WHEN the Old Coulsdon Residents' Association asked the council to provide a mobile library in 1955, members would never have imagined a permanent library would still be in place half a century later. Construction of Bradmore Green Library was completed in 1963 and the building was declared open on May 20 by the Chairman of Coulsdon and Purley Urban District Council, Councillor Digby Weightman. Bradmore Green resident Marjorie Hoffman was present at the opening of the library in 1963, although she admitted she does not remember much about the occasion. She said: "It was a long time ago. I remember a man going in, then coming out and we all clapped." But Mrs Hoffman had a lot of good things to say about the library and insisted it should never close. When asked if the library was still popular, she said: "Oh yes, very much so. It closes on a Thursday so recently I went to Coulsdon library, which is nothing in comparison to our little one. "You always see people who you know, which for us old people is marvellous. "It's in the right place and it has a good collection of books and newspapers, which we like." Every weekend, my son goes to the library as soon as he gets up in the morning without fail." The unusual design of the library is what draws attention from visitors. Designed by architect EF Starling, the circular building has a 12-sided roof which means you can see every department from the entrance. "I always think of it like the Tardis in Doctor Who, because it appears to be much larger and more exciting when you get in there," said Sally Ann Voak, 71, who is part of the Bradmore Green Library supporters group. And you could easily have mistaken it for a futuristic time-machine 50 years ago, if you had a look at it today. The library has kept up with the growing demands of the modern age and has "really embraced the new trends of technology," according to Mrs Voak. Despite these changes, the library was still threatened with closure two years ago, as part of initial Croydon Council plans to shut six libraries in the borough. But a huge supporters group campaigned to keep it open, with a petition that 200 people signed in 2011. Their campaign was ultimately successful and the library remains a staple of the community, ready to enter a new era. "Our library is still going strong and it's absolutely central to this community. "It is informal but very efficient and has a really comfortable feel about it," added Mrs Voak. "We're the southernmost tip of the borough but we have a lot of elderly people and loads of children who go. "It really is the hub of the community." The library will celebrate its anniversary on the week beginning May 20. Events will include a reading session for children of stories that were popular 50 years ago and visits from pupils at Coulsdon CofE Primary School and Oasis Academy Byron. A series of local history talks, and a visit by well-known children's author Gareth Jones, are also planned. "It's going to be a really good celebratory week," said Mrs Voak. "Long may it continue for another 50 years."
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