I took a trip with a colleague to the Royal Society of Medicine Library recently. I was interested in the range of services they provide and the kinds of spaces on offer. The library is spacious with substantial areas dedicated to the extensive collections. Paper journals are being phased out and this will release space for other purposes. Special collection type materials were presented in a heritage centre. There are regular temporary exhibitions.
Generally there was a quiet atmosphere that felt generated by the users of the space. It was notable how much space each user had – very much one chair per desk. Some areas felt like they were due a refresh and it was notable that power sockets were an issue for one user who was struggling to lift a hatch in the floor.
Training sessions were longer than the ones we tend to offer. Potentially this is more acceptable as people are already taking time out to go to the Library where courses closer to work may face more pressure to get back to the ward.
A series of study carrels looked well used and a small flexible group room at the end of this area was nicely presented. Green glass wall mounted panels allowed for note taking and would have good colour contrast.
An area outside the library had some really funky furniture and it would be nice to see some of this move into the Library as they dispose of the journal display furnishings.
Walking back to the tube we dropped into the Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre. This was a huge contrast with the RSM Library having been the subject of a major redevelopment in the past few years. The picture on the front page of their website gives a good idea of the feel. There is a cafe area open to the public and a very well presented selection of nursing heritage related items.
I liked the fabric sound baffles but suspect that there must be noise issues due to the mezzanine design. There were a number of nicely parceled off spaces for small group work and a flexible training space much like the one at the University of Greenwich. A digital room booking display for this was very clear and allowed immediate on the spot booking which was a nice touch.
Generally there were lots of different working environments in a fairly tight space. There was a good amount of space required for the book stock. Shelving was white as were the walls and most of the display type units. This made things very clean and bright. Excellent use was made of graphics to make it less overwhelmingly white – there were full colour blow ups of various items from the archives that were attractive and set a good organisation specific feel. Signage was notably clear.
I loved the finish and feel at the RCN though I suspect if I was going to pick one to study at myself I would likely go to the RSM.