Congratulations to Askew Road Library on achieving its 40th birthday on Sunday 11th October 2015.
Below we have two beautiful pieces the first by the original branch librarian Jean Galsworthy about her time there and the second by Councillor wicks who worked hard to establish Askew Road library 40 years ago.
I was the branch librarian there from 1975 to 1987 and I have vivid memories of our opening day on 11th October 1975. We had the official opening by the mayor the evening before, with the library looking tidier than it ever would again!
We had no idea how busy it would be. The unsatisfied demand for library services more than justified the former Borough Librarian, Leslie Hasker, and the library committee to build a new library in this hitherto neglected borderland between Hammersmith and Acton.
A constant rush of users all day on the Saturday, of all ages, left the staff exhilarated and exhausted by 5 o’clock, and the shelves looked a half-empty mess. I think we registered over 300 new users that day, and I recall taking home with me a bundle of registration forms with attached bookcards for the items borrowed, and spending the evening writing tickets to clear some of the backlog – yes, these were the primitive pre-computer times! I was far too wired to rest after the most exciting professional day of my life.
Monday and subsequent days brought a renewed rush, especially after school time. All the children who had visited on Saturday told their friends about the exciting new library and every afternoon brought a chaotic invasion of enthusiastic young people to the extent that a specialist children’s librarian had to be appointed within a month or so. I had to order lots of additional books to augment our very large opening stock.
The library gradually settled down to a steady busyness which was maintained throughout my tenure and beyond. It was the most satisfying clientele I worked for during my 34 years with Hammersmith and Fulham: varied in age, ethnicity, range of interests and levels of need, often spreading much wider than just books and information.
I am sure it is still fulfilling these needs today, and I wish the library many more years serving the community of Askew Road.
It’s certainly true that Councillors Jim Bull, Janet Hathaway and myself, Les Wicks pushed the Labour group In control of Hammersmith and Fulham Council to approve a branch Library, with Council Housing above, at the surplus Metropolitan Police Station in Askew Road.
All Councillors had different reasons, I wanted to re-vitalise a dead shopping area and replace Ravenscourt Park Library, which was destroyed by enemy bombing during the war.
Councillor Bull wanted to build new housing, and Councillor Hathaway agreed with these points and wanted a Library which stocked a diverse range, including one or two books on Poetry.
With Jean Galsworthy, the first branch librarian of Askew this was more than achieved.
Ms Galsworthy was unique, a member of Surrey County Cricket Club, she ensured that Askew Library had the best selection of Cricket books in London.
The Library was organised and run very efficiently by her for a number of years, and was very successful.
Of course the real hero’s and heroines of Askew Library are the staff, who have served the local residents for over 40 years.
Happy Birthday Askew, I’m glad I was able to share a small part of your 40 year history.
Below see a collection of photos of the library through the decades.