The last scheduled class session took us to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The univeristy offers a postgraduate degree in Information and Library Studies. Our class was addressed by several of the universities staff but the discussion was lead primarly by David McMenemy. Mr. Mcmenemy also asked a doctoral student to present her research and a member of the IT staff to demonstrate their online database.
The student working for her doctorate performed her research on the way libraries are assessed and measured for the public good. It was her opinion that the current methods of examination are flawed and that is difficult to calculate how valuable a library is to certain communities. She suggested that a more progressive and all encompassing survey be taken to recieve a more accurate representation of use by varying groups. Her study looked at the role of the library in rural and urban environments and even those affected by natural disasters. One of her case studies followed the citizens New Orleans and their use of libraries after hurrican Katrina. The most surprising part of the presentation was that no one had conducted research similar to this in Scotland. Mr. McMenemy also indicated that there were few studies in the field of library science in his country. He also encouraged the class to send their research papers to him in order to print them in an academic journal the program publishes. Perhaps if my own research paper is strong enough I will send them a copy.
Following the guest lectures Mr. Mcmenemy wanted to show us a few libraries of importance in the area. Unfortunately we were running behind schedule and were only able to see one of the libraries. And what a library it was; The Library at the Bridge opened in 2006 in effort to bolster the community in Glasgow which had been deterioating in recent years. The library was established as a place for arts, culture, and learning. It literally is a bridge between leisure and education standing between the community swimming facility and its college. The building has space for a public reading room, auditorium, dance and recording studio, and a cafe. The library is challenging the traditional idea of what a library should be and it appears to be working. The fact sheet given to us by our guide indicates that visitation, reference questions, and library cards have all increased dramatically from previous years. The Bridge has also appeared consistently in the top 6 best libraries in the city since its redesign.
I have never seen a library which incorporates so many leisure and artistic activities. The Bridge is truly at the cutting edge of public libraries. I think it may become necessary for more libraries to adopt a model similar to this in order to envigorate public interest in libraries. Also, if the Bridge is any indication, city governments and councils should consider projects like this when a community is faced with declining population and quality of life.