Sunday, 20 July 2014

Daytrip to Oxford...

The John Henry Brookes Building (JHBB) at Oxford Brookes University
I took a jaunt to Oxford earlier in the month to check out the latest of the "super-converged" academic libraries here in the UK. These are buildings which bring together a range of university services in the one physical place. In this case the library space literally wraps itself around the other uses of this extensive flagship building which include a careers area, academic support ('Upgrade') and catering services.

The library overlooks 'The Forum' on the ground floor of the JHBB
which encompasses academic services, the IT Service Desk and a café
Further elements of this RIBA award-winning building include a 300-seat lecture theatre, the Students' Union and an innovative ‘market place’ and campaigning area to help students promote enterprises & good causes. The roof has over 600m² of solar cells, generating free energy for the building, with a further 1700m² of green sedum roof to encourage wildlife. This is all part of an ambitious £132 million development plan (called 'Space to Think') to update Oxford Brookes' Headington campus.

Large banners all over campus announce the 
major transformations occurring at Headington

Pink is something of a theme...
...including the trolleys!
It is difficult to find an area of the building which doesn't encourage visitors to make some use of the library space. Our tour guide spoke about how those who use the lecture theatre have to pass through the library, as an example, to get to the loos!

Plasma screens outside the lecture theatre display 
"silent disco" event held at the opening of the library
Subject enquiries and some training generally
happen in this Help Zone/"auditorium" area.
The building has 3 separate entry and exit points, which is certainly unusual (Newcastle City Library is the only other library which springs to mind with a similar setup). Most of the space remains open too after hours during term-time. It is only the reading rooms which are shut after core hours, with the rest of the JHBB building staying open.

(To note that the Special Collections area was still being completed at the time of this visit. More information can be found here on their website.)

The library entrance remains open outside of core hours 
but reading rooms are locked during late night opening

Many thanks to CILIP Thames Valley for hosting this visit and to Oxford Brookes Library staff for their insightful tours and generous supplies of cake!

I also had time to visit the unique Story Museum in the centre of Oxford which currently houses the enchanting '26 Characters' exhibition. Famous authors have had a lot of fun, from the looks of things, dressing up as characters from their favourite books. There is more information about the exhibition (which continues until 2 November)

Rochester's Extraordinary Storyloom and Katherine Rundell in 'Where the Wild Things Are' at the Story Museum

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