Suddenly, one evening in March, the central library closed. We were told that afternoon, so there was no chance for a final visit, no time to say Goodbye.
This presents an opportunity, I decided. Where else can I go to drink coffee, read magazines, browse and borrow books, use the restroom, in a warm environment where there are elevators and escalators, and the bus stop is near by? One is not rushed here – there is plenty of room, and plenty of time. The coffee and food aren’t always great, but the staff are cheerful (and helpful, sometimes), and one can linger, guilt-free. Unity Books is nearby, providing inspiration for new books to borrow.
So where can I go now? There must be a nice cafe, with seats with backs, and reasonable coffee…perhaps somewhere like Kaizen in Porirua?
I could go there by bus from Johnsonville, although the WRC in its wisdom changed the bus routes so that the buses to and from Johnsonville don’t stop outside Pataka any more. Now one has to walk to Porirua Station (about 20 minutes) – which is all right on a fine day, but not great when it’s cold, wet or windy.
Walking is usually a challenge in any city. While there are some walkways, pedestrian crossings are few and far between, and it does seem a tad dangerous to walk through a parking lot.
Perhaps I could check out the library at Tawa? The cafes there aren’t up to much. I had got used to WCL, come to terms with it, even had the seniors’ discount applied: they charge for renewals (you can only renew once!), for each day a book is returned late, and for reserves delivered to a local branch.
Outside Johnsonville Library the pedestrian crossing was removed. One must walk up or down Broderick Road to cross at a controlled crossing, an unpleasant chore if it is windy, so often it is preferable to go to Wellington Central Library.
Don’t they want us to use libraries and post offices? One wonders, sometimes. Access is a huge challenge – not just for me, but for parents and young children – or anyone on foot.
A new library is being built in Johnsonville next to the Keith Spry pool. I hope there will be a walkway to it from the shopping centre.
The transport changes are a challenge to which I have bravely risen. I know every bus stop in the Wellington area, and if you miss the bus, there’s usually another one in 30 minutes or so, so one always takes something to read. I’ve learnt to access Metlink on my phone so that I know if buses are replacing trains (a big thumbs down) or there is a delay or a signal failure.
There is a Library in Lower Hutt. Perhaps I will try that.
But WCL has been there for me on many dark, cold days. I will miss it.