9 Mar 2015

College Library V Public Library: A great exchange and a fabulous initiative!

Guest post by Marianne Heffernan, Celbridge Library, Kildare Library & Arts Service

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it." - Samuel Johnson

As a branch librarian, used to working in the busy, public-centred setting of Celbridge Community Library, I was thrilled to get the chance to spend the day in the academic world of the Pope John Paul II College library in Maynooth. This opportunity arose as part of the 2014 Library Ireland Week Job Swop initiative.

The Library is set in a beautiful courtyard on the campus of Maynooth University, and is surrounded by trees on the edge of the Lyreen River. The grounds are quiet and peaceful in the early morning, but when you walk through the revolving doors, you cannot help but get sucked into the hustle and bustle of the place and the energy you immediately feel. The warm, comfortable and welcoming environment of this 'state of the art' library made me long to be a student again!

I was given a guided tour of the library and was in awe of the sheer size of the place. I could have lost my bearings several times between the 'Silent Floor' and the 'Post Grad Room' and the fabulous moveable shelving that holds such a wealth of information, though my favourite area has to be the flexible learning space, namely the 'Bean Bag Room' - lucky students!

Image provided by Maynooth University Library
The advances of technology now also afford NUIM students a facility to borrow laptops. At present, this is not an available service in our community libraries, though we do offer WiFi, which is free to our users. In the public library we provide a service to the community in which we focus, not just on lending requirements and eServices, but also on facilitating focused programmes for adults and children. We strive to satisfy the needs of our communities with a broad base of quality information, education, culture and leisure activities. I love the versatility and intimacy of the public library, where we get to know our regular members, whereas I would think it might be quite difficult to have that connection in a college library as students come and go.

The staff in John Paul II Library are so welcoming and helpful, which of course, is an integral part of any library service and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to spend time there and to get to know such friendly people. I want to sincerely thank  Helen, Bernie and Saoirse for making my experience a memorable one.


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