The Barbican Public Library was my favorite tour. Before I began working in a medical library I was employed in a public library for fifteen years. I felt that the librarians and staff at the Barbican spoke on the same issues that U.S. public libraries face and were open with information about any difficulties the library encounters. At the Barbican we had the privilege of meeting Jonathan Gibbs, I.T. and Operations Librarian.
|View of the Barbican courtyard. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia|
Our class was split into two groups for our tour and I am very happy that I was in the group led by Jonathan. Not only did he offer a wealth of information about the Barbican during his tour, he did so in an entertaining way. I could tell he really enjoyed having visitors and made us all feel quite welcomed and kept our attention.
The Barbican Centre is a strange arrangement. The Centre is a performing arts centre that also houses the library, restaurants and a conservatory. However, all are seperate entities when it comes to finances. Also, because of the design of the building this means that the library is not a quiet place. You can hear announcements for various functions that are happening in the center from an overhead speaker throughout the library. In addition to this there is also housing above the centre. Originally the housing was built with the intention becoming lower income housing. However, because it is in the city of London, it soon because an exclusive housing complex and is occupied by the very wealthy.
|Barbican photo courtesy of Wikipedia|
One of the first stops on our tour was to meet Amanda Owens, Children’s Librarian and tour the children’s area of the library. Because very few people actually live in this area of London, the population of the library disapears after 5 p.m. everyday. This can affect various children's programs. Their busiest times are during normal business hours. Amanda also works with local school for student visits.
The Barbican also has a large music library. When we visit there is a special exhibit going on at the Barbican Library called Rock Family Tree. The Rock Family Tree is a unique work of art put together by famed rock journalist Pete Frame. The opening of the exhibit sold out quite quickly but the family trees are still on display in the music library till the end of August.
What I find most interesting about public libraries are the duties they perform that one would think should fall outside their job description. For instance we are told that library staff are often called upon to assist Indian immigrants with their visa applications. This happens so often that they are considering imposing a fee for such assistance.