By Lynda Robertson
Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to be able to discover some fantastic filmic gems, courtesy of Glasgow Life’s BFI Mediatechque at Bridgeton Library. Housed within the impressive Olympia venue – once home to a thriving local cinema – the BFI Mediatechque continues this cinematic tradition by opening up the BFI’s National Archive in Scotland for the first time.
Featuring over 2000 film and television programmes, including a collection devoted to Scotland, I discovered some real archival delights in the comfort of their dedicated viewing booths. TV and film buffs are well catered for; the archive offers a wide range of content. It includes silent black and white movies, soap operas, adverts, documentaries, classic comedy and much more. I was able to get a fascinating glimpse of life in Glasgow’s bustling Jamaica Street circa 1901, watch Sean Connery (and his impressive moustache!) in the 1960s Bowler and the Bunnet, and then fast-forward to the 1970s with Cumbernauld’s Town for Tomorrow promotional video.
Whilst the film archive is a superb free resource, the library itself is thriving. During the MmITS organised tour, kindly hosted by Bridgeton Library’s staff, we heard about their efforts to actively shape the library service around users and their innovative use of technology. Their ‘Turning Pages’ station was a particular highlight. Situated within the heart of the library, the station allows visitors to delve into Bridgeton’s rich local history and will soon display the creative outputs of their local writers’ group. The bustling children’s section is enhanced by a colourful mural of the popular Gruffalo. These features, alongside the fact that the library is a bright and welcoming environment have resulted in a quadrupling of the library’s visitor numbers.
Bridgeton Library has very definitely injected a sense of vitality and colour into the area. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and would highly recommend others to spend some time at the Olympia to take in both the library and Mediatheque’s delights.