Visit to Colchester Institute Library

Hey people! I know I haven’t updated in forever. What with one thing and another, I’ve been fairly busy. I’ve adopted a goal of one post per week – we shall see how this pans out.

My graduate traineeship includes visits to other libraries. The first of those was to Colchester Institute Library and took place in December. I did a short write-up with photos which also appeared in our internal newsletter. I’ve adapted it a bit for the net. Enjoy!

An aisle in Colchester Institute Library
An aisle in Colchester Institute Library

Colchester Institute is doing some massive restructuring at the moment, with buildings being knocked down and others being built in their stead, so their library is operating out of a Portakabin near the back entrance at East Gate.
We were greeted warmly, but had to decline the offer of tea on account of being a bit late to start with and having a tight schedule. Considering they’re on a temporary site, the library is actually quite impressive. All books and DVDs live on the ground floor, while the first floor houses the computing facilities as well as a “listening room”. This facility is used primarily by music and performing arts students and is basically a room full of CDs, records and audio equipment to play them.

The library is also home to the TLC, the Technical Learning Centre, which lends equipment like digital cameras and video cameras, microphones, data projectors and even laptops to students and staff for projects and classes. We got to see some of the equipment in action as we did a quiz to start us off (and were given some shiny goodies to carry away when we got things right). The questions were displayed on an interactive whiteboard, which means you can get to the next screen just by touching it with a special pen – no need to fiddle around with a computer mouse, which appears to be handy for presentations and teaching. The librarians also have a tool which allows them to “spy” on what people are doing on the computers in the library – we found that intriguing, but also a bit scary.

Technical Learning Centre
Technical Learning Centre

On the whole, it was interesting to see how they handle their fairly diverse student population in terms of needs and library policies. One bit that I found particularly interesting was that you can get banned from using the college computer network if you hold books late repeatedly. Maybe this would be a good policy to implement in other places – my workplace did come to mind there.

The staff seemed quite keen on a return visit, which I hope will happen. And yes, of course I promise to blog it!

Computer suite downstairs
Computer suite downstairs
Computer suite upstairs
Computer suite upstairs

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