Screenshot Website


Here a screenshot showing our new website (text to come soon...)

Any comments and ideas are welcome ;-)

(if you click on the image it gets larger)

Useful links when creating a website


Here the links I talked about at the website session last week:

Borrow a person, from your local library!

Hi All,

Check out this article, about a new concept of information sharing at public libraries, borrowing a person, for a half hour chat!

Guided Tours at Somerset House


Everyone who has been to the (absolutely fantastic) Courtauld visit and was wondering about Somerset House might be interested in this:

There are (free!) guided tours at Somerset House every first and second Saturday:

I am probably going in May or June so if anybody wants to join in I can let you know the date (once I have decided ;-) )

Music in Public Libraries

Hey All,

This is an article about playing music in Public libraries. Any opinions? I go from pole to pole on this one.

Ah! none of my hyperlinks will go live, you'll have to copy and paste!

Visit to the Courtauld Library

On the 24th of March we visited the Library of the Courtauld Institute of Art, which is situated in the basement of Somerset House. The Library holds a significant art historical collection and is one of the major international research collections of art historical books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues in the UK. It is a very beautiful building, with red brick vaulted ceilings, full length windows and spiral stair cases, the students, d├ęcor and architecture were all to my mind perfectly suited to an art library.

We were met on our arrival by Boris, one of the Library’s Graduate Trainees and by Vicky the Deputy Book Librarian. We began our tour on the top mezzanine level and were shown around the service counter, staff offices, card catalogue and copy services. We were then brought to the Lower mezzanine level and shown around the book, periodical and exhibition catalogue collections. Boris and Vicky mentioned that their exhibition catalogue collection is particularly extensive and sought after. They hold approximately 180,000 volumes in the library, some of which are still recorded on the card catalogue. The Courtauld use an in-house classification scheme, which is largely based on the Library of Congress. Also held in the same building, though separately run, are the Conway and the Witt Libraries. The Conway collection is an image library and the Witt is collection of reproductions after paintings, drawings and prints.

We were then treated to a talk by Erica the head of Special Collections and by Deborah the head Cataloguer. Erica had pulled out some very interesting pieces from her collection to demonstrate the variety of books and objects stored in the Courtauld. These pieces included rare and old art books, which held both beautiful work within them and were themselves a work of art and modern pieces, which experiment with different forms, shapes, sizes and materials. She showed us one book which was coated in sandpaper and held together by bolts and another that played music upon opening the first page. She also showed us some volumes called artist books, which are books that are used as the artists medium and exist as a piece of art. Deborah then spoke about the processes and challenges involved in cataloguing art books and in particular exhibition catalogues and producing the best record which reflects and conveys the object. Deborah showed us one book that came hidden within a corrugated card case and explained that the challenge with cataloguing such a piece was how to convey the importance and the function of the case. Deborah explained that cataloguing such pieces involved a lot of thought and that there is no fixed format. It certainly seemed that the role of a cataloguer within an art library was a challenging, interesting and varied one.

We finished with tea and cakes in the library office, where Vicky, Erica and Deborah spoke to us about their own study and career paths. It was a truly enjoyable and interesting visit and I think it gave us trainees a great insight into the workings of an academic art library.

Visit to the Maughan Library 26th March

We arranged this visit to the KCL Maughan Library and Foyle Special Collections library to fit in with a visit to the 'Writing the Middle Ages' exhibition. People's first impressions were how beautiful the C19th Gothic building was.

Sally Brock, the Information Services Centre Manager began her tour by telling us about the background of the building. It was the former home of the Public Record Office, purpose built to be fire proof, and had been beautifully restored and refurbished when aquired by KCL in 1998.

We started in the Weston Room, which incorporates features from the former Chapel of the Master of the Rolls, and is often used for receptions and filming. We were shown one of the preserved cells originally used for storing documents. The arrangement of the space into these cells with a mezzanine level had been retained, although some of the walls and arches had been opened up to bring in more light and create a more open effect. The Round Room, with its impressive glass dome was a former PRO reading room, modelled on the British Museum's round reading room, and remains a popular place to work with current library users.

