UCL Library of the Month: Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library
15 March 2018
myUCL Student Journalist Robert Vilkelis explores UCL's Library of the Month Picture a bright, modern space built with you in mind.
This month we're joined by Head Librarian Grazia Manzotti for a cup of tea in her cosy, minimalist office to discover what may be one of UCL Library Services' best-kept secrets just a stone's throw away from the Brunswick Centre - the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library.
"When people come here, they go 'WOW'"
If you're looking for 20th century shelves sagging beneath books, wooden desks faded by years of exam-stressed students and a rustic-but-dull atmosphere, you're in the wrong place.
Just last summer, the library shed its "tired and old-fashioned" reputation. Now, recently-painted white walls call out the space and amplify the natural light, whilst the freshly-laid carpeting adds that splash of luxuriously vibrant red and settling blue.
"I love people's reactions. It's the same door, so they think it's going to be the same old library. Then they walk down the stairs, and…" Grazia laughs, "I wouldn't even recognise this place!"
It used to be a space that people needed. Now it's a space that people want.
When you settle down to work, your visit to the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library really leaves you with a sense of "I enjoy sitting here; I want to sit here."
Pop-up computers? Space without compromise.
If you had to describe the library's modern design in just two words, they would have to be "elegance" and "versatility".
"Half of our users are Great Ormond Street Hospital staff," Grazia shares, "And they come and use the space alongside students."
The Institute's library accommodates and benefits everyone - including the life-changing nurse, doctor or researcher that might be sitting next to you.
Seeking a contemplative den? Take a right towards the silent reading room. You'll know you're there when you're standing on red carpet. Prefer to work without the fear of half a dozen annoyed people overhearing your music? Take a desk in the foyer, or by the windows.
Whichever desk you take, you get a computer - or not, if you don't need it. You can have a UCL desktop, or, with a press of a button, send it down and have the space to spread out your reading and your laptop without compromise.
Whichever seat you fancy, there are 122 study spaces to choose from - and did you know that you can check online to see how many are free?
Global Health. And Peter Pan?
The UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is home to the Paediatrics, Child Health, Allied Health, Nursing, Global Health and Development Collections, and it's your access to high-quality learning from public health to anthropology to climate change. Yet, there's also a subtler treasure that Great Ormond Street holds.
"J.M. Barrie donated all his rights to Peter Pan to support Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929. For every play, book or adaptation, all the royalties go to the Hospital."
So, next time you see a DVD of Peter Pan for sale? Know that it could be paying for a child's life-saving surgery. And next time you're in the library? Know that the atmosphere is enriched by the spirit of partnership.
"Nobody ever will have this"
There are certain qualities which are intangible. In this library, that quality is the relationship of trust between you and the staff.
"Professor Otto Wolff was a clinician here, and he gave lots of lectures. When he died, his family donated all his hand-written lectures to us."
That's 200 personal documents spanning decades of knowledge and passion. In the coming years, they'll be bound and digitised and, rather than being forgotten in an attic, they'll be available for all to enjoy.
"They could've kept them, or had them published by someone else," Grazia imparts, "And they chose to trust us completely with their father's lectures."
When you're enjoying the library's celebrated customer service, be sure to know what kind of foundation it rests on - and make yourself at home.
Make this space your own
"Sometimes you go somewhere and you think 'oh, I like it here'. I'm hoping you'll come here and find a space you can consider your own and keep coming back."
As our days grow longer and brighter, whether you're returning to pop-up your regular desktop or choosing to venture out that little bit farther from campus for the first time, now's your time to drop in to enjoy the natural light, versatile utility and nourishing atmosphere of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library.