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.