Local Face: Russel Barrow

  |  Published: Dec 1st 1993

Russel Barrow has had five very happy years in Wendover and is delighted that more and more people are coming in to see him all the time. Where? In Wendover Library, of course.

Russel could easily have become a musician. His father is a violinist, co-leader at the English National Opera, his mother is a pianist and taught him to distinction at Grade eight. However, as a boy, he was fascinated by libraries and spent a lot of time in his local Sutton library which is one of the best in the country. This meant a natural progression to working in a library.

He graduated with honours from the School of Librarianship and Information Studies at Newcastle Polytechnic (now the University of Northumbria) in 1984 and his first post was Assistant Children's Librarian at Newham, East London. This was a really stimulating experience in one of the most deprived Boroughs in the country. For a lot of the children the reading age was lower than the chronological age and the state of the books left something to be desired but this was a superb challenge for a fresh young graduate. Resources were very limited and the political interference often stifling but Russel managed to introduce books to children all over the Borough as well as organise a whole programme of summer activities on a shoestring. By 1987 it was time for pastures new and Russel found himself in Leafy Bucks as Assistant Librarian in Princes Risborough. By 1988 he had been promoted to Assistant Area Librarian at Wendover. This was a very different scene with enough money to allow development. It is a special privilege to have organised in 1989 the 21st and now the 25th anniversary celebrations.

This "area" is Princes Risborough, the base of the Area Librarian, with the Assistant Area Librarians based at Wendover and an Assistant Librarian in charge at Great Missenden. Russel's experience with children has been invaluable as his holiday and other programmes have been enjoyed by children in the whole area: 300 children took part last Summer.

The success of libraries is judged by the number of books issued. Wendover Library opened in 1968. The first year 1968/9 saw 116,388 issues which rose to a peak in 1991/2 with 172,607 issues. Russel put the reason for this success squarely with his policy of well presented new stock, including a lot of popular fiction accessible to all. Another reason is the introduction of videos, cassettes and CDs which bring in more people who then start borrowing books as well.

Clearly some former Wendover regulars have been attracted by even more choice in Aylesbury judging by the Aylesbury returns which come through Wendover. The introduction of more feature films has brought some Wendover clients back.

A recent survey showed that about 7,000 people are registered at Wendover Library of whom half have used it during the past two years. More and more people are also coming to use the busiest Library Room in the County. There are often sales on Saturdays and Thursday afternoons while Thursday morning has a regular Pop-In for Age Concern. Another useful service is the visit of the Registrar on Tuesdays by appointment. The library room is also well used in the evening by many organisations including the Parish Council's regular public meeting on the first Monday of each month. If you would like to book it just call in and ask. It's your library, use it!

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