Have you just borrowed a wonderful book that you can't wait to recommend? Or one that was a disappointment? Have you been to the library and not found what you wanted? Do you have any suggestions as to how the library could be improved?
The library budget may be tight and getting ever tighter, but that should not stop users from asking questions and making recommendations.
So this is your chance. But please, be polite, succinct, and provide your name and contact details. We cannot guarantee to publish every comment, or to get a response, but will do our best.
Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
OR hand them to a librarian in an envelope clearly marked Friends of West Hampstead Library
1. BOOK DONATIONS
Peter-1 asks: We keep hearing that Camden is cutting back on book buying. Why can't people donate books to the library? There must be loads of people who have good quality books that they don't want anymore - unwanted gifts, review copies and so on.
Alan Templeton (FoWHL and CPLUG) responds: Book donation is a subject that has exercised library friends groups for years. Camden's library service has always been reluctant to accept book donations because this involves additional work for librarians in cataloguing and preparing the books for the shelves . With the recent introduction of self service tagging, this potential workload has increased.
Here's one idea however. If one bank of shelving within each Camden library was allocated to donations, the public could borrow these books on a self regulating basis. Each borrower would be expected to return the book(s) in a reasonable time, without the library having to record the issue and return. Each book would clearly be marked 'Donation' to avoid them getting confused with regular stock.
Obviously there are concerns. Can the public be trusted to return books to the correct positions on the shelves? Will they return them at all? Will having a donations shelf deter people from borrowing from the regular shelves?
But whatever the obstacles, surely it is worth a trial?
The idea has already been implemented at Swiss Cottage Library, where the donations shelf is up and running in the café area. Here's my report:
Honora Morrissey, Chair of the Swiss Cottage Library Users' Group adds: 'The Cafe in Swiss Cottage library does indeed have a very nice café. Tea, coffee and cafes are more reasonably priced than in the neighbouring cafés and in the café you can read the books which users have donated. You can borrow them also.'
LOVING THE LIBRARY
'I come here every Tuesday morning so I don't get in the way at home when our cleaner comes! I am a historian of the book and of libraries, and this has given me a practical sense of the reading public. What am I reading? The Last of England, by Randall Stevenson. It's part of the Oxford English Literature History series. This is such a indispensable place, is it not?'
Ian Willison local resident and retired librarian