Friday, 31 August 2007

Barbican Centre Library

The Barbican Library is a public library serving the Barbican Centre, multiple floors of art, music, and film with galleries, exhibition spaces, a concert hall and a greater space with residences and a café. It is very much a self-contained unit of art appreciation and so the library must reflect that within its collections, devoting large spaces to art and music.

One of the collections of great interest to me was the music collection. At the start of our lecture I noticed that our guide was standing in front of shelves of music-related dvds that I greatly wanted to peruse and very much appreciated seeing in a library; of course I also learned that because of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act they charge to take away dvds and cds because those were not specifically included in the text as being types of items required to be used free of charge. The music library has 17,000 cds as well and scores available for checkout – or that one can test on the library’s silent piano (a user can checkout headphones and then have a play).

The music library’s cd collection has its own classification system, with categories such as Classical, Pop Female, and Pop Group; the scores have their own system as well, titled the Malcolm and Reeves system so that pertinent scores could be grouped together, and as all the books in the library are, the music library’s books are classified under the tried and true of the public library system, Dewey.

The arts reading room is the other part of the library mainly devoted to the same pursuits the Barbican Centre makes available and just as in the NAL, I noticed a lot of familiar reading material. The library also had an exhibit of prints up, which reminded me of the Iowa City Public Library’s prints and paintings available for checkout, although the Barbican’s were for sale.

The Barbican Library also has one of the largest children’s collections in London with about 25,000 items. The children’s library also holds many events like story time and has previously held cooking events although that seems like not the greatest idea perhaps for an enclosed, carpeted space with running children.

The library also houses many familiar public library services such as free internet usage and courses in life skills such as technology use and literacy; and a self checkout, which I hadn’t seen yet on our jaunts through the libraries. Of course, the academic libraries we’d seen would probably become very frightened by the idea of a self checkout since no one can really check anything out of them anyway.

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