I was really interested to go to the Barbican because the area where the complex now resides was one of the hardest hit by the bombs of World War II. The Barbican Centre houses a concert hall, two cinemas, galleries, a conservatory, and the library. Since the Barbican Library is located inside the Centre it is one of the loudest in the country. The library is designed to minimize the noise as much as possible and does provide areas with minimal noise. The library is a tenant of the Barbican Centre and tries to extend the cultural aims of the Centre. To achieve this, the library produces artistic exhibits different locations throughout the library.
When our group arrived at the library we were greeted by Geraldine Pote and Jonathan Gibbs. These two librarians were extremely knowledgeable and friendly as they showed us around the library. They also provided us with refreshments and a short rest in the middle of our tour which was much appreciated. The first thing that was discussed was the amount of people that are served by this library. Most people using the library services are between 25-45 years old, male, and part of the working population. Colleges and universities are close to the library and often use the services provided at the library.
Hours at the library can be limited but the library has a 24 hour web service that regular patrons of the library can use at any time.
One of the most interesting aspects of the library is that they have both a self service system and a traditional librarian encounter system. The self service system provides the user with the ability to check out resources from the library or return those resources without having to interact with a staff member of the library. In order for this system to succeed, each item had to have a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip placed somewhere on the item. We were told that this system has had its problems but it has cut down of the service desks and allows for other tasks to be completed.
The library has a strong collection of audio and visual items that can be borrowed for free or at a low price. A section is dedicated for internet and basic computer use which has a lot of use. Young adults have a section of the library which includes programs at night to provide entertainment but also involves literacy skills. The Children’s Library is well organized with books being organized by reading level. Summer reading programs are also established and are quite successful even though the area has few children.
The Music Library is one of the biggest in the country and complements the Westminster Music Library. It contains a strong staff of music specialists.
This library was established in 1983 from scratch and most of the collection has come from donations. Two keyboards are available for use at no charge. Listening booths, laptop booths, and computer terminals are also available inside this section of the library. The library has an established reference and periodicals section that provides information on a variety of musical genres. CDs are also available for borrowing and the library has between 15,000 and 16,000 CDs. Along with these albums, the library promotes local musicians by having copies of their CDs available for borrowing.
This library is wonderful. It has many features that can be of use to just about any user of the library.
The photographs are courtesy of the Barbican Library website and the Barbican Music Library website respectively.