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  • Writer's pictureTenley Sablatzky

Let's Have a Conversations about Books! - Barbican Library

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

The fact that the Barbican library was the first on our list for the month was an absolutely wonderful call. Not only is it situated in the middle of the most stunningly beautiful courtyard I've ever seen (see photos for proof), but perhaps even better is that it was all so strikingly familiar. Well, besides the view... There's really no getting past that.

Once inside however, it's a seemingly normal public library; there are book drops, electronic catalogs, reference desks, the occasional patron sleeping in the back corner. Coming to foreign country to a library with such an ominous names as the Barbican one would expect everything to be more, what's the word... Pristine. But although it is gorgeous, it wasn't out of the ordinary for a library at all, and in fact really put me at ease and made me feel right at home.

The main entrance to the Barbican Library

Shortly after we arrived, the library director gave us the grand tour of their facilities, speaking about their work promoting digital literacy, open access, and a lifelong love of reading and learning. When she spoke about their fairly new virtual check-out desks, and the decision to put them in, I had to jot down her full quote:

"[The goal is] let people do what they can by themselves, so then we can have a conversation about books."

A beautiful, off-the-cuff, comment that I honestly think would work as a pretty good motto for the public library profession. Learning about all the wonderful resources the staff at the Barbican library have created, and the work that their doing to being inclusive and progressive with their services was such an amazing opportunity.

Library Director talking to our group (and me on the right)

One of the programs I found particularly interesting was their Only Connect project which seeks to bring individuals into the library and library events to build relationships with other patrons. "Loneliness", the Barbican sites on their website, "is a major public health issue - we know that feeling lonely can have negative consequences for both mental and physical health."

Part of the Only Connect's research shows that when people build strong and healthy relationships their more likely lead healthier lifestyle all around. I thought this was an incredibly interesting and unique program that would be fantastic to see other public libraries begin to implement as well.

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