06 Jun

Chairs And Their Starring Role…

Chairs……how boring!!!! Absolutely boring!!!!! That is what this subject was to me. Subject done!!!!! NEXT!!!!!!


I get it. It WAS true. Chairs are boring. …Why? They just are…… Why are they so boring? Chairs or seats (by the way, I have even googled what the difference is between a seat and a chair, google doesn’t know) are for sitting and doing their job.


Oh my gosh, even while typing this, it’s difficult to make this product exciting……or is it?


I have done a lot of research on this subject recently. It’s way more FUN and INTERESTING than you might think and may have experienced. Yes, chairs are for sitting, we’ve done it our whole lives in one form or the other. We’ve enjoyed some, hated others. Been annoyed by some chairs we’ve had to sit in, loved other chairs we’ve chosen.


One of my clients in a fine higher educational institution taught me recently that while a fabric seat is popular among the users, have you ever tried to keep the seat clean? It’s an ongoing mission as well as a major issue. The solution was to propose to the powers that be to change to a plastic finish that is both durable and easy to clean. He even did a PowerPoint presentation to support his vision. He got his way. He’s right (he will know who I’m referring to in this experience), it is a real problem. While providing seating in either an educational institution or in a public environment, keeping it clean is both important and absolute. An added bonus is the colours available. You can, without a doubt, add instant colour to the environment making it both vibrant and attractive. And fun.


While this could be a problem, there is ALWAYS a solution. Chairs of today have so many options. So many positions. So many frames. So many bases. So many fabrics, so many choices. Too many!!!…. Do you know something interesting I didn’t know myself until I went on my learning curve? A chair has a guarantee offered by its manufacturer. A trusted manufacturer guarantees its chair for no less than 5 years in the South African market. It’s for general ‘wear and tear’. Do you know what the definition for said ‘wear and tear’ is? General ‘wear and tear’ is nine hours a day, five days a week and 110-kilogram maximum weight. That’s it.


I have not been sitting in an inappropriate chair the last 10 – 15 years. Body sizes have changed (mine included). You do need to take this into account. For instance, one of the most popular chairs is what is commonly referred to as a banquet chair or ‘stacker’ chair. These chairs can be manufactured using 19mm tubular or square steel. PERFECT if you’re 70 or 80 kilograms, not so much if you’re more. Companies are selling these as standard chairs. They’re not. Times are difficult and price is important. So are your users. So is their safety. A 25mm thickness tube accommodates every body type and is designed to last. You’ve probably sat on them at functions, weddings and meetings. They are comfortable.


The point of our blogs is to inform and educate you, to let you know the differences. Not every patron/library user/student is the same. Accommodate them all. Take them all into account. Offer them the best experience possible, while staying true to your budget, your environment and your good taste…


There is a chair for every budget and environment. We are in the process of introducing new ranges, styles and colours to our range of chairs. There are explanations and dimensions for the different types on our website www.dongresswell.co.za Please go along and take a look under the category Chairs.

25 Apr

Inspiring Library Ideas Using Pinterest…

Are you wondering how to make your library environment more attractive? More entertaining? More fun?


The reason I ask these questions is because they are questions that I get asked often. I have been to many libraries and so have the benefit of exposure but what if you haven’t?


The beauty about life is that no matter what environment you are in, there is always more you can learn. I met a wonderful new client towards the end of last year who asked me if I had used the website Pinterest. I told her that I hadn’t and arrogantly said it wasn’t my scene (missing an opportunity for a learning experience). I thought about it the rest of the day and as soon as I got to my office, I decided to give it a look. I was absolutely blown away. The amount of ideas, opinions and exposure are truly amazing. FOR FREE!!!! In real environments, real spaces, everyday libraries, big and small.


I am not afraid to say that I have come across many new ideas for new products that we have in the pipeline. I am also not afraid to admit that I have taken some ideas from what I’ve seen and recommended them on my trips around to the different libraries. The internet is there to be a source of inspiration and if we don’t feel inspired after a look at Pinterest well………. I’m not sure it’s possible.


I wanted this quick opportunity to share something I have found useful and valuable. I felt it could help you if you are looking for a new idea or even a little inspiration. Go to www.pinterest.com, sign up and start exploring. I did and found it very easy to navigate.


If you know of anyone who might enjoy some insights into libraries, please don’t hesitate to forward this mail to them. Better yet send me their address and I can add it to my subscriber list.

10 May

Book Repair…

Books are great. Books are knowledge. Books are imagination, fun and inspiring. Books are expensive. Books also fall apart. They get damaged, abused and broken. What does one do with these books when they are beyond repair? When they are tattered? When they look tired?


I have always been conflicted with the answer. Let me tell you why. Many years ago my father started a bookbinding business. It specialized in finishing for the printing industry. We received the printed sheets from the printers and bound the book professionally into its finished product. We also specialized in the repair of reading books. Paperback and hard bound.  Journals and theses. We serviced the municipality, school and private libraries. We still do.


The paperback book was originally designed to be read only 4 or 5 times. It is far less expensive to produce than a hard cover. Therefore it is far easier on your budget and allows you to purchase more books. The obvious downside being the life cycle of the book.  The glues used are also seldom of great quality to keep the cost of production down.


