About this image
The library was situated in the Ebenezer Chapel on Nottingham Road,to which it had moved in 1948 from the Town Hall and occupied the part of the basement that had once been the Sunday school. It looked more like a Victorian workhouse or a prison than a library. The unplastered walls were painted a sickly pink that gave the impression of being inside a blancmange. The wind whistled through illfitting window frames that looked out onto high brick walls on both sides of the building. Plaster fell from the ceiling and the floor was covered by old brown linoleum that was damp and mouldy.
Dust was everywhere and impossible to get rid of, even when attacked with an industrial vacuum cleaner. The public area of the library consisted of a couple of bays of reference books near the counter, a children's library in the centre of the room and an adult library occupying the rest of the space. The steel shelving was heavy and tall while the table in the junior library was large, round, heavy and highly polished. Today, this would probably fetch a considerable sum in the antiques market but it was totally unsuitable for its purpose. It was surrounded by chairs, equally heavy, which made it difficult for readers to reach the children's books. The display area was a table and a board that was nailed to the wall.
The workroom was under the stairs that led to the main part of the chapel, so it had no windows at all, while the librarian's office was in a corner of the adult library, cut off from it by glass screens. This contained the only phone in the building, as far away as it could be from the counter. Behind the counter on one side of the building was the staff room and, on the other side, the kitchen. Behind the kitchen was a room we called the vestry, which we used as a storeroom. The toilet was in a brick hut at the back of the chapel and must have dated from Edwardian times.
Dangers and Perils
The chapel was a very tall building so, during high winds, loose tiles were blown down from the roof on to readers and staff negotiating the path below. I remember running down the path during a gale to get under cover as soon as possible. The roof could have been repaired but nothing could have been done about the melting snow which slid from the roof and fell like an avalanche, blocking the path below. We had notices prepared warning readers of these dangers and set them up as appropriate. The gutters were badly worn so heavy rain fell directly on to the paths. As these were sloping they were turned into rivers, which flooded the staffroom and kitchen. While sitting in the staffroom, I once found myself surrounded by an inch or two of water. While on the phone in the office, a frog had hopped over my feet and we found a snail making its way from the workroom to the lending library. Slugs were of quite frequent occurrence.
Information supplied by K Whitmore Librarian there in the 1960s