A senior Croydon councillor told a Town Hall meeting last night that he had donated 300 books to a book “exchange” in Surrey Street, and that they had all been taken and never replaced or exchanged.
“I’m hoping that some might be returned once they have been read,” Mark Watson, the cabinet member for economy and jobs, told a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee. Watson may have been making an attempt at humour when he said this.
The book “exchange”, established by the Rise Gallery last autumn, is one of those warm, fluffy ideas so beloved of some sections of the Croydon Establishment, but which normally has at least one glaringly obvious flaw.
“The Surrey Street Book Exchange has been re-filled!” the Gallery announced in November. “Head down for some weekend reading, just remember to replace it with one you’ve finished.”
According to Watson last night, it seems that not many people have properly embraced that notion.
Watson raised the book exchange at the Town Hall meeting as an example of the street art he seems to believe will “transform” the failing fortunes of Surrey Street market. That Watson has bought into the book exchange idea so thoroughly suggests that, while he may be very trusting, his judgement in such matters is lacking.
It is also a sad reflection of how poorly considered by the borough’s under-funded libraries have become. The book “exchange” on Surrey Street is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Croydon Central Library, which has an established system of exchanging books and other media, which has stood the test of time. And which usually ensures that its books are indeed returned for the use of others.
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