Last week I spent a day working in the wrong library.

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This wasn’t actually a mistake; I had been knowingly sent there, to work at an alternative site while my library is being reconfigured. Shortly after arriving, I duly set off around the library (all four floors of it) to collect reserved books off the shelves. This took longer than expected, because I didn’t know where anything was. I have visited the library building multiple times, mostly to attend meetings, but I had never, until this moment, had to navigate the shelves to find any materials. I was totally unfamiliar with the layout of each floor, I had no idea where the different Dewey classifications were located, and I didn’t know where to find the various subject areas. I did stumble across a whole section of books that had recently been moved here from my library; suddenly, I was among familiar titles, and felt strangely connected to them, although at the same time I had a strong sense of disconnect, because they were, to my eyes, in the wrong place.

This experience gave me insight to what it must be like for our students, who are thrown into university life and are expected to quickly navigate our libraries. I now know how intimidating a campus library can be, when you don’t even know where to start looking for something.

Meanwhile, my library is still being refurbished, and during this process, it will remain closed for nine weeks. We now have a temporary, pop-up library, located in vacant space not far from the actual library building. I’ll be working there for the first time later this week. The pop-up library has no books in it, just desks with library staff, so I am intrigued to see how this set up works. I’ll let you know how my day goes…

 

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