John Allen: What I do want to do is to use what we hope the borough treasurer is going to have in a couple of years’ time, a newer computer, which will enable us to interrogate the computer directly by means of a little thing looks rather like a typewriter. And if somebody wants a book urgently, you type on this typewriter a message to the computer saying ‘Find book number so and so’. And within two seconds, back comes the answer – name and address. And we can contact the reader and say ‘It’s urgently required, please don’t keep it overdue’. And the ultimate refinement, which may follow in a year or two, will be immediate identification of a reserved book, the moment it is handed in. There’ll be a little memory store, I hope, hidden under the counter, which will be fed with the numbers of these particular books, and will indicate to us that ‘Here comes one, put it on one side’.
Mike (interviewer): Thank you, John Allen.
UTK006/570 (excerpt 1)
Ivan Howlett (interviewer): For the next 50 years, what would you hope to be the ideal or the principle, that the library should live towards?
Roy Hughes: Well, I think that the last 120 years in this country has seen the recognition that a free public library service is one of those important facets of a democratic society. That people can go to a library and be sure that they can obtain unbiased information, they can read widely about a subject without fear or let or hindrance, and I would hope that, even in this technological age, we should continue to value this particular aspect.
Ivan Howlett: These slides can be used, for instance, as backdrops for theatre productions.
Elaine Baird: That has been done in fact, the Brighton Film Theatre borrowed some of them for one occasion. And in fact, we’ve also loaned to the Gardner Centre of Arts and to some of the fringe events at Brighton Festival. And this is something we feel we should do very strongly, cooperate with local interests.
Ivan Howlett: This is libraries working in a different way isn’t it really, a creative sort of way.
Elaine Baird: Yes, and not only is it something I’ve got very closely at heart, and I know Mr Allen, the Chief Librarian, has, he feels very closely that we shouldn’t just be passive, but should do something active. And not only is it something that we create, for an example, we photographed the Brighton Belle when it came off the rails, finally, and we’re photographing all the buildings that are being pulled down.
Ivan Howlett: How long do you think it would take someone to get into a position where they are a fully able reference librarian? It’s not just having the qualifications, is it?
Mrs Greenhill: No I, well I, perhaps it isn’t really, because I’m not very well qualified on paper. I’m only qualified in experience. And I think it takes years really. But above all, it takes an interest. You want to be interested, if someone’s not really interested in the work they’re doing, they’ll never make a reference assistant.
Ivan Howlett: Have you had many sort of human problems in fact when you’re dealing [with] customers?
Mrs Greenhill: All the time. Oh, yes, this is, you’re a sort of mother confessor, as well as a source of information very much so. You get a lot of social problems and welfare problems that come to us as well as who obviously go to social welfare departments, quite a number. People wanting addresses of organisations and all sorts of things.
Ivan Howlett: Presumably, you’ll be keeping in touch with the library.
Mrs Greenhill: Oh, yes indeed, I shall.
Ivan Howlett: Well, may I say on behalf of Radio Brighton, in effect on behalf of Brighton, thank you very much.
Mrs Greenhill: Thank you very much. Thank you.
UTK006/570 (excerpt 2)
Ivan Howlett: What was the basic attitude in the village towards going to the library?
Hazel Grinstead: Well, we’re a small Sussex village with their very old Sussex-type people and some of these were frightened to admit that they read. So they would come to me, I would choose their book, nine times out of 10 it had to be the right size to fit in a certain basket or a handbag, so that going along the village street, nobody would notice that they’d been to the library.
Ivan Howlett: What was it about reading?
Hazel Grinstead: I’m not sure, I think that people would, their neighbours would imagine that they were lazy if they sat down and read.
Frank Morris: Well, the feedback I get is that the people that use it, and this is the important thing, enjoy going in there for several reasons; to select a book, to meet people, to research and so on. And if they find it a delight, then we’ve achieved our objective. Perhaps the nicest thing that was ever told to me was a fellow that had been disabled for many years and been unable to come into the library to choose a book, who had now for the first time gone into the library and chosen a book for himself, and to me this is what it’s all about.
Stuart Hobday (interviewer): Someone like yourself who’s involved very much with music as their life, what sort of things would you do to relax?
Eddie Heyman: Well, my biggest relaxation is reading. I read an enormous amount. I read about two books a week, mostly biographies. And that’s one thing I must say, I must really say truthfully, I don’t know of any library that I, and I lived in New York City a long time, that will give you the opportunities and the good choice that the library right here in Brighton does. And I read when I see a review on The Times or The Observer on a Sunday, and I think that’s a book I like, I immediately go to the library Monday and write the name down in my name. And for 5p I have that book within sometimes 10 days and at the most like six weeks.
Stuart Hobday: It’s words reoccurring once again, isn’t it?
Eddie Heyman: Well you might say, yes.