With the new library in the Deptford Lounge having been open just four days, I've already clocked up two visits, two coffees, a couple of biscuits, four books and a tour of the building.
You could say I'm pretty sold on it.
Now steady on, I still have massive reservations about that bloody cladding and how it will age, but the great thing about being in the library is that a) the cladding doesn't come down that far so the frame which supports it is not visible at the ground floor and b) the huge ground floor library is a rather nice space!
So what is it for? as someone plaintively tweeted the other day? Lounging, that's what! Reading, surfing the internet, meeting friends, checking out the papers, drinking coffee, working on your laptop, entertaining your kids...etc etc.
With the lounge planned to open from 7am, seven days a week, and until 10pm every weekday, I am very excited at the prospect that this facility could bring some life back to the high street. It's not a bar or restaurant where you have to spend money in order to hang out, it is free and open to all.
At the front of the library, which extends the full length of the ground floor, are a few comfy chairs and small sofas with little coffee tables, and a dozen or so tables and chairs for eating/reading at. A small cafe counter (which sadly is only open during the day at the moment) is tucked into the side of the space, serving hot and cold drinks (a good quality coffee I can confirm) biscuits and cakes, as well as sandwiches and salads which looked rather tasty.
There is a large childrens library at the back of the room, which was running alive with boisterous youngsters when I visited on Saturday because of an event, but deserted when I was there on Thursday evening.
In between the cafe area and the childrens library are shelves of shiny new books - fiction and non-fiction, DVDs, CDs (aside from one Tinchy Stryder CD most of the music did seem to have been chosen by someone of my age or older :-/) audio books, graphic novels and so on. Tables and chairs for studying are dotted in between, with a few study booths sectioned off at the back of the adults library. Pick your time carefully if you are coming here to study; it's right next to the childrens' library and might not offer suitable conditions on weekends!
There's a large computer suite off to the rear side of the library, with 20 or so computers (including half a dozen Apple Macs - yay!) which are available for booking via the computer terminal in the main room.
Lots of activities are planned - storytelling and reading sessions for children, a reading group (starting 7 February) advice for the over-60s, computer skills for adults, job search advice and even world cinema screenings on Thursday nights. I'd like to see more adult education classes too, given that the building has numerous meeting rooms which would be ideal for this. Clearly the council's current programme was set up before the opening date of the Lounge was finalised, but it would be great to see more classes being held here next year.
More tables and chairs may be necessary for the cafe area of the library if it is to succeed - as people start to discover the place I can imagine the cafe getting quite busy and the limited seating might restrict its success.
Upstairs are meeting rooms, a 'jamming suite' (I believe that's music not preserves), a large hall which overlooks the square, and of course a ball court on the roof.
If you want to have a look around, tours of the building are available 11am Tuesdays
6pm Thursdays and 2pm Sundays - contact the Deptford Lounge direct to book.
Phone 0208 314 7264/65
Please feel free to add your comments and feedback below!