My recent trip to Hungary was fantastic. Budapest is a beautiful city and the Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Hungaroring was one of the best races in recent years. I also had time to visit the Budapest Castle area with the hope of visiting the Royal Library, but arrived to find that it had unfortunately closed for renovation over the summer.
On returning to work, I was very pleased to hear how the staff presentation of the latest plans for the Main Library Redevelopment had been received. It was clear that the vast majority of the Library team were excited with the proposals and the level of improvement that will be achieved. I attended the second presentation and, despite living and breathing the project for the past two months, it was a real eye-opener to see some of the architectural visualisations and a 3D model of the building; it really put into perspective the scale of the proposed transformation.
Before I went on leave, I had a chance to look around The John Rylands Library with Special Collections Manuscripts and Archives Manager John Hodgson. This was a fantastic opportunity to get behind the scenes of one of the University’s, and indeed Manchester’s, cultural gems. In the Elsevier Reading Room I was able to learn about how the Library team created a study space which is often featured in case studies of good practice and to hear lessons learned from the project. I was also privileged to view an Armenian book depicting the life of Christ from circa 1500. It was astonishing to learn about the skills and techniques utilised by our team to completely repair and restore such beautiful and fragile items.
Miranda Morfey from Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) visited the Library on Friday, 17 July. Head of Research Services and Deputy Librarian Simon Bains and I took Miranda on a tour of the Main Library. We described the redevelopment so that Miranda could learn about our approach in order to advise a library development project that Flinders University are about to embark on. It was interesting to hear their approach to university library services and learn about the commonalities that affect academic libraries globally.
A range of meetings have recently taken place to investigate ideas relating to self-service technology, digital screens and signage, on-going aspects of the design plans and the mechanical elements of the project (drainage, water supply, heating, etc). Importantly, the Main Library Redevelopment Champions met and it was great to set out a plan and open up dialogue with a group who will play a key role in the future of this project. We have already received lots of very useful feedback through their circulation of Ask Me cards to Library colleagues.