Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stratford-upon-Avon Library & Information Centre

On the morning of 14 July (Bastille Day!), a few program classes boarded the bus for Stratford-upon-Avon. We arrived in the early afternoon and my class was free to take to the streets. A few of us headed for the town's library, the Stratford-upon-Avon Library & Information Centre. The Library is part of the Warwickshire Library & Information Service and is an original 1905 Carnegie library. As I have worked in Carnegie libraries in the past, it was interesting to note the layout and use of space of this particular building.

Library materials were housed on two levels, ground floor and first floor. The ground floor contained a main room with the circulation desk and public access computers. The layout of the desk was slightly confusing, with staff terminals on three sides, making it hard to figure out where to stand. The ground floor also included a CD room (£1/week for one CD and £2/week for multiple discs), another room with large print books and talking books, and an area with tourist information. In the large print and talking books room there was a glassed-in BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Radio room. It was unclear whether or not any broadcasting took place from the room. I also noticed a magazine area and a shelf with self pick-up holds.

Heading upstairs we found the main portion of materials. These included teen books, fiction, and nonfiction. Fiction books were shelved by author's last name and did not have spine labels, only a check-out stamp card in the front. Nonfiction books had call numbers and were shelved in Dewey order. At the end of the space were two additional rooms. One was a local history area, with microfiche readers and tables and chairs, and the other was a small children's room. The Library hosts rhyme time sessions every other Tuesday and a "Wiggle & Jiggle" event featuring rhymes, stories, and songs, on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Both events cost £1 per child. Also upstairs was an enquiry desk, unfortunately closed when we visited.

I continue to be amazed that UK libraries charge for some services. As I mentioned above, there were charges for children's activities and CDs. I also noticed that there is a charge to reserve materials and a £3.50 charge to obtain an item through interlibrary loan. Also noticeable was the use of CCTV. The circulation desk on the ground floor had a television that cycled through different views of the Library.

After roaming the town we were treated to a performance of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale from the Royal Shakespeare Company. The theatre was intimate, I sat only a few rows from the stage, and although I was not familiar with the plot, the play was dramatic and very moving. Thank you to the program for providing us tickets.

Photo courtesy of the Warwickshire Library & Information Service.


  1. Very nice photo. I am surprised that there is a Carnegie library outside the U.S. I guess I need to do some reading up on that, which should be fascinating, so thank you for mentioning that aspect. I like that they have large print and audio books together, to make for a nice browsing experience for those in need of such. The wiggle and jiggle seems a bit bizarre, I can't imagine the turnout is that great if there is a charge, why not just wiggle and jiggle at home? Unless the songs etc. are very professionally done. Curious indeed.

  2. The first Carnegie is actually in Dunfermline, Scotland (I went there and there and I have post on it). Interesting, right?