There are two approaches here, the formal one and the informal one. What makes it
interesting is that this is an example where the best approach for one is also the best
approach for the other!!
Somewhere in the Local Authority there is a person
who's job it is to review requests like this and has the power to grant or deny access. To
approach them formally you need to discover how to contact them, and that information lies
somewhere in.... the Public Library
go to a library and search for the Council Directory, or you could be smart and use the
greatest resource in a library, the Librarians. Visit when it is quiet, and ask for help.
Explain that you need to find out who you need to contact to get permission to record in a
The informal approach involves... going to the Public Library
and asking nicely if they know who is in charge of the closed library you want to use and
whether it would be possible to arrange a meeting.
Whether you go the formal or
informal route, the solution is the same. You need to approach someone politely and ask
for help. And how successful you are depends on how lucky you are in picking who you ask,
and how well you sell your idea to them and enthuse them to get you on your side. Get it
wrong and you make the mountain a little harder to climb, but get it right and you'll be
warmly welcomed into the cable car right to the top of the mountain.
And if a
little anecdote helps... Over 20 years ago I had already completed a year of evening
classes in guitar making. I had moved from London to Plymouth and was working as casual
stage crew. Because the work was casual I had a an open claim to Unemployment Benefit,
most weeks I earned too much to claim any benefits and declared that income in full, but
when it was quiet I had an entitlement under the open claim rather than having to make a
new application. I then was able to pay for a full time course at the Totnes School of
Guitarmaking with Norman Reed, which was cool. However, I realised that I wouldn't be able
to take all the work on offer and because I was unavailable for work my Unemployment
Benefit claim would end as well. But then I realised that I had access to Adult Training
so I made an application and was referred to the main local trainer. They couldn't pay for
my course, their budget was £30 a week and the course was far more than that, so in
desperation I called the other training provider. I explained that I had a course and
could pay for it, but was worried because if I wasn't on a recognised course I would have
no income for 3 months as that would make me unavailable for work.
The girl I
spoke to asked me what course I was doing, maybe out of interest, maybe because she
thought she might have had something similar to offer and could switch me to it and get an
easy stat. So, I told her that I was going to train further in guitar making. She then
told me that she was a MASSIVE Extreme fan and had a life sized poster of Nuno Bettencourt
over her desk. We chatted for 10 minutes, I told her about his Washburn guitars and that I
had crewed for Extreme when I was in London, and she said she had an idea and would call
me back. 30 minutes later I got a call from her manager instead. This girl, who I never
met, had so enthused her manager that she went to the head of department and together they
managed to find a sub-clause in the regulations that would not only allow me to continue
my claim but required them to pay me an extra £10 a week for travel expenses. And that's
how I managed to get trained and have had over 20 years working on guitars.
I got lucky with the girl who answered the phone. But the point is that I made the call,
asked the question, and made the opportunity to enthuse someone on the inside to become an
advocate for me. And as she was able to sell my story to her boss, there's a good chance
that I could have got the same outcome even if someone else had answered the phone.
You want to know the 'correct procedure'? It's simple, go and ask and and make
someone on the inside as enthusiastic as you are.
Largely, but not entirely, dysfunctional.