Last month, Jane was fortunate enough to visit the chained library at Wells Cathedral.
Built in 1450, this working library has been in use for over 550 years. Wells is only 1 of 4 chained libraries remaining in the country.
An iron gate separates the reading room from the library where some books are still chained to the shelves. The move to chaining books to the shelves in the 1600s was seen as a way of increasing access! Previously books were stored in chained boxes and readers had to ask for each box to be unlocked by the custodians. By chaining the books to the shelves, readers only had to request to be let in through the locked gate. They could then browse the shelves and then read the books, at chains length, on the shelves below.
(Note from Charley: there is surely an analogy to be drawn here between chaining books to shelves and open access, but we won’t get into that…)
In mid-June I (Jane) was lucky enough to attend the Erasmus library staff mobility week in Dublin. A group of academic librarians from across Europe, got together to talk about various library activities in their home institutions.
Each attendee was required to give a short presentation on their chosen theme. This resulted in some great discussions. My presentation, Customer service and the Future Library at the University of the West of England is available on the Research Repository.
A real bonus of the week was getting to visit some fantastic libraries in and around Dublin as each theme was hosted at a different institution. Here are some pictures from the visit where you can see a wide range of libraries!
In mid-May, I (Anna) was lucky enough to re-visit my hometown and child-hood library, Exeter Central Library. This time though, I wasn’t running up the circle-slope outside the library, hunting through the children’s books, or playing on the rocking horse. Instead, I was attending an Introduction to Grant seeking course run by SWRLS and led by Bill Bruty (a professional fundraiser).
I got to see Exeter Central Library from a very different perspective – enjoying the very open, window-filled conference room; getting a chance to read the displays, and letters home, from Indians who fought in the world wars; enjoying the way that bay ends had recognisable photos of the local area; and taking a quick peek at the FabLab (where members of the public can design their own products, including the use of a 3D printer).
On Wednesday 23rd May I (Lisa) was lucky enough to spend the morning at Bristol Zoo to visit the library there, and find out more about what they do. The morning began with an introduction from Simon Garrett (Head of Learning), who talked about the three main areas that they cover: 1) Conservation, 2) Field work, and 3) Changing human behaviours. As well as providing entertainment for the public, zoos are able to target people of all ages and challenge the decisions that they are making in their everyday lives, which could have a big impact on the environment. This year they are working on a behaviour change campaign that encourages consumers to purchase sustainable palm oil.
We were then split into two groups, and my group was taken on a tour of the Education Centre, which included a lecture room, lab, computer room, common room, and library. Siobhan (the only Bristol Zoo librarian!) delivered an interesting talk about the library, and the resources that they have. Here are some facts about the library:
- The library can be used by University students, researchers, zoo staff, volunteers, and the public upon request.
- It is relatively small, with 4500 books, 2500 journal issues, and 2 e-resource subscriptions!
- A large collection of the books were donated from the BBC Wildlife unit. Other books were obtained from departments around the zoo.
- There is a unique cataloguing system, which was developed many years ago by volunteers, and has never been changed (e.g. Ec-H-W-5 would indicate a book in the ecology section, under the subheadings habitat – woodland, which was the fifth book to be added to this group).
We were then free to browse the books, and admire the interesting view out the window of the capybaras!
A couple of months ago, Lisa went on holiday to New York and she couldn’t resist a visit to New York Public Library (the third largest public library in the world!). There had been a dusting of snow that day, so it looked really pretty from the outside!
It is also an incredible building inside, with large public reading rooms and grand hallways filled with amazing artwork.
Downstairs there is a children’s library with a Winnie the Pooh exhibit, containing Christopher Robin’s original teddies!
It’s free to have a look around, so I definitely recommend a visit next time you’re in the Big Apple!
Back in 2016, Charley was in Slovenia, not looking for libraries at all. You don’t normally expect to find libraries in a place like this:
Sure it looks beautiful but it was FREEZING when you tried to paddle in it
But even a lake can be a suitable place for a library – in this case a little free library in a lovingly crafted little house.
We thought it was a birdhouse at first
The library offered books for anyone to borrow and read while sitting in the sun around the lake. Books could then be returned, or you could add a book of your own to the collection.
All the photos in this post were created by Charley Vaughton and are licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 license
Jane, one of the research librarians, spent some time in Australia this Christmas. She couldn’t resist visiting a couple of libraries!
The first one she visited was a little honesty library in a shopping mall in Melbourne. People can borrow the books and bring them back, or replace them with another book, and there is no formal checking out process.
The second library was slightly larger and grander – the state library of Victoria, complete with dedicated chess playing area!
You can see some pictures from Jane’s trip below – click to view them in full.