Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maughan Library

The last library visit! A momentous occasion. While some of the group took the bus, others of us walked over to Chancery Lane to visit the Maughan Library, one of the libraries in the Kings College Libraries system. Sally, the Information Services Manager, greeted us and told us a little about the Library and the College. Kings College was founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829 and now consists of several campuses. We were visiting the Strand Campus. Before moving into its current facility in 2001, the Maughan consisted of 4 libraries, each crammed full of items. The move, into the former Public Record Office, allowed all the collections to be housed together. The building is fireproof (it was the first building in London to be built that way) but as it is a historic building, there were restrictions on renovations and use of space. When we toured the space we noticed the impact of this, including limited signage and areas of shelving that could not be used. The Library contains over 1300 seats (300 of them are at computers) and houses over 750,000 of the 1.3 million total volumes in the Kings College Libraries system. The Library serves the 11,000 students at the Strand campus, as well students from other Kings College campuses. In addition, the College has partnerships with other universities and also serves around 1,000 registered visitors. The move to the new building has allowed the Maughan Library to be open 7 days a week, and during exams the Library is open 24 hours a day.

On our tour of the building (I have never been through so many sets of doors in my life!) we saw a collection of short loan items, containing mostly law books, which students could check out for up to a day. Surprising, the Library also had a collection of DVDs and videos to support the film studies program, and any student could borrow from this collection. We also visited the Special Collections reading rooms. Special Collections consists of printed materials from the late 15th Century to the 21st Century. All items were closed access and had to be viewed in the 12 seat reading room. The librarian there showed us some items from the collection, including an illustrated book from a concentration camp, and a copy of a medical book that had recipes and astrological notes from its owner written inside. Fascinating.

Images courtesy of the King's College website.

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