Wiener library visit
One of the great things about working in a special collections library is the enthusiasm librarians have for sharing experiences with other libraries. It’s always good fun to have a peep at what other services are up to and not to have to cover up the fact you’re there to borrow good ideas for your own practice. My library is in the process of reassessing how we make our archives and special collection items available to our readers, and I’ve been asked to take part on behalf of the discovery and engagement team. This means lots of trips to other services, large and small, and an excuse to visit all of those libraries you’ve never got round to popping in to.
First up is the refurbished Wiener library in its new building on Russell Square. The library is open to all and a new exhibition space on the ground floor welcomes visitors, and can be converted into a larger space for evening events. Upstairs the main reading room is incredibly light thanks to its large windows overlooking Russell Square. The central space, where the enquiry desk is, feels more intimate with a mezzanine level providing extra shelving.
What’s really impressive is how the designers have played with the purpose of the spaces; integrating bookshelves into the exhibition downstairs and using in-line display cases amongst the library shelving upstairs to show archive material. These draw browsers further into the collection and contribute to the impressive 80% of casual visitors who go on to make use of the collections. With a serene, considered space like this to work in, one can see why.