Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Barbican Library

I enjoyed this visit tremendously.  If I am ever able to work in a library like the Barbican I will be the luckiest librarian alive.  It is obvious that Geraldine, Jonathan and Richard enjoy their job.  Such enthusiasm is obvious and refreshing.  I learned so much visiting this library.  I mostly realized that in all honesty, American and British libraries are really not that different.  We all serve the public by providing access to unlimited amounts of information, provide opportunities to experience culture and provide a welcoming area for enriching the mind.  The children’s area is home to treasured books, story times and an encouraging environment to read and dream.  The employees at the Barbican are wonderful people and it is obvious that they enjoy what they do each and every day.  Geraldine and Jonathan were fantastic hosts and guides and showed us the wonders of their library and shared priceless information and advice that will help us all throughout our career.  It is great to gain new insight and perspective into the library world and I feel honoured to have been able to spend an afternoon at such an amazing library; even if the library is built upon plague pits.  Now how awesome and unique is that?!

  • The Barbican music library received a reward for excellency.
  •  British libraries did not become lending libraries until the 1960s.
  • The Barbican was the first in the United Kingdom to utilize RFID technology.  This really attracted my attention because it was something that I was unfamiliar with.  I had heard some things but seeing it actually function within a library environment was truly impressive. 
  • As a member, anyone can learn several different languages for free.
  • They mainly serve to the younger population of London.
  • The busiest time at the library is between 11:45 to 2:00
  • There internet use is limited to 1 hour per day with one renewal for a total of 2 hours per day.
  •  They charge for one week rentals of non-educational DVDs and music CDs.
  • They have an age restriction for DVD rental; 21 years old depending on the rating.
  • The oldest book that can be borrowed is from the 1730s.
  • They have a special London collection consisting of eight to nine thousand books.
  • Anyone can practice the piano for one hour per day.
  • The music collection has 16,000 scores
  • There is such a thing as a music dictionary and if one knows how to use it can be successful.
  •  They have the largest CD collection available for borrowing in the UK; 15,000 CDs.
  • There are roughly 200,000 items in the entire collection of the Barbican

I would say the most impressive aspect of our visit overall was the presentation of RFID technology.  The Barbican is a library ahead of its time.  By becoming the first library system in the United Kingdom to utilize RFID technology, they set the standard for other libraries to follow suit.  I witnessed how well the whole system works and immediately thought of my own library at home.   I believe this technology would be a great addition to American libraries.  I think that it would be user-friendly for patrons.  It may be a costly endeavor but it is one that should definitely be kept in mind and possibly even planned for.   

 This library left a lasting impression on me.  Having work for a public library for nearly ten years, it was a wonderful experience getting to see the inner workings of a British public library.  I was easily able to compare and contrast between American and British.  I discovered similarities and also discovered aspects of British Libraries that would make great additions to the running of American Libraries. 

Below is a link to a 2004 Guardian article about the use of RFID technology in various libraries.  It illustrates the importance and the practical application in tracking books.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2004/nov/11/onlinesupplement.insideit

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