On a sunny afternoon I headed through ‘Midtown’ on a cpd25 visit to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This library has interested me since passing by while studying for my Masters due to the insects on the railings. It was therefore much to my delight that the tour started with a look at the architecture of the building and we were told that these art deco gildings were chosen because they were all (minus the snake) vectors of disease.
The 1920s building is beautiful but does come with complications. There are restrictions on sockets, which is of course problematic for the library, as we all know sockets are in great demand.
We were also told about the history of the school. I found it very interesting to learn that it started down in the docks. The school is only for post graduates and they have a lot of distance learners. This has actually lead to the library taking an interesting approach to the on site students too. They make use of the ‘distance learning’ resources so contact time can be used optimally. For example, rather than generic information literacy workshops, teaching sessions tend to be more topic specific and more like seminars. Like all libraries there are issues with space and they have found ways of dealing with this by having a computer ‘room’ and study desks in other parts of the building.
The library staff are split into three teams – archive/record management, user services (includes information literacy) and collections. Archive/record management includes data and current records too. Everyone member of library staff works on the service desk. In terms of collections I was interested to hear that all current journals are electonic.
At the end we were shown some interesting things from their rare book collections and archive. A highlight among the rare books was a volume documenting all known animals including the unicorn alhough the meat was ‘untasted’. It was also great to hear that the archive can still be of use to current medicine.
I thought a sign similar to the one below could be useful to put at the entrance to level 5: