the old library in the town where I grew up... It wasn't as grand as this one, but it had a circular or semi-circular room with shelves all around (and the reception desk in the middle). I visited that library a lot during my years in upper secondary school and I still remember where I would find different kinds of book back then.

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    1. Ironically, Monica, none of the books I used were house in the Picton Reading Room where I sat but in other parts of the building which has now been redeveloped into the place you see in the photos.

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  9. What a fabulous building. It would make one difficult to leave...to remain forever buried in the ambience...and the books.

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    1. Indeed, Lee, indeed. It was very strange being in the building as a 'tourist'.

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  10. Both are stunning in their own ways. I did five years at technical college and never once darkened the door of the library, can you believe it?

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    1. Kykie, I suppose if you had somewhere else to study and write undisturbed then in a way that was your library.

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  11. I love both the library and the reading room. But the latter, having a penchant for older things, best. Circular rooms are so ... embracing and cosy.
    I vividly remember my first visit to a library - Hastings library. And the first book I got out. It was Paul Gallico's 'Snowflake'

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    1. Kate, I too, can recall my first Library - Childwall Library in a 'shop' in a row of shops. We walked there (a mile from home) frequently when I was a toddler. There was a book I borrowed time after time but I've been trying all morning to remember what it was with no success.

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  12. May libraries live forever (I still miss bookstores...)!!! Those mid-air staircases remind me of the magical moving staircases at Hogwarts (Harry Potter reference alert).... not for the faint of heart!

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    1. Well, Mrs S, I hope they do too. Glasgow still has a few bookstores but most have closed down.

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