Shrewsbury School

A week in the life of the Library

Friday 13 October 2017

A lovely account by Head Librarian Jo Elliot of a very enjoyable and satisying first week inside the newly refurbished Moser Library.

On Saturday 30th October the Moser Library was officially opened after its recent refurbishment (see news article). This glorious event was a fabulous celebration of the years of planning and weeks of back-breaking work which have made the new-look Moser Library such a success. 

I was very new to my post when the Headmaster first mentioned his desire to refurbish the Moser Library. He gave me the enviable task of visiting lots of different libraries to inform our plans at school. I took up the Head’s challenge with great enthusiasm and was very lucky to visit lots of wonderful institutions – from public and university libraries to other school libraries and private collections.

We quickly realised that those libraries that best met their users’ needs offered a variety of study space which accommodated different styles of study and use of a variety of resources. Our new-look Moser Library therefore has four zoned areas providing silent, quiet, social and group study spaces. The study desks have been carefully designed to provide task lighting and integral sockets so that students have the space to use both print and on-line resources. In each of these zones there are comfortable leather armchairs to encourage students to curl up and read.

The refurbishment also addresses some practical issues we faced in the library. The brand new shelves – beautifully crafted in oak – are all adjustable. This enables us to fit all our books (whatever their size) together on the shelves – making it much easier for students to find what they are looking for. We also have three bespoke display cubes in the library foyer which are designed to display books face out – giving the library foyer an exciting bookshop feel.

We are so lucky at school to have a fantastic collection of ancient books and some wonderful watercolours. The value and fragility of these artefacts meant that they were previously housed in locked rooms to which students had only limited access. We now have very prominent display cabinets in the Churchill’s Room, which are purpose-built to both protect and display treasures from the Ancient Library.

Cleverly designed picture storage in the Moser Gallery, which protects our watercolours from light and theft, means that the gallery is now always open and provides additional, inspirational study space.

One of my favourite spaces in the library is the Group Study Room, built into the roof of the old Moser Gallery. This quirky, light-filled room, which didn’t exist a month ago, is a bookable space which students can use for group projects, staff can book for meetings and seminars and which provides a quiet haven for exams. Demand for this space is already quite high. In the last week a group of students have used the room to practise presentations and drama recitations, American SAT exams have taken place there and I have research skills tutorials booked in for after half-term.

Response to the library has been overwhelmingly positive. It has been an absolute delight seeing students and staff using and enjoying the new facilities. As he left the library yesterday, Dr Foulger kindly commented, “I love this space” and one of our Upper Sixth students told us that he intends to work here all the time.

Indeed one of our targets for the refurbishment was to increase the number of students who choose to study in the library. A comparison of this week’s daily usage statistics with those from the same period last year show that we have made a good start on this.

On our first day open to students I sat at the library enquiry desk (itself a gorgeously designed space) and looked into the Kennedy Room. From my comfortable vantage point I could see a group of students working hard at the study desks, one student sitting in an armchair listening to an audio-book and another curled up reading a novel. This is what the space is designed for.

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