22 July 2014

Maughan Library, King's College

Maughan Library
This morning, our class had the option to visit Maughan Library at King's College London. Because this was one of the few academic libraries on our agenda, I jumped at the chance to go. The building was formerly a public records office, so the building is a bit like a maze. The old iron fire doors have been removed and retained by mounting them on the walls next to the doorways. They also have a round reading room that looks really impressive from the outside. Unfortunately we couldn't go in because the room was in use during our tour.

Laptop rental machine
I was most impressed with the technology and services the library provided. The library has an automatic book sorting machine that separates books into piles based on where in the library they need to be shelved. It was fun to see it in action, and I bet it saves their employees lots of time throughout the day. Another really cool service is a laptop rental system the library has in place. The laptops are stored in lockers that keep them charged, and students can check them out without the assistance of a member of staff. This is in addition to the self-checkout and self-return machines in the main lobby. Staff members are on hand at the Enquiries desk to answer questions, and machines like these allow them to devote their time to helping students.

Weston Room
Another gorgeous space in the library is the Weston Room, which was housing a World War I exhibit during our visit. The room is an old chapel space with stained glass windows depicting the coats of arms of previous Masters of the Rolls. The exhibit is one of several in London this summer commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.

After our tour through the library, we visited an area with several items from the library's collections on display for us to see and touch. King's mainly collects items related to theology, health, history, and foreign policy. They are also especially interested in where the items they collect have come from -- who they used to belong to and where the document has been during its life. There were many really cool items including a book called The Charters of the Province of Pensilvania and City of Philadelphia that had Benjamin Franklin's signature on the cover page. They also have a book on sanitary history with the first published colored graphs and an inscription by Florence Nightingale. My favorite item from the collection was a scrapbook of photographs and memorabilia from Queen Elizabeth II's coronation celebrations across the globe.