On Friday 31st of March, RAU Library staff travelled to Worcester to see The Hive, the first jointly run public and university library in Europe. In addition, the uniquely-designed building was the SCONUL Library Design Awards winner of 2016 in the ‘over 2,000 square metres category’ and is a flagship building for both the University and the City of Worcester.
When we arrived we had a coffee in the Café, followed by a guided tour given by Janine Downes, The Hive Library Services Manager. She explained about the Hive and how it works, the idea behind the integration of academic and public library, the challenges they have faced, future plans and what this model means for the community.
We were shown around all different areas and levels such as the Children’s Library on Level 1, the Archives at Level 2 (which consists of 12 miles of original archives and over 26,000 records of archaeological monuments), books and PCs with study spaces on Level 3, and silent study spaces on Level 4. Level 0 is a flexible social space with group study and activity spaces.
For most of us it was our first visit to The Hive and immediately we were impressed by how spacious, open, light and quiet the building is. Despite being busy and having lots of members of the public, students, and families with children around, the noise issue wasn’t apparent or intrusive.
This “new model” with its integration of public and academic resources seems to have been embraced by all, enabling students and members of the public to access resources that might otherwise not be available to them. It has also brought the community together (volunteering, events and exhibitions etc.). It is truly a lively place, very customer focused with roving staff continually on hand to make everyone feel welcome. Amongst other things we saw ‘Hatched!’ an exhibition of original picture book artwork by University of Worcester Illustration staff. Other interesting displays from the Archives caught our attention too.
On the whole, it was a very inspiring day and we came away from Worcester with ideas for improving our use of space in our library, and lots of inspiration for the future.
RAU Library staff want to thank Janine and her staff at The Hive for hosting the visit and for making us feel so welcome – it was a fantastic day!