A series of unfortunate incidences unveiled flaws in the €36.6million DLR Lexicon library that I never wanted to see.
I was one of DLR Lexicon’s greatest supporters. When all of Dun Laoghaire was shunning and damning it, saying it was “costing too much money” at €36.6million and “taking away from the high street” full of empty buildings, I was itching to get inside.
As a journalist that spends a lot of time working from home, the eternal search for a proper public workspace nearby was about to be over.
No longer would there be struggles with gym canteens constantly increasing music levels or cafes with expensive tea. And the views; right out over Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay, and even Dublin City.
Rooms full of light and resources like scanners, printers and photocopiers. Open windows filtering in sea breezes, and a cafe downstairs, with outside seating and plenty of under-cover bike parking.
Now, DLR Lexicon does have all these things, but scratching the surface reveals further itches that burn into disappointment.
The cafe was the first point of woe. It’s a sauna on a warm day inside and the menus are limited and perhaps under-researched – the gluten-free shortbread I picked up with my takeaway tea once crumbled like saw dust and tasted similar.
A few years ago that gluten-free biscuit would have been acceptable, but not now when we have so much access to gluten-free materials and knowledge and so many top chefs focus on gluten-free recipes.
The second point of woe came not long after lifting my takeaway tea from the sweaty cafe. I wandered upstairs with my laptop and notebooks, ready for a revitalising day of feature-writing. This was going to be lovely.
A fatal error was made when I paused at the, perhaps strategically-placed, travel-writing book section, right by the information desk.
“Sorry, you can’t bring drinks up here,” said the man.
Why can a fully-grown adult not bring a well-sealed, takeaway cup of tea to a desk, full only of their own belongings? “Policy.”
That’s what is very wrong with DLR Lexicon; it sticks to silly policies like that, regardless of customer experience or enjoyment. It says that is was decided that only the ground floor could have drinks brought to it, despite their being two other floors for adults – with only the first floor having a junior section.
“Most public buildings have this policy,” I’m told by an agitated library worker. But, for me, that doesn’t make it necessary and it doesn’t make the way it is enforced right either.
The third moment of woe came when the Wifi and computer systems, upgraded two weeks ago, went down today. “No problem,” says I. “There isn’t anyone else on this desk so I’ll borrow the internet cable from the library computer.”
Excellent. Earphones in. Work begins.
About an hour later a flustered library attendant appears and pulls the cable out urgently. I half expected to see smoke coming from my laptop that I just hadn’t noticed because I’d been in the zone. But no, it was something far more urgent. “Policy.”
“We have to monitor all internet usage,” she fussed, shaking as if I’d pulled a gun on her. “You absolutely can’t use that cable under any circumstances.”
Even when your Wifi isn’t working? “Yes.” Even when your system upgrade that has just crashed means my library card is now not working, so I can’t login to your computer? “Yes.”
So, there’s a quandary. The library is causing its customer a problem with technical difficulties and it has a solution right there in front of the customer. But it absolutely will not recognise that as a solution due to? Yep. “Policy.”
When the Wifi does come back, it’s not straightforward to login to. It’s not a case of connecting and getting a pop-up login window as in most places with public Wifi.
I have to get a specific address from the information desk, full of numbers, to input. Then I have to logout from that page and login again, but the ‘click here’ link to get to browsing actually downloads a .txt file to my computer.
Oh yeah, the library card issue is down to the new system messing up expiry dates when it transferred over information. This comes to light for me two weeks after the installation: how many other people are going to suffer the frustration of finding that out in the coming days?
Nobody who I actually spoke to has any blame, this is down to ridiculousness higher up strictly preventing public library workers from using any common sense or ingenuity whatsoever.
The DLR Lexicon library is still on my doorstep and I suppose I will still persevere – and I did appreciate the way one senior library worker from HQ handled my complaints in a human way – but that’s literally only because there are no other options.
It is not the resource I hoped it would be, from my experiences. It is a well-stocked library with magazines and daily newspapers to boot. It is a relaxing place to read and it does have useful printers, scanners and their relatives. Its own computers generally work okay too.
But it is not somewhere you can take your own laptop to and work from, reliably and comfortably. And nobody is willing to make the changes to fix that because it’s not “Policy.”