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.

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