Friday, July 17, 2009
ACADEMIC- Stratford Public Library
Stratford-upon-Avon is everything you hope it will be and so much more. It is a quaint little town that is seeped in its Shakespearean roots. It almost feels like time has stopped along the way. Yes, they have cars and all of the modern amenities, but life seems simpler somehow. It was actually surprising to happen by the public library in my travels. After all, when you have Shakespeare, what else do you need?
I was curious at first who this library would cater to. Stratford-upon-Avon is a tourist town. Would the library serve mainly tourists planning their trips and checking in back home or would it be a small respite for local residents and employees from the hoards of crowds that amass upon the town daily?
As a public librarian, you naturally lean towards taking care of your patrons who live and work in the town, but you do not want to alienate the people who are only traveling through. This library had a great mix of services for the locals while making sure that tourists felt welcome and had access to what they needed-in several languages. It was a Friday afternoon, but the library's computers were just about full and there were lots of people milling through the library. It was quiet, but welcoming. A wonderful place to spend the afternoon or just take a moment to relax and regroup for a busy evening.
I liked how there was such continuity between the libraries in London and the library in Stratford. Everyone participates in a national summer reading program, so all of the graphics and promotion were the same, but the libraries use much of the same lettering, posters, and classification system throughout the entire library layout.
I spoke with a couple of the actors who work in the yard outside of the Shakespeare Museum. They said they knew of the library (they stare at its front door all day), but that they really did not use it. When I asked why since they had to pass it everyday to get to their cars, they really were not sure. They look at it as the Stratford town library. They said they do use the one in their hometown, but this one just never seemed convenient. We talked for a little while and I think they may change their minds yet about the little library in the middle of Shakespeare's world. After all, they have dedicated their careers to his honor, why not utilize the resources his town has to offer?
What does it say about the library that the local workers are not regular patrons? I am not sure. But it is definitely something to think about when running a library in the middle of a tourist haven. Who is it exactly that you are there for? And does it matter if there are patrons knocking down the doors?
For more information about this library, click here.