Monday, 4 August 2008

In The Library Again

Yesterday I wrote a long post about our local library, and I'm in there again today. In yesterday's post I commented on how quiet libraries were when I was a child, there were lots of elderly lady librarians who 'Ssshhd' you if you made the slightest sound. Fortunately today, things are a little more enlightened, and as a result should make libraries more friendly places for young and old alike.

In our library, you can hear the gentle tapping of computer keyboards, as various people from the very young to the very old, are using the numerous Internet-connected computers that are there for us to use, and children can be heard talking, in not too quiet a manner, but undoubtedly doing their best, to Mum who is busy trying to find a book to read or sort out a thorny problem on the Internet. All of this is quite acceptable and shows that the library is a living building that is getting good use from the local population and therefore fulfilling its proper function.

However, today the library is not a pleasant place to be. It's nothing to do with the people inside; they are the usual mix of young and old, Mums with little children, the elderly looking for a book to help pass the time, and people like me who would do this at home if BT hadn't messed up my Internet connection. No the noise is outside; it is the sound of pneumatic drills as the road is dug up alongside the library.

The library is on the corner of two roads. One is a main road that is busy throughout the day with buses and cars, while the other is a small side road, typical of many of London's residential streets. I'm not absolutely certain what the work is for outside the library, but I can guess and I am absolutely certain that my guess will be right. At present the Victorian water mains in London are being replaced and this entails access to the mains running under the streets and to every property in the area to lay new pipes. I fully understand that this work is necessary, and I also understand that this is no small job to carry out, affecting all of London as it does. But I am seriously concerned how long some of this work is taking.

When they were doing the roads where I live, which is only a short distance from the library, there were holes in the road and pavements, as well as a number of roads closed, for more than 12 weeks. I actually had a hole in the road, and an unsightly pile of rubbish and gravel outside my house for the whole of this period. They didn't actually dig up the pavement outside my house until the penultimate day they were working in the area, and yet I had to put up with the inconvenience and noise of these workmen and their machines for three months. Some days we saw no men working at all, while on others only one or two were seen. I know that at least three complaints were made to the contractors about the length of time that the work was taking, and that the contractors came to inspect the work being carried out by the subcontractors on two occasions (because they stood and talked outside my garden).

Will they be as long working in the road alongside the library? I hope not, for the very good reason that on the opposite corner to the library is one of the local primary schools. The school has been closed for the summer holiday for a fortnight now, and yet work has only just begun outside it. Judging by the length of time that they took dealing with the roads around my house, the workmen will need to work at breakneck speed to finish the work outside the school before the summer holiday is over. Sitting here listening to the drills is bad enough for me even though I don't need an excessive amount of concentration to be able to type this post, but I should imagine that for young children trying to concentrate on their lessons, the noise will be intolerable.

Let's hope that the work is finished soon and the children's lessons will not be disturbed once the new school year begins.

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