08 July 2014

Barbican Library

Barbican Library entrance
Today our class went on some of the best class trips we have had so far in London. The first was to the Barbican Library, which is one of the City of London's three public libraries. The Barbican immediately won me over because it was a beautiful, modern space with low wooden shelving and cutting-edge technology. Their self-checkout machines can scan a whole stack of items at once! Seeing how nice this public library is makes me a little jealous on behalf of the main branch of the CCPL back home, which before now I thought was a pretty nice facility.

The Barbican charges for CD and DVD rentals, which is a trend I am noticing is very popular in the UK. Educational DVDs are free to check out, but there is no completely free movie rental system like I have become accustomed to in both the public and membership libraries in Charleston. Two of the notable collections in the library are the London collection which is made up of items related to the city and a business library that holds market reports and information for people looking to start their own business.

Children's Non-Fiction
The Barbican has separate areas for the Children's Library and Music Library. The Children's Library is a welcoming, closed-off space where children can be loud and find materials just for them. The library holds fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, picture books, books on parenting, audiobooks, and access to ebooks. During our visit, the staff members were preparing for a summer reading program and the decorations were phenomenal. The maze painted on the glass in the library was beautiful!

Portion of the CD collection

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the library was the Music Library. This area is filled with biographies and periodicals related to music, but the best part is the vast collection of scores (approximately 16,000) they have on hand. These are sorted into sections by instrument rather than by genre or composer. They also boast the biggest CD collection in London and have a program to feature local artists by having their albums available in a special display for users to check out. These CDs cost 55p to check out for one week, or £1.65 for three weeks. There are two public use keyboards in the library for use and listening booths for users who want to listen to items before checking them out.

An intriguing exhibition was taking place outside of the Music Library during our visit to the Barbican. An artist had done extensive research about several bands and made up "family trees" of each band's members, feeder ensembles, and changes throughout their career. These were both informative and visually interesting, so I wish I had a picture to share (no pictures were allowed of exhibitions). I can't remember all of the bands represented, but I do remember there was a poster for Fleetwood Mac, as I studied that one for a while.

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