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Brought to Book

Is security all it might be at the Central Library after Friday’s fire?

Published on April 2nd 2007.

Brought to Book

The plot thickens with the Central Library fire early Friday evening – 30 March. Fire damage meant four performances of Neil Simon’s play Chapter Two at the subterranean Library Theatre, which occupies part of the building, had to be cancelled. Today’s production of the play will be cancelled as well. The library itself has also been closed.

As Library bosses gathered first thing this morning for an emergency meeting, the cause was revealed to be almost homely. Apparently the fire was lit for warmth by a vagrant - which makes the Library the biggest hearth in the city.

The good news is that nobody was injured and the main damage came via smoke and water rather than flames.

Still, this is a major cause for concern as the Library is not only one of Manchester’s key public buildings but also holds priceless collections of books and manuscripts. These include the so-called Manchester Sonatas by Vivaldi, an original music score by the Italian composer which was first recognised in this city. Vivaldi was, of course the man who wrote the phone-on-hold music, the Four Seasons, when he thought he was writing a timeless masterpiece.

Confidential has learnt that security at the Library is a cause of real concern. Not only are the guards not as sharp as perhaps they might be - and there have been language difficulties - but the codes that allow access to the various areas of the building can easily be compromised.

In a time of increased security, this doesn’t send out a good message about the protection of a Manchester landmark, especially following last October’s revelation about an insider selling valuable manuscripts on eBay.

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