Sally told us about some of the services and facilities offered by the Information Services Centres, and trainees compared these to those at their own libraries. The combined department 'Information Services and Systems' meant that IT and library services were very well integrated.

In the Foyle Special Collections library, we met Katie Sambrook, the Special Collections Librarian. Her and a colleague introduced some items from their collection to us. These included some beautifully illustrated travel diaries and early scientific works. King's had recently acquired the historic library collections of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (around 60,000 items).

At the end of the visit, we went back to the Weston Room to see the 'Writing the Middle Ages' exhibition, curated by a King's student in collaboration with the Special Collections department, and including items on loan from other places. This contained medieval writing materials, manuscripts and early printed works, along with later translations/editions and works inspired by the medieval period. We were told that the material in the exhibition would be digitised and made available online.

Overall it was a fascinating building, and a great example of a sympathetic renovation, which combined modern and historical features.

Holly's Profile

My name is Holly and I am currently a graduate trainee in a government legal library. The library caters, primarily, for the departmental legal advisers. We maintain a small collection of books, journals, government reports, international material, as well as subscribing to a number of electronic databases.

As the trainee my tasks include, book ordering, cataloguing, checking in journals, processing invoices, indexing, inter-library loans, conducting research, providing access to electronic databases, distribution of journals and general library maintenance. Working within a small team I have had the opportunity to contribute to most aspects of the running of the Library and have been included in decision making processes regarding the services we offer.

Attending visits with the London University trainees has been a real privilege, giving me insight into the variety of libraries our capital has to offer. It has also been really helpful to be able to meet other budding librarians and share ideas on MA applications and future career choices.

Working within the legal sector has been really interesting and rewarding. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the wealth of legal resources on offer and how best to navigate through them. I hope to take the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL next year. On graduating I would like to further my experience in a legal library.

Visit to the LSE Library- April 7th

When I walked into the LSE Library, I was attracted by the modern floor plans: high ceiling with glasses around the building let natural light in; a huge staircase with lifts in the centre; open-plan shelves with study areas. The design makes me feel that I will come and study in the library everyday!

LSE Library has a couple of impressive strategies, and some of them would be a good example for other libraries if practicable:

- The arrangement of books and periodicals with same subject all in the same floor is a good idea, which enables readers to browse the shelves and to cross-reference the materials much easier; apart from they will need to walk down and up if books and periodicals are kept in separate floors.

- Information desk and IT Help desk next to each other
On the one hand, it is convenient for readers to seek for assistance in finding information or in resolving IT problems. On the other, the staffs can work together and help dealing with some basic enquiries if the other desk are busy or vacant.

- The marketing aspects - this aspect is what I felt really useful.
The welcome pack and posters which Ruth,Samantha and Maria showed us are brilliant! I do like the little black reusable bag and the water bottle! The posters and small leaflets not only provide pretty enough information for new students but also advertise the role of the library. At the beginning of the semester, the library can successfully deliver most important information on the use of the library including services, databases, training sessions and regulations. The design of the posters are excellent and not too difficult to make. The posters can catch up readers' attention and direct them to appropriate sections without questions.

In addition, the talk with Ruth, Samantha and Maria regarding their work experiences, library school and tips for CV are inspired. It gave us some ideas of how to build up our career as well.

By Shannen

City Business Library

On March 31st we visited the City Business Library. This library is run by the City of London Corporation, which is basically the local council of a very old and small central section of London (around Moorgate and the Barbican) which is the centre of London (and often UK) business. The City of London runs three other public libraries: the Barbican Library, the Camomile Street Library and the Guildhall Library. City Business Library is due to move into the Guildhall Library building at the end of this year.

