Sally and Edith in Europe

LIANZA Travelling Scholarship

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It has been a while since I last posted.  With a stunning hot summer this year in Canterbury it has been very difficult not to be at the beach every weekend moment and thus, blog posts, housework, study, shopping and all other worthy pursuits have taken a back seat.  Even body surfers crave the perfect wave and such pursuits have been all consuming and rewarding.

Although blog posting has not occurred, mega planning has been taking place.  I have spent many hours on Google earth, Google maps, reading Lonely Planet books, Trip Advisor and many other resources trying to put together the perfect itinerary.  So far we have 7 plane journeys and 2 train trips booked.   Accommodation in London and Helsinki is booked.

Image  The next step is to contact all the libraries I want to visit and set up some interviews.  This bit I have been putting off a bit as my first attempts have yielded very little.  Deep breath and carry on.  I am also putting it out there that I am looking for accommodation.  Being a sociable gal I need contact with people regularly so my search for friendly home style sofa surfing accommodation is more about human contact than saving money although the latter is a good driver too.

So, my first venture into asking for help starts now… if you have friends or family in the following places that might enjoy the company of a friendly librarian for a night or two I would love to hear from you…

Worcester (or nearby), Amsterdam, Halmstad, Stockholm, Copenhagen



The Hive – Worcester

Opened 11 July 2012.

There is so much about this project that interests me and will be very useful in the development of our new Central library.  I have just started reading all the material about it and am champing at the bit to get there and have a look around.
Key areas of interest to me

  • Floor area- it is very similar to ours and the specific allocations are of particular interest
  • The vision and mission
  • The partnership
  • The method of construction (design and build)
  • Exhibition and performance space
  • The ‘green’ features – which are interesting as they are similar  to things we have experimented with in the past but I am keen to see how these features have been developed.    Being early adopters of these things you sometimes become a little disillusioned as they don’t always work the way you expect so finding our how they have been modified and are working in other buildings is very useful.  The smart money says we should persevere with all things sustainable but making it work is still a growing art.

The key facts (straight from the website)

The project is a partnership initiative between University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council which will bring a range of services under one roof:

• A fully integrated public and University library
• Worcestershire Record Office
• Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service
• Worcestershire Hub Customer Service Centre

• Café and refreshment outlets

• Meeting rooms

• Exhibition and drama spaces

Winning an international award – the Bentley Be Inspired Innovation in Generative Design – in October 2009 was a great achievement, and the project was also shortlisted for Best Designed Project and Best Local Government Project Team at the national Public-Private Finance awards in April 2010.

The journey of The Hive is continual. The building is being constructed by Galliford Try.

My own comment

This building from the outside and the interior photos does not spin my wheels.  The design elements just don’t do it for me and neither does the shape and form of the exterior.  HOWEVER, I am really looking forward to learning more and getting there and having a really good look around.  I am sure it will surprise me and show itself to be a well thought out valuable community and university resources

Another cool thing – on the library website they have local accommodation links which really helps me with my planning.  A B&B for me I think, will need some social interaction by the time I have had a day away from my England family.

FINAL NOTE…as with all my posts, I am very keen to get feedback, questions and ideas on the facility I am looking at and/or the town/city.  This blog is a fact finding mission for me as well as a sharing one.

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Birmingham (England)

In 2007 I had the pleasure of spending some very valuable hours with the library arm of the new Central library planning team.  Fay Davis was one of the women I met and I have made contact with her again in the hopes that I can spend some more time with her and see how the last five years have been.  The look of the new library is pretty stunning and something I know the City of Birmingham will be very proud of. 

Rewriting the Book is the title of their new Central library webpage and it makes great reading.  I think we can learn a lot from the great ideas they have come up with to get their community involved in the project.  Having a good seven years to do the planning helps a lot I imagine.  We are on a sprint to deliver our new one in a matter four years.

I am hoping to spend as much time as possible with Fay and her team and hope to get a tour although the library is not open until September 2013.  There is so much we can learn from this project the list is endless…but a taster of what I am thinking about at the moment

  • planning
  • creativity
  • architects
  • community input and consultation
  • community ownership
  • wow factors
  • partnerships

One idea I think is stunning and would love to try in Christchurch is the 26 library ambassadors.  What a fantastic way to get the community involved and to tell our story.

Here is another winner…

I hope I can make this work, if not I will do another post and work it out that way.


Newcastle (England)

First stop on my tour at this stage is Newcastle Central Library in the north of England which opened in June 2009.

Of the libraries I have reviewed so far, this feels the most similar to what I imagine we might deliver in Christchurch if we move down the most tread path.  It looks to me that having secured ourselves a smaller plot of land than we may have planned, we will be building a taller building than we imagined and is desirable.  The Newcastle library looks to have a small footprint with many floors.  Consequently from a buildings perspective I am going to look carefully at

  • active edge – how do people get drawn to the building?
  • entrances, connections and partnerships
  • what is on the ground floor and how do customers know what is happening where in the building?
  • way finding
  • showcasing collections and services

Regarding services there are some interesting facilities and services advertised on the web site, including

  • Performance hall capable of seating 185 people
  • 24 hour loan and returns service via a vending machine
  • Under 5s play provision
  • Creche

Other features that have piqued my interest are

  • public art
  • exhibition space
  • how is the furniture doing, how are people using the library, what isn’t working and what works well…usual stuff…

I also notice that they are moving things around the building so it will be  very interesting to see why that is and also whether the move is seamless and how flexible the spaces actually are.    This is something we librarians say all the time….flexible space…so what does that really mean and do we REALLY achieve that?  I will find out and tell all.  And finally, I am going to ask about public consultation and engagement in the development of the plan and vision.


Getting Started

As you can tell by the tag line in my title this blog has something to do with travelling and libraries.  I have recently won the Edith Jessie Carnell LIANZA Travelling Scholarship.  This comes with a $6,000 cheque and big list of things I want to achieve on my travels around Europe in May 2013.

As part of my application I promised to blog my trip as one way of sharing my learning with the library profession in New Zealand.  Six months out from departure I am already living up to my promise by getting this blog going.

I have a personal blog, twitter and facebook and it is going to be the challenge of my ‘communications plan’ to share appropriately and cater to each audience.  As I also have to delivery a presentation and paper at the next LIANZA conference in September 2013, I have to share here but not give everything away so that I am not just presenting to my few loyal mates when the time comes.

Travel planning is such fun and I love a logistical challenge so I thought I would share from this point, as I get everything lined up for my big adventure with Edith.  I have some plans to get people to help me so I will be asking questions and getting as much useful information and advice as I can.

Keeping in mind this is the ‘professional’ arm of my communications plan, I expect this to be an interesting place to visit over then next few months, if not a little serious.

As my journey commences I am going to ensure this space is lively, inspiring and interesting.  Stay tuned.