Historian gets lifetime ban from library

A HISTORIAN'S efforts to chronicle the “rise and fall” of his local library have come unstuck after he was handed a lifetime ban from the building.

James Hore

A HISTORIAN'S efforts to chronicle the “rise and fall” of his local library have come unstuck after he was handed a lifetime ban from the building.

Brian Woods, who calls himself the “Harwich historian”, has been a regular at his local library since the 1960s.

But following a series of disputes with staff the 60-year-old was sent a letter telling him he had been indefinitely banned.


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And his 78-year-old disabled mother, Hilda, is no longer able to go to the building in Kingsway, Harwich, because she depends on her son to take her there.

Mr Woods, of Dovercourt, said he hoped his upcoming book, The Rise and Fall of Harwich Library, would still prove popular thanks to people's curiosity with the subject.

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Essex County Council told the EADT Mr Woods was responsible for “vexatious complaints and malicious correspondence” which was both “vitriolic and personal”.

It is not the first time that Mr Woods and his favourite library have fallen out.

Last year he was given a public dressing down by the management after a member of staff took offence to his joke about posting a picture of a “tasteful nude” on an Open University website.

And there have also been clashes after Mr Woods complained about the behaviour of unruly youngsters in the computer area.

Speaking to the EADT yesterday, Mr Woods said he did not think he would be able to go back to the library unless there were staff changes.

He said: “My mother cannot walk at all and can only go to the library with assistance so she is not very happy about my ban.

“The letter I got banning me is nothing more than a rant and tirade of abuse against me and there is no reason given for the ban and there is no right to appeal.

“Yes, I would like to go back to using the library - because of what has happened I have to go to Clacton - but the only way they can do that is by lifting the ban.”

Mr Woods said The Rise and Fall of Harwich Library, which he began last summer, charted the history of the establishment.

“I don't know about it being popular, but it will certainly have the curiosity value. It is basically my way of bringing the whole story out and getting some form of closure,” he said.

Last night a spokeswoman for Essex County Council, which runs the library, said: “We can confirm that Mr Brian Woods has been excluded from Harwich Library after a history of vexatious complaints and malicious correspondence as well as a targeted campaign against certain members of staff.

“Essex County Council had warned Mr Woods an exclusion was possible. Mr Woods is not excluded from other branches of Essex County Libraries.

“The council has a duty of care to its staff and has been forced to take this position in order to protect them from harassment and the distress caused by Mr Woods' conduct.”

She said library staff had contacted Mr Woods' mother to enable her to access the services she requires.

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