Friday, July 30, 2010

Maughan Library at King's College--July 29, 2010

The Maughan Library is the academic library for the Strand Campus of King's College London. It is a multi-disciplinary library that opened in 2001 in a renovated building that once housed the Public Records Office (constructed in 1851).

According to the library's website, the subjects covered by the Maughan Library collection include:

"American studies, Australian studies, Byzantine & modern Greek, classics, cultural & creative industries, digital culture & technology, English, European studies, film studies, French, geography, German, history, linguistics, music, philosophy, Portuguese & Brazilian studies, Spanish & Spanish-American studies, theology & religious studies, war studies, law, medical ethics, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics."

The building was designed to be the first fire proof building and many of these design features are still apparent in the Library's appearance today.

For example, these slate and steel shelves were designed to be fireproof. The ceiling is made of zinc.

The building is an interesting mix of historic (it is a listed building) and contemporary. The original archive facility had closed stacks, so the layout multi-room layout of the current open-stack library may seem oddly segmented to patrons.

When the building was renovated, design features that appeal to contemporary academic users were incorporated. These include computer labs, social seating areas, wireless Internet, and flexible teaching spaces.

The library is open 7 days a week and expands opening hours to 24 hours a day during exams.

The library's collection consists of 3/4 million volumes. There are 1.3 million items across the King's College library system. The libraries serve 11,000 students at the Strand Campus and 20,000 students across the entire university.

The library recently got funding to add self service and have been in the process of adding RFID tags to all of the items in the collection.

The library has also added roving reference and a quick information point. Student feedback is requested and the staff posts responses to the feedback on a public information board.

The library features a spectacular round reading room.

The reading room houses the humanities reference collection.

Most of the illumination is natural light provided by a huge glass dome. Individual reading desks have lamps.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bath Central Library--July 28, 2010

The Bath Central Library is located in a shopping center near the city center of Bath. A classmate and I happened upon it by chance on a day trip to Bath and found it to be a lovely public library.

We entered the ground floor of the shopping center and followed the signs up the escalator to the library.

Bath Central Library is part of the Bath & North East Somerset Council Libraries. It is also part of the LibrariesWest partnership.

Just inside the entrance are all the amenities patrons might need for a quick "in and out" visit to the library. There are four self service kiosks that allow patrons to check items in or out, renew items, or pay fees.

(Image courtesy of Bath Central Library Facebook Page)

There is also a large display of "Quick Select" items that appear to be new and/or popular books. A patron could easily run in, grab a book from the quick select display, step over to the self check out, and be in and out of the library in less than five minutes. This could be very handy for patrons who are stopping in on a lunch break or while running other errands.

(Image courtesy of Bath Central Library Facebook Page)

One thing that I really liked about this library was their signs. They have a conversational tone and seem to focus on how the patron might view the library, as opposed to how the librarian might view the library.

Displays are neat, simple, and eye-catching.

The shelving is generally set up in short rows. It gives the library and open and inviting feel.

One thing that stood out to us was the fact that the shelving all appears to be on locked wheels. It seems that this would make it easy to rearrange the space or to move shelving out of the way to accommodate a program or special event.

This is one of the best circulation/reference desk signs I've ever seen. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the sign takes up about half the wall above the desk. It makes it very clear what patrons can hope to gain from approaching the desk.

I also noticed that there is a small rack of reading glasses for sale near the information desk. This seems like such a brilliant idea.

Another interesting thing about this library is how much they emphasize the fact that the library is FREE in their promotional materials. According to their Facebook page, a person doesn't even have to fill out a form to obtain a library card. The library seems very intent upon removing any perceived barriers to service.

The library has a great Facebook page with many more pictures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National Archives of Scotland--July 20, 2010

According to their website, the National Archives of Scotland "exists to select, preserve, and make available the national archives of Scotland in whatever medium, to the highest standards; to promote the growth and maintenance of proper archive provision throughout the country; and to lead the development of archival practice in Scotland."

The NAS is an agency of the Scottish government and is headed by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. It is a large organization that is housed in three buildings, has 140 staff members, and runs eight websites. It is divided into the Record Services Division and the Corporate Services Division.

The collection is made up of 70 km of records, dating from the 12th century to the present. Types of documents in the collection include state and parliamentary papers, the register of deeds and sasines (the land register), church records, wills and testaments, tax records, valuation rolls, family papers, court records, government records, business records, railroad records, records of nationalized industries, and maps.

The NAS is located in the General Register House, designed by Robert Adams and opened in the 1780s. The Scotlands People Center is also housed in this building.

(Image courtesy of National Archives of Scotland Website)

The NAS maintains or contributes to several interesting websites that would be useful to users researching Scottish history or genealogy.

