A PROFESSIONAL musician has backed calls for Southend Central Library to remain as a cultural centre rather than see it demolished once the town’s new £27million library opens.
Jazz trumpeter Digby Fairweather wants the Seventies building to be preserved and used as an art gallery, exhibition space and concert venue.
The library will transfer to The Forum library, which is being built on the site of the former Farringdon car park, off Elmer Avenue, in August 2013.
The building, which will feature research facilities, an art gallery, lecture theatres and a huge television screen for public screenings of theatre and art shows, is being jointly funded by Southend Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College who will share the building.
Mr Fairweather, a former librarian at Central Library from 1965 -77 before his musical career took off, said: ”The library was only built 40 years ago it is a beautiful building and extremely versatile. It seems profligate that it could be going under the hammer.
“It would be a waste of money and space to flatten it. It could be used a social centre for cultural purposes and should be listed.”
He also questioned how suitable it is to have a public library and academic libraries housed together.
He added; “They have very different aims and objectives. An educational library doesn’t provide enough information, education and recreation for the public.
“Libraries are very important and people must use them. The internet is a valuable development but it is a cheap substitute for a library and the 700 years of culture they record.”
Labour councillor Julian Ware-Lane, who represents Milton ward, has called for the building to be listed and wants it preserved for the community.
Cabinet member for culture Derek Jarvis said no decision had yet been made about Central Library nor any branch library and urged people to take part in the review of the service.
He said: “Once the service has transferred, Central Library will be a council asset and it is being assessd what it could be used for.
“I have a fond hope that it will continue to be used for something within my cultural portfolio. It is a big building but is unsuited to modern needs of a library.
“It could be something comes forward quite different to what we have imagined and we have to consider everything.”
He denied a public and college library were not suited adding that the resources available for residents will be double what they are now. To take part in the library review visit www.southend.gov.uk