But if the readers will get a modern purpose-built building instead, is it really such a tragedy? I find it extremely difficult to be sentimental about a library in which “flakes of paint and plaster regularly fall on the readers”, which does not have disabled access, where buckets are required to catch water from leaking roofs.
We too have one of those Victorian (or maybe it’s Edwardian, I forget) libraries here, and if and when we ever get a modern replacement, I don’t think many people will be mourning it. A couple of years ago, it flooded due a burst pipe or leaking roof or somesuch and several shelves of books were badly damaged. It’s poky. There are half a dozen steps just to get to the main reading room; and the stairs up to the reference section are narrow and awkward. (Oh, and it smells funny.)
“The intellectual heart of one of the most radical and diverse communities in Britain will beat no more”? Please. Books and their readers are what counts. (Although I have to say that calling the replacement an “Idea Store” is totally naff.)
And the building itself is to be restored. So it gets a new lease of life and the locals get a better library. Small branch libraries are closing all round the country, especially in rural areas, with no replacements at all, and have been for years. Now those are tragedies.