SCAN (Scottish Archive Network) aims to provide a unified electronic catalog that includes all archives in Scotland.

The NRAS (National Register of Archives for Scotland) surveys the holdings of collections of private papers in Scotland. helps users to read and understand the handwriting used in historic documents. is a website that provides a digital collection of images from Scotland's national collections.

The Scottish Register of Tartans is the official register of Scottish Tartans.

Dunfermline Carnegie Library--July 20, 2010

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library was the first Carnegie Library ever built. Dunfermline was Andrew Carnegie's hometown and he chose it as the location for his first (of 2,509 total) philanthropic libraries. It opened in 1883 to great fanfare. The library has been expanded twice (in 1922 and then again in 1992).

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library is part of the Fife Council Libraries. The library system includes 14 locations in West Fife and 52 total locations across Fife.

The library features a local and family history reference collection. This collection includes items such as maps, newspapers, parish registers, census records, local counsel minutes, photographs, and postcards. Holdings of the local newspaper go back to 1859 and census records go back to 1841.

The collection of photographs numbers several thousand and was mostly obtained through donations. The library also owns a set of glass negatives donated by a local photographer. Photocopies of the photographs are kept in binders and are available for patrons to view. The actual photographs are kept in storage.

The library has two major special collections: The George Reid Collection and the John Murison Collecion.

The Reid Collection includes a small collection medieval illuminated manuscripts and a collection of early printed books.

The Murison Collection features books and memorabilia focusing on Robert Burns. The heart of the collection is Murison's private library. He collected books by and about Robert Burns. He also collected objects and memorabilia relating to Burns or his work, including portraits.

Late in his life, Murison sold the collection to Sir Alexander Gibb. Gibb purchased the collection for the town of Dunfermline.

The lending library is located in a large, airy, historic room. The collection includes a large selection of fiction and non-fiction. Foreign language materials are also available, including Chinese, Urdu, and Polish.

The children's area is colorful and friendly. Simple subject headings on signs help to augment the Dewey numbers on the non-fiction books.

The children's area hosts storytimes and does outreach work with schools and nurseries.

The library provides programming for both adults and children. Adult programs include knitting groups, author events, book groups, speakers of local interest, and a Reader's Day (held every year in November.

Some locations offer beginning computer classes for adults. Participants are given a certificate upon successful completion of the course. This has been very popular, especially with elderly patrons.

The Fife council libraries are participating in an interesting public service program called the Book Prescription Scheme. It allows medical providers to write prescriptions for self-help books to help patients work through mild to moderate emotional and psychological problems. The patient can bring the confidential prescription to the library and check out the prescribed book for an extended loan period. I think this seems like a very interesting idea and I wonder if has been tried anywhere in the States. If it hasn't I wonder if it could work. This article talks a little more about the results of the program in Fife.

Central Library of Edinburgh--July 19, 2010

The Central Library was opened as a "free library" in 1890, thanks to a donation from Andrew Carnegie. A more detailed history of the Central Library can be found here.

Today, the Central Library includes several departments. These are the Central Children's Library, the Central Lending Library, the Edinburgh Room, the Fine Art Library, the Music Library, the Reference Library, and the Scottish Library.

Edinburgh City Libraries are making a major effort to develop a Web 2.0 presence. They hope to use these technologies to raise the profile of the library and to bring all online services together in one place.

One way they are accomplishing this is through a blog, Tales of One City. Their goal is to post at least one post a day with news and information relevant to the library and/or of interest to patrons. Sidebars on the blog include links to vital library resources.

The library also produces electronic newsletter called Word Up. It appears every other month and currently has about 2000 subscribers.

The library has a presence on Facebook, Flickr, youtube, and Twitter. It encourages participation by its users by posting mystery photos (often from collections of of photos donated to the library) and asking patrons to help identify streets and locations. The library also subscribes to a monitoring service that allows them to monitor what users are saying about the library in the Web 2.0 world.

The library maintains a community information site called Your Edinburgh. Digital versions of many of the library's special collections are available through the Capital Collections website.

This image shows the Central Music Library. Interesting features include a music-related reference collection and a collection of bag pipe and fiddle music.

The Music Library also hosts live music events.

The Children's Library host story times and features a collection of children's books in Gaelic.

This image shows the Fine Art Library.

This image shows the magnificent reading room of the reference library.

Since were on a group tour, our guide allowed us to take the stairs up to the gallery for a birds-eye view.

The Lending Library features approximately 60,000 volumes available for check out. This includes a wide selection of foreign language material in several languages.

The library participates in the Tesco Bank Summer Read, a summer reading program for adults that is designed to promote new Scottish books.