The first thing to know about this library is that it is public in the truest sense of the word. Anyone can walk in off the street and use the library; you don't need to get a card and there are no security checks- quite amazing. It is reference-only and a wonderful tool for those running or setting up their own business, students studying business, or city workers in general. They specialise in "current business information which is intended to be of practical use"- many things they do not keep for more than three or five years. They have information on British and international companies, business around the world, market research, management and finance.

The library's website is very well designed and helpful, with many links to guides about how to find information in the library. The library itself is very clearly laid-out, with colour coding and large direction signs, as well as cards housed amongst the shelves indicating where you can find out more information on a particular subject: a sort of 'if you like this, you'll love this...' tool.
There are frequent free (pre-booking) events run at the library, almost every day in fact. These range from "Tax efficient allowances for the start of the new financial year" to "What is a Self Invested Person Pension (SIPP)?" (Good question!) The library also provides free training sessions for users on how to get the most from the many marketing and business databases it subscribes to.

I particularly enjoyed talking to the librarians on this visit. They are friendly and obviously deeply committed to providing their invaluable service to the public. Whilst the information and technology provided by this library is absolutely current, the service is firmly grounded in the ideals of 'old-fashioned' helpfulnes. A surprisingly inspiring visit.

Institute of Classical Studies visit

On 10 March, we visited the Institute of Classical Studies in Senate House (
The librarian, Colin Annis gave us a talk on the history of the library and on library moves in general.

The Institute was founded in 1953 and houses the Hellenic and Roman Societies' libraries as well as ICS own collection. It's primary aim is to provide informations on all aspects of classical studies. In fact, the Institute's library focuses on the history, literature, philosophy, art and archaeology of the Ancient Greek and Roman world. 
It numbers 107.000 books and an impressive number of periodicals of which over 600 are current. Most of the collection is on open access and can be borrowed (even the periodicals!).

The library was forced to move a surprising number of times during the past years: in 1958, to Gordon Square, then to Senate Hose South Block and 3 years ago, it moved to the North Block because of the ongoing refurbishment. Colin was present during all these moves, therefore he was particularly well acquainted with the difficulties and challenges posed by moving libraries of this size. 
Everything needs to be perfectly well planned months prior to the move itself. The space has to be carefully designed and in this respect  good communication with the architect is crucial. Each part of the collection needs to be measured so as to organize  the shelving accordingly, while always keeping in mind those 'dreaded' oversize books! The move itself is achieved rather quickly by a removal company, but it still takes librarians a few weeks to reorganize the collection in its new environment.

After the talk, Susan Willets showed us around the library, which is indeed very cramped in its current location. Hopefully, this will change when it will move to the South Block later this year.

This is Deborah's big news: how amazing!

"Well I have some exciting news (I was trying to post this on the blog but the PC kept freezing so thought I’d settle for emailing you). For those of you who don’t already know, I’m leaving Birkbeck next Wednesday. Last Friday I was offered a job at Glasgow Caledonian University as a Library Assistant (in their Resource Management section). The post starts on 14 April and finishes on late in September 09, in time for me to start my library degree. Because it is a short-term contract, they have requested that I start as soon as possible, and my managers at Birkbeck have kindly agreed to release me without serving my full month’s notice. I have friends that I plan to stay with in Glasgow, and am very much looking forward to this move as I’ve been considering relocating to Scotland for some time now.

I’ve had 2 unconditional offers of places at library school – one at City University and the other at the University of Strathclyde. If I enjoy my time staying in Glasgow over the next 6 months, I’ll opt to take the course at Strathclyde. I’m in the process of applying to the SAAS for funding (one of the conditions being that I’m resident in Scotland before 1st Aug 09) so this job will increase my chances of securing financial support for my studies. However, I’m keeping my options open and can always return to London to do the course at City if I decide to later on. I’ll keep you posted!

For those of you that don’t know me well, sorry to bore you with my future plans. I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the visits and they’ve certainly expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to the range of library and information-based posts available. I would like to wish you all the very best of luck in your future careers, and perhaps some of our paths will cross again in the future."