The £27m Forum Library in Southend was opened  to the public in September 2013, having moved from its previous location after being commissioned in 2011. The new building, plus the Focal Point Gallery is built on the what was previously the Farringdon car park, and offers immediate access from Southend Central station to this and other campus buildings.

It was created by a rare venture between often disparate entities, being jointly funded by South Essex College, the University of Essex and Southend Borough Council. The building houses books and other material for the general public whilst simultaneously granting access to about one million academic works, including books and journals, across multiple floors, with a lecture theatre and a restaurant.

Gateway to Learning

This building’s been open for six years, and the first time I acknowledged its existence was at the start of this project. This is nothing to be proud of, on reflection: however, it does serve as a potent reminder that my mental health issues have been responsible for a great many things, agoraphobia amongst them. Once upon a time, just coming here would have been excessively difficult.

You’ve come a long way, baby…

So, let us remember the car park, and the nightclub, and the things that existed before this new building was placed here, whilst attempting to grasp how things change, and we must attempt to alter with them….

Also, I learnt to renew my library books online. That’s cool.

Sixteen Dots

Round windows, synchronised; pins delineate
working spaces, knowledge clouds, outed ignorance;
printed works, loving memories not seen, always recalled.
This used to be a car park then, bays watched
Capris and Escorts servicing; club’s sticky floor,
bouncers ignored, nights brought darkening innocence.
Mirrored light balls, mystery: what will these lives
one day become? Not sound of trains, regret abstains
the self’s perception falters, ticket’s lost.

Delimited necessity, brightness; sky vignettes
observational litany, you are the history of now
her past re-engineered, by concrete, glass and tree.
Everything evolves, including ignorance, dug up
landscaped circles, underlined, marked upwards
processing advanced, well aligned… their future
somehow in safe hands, lives well defined.
Forum’s mass, no longer bays for blood,
nice flat white, no death: cake quite enough.

Sixteen ellipsis context, understood.