Neilson Hays Library Restoration 2017

Neilson Hays Library main building is closed from March to September 2017, but a mini-library is lending books from the café.

We are closed but we are open during restoration

Centenary Restoration Project Part 2

Annual General Meeting Thursday 9 March 2017

Restoration Storage: library book boxes that hold the collection for six months

The library collection is packed into Book Boxes

President Nalin announced that restoration work will begin on the library interior next week.  First, volunteers and students have the job of packing the entire collection into cardboard boxes.

Something Old Something New

The original 1920 plan created three rooms – the library, the office, and the committee room.  In the 1945-47 reconstruction, the interior became one single hall with the Rotunda as a reading room.  The back entrance replaced the main entrance and the Rotunda door to the street closed permanently.  Now, however, the latest redesign veers back towards the 1920 model.

Restoration Site Plan 2017

Neilson Hays Library Restoration Site Plan

Restoration Plan for Neilson Hays Library

This interior is closer to the original 1920 design.  Behind the scenes, the major repairs are to the foundations as well as the walls and roof.  Essentially, the library is damp.  The most noticeable change will be the front desk – it is moving.

Where is the Front Desk?

Neilson Hays Library Front Desk will move during Restoration

The Neilson Hays Library Front Desk 1947 – 2017

The 1922 front desk stood in the centre of the library.  Members know where it is now – in front of the side entrance – but it will move to the right-hand corner of this picture before September.  The staff will be together in the main building and the current external offices are to be part of the storage area, with rest rooms located at the end of the back alley.

The Back Alley

Library Maintenance and Storage Area during Restoration

Round the Back

Members and visitors rarely notice the service area at the back of the building, but it houses the deep shelves and chests from which books emerge on Book Sale days.  You see it from the courtyard if you use the rear entrance.  It does look a bit creepy.  And, incidentally, there will not be another Book Sale until October 2017 at the earliest and probably November – which, together with May, is the usual Sale month.

The Café

The Garden Café and Gallery has been an attractive feature of the library since 2010.  Apart from the books and the library, the café drew visitors – especially for breakfast and lunch.

You might expect the tourist blurbs to exaggerate, but this was a real oasis and not a mirage among the snarl of traffic along Surawong Road.  Of course, you can still hear the frantic race of cars, though the trees and bushes damp the sound to a murmur – which is the constant background muzak of Bangkok.  The food was good as well.

Open For Breakfast sign before and after Restoration

Not Open For Breakfast during Restoration

Those days may yet return.  For now, the Open For Breakfast sign will have to come down.  There is a beacon of hope at the end of this dark alley: the British Club may take over the catering again.  Rice potage for breakfast is fine, if you were brought up on it, but nothing matches a bacon sandwich for a taste of home.  Think of it as a bluebird on the far side of Brexit.

The Mini-Library

It’s a makeshift solution to set up a book-lending stall in the café, but, with a bit of good will, the members and staff will make it work. My concern, and the reason why I am writing this web post on my own site, is that the message is not going out to the generality of members, friends, and others. We heard at the AGM how much use is made of Facebook and Twitter, and MailChimp for Committee decrees, but why did the library spend so much money on its own website and not do something with it?

A newcomer, an outsider, will surely not think to look at Facebook and Twitter. The first point of call should be the library website as a central source of intelligence.

Restoration Fund Raising

How is the library going to pay for all this?

The Old Teakwood Card Index will be preserved during Restoration

The Old Teakwood Card Index

President Nalin announced the promise of individual and corporate donations; and further support may come from Crowd funding.  The Reserves are likely to be drained because closure of the main building means loss of revenue.

Members and Friends of the Neilson Hays Library will not have a DONATE tin rattled in front of them.  There are other ways to help the library, such as joining one of the volunteer groups and going out to spread the word.  Tell your friends about the wonderful and irreplaceable old library in downtown Bangrak.

The Agenda

The Agenda of the Annual General Meeting 2017 will be available online.  This was probably the most important meeting for several years and the decisions on Renovation will affect the library for years to come.

Steve Mongkut

Post Script

Here is the scanned Agenda in PDF NeilsonHaysAGM2017Agenda.  This document was made available to the public meeting on 9 March 2017.

BLOG Proposal: to keep everyone informed of progress during Restoration.  The original 2014 Specification for the website required a BLOG.  If anyone can be bothered to read yet another article, here is the Layabout Books comment on Neilson Hays Library and BLOG: NHLWebsiteAndBlog this will download a PDF to your computer.

Steve Mongkut

Posted by SteveMongkut