Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Barbican Center - 7/14/09

On Tuesday, July 14th, we visited the Barbican Library. The Barbican is a fully functional lending library with books, audio books, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs, music CDs and scores available.

The library is part of what is called the Barbican Centre and is located in the north of the City of London, England. The Centre hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses three restaurants, and a conservatory. The London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are based in the Barbican Centre's concert hall as well. The site for this beautiful demonstration of Urban planning is situated in an area which was badly bombed during World War II.

It was a very comfortable, friendly public library just like one would find in the United States. The books were classified by category using what appeared to be a variation of the Dewey Decimal system. They had several graphic novels and comic books along the walls as to stick out and perhaps catch a passing young adults eye. I also noticed a small desk that was manned with a person to help city residents with their tax/tarrif forms and other various government forms and information. Above it was a sign that read "City Residents Information Desk".

The Barbican has several specialized libraries within it walls which I found very interesting. They have a children's library, which has various materials and programs for children of different age groups. The art library houses different forms or art based materials including films, plays, and TV shows. My favorite and probably the most fascinating library (seeing as I spent quite a long time wandering about) was the music library. This held biographies of all different types and genres of musicians from Madonna, Bob Dylan and Elvis to Mozart and Chopin. It also held audio and video of what seemed like anything and everything related to music. It housed shelves upon shelves of sheet music categorized by instrument, genre of music, and then several categorized by artist. Some of my favorites that I noticed included Radiohead, Richard Ashcroft, Hank Williams, Prince, and the Rolling Stones. There were also listening booths which held CD and cassette players for users to listen to certain things onsite. Another interesting thing was a silent piano. It allowed patrons access to a piano with headphone plugged in so that only the user could hear what was being played.

It was nice to see a working British public library, and if I resided in the area, I'm sure much of my time would be spent there!

Link to the The Barbican Center

The Barbican Center
*Photo courtesy of

The Barbican Public Library
*Photo Courtacy of


  1. Q. Is this the library you told me that was comparitive to the Library of Congress?
    The centre sounds fascinating with all the different cultural events being housed there. Was surprized at how much more modern it appeared, but makes sense since it was a post WWII building.

  2. Wow, this sounds like a interesting place as well! Is it out of the way for most London residents or accessible by mass transit? Keep having fun and enjoying the libraries.