My London Journal

My London Journal
View from Westminster Abbey

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Aug. 2: Barbican Library

Barbican Center and Library

The Barbican Center was planned in the 1960's and built in the 1970's. It was intended to be a complete cultural center. The library averages 1200 visitors a day and issues approximately 500,000 materials a year. We toured the Information Desk, the Art Library, the Music Library and the Children's Library. We were also shown great hospitality and were given tea and snacks during a break.

From our tour:
The Art Library houses exhibits all year round and there is a long waiting list for showings.

The Music Library has its own song index and the largest CD collection in one area (17,000 CD's). It also provides an electronic piano for patrons to play the musical scores filed in the library, but our guide told us that it is most often used for piano practice.

The Children's Library provides library service to nearby schools who have no libraries. They send out suitcases of books for classroom use. They also offer the Book Start program, funded by Book Trust and sponsored by Sainsburys, which provides books for parents to share with babies.

I stayed and used their children's library to read the books available by Michael Rosen, the author about whom I will be writing my short paper. I also visited with the very knowledgeable and outgoing library assistant who had given us our tour. I asked her specifically about the popularity of Michael Rosen's books (it varied) and about the award winning books. She explained the award committee's method of choosing a shortlist from the all the books being considered. The public can then "shadow" the titles, which means to write in their preferences and opinions. This year's Carnegie winner, Just in Case by Meg Rosoff, was a controversial choice. I plan to read it on the way home to see if I agree with this librarian's opinion that it isn't geared toward kids.

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