The process of repairing and strengthening a paperback is methodical and detailed. The old glue is cut off with a powerful guillotine. The pages are re glued using no ordinary wood glue. It is specialized for the bookbinding industry. Yes, paper is made of wood but paper is used under different conditions and has different needs. It needs to be flexible and it needs to bind the fibers of the paper. The spine is fan glued, allowing a penetration of 5-7mm of glue into the spine.  In the gluing process, gauze or webbed cotton strands, is added to strengthen the spine.  A brand new end sheet and 2 thick pieces of board are now added and then the cover. Finally it is given a trim on all 3 sides and your book looks virtually brand new. Out with the old and in with the new, ready to hold up to any user abuse. It is an amazing transformation and is perfect for brand new as well as old books. Almost all books can be repaired this way and breathes new life into old worn books. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Especially useful when you have out-of-print books.


Why I am conflicted about all this is because I offer book repair products through Don Gresswell Library Products and I offer the book repair service through our sister company B.K. Bookbinders.  Either way, I am extremely proud of both.


I always try to use this blog as a means for education and to show a different view point. I never use it to directly sell but I do feel that everybody needs to know what is available from time to time.

06 Nov

Going digital

My last post spoke about the dramatic effect colour has in your library or information space. Libraries have changed in the last few years. Books to computers and hard chairs to comfortable soft seating.

Books have an incredibly important part to play in the modern world. Computers are as important and we need to display them in a comfortable and inviting way.

We are very proud to introduce our new DGoffice website offering modern seating, furniture and fittings to make your library pop. We are so proud of the site and we would love you to please pop along and take a look at www.dgoffice.co.za We promise you will be inspired!!!!

Please stay tuned to this space as there are more new products and ideas coming soon. We have always prided ourselves on being innovative in the library world and we don’t plan on changing.

Warm regards,

Alan Kewley

06 Nov

The Living Library

Hi Guys,

Have you noticed that libraries are always going in and out of style, popularity or relevance? Sometimes all three.

I have always found this absurd.

Libraries always have and always will be important to communities as a place of information. As a place of entertainment. As a place of safety. A place to become a better version of yourself. They offer so much more than a book on a shelf.

I have always believed that librarians are one of the most important people. They hand out information with a smile and only ask for a smile in return. They know stuff and are only too glad to be of help. They are VIP’s.

The internet is an amazing piece of technology. While I have learnt to love and depend on it, I am also very aware that I can’t trust everything on it “because it says so”. Librarians are a trusted source for factual information. They have a more important task nowadays than in the past. The future of the librarian is vital for an educated community. I only hope they get the recognition they deserve.

I have visited my share of libraries over my 21 years in the industry. I have seen every shape, form and function there is to offer and I would love to share some of my experiences with you from time to time. The good and the bad.

I have learnt that there are solutions as well as new trends and technologies to cater for every need and I will be sharing these with you as well.

Please join me on this journey…

Alan Kewley

20 Sep

Library Shelving…

Whenever I’m out and about visiting the many libraries that I do, I have noticed a 50/50 split on wood and steel shelving. Shelving is one of my favourite products in the library and one that I have a lot of knowledge about.


I do get the attraction with wooden shelving. The warmth. The look. The tradition. Unfortunately I have also seen the high cost of solid wood increasing every six months. There has been a move to Melamine shelving (chip board or particle board) to reduce the costs. Unfortunately this isn’t always the solution. Did you know there are 2 types of chip board? High density and low density. The density refers to how tight the chips are compacted. So low density is less expensive but has less strength. There is also the issue of bowing. The shelves bow because the weight of books is heavy. People who aren’t in the library world don’t take this into account or know this. I have seen it hundreds of times. The other major drawback is if water penetrates the wood. It swells up and destroys the integrity of the wood. We once did an issue counter in Melamine for Cornwall Hill College. We added feet to the counter because the lady who cleaned their carpets always tended to use excess water when cleaning. We never had a problem with it.


Steel shelving, to me, is always the answer and a system I always recommend. Steel shelving does not need to be a boring and cold alternative anymore. Did you know that you can have shelving in a lot of different colours? Add to this end panels and top panels in a wide range of melamine colours and you have a very attractive finish. We once did Transnet Head Office’s library in black steel with white beech panels. To this day it still remains my favourite combination. Stylish and contemporary. The other major benefit of steel over wood is the security. You can see through the shelves so there are no “hiding places”. The last major benefit is affordability. It is up to half the cost of solid wood and up to 30% more affordable than chip board……and it lasts forever

15 Aug

Library Furnishings…

I have been in and served the library world for 25 years. I have often found the changes both exciting and challenging. The different environments. The modern furniture. The colours. The technology.

From what used to be a book driven space to a technology center. What used to be a dull environment to a bright and exciting space enticing and inviting it’s users to be a part of it. To embrace it. To enjoy it.

In 1999 when we did our first move of a library it was the old University of Transkei. The librarian of the time was a wonderful and warm gentleman called Mr Ofori. He wanted to add some colour to his new library. He also wanted to make the library easy for the students to navigate. We all decided to change the colours of the end panels to represent the books on the shelves. Social Sciences one colour. Technology a different colour. Commerce another colour, and so on. A simple idea but such a massive difference.

You don’t have to make drastic changes in the library to create a different space. You only need to make small changes, add a bit of colour , add a bit of excitement. With today’s modern furniture and colours available, it really is easy and attainable.