Learning from Leeds

On Friday 30 October, Fiona Doran (Redevelopment Champion and Customer Services Assistant, Alan Gilbert Learning Commons) and I visited the newly opened Laidlaw Library at the University of Leeds. Having spent a lot of time in Leeds over the past decade, it was fantastic to see how much of the city and university campus has changed. The Laidlaw Library is a great building and provides a good environment for its students. We learnt much from this visit but were also happy to see the similarities with the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons. I took some photographs (which you can see below) however, I won’t say too much as Fiona will be sharing her own account of the visit in an upcoming blog post.

Laidlaw Library entrance
Laidlaw Library entrance
Laidlaw Library Entrance
Laidlaw Library external seating

I enjoyed a well-deserved day of annual leave on Monday and decided to take a friend to see The John Rylands Library. Unfortunately on arrival we learnt that many of the areas were closed for filming. However, we did get to see the fantastic ‘Darkness and Light: Exploring the Gothic’ exhibition (open until 20 December 2015) and even managed to spot a few famous actors as we left!

The project team met with Library staff at a Library Design meeting on Tuesday. We looked at very detailed elements of bespoke joinery items, from enquiry and customer service points to staff work zones and kitchenettes. June Howarth and Debbie Allan (our Customer Services Managers) attended with Katy Woolfenden (Head of Teaching, Learning and Students). The work they had done in advance of the meeting was incredibly useful and provided the architects with specific changes to reflect in the designs, to ensure we are able to meet the needs of our users.

The IT Steering Group met and discussed a number of actions that the team had been working on. The group is chaired by Lorraine Beard (Head of Digital Technologies and Services) and is made up of a small number of Library colleagues as well as Thomas Tyrrell (IT Portfolio Manager), Trevor Byrne (Media Services Manager), Tyrrell Basson (IT Partner, Professional Support Services), Chris Ibbott (University Capital Project Manager) and Darren Stephens (Network Engineer, Infrastructure and Operations). It is incredibly useful to have this range of representation across the group and enables us to ensure that the IT/AV specification for the project is the best it can be.

Signage in Main Library café
Signage in Main Library café

I’ve attended a number of meetings this week on areas such as wayfinding and signage, staff workspaces and how  the Redevelopment project is developing against the agreed scope, brief and plan. I had a catch up with the MBA students from the Alliance Manchester Business School to view their current findings from a risk management project they are working on. They have collated some very interesting findings and are starting to compile their final report for the Library. I also had the chance to attend a presentation on the Campus Masterplan, which provided a fantastic overview of the progress of the plan and a brief summary of each of the major projects within it. It is fantastic to know that the Main Library Redevelopment is a part of such a significant milestone in the University’s history.

As you know, I am a devoted resident of Manchester and this recent article in the guardian is a very interesting read about our fair city. Another surprising piece of news which I stumbled upon this week was the opening of Amazon’s physical book store in America – who’d have seen that one coming!

I hope you all enjoyed a spooky Halloween and a safe Bonfire Night.

Until next week,

Mike Kelly (Library Space Project Manager).

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