Thursday, June 15, 2006

Libraries on the Move

It didn't occur to me until I was reading the blueprints of the Biomedical Branch Library at UBC that a lot of libraries on being built -- or at least those that I've been associated with. First, the BMB will be on the move in late (really late) August. Langara College Library is on the move. North Vancouver Public Library's Lynn Valley main branch has just got a new "Town Centre" complex. And the library (oh, sorry, I meant to say "Information Service Centre") at the legal firm Fasken Martineau and DuMoulin is also on the move. Seems like I've got all types of libraries covered, now that I think of it -- academic, public, special, and hospital...

I'm very excited, to say the least, to be able to see first hand and perhaps play at least a small role in the BMB move. The new BMB was supposed to be built along with the Children and Women's hospital Eric Hamber Library in 1982. However, while the Hamber library was built (which still looks fabulous), the new BMB never materialized, and thus the project has been on hold ever since, until plans for it finally got underway in 1998. (But still...that's still a lot of years in waiting!)

As I was wading through the material (email exchanges, literature reviews, and blueprints) that the BMB librarian Dean Giustini left for me to analyze, I was simply amazed at the amount of information and learning that is required to undertake such a project. Here is what learned:

(1) Library school doesn't teach you this. Actually, it does, and it doesn't. And I do regret not taking Ann Curry's LIBR 578 "Library Planning." However, my reason is that I probably won't get many chances to build a library throughout my lifetime (ok, maybe only once -- max is twice if I change jobs). But truth be told, I am certain that there can be no education that can cover what the BMB librarian has gone through during the 8 years of library planning.

(2) Meetings, Meetings, & more Meetings. From the records and notes retained, the BMB library involves a lot of talking and communication among architects, administrators, contractors, not to mention librarians. And matters can concern anything from large topics such as budget allocation to minute details such as the what type of glass is used for the windows. Hence, I learned that to be effective in such huge undertaking of a project, communication is essential. All sides must be on the same page in order for the project to move forward. Even if this means that needs have to be flexible and accommodating.

(3) Space Changes - Reality Doesn't. One thing I noticed about the construction and preparation of library moves is that the blueprint sometimes do not fit existing environment. For example, at both the BMB and Faskin Martineau and DuMoulin are moving into smaller spaces. This means that collections will somehow need to be reduced. That ultimately means questions will revolve around moving to more electronic journals or decreasing the volume of the monographs. At FMD, the head librarian has already indicated that older volumes will be gone; and some of the lesser-used materials (such as American law materials) will need to cut according to the level of concentration that its lawyers practice.

1 comment:

Dean Giustini said...

That's a good posting, Allan. I think the important aspect of your reflection is that you are taking time to reconcile theories of LIS with the pragmatic elements of practice.