Friday, 6 August 2010

Maughan Library, Kings College 29 July 2010

This morning we met for our last tour as a class. After a brief meeting in the courtyard, it was off to the Maughan Library on Chancery Lane which is the main library for Kings College.

The Maughan Library and Information Services Center (ISC) is housed in a 19th-century neo-Gothic building tucked in behind Fleet Street in the City of London. The building was originally home for the Public Record Office, but has been operating as the main branch library for Kings College since 2001 and is part of the Strand Campus. This building was designed by Sir James Pennthorne and built between 1851 and 1858; it is a purpose-built structure and was the first fire-proof building in London. Some of the fire-proof measures include slate shelving, zinc ceilings and compartmentalized storage. The library was named after Sir Deryck Maughan, a King's alumnus, who made a donation of 4 million pounds to the new College library. The Round Reading Room was inspired by the reading room at the British Museum and has been the location for several movies - when you think of a library reading room, this epitomizes the same.

We met our host, Sally Brook the Information Services Manager, in the Rolls Chapel which is of medieval origin but was restored in the 1770s and renamed the Weston Room after receipt of a donation from the Garfield Weston Foundation. The open room's acoustics were not the best for our large group, but the stained glass windows and memorial statuary offered a great deal to take in. Set up throughout the room were items from the Foyle Collection pertaining to the history of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Maughan's collection contains more than 750,000 items within this building (the entire collection approaches 1.7 million items college-die) including books, journals, CDs, records, DVDs, theses and exam papers. These items cover four of the college's Schools of Study: Arts and Humanities, Law, Physical Sciences & Engineering and Social Science & Public Policy; the Strand Campus is home to non-health related disciplines. Also included in the collection are the records of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, items from Sion College after 1850 and a large collection of vinyl LPs donated by the BBC.

Services available to the 11,000 Strand campus students (20,000 college-wide) include approximately 1000 reader places and 300 computer places. There are several PAWS labs and wireless internet access was recently made available. The library is also a member of a consortium including University of London and several other schools city-wide. New open floor plans were incorporated into the renovations and the staff has recently instituted roving as part of their reader services. In the weeks leading up to exams, the library is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week to accommodate students. This fall, some of the available space will used for teaching space on a trial basis. Recently, all items were RFID tagged making possible self-service stations throughout the library; some materials are available for short loans consisting of an hour or day. The collection (with the exception of medical texts) uses Library of Congress cataloging. Most of the collection is open and available with restricted access to the items in the rare and special collections.

The Foyle Special Collections Library is housed within a separate section of the building and comprises approximately 150,000 items of printed works, manuscripts, maps, slides, and sound recordings including the Carnegie Collection of British Music, a collection of original, signed manuscripts, many of them by notable composers made possible by funding by Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie UK Trust. We were able to view some of the items in the Special Collection including a manuscript on the study of urine, a first edition Vesalius from 1542, 1547 and 1597 which is a treatise on surgical techniques, a text on medical practices by Florence Nightingale and a rare pre-Reformation Bible in low German from 1520. The collection is available on an OPAC, but a card catalog is actively maintained as a back-up. LOC cataloging and subject headings are used in the Special Collections with notations on provenance, binding and other unique physical characteristics. While a great deal of information is taken from the LOC system, the unique characteristics of the items are all added in-house. The Special Collections are open to all users and is utilized by approximately one-third post-grads, one-third academics and the remaining one-third including general researchers and under-grads. Only a small portion of the special collections has been digitized consisting of those items unique to the collection.

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