The thing that I will remember most about our trip to the Barbican Library is that John Lake came out to the lobby where we were waiting for the rest of our group and asked us if we had heard about the collapse of the bridge over the Mississippi River and none of us had, so he brought out a piece that he had printed from the Web for us to look at. We were stunned when we saw what had happened.
When we began our tour, we were shown around the marvelous music library that happened to be featuring a display on Punk Rock. One of the groups featured in the display was the 80's punk band The Stranglers, of whom I am a fan. When we were taken back into the music area, there was a man sitting at a piano with headphones who was playing a piece that he had chosen from the library collection. What an exciting way to make use of a public library!
My very favorite part of the whole tour was the children's library, and I loved the picture book section. The books were stored in divided bins on wheels much like the old upright bins that were once used to store phonograph records. The books were down low on the children's level and they would not fall over, or out on the floor when children were looking at them. I want those rolling divided bins in my library.
The services that the children's library provide make it seem like an outstanding facility for children, especially when they provide collections of books for schools that have no libraries of their own in addition to serving the general public. I do think its a shame that schools in the City of London don't have good libraries of their own though. The librarian was also able to explain to us the difference between public, private and council schools. Public schools are schools that anyone with money can attend. Private schools are schools that anyone with money and status can attend, and council schools are publicly funded government schools for everyone else.