Quietly parked up at America Square today is a-slightly-out-of-place white van. Quite an impenetrable-looking vehicle with ‘City of London’ emblazoned across the side. No police. No camera crews. Certainly not the scene of any riot. An inquisitive climb inside reveals shelves of books. No ordinary van indeed; this is in fact a mobile library, the first of its kind ever used in the City, and it’s bustling with browsing and borrowing book-worms.
The service – which is only three months old – is a temporary stop-gap for those affected by the closure and on-going redevelopment of Camomile Street Library, which has been out of action since March 2011. Against the backdrop of so many closures, the City of London hit upon what has been hailed as ‘a perfect solution’, according to Carol Boswarthack, Head of Barbican and Community Libraries. Instead of dying a bricky, dusty death, Camomile Street Library will be replaced with a community centre to offer “east of the City communities a one-stop-shop for facilities including libraries, adult education and much more” once it emerges in the autumn, reincarnated on the grounds of the underused Middlesex Street Estate car park.
In the meantime, visitor numbers are slowly rising at the book bus. It stops Monday-Friday in a different location each day (apart from Devonshire Square, which sees in both the moody Mondays and the jubilant Fridays):
Monday 10am – 4pm Devonshire Square
Tuesday 10am – 4.30pm Little Somerset Street
Wednesday 10am – 4pm Stoney Lane
Thursday 10am – 4pm America Square
Friday 10am – 4pm Devonshire Square (again)