Thursday, 22 November 2012

My 'A Moment in Time' Library Visits

In December 2010, I decided that I wanted to visit as many libraries as I could - as part of every day life. I started this blog to record details of my visits. I wanted to visit libraries for a number of reasons
1. Political reasons - libraries closing due to public sector cuts and the need for all those who value libraries to publicise their importance.
2. The increase in use of digital resources does not mean libraries are not needed, they are needed more than ever.
3. Libraries are fantastic and interesting - escapism, peace and quiet, historical, useful and fun.
4. I like visiting libraries - I think all libraries should be open to all and people should make the effort to visit them and if you work in a library you should promote and advocate libraries.

Since Dec 2010 I've visited 39 libraries (plus 5 almosts i.e.ones that I've got to the door but no further due to access restrictions).
They have been mainly a mixture of public libraries and academic libraries.
I'm not sure what I've achieved.
Hopefully it has had a positive effect on the libraries that I've visited - one more user who has appreciated the space, resources and library assistant/librarian.
I've blogged about them which may help raise awareness (every little helps). I've done my bit to promote and advocate the use of libraries and explain that they are essential.
I feel very fortunate that I have always been able to visit libraries since I was about 5 and in which ever area of the country I've lived in. I realize that I'm probably not very important as a reason to keep public libraries open as I have access to other libraries, to online resources and have the means to buy and borrow books from friends or shops. But I do feel it is, and should be, a right for everyone to have access to libraries especially young people and children.
One important point it has made me realize is that I have a different view of libraries from a professional point of view than I do from a personal point of view and it is the professional part that is important. Libraries need to be relevant, they need to provide access to books but also access to a wide variety of electronic resources. They need to provide space, space to learn. They need to provide expertise and the people to facilitate the search for information and knowledge. Most of the libraries that I've visited do provide these crucial elements.
From a personal point of view I'm glad I can visit libraries because I want to look at the books and be in the space to stand and stare and feel the history and the mixture between purposefulness and escapism.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wellcome Library

Last week when I was in London for a conference, I was walking back along Euston Road and passed the Wellcome Collection building and remembered that I had read about the library so decided to go in and visit.  It is a impressive and interesting building with a very nice cafe and shop although I didn't have time to stop for tea. The library is on the 3rd floor but you have to leave your bags and coats in the cloakroom.

The library was much more beautiful than I had imagined with an impressive central area and staircase. It is one of those libraries where you just want to stand and stare and take in the awesomeness of it. There were study tables in the main central part and then lots of books and shelving.

I was expecting the books to be all medical and science but they weren't - there was lots of philosophy and history and books about books (we could come on a family trip here as there would be plenty of stuff for T1 and T2 as well as me). I liked the names of the philosophers, scientists etc. that were displayed around the edges of the mezzanine level. It gave a sense of history but in a modern way showing that they are still relevant today.
It was a brilliant mix of old and new - lots of new shelving too and a viewing room to watch videos etc.  There were some little kiosk pedastel things for listening / watching YouTube clips with headphones.
I very much enjoyed my visit, it's free admission so if you're passing then go in.

Art and Architecture Library

One Monday morning recently I had finance training for three hours. I appreciate that finance training is essential in order to use the systems correctly but it is so boring. Anyhow when I came out of the building on Chamber Street and started to walk back to work I noticed through a window that there was a library. I went to investigate and discovered it was Edinburgh University Art and Architecture Library. I went in for a quick look round - quite a small library with study tables and chairs in the centre of the room and shelving with books round the edges.  Lots of great books and I found a whole section of marvellous gardening books so spent my lunch hour looking through them. I'm not sure whether there was any computers for students to use but there were quite a few people in there working and using the books and study spaces.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

New College Library, Edinburgh

New College Library is the
University of Edinburgh's School of Divinity Library. It is on Mound Place and was founded in 1843. It is a beautiful old building accessed through a courtyard behind a statue of John Knox.

It is not a big library and is one big room really with tables and chairs in the middle and shelves of books around the edge. I think there is a further reading room and stacks on another floor.
I'm particularly interested in theology libraries as my first degree was religious studies. I was pleased to see that the students studying in the library were much more 'cool and trendy' than in the past although maybe all students are.
I read a theology journal, a couple of sermons and sat and looked at the windows.

One thing that really struck me was this plaque.

I don't know anything about Adam Mitchell Hunter so will have to find out about him but how wonderful that a plaque was created and displayed to celebrate that he 're-arranged' the library.
In today's world he would have had to transform or totally rebuild the library to be of note but it is probably just a matter of the language used for the same level of achievement. A glorious understatement.