In Conversation With: Maidenhead Library
Countryside catches up with Dalit Spitzer, library supervisor at Maidenhead Library, next door to Countryside’s Watermark development in Maidenhead. As part of the regeneration, Countryside is creating a new public square which will provide an enhanced setting for the Grade II listed Maidenhead Library, as well as a new Maidenhead Heritage Centre.
Tell us about Maidenhead Library
Maidenhead Library is a public library which was built with support from the Carnegie Trust. It has stood it the same place since 1904, though the original building had been replaced by the existing one in 1973. The location of the building, just off the High Street and across the road from the Town Hall puts it right at the heart of the community, and its striking architecture make it impossible to ignore – in fact the building was listed in 2003.
In addition to lending books, we pride ourselves on our close relations with the community with partnerships including schools, volunteers, CAB, police, community wardens, parish councils, Friends of RBWM Libraries, local funding organisations, local businesses, and various Council services. We offer a range of activities such as knit and natter, rhymetimes, storytimes, reading groups, coding club, Lego Robotics and loads more, and we provide access and spaces for learning, meeting and connecting. We have a fantastic Local Studies collection too, which includes the Maidenhead Advertiser’s archive. In this era of fake news and unreliable information we offer access to trusted and researched sources to help people make informed decisions, and we have a satisfaction rate of over 90% from our residents!
How has the library been adapting to the Covid-19 situation?
Like everyone else we had to change the way we operate very quickly. After the first lockdown we opened a limited Select and Collect service from Maidenhead library, which we extended to full access to our stock and public PCs. This was done based on extensive risk assessments and having put in place strict safety measures. These included maintaining social distance, providing hand sanitisers, using one-way systems and quarantining returned items. The public has been extremely cooperative and supportive, which is vital for this kind of operation.
What services are still available at the library?
At the moment (during the second lockdown), we offer a Click and Collect service, which is extremely popular. We hope to be able to extend our services again as soon as it is safe to do so. This is in addition to a wonderful selection of online resources, e-books and audiobooks, all free to our members. I thoroughly recommend everyone to go to our website and explore everything we offer.
How long have you lived in Maidenhead/what is your favourite thing about the area?
I have lived in and around Maidenhead for nearly 18 years. My favourite thing about the area is its diversity. We have people from different backgrounds living and operating together, especially during this pandemic.
I also love how geographically close we are to beautiful countryside and nature reserves. We are surrounded by beauty!
What is your favourite local secret / hidden gem in the area?
Aside from the library, which I love, I love the National Trust’s Brick and Tile Works, in Malders Lane. A beautiful nature reserve on a bed of clay which has been extracted by local people to make building materials and pottery for hundreds of years.
For someone new to the area, how would you suggest they get involved in the community?
No surprise there! Go to your local library, or find out what it has to offer you at: https://www.rbwm.gov.uk/home/leisure-and-culture/libraries