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Andrew Keen’s lifelong passion for libraries and learning began as a child in 1957 whilst watching the Oscar Wilde inspired movie, ‘The Canterville Ghost’. Upon seeing the wood-panelled library featured in the film, Andrew remarked that he wished he had a library – to which his father replied ‘You’ve got one!’ Shortly afterwards, father and son visited Ward End Library for the first time and Andrew, now 60, has been a regular library user ever since.
A keen reader, getting through at least two books a week, Andrew rarely buys books and instead obtains all of his reading materials from lending libraries. As well as reading for pleasure, Andrew has also used the library throughout his life to study various subjects, including his two degrees in Psychology and Exercise Physiology – and even to become a master of Karate!
Andrew has been with his wife Linda since 1967, when, as a sixteen year old, he spent two weeks’ wages on their first date at the original Repertory Theatre on Station Street, during which Andrew proposed. Unfortunately, after spending so much on the date, Andrew had no money remaining with which to buy a copy of the programme for the production of Hans, The Witch and The Gobbin, leaving the couple without a cherished memento of their first date.
That was until many years later when the couple, both avid theatregoers, learned of The REP’s archived materials housed in Central Library’s Archives and Heritage collections – and finally obtained their copy of the elusive programme.
The REP, of course, has long since moved to Centenary Square, and will be joined by the Library of Birmingham, the new home of the archive collections in 2013. On the forthcoming union of the two organisations, Andrew said: “We’ve seen the plans, so to see the building when it’s completed will be exciting. We’re regular visitors to The REP, so it will be great to see it linked to the new Library.”
Rewriting the Book