City Business Library and Guildhall Library 2010 visit
In May we visited Guildhall Library, which was one of the libraries added to the Trainee Programme for the first time this year. Now sharing its new premises with City Business Library, Guildhall Library is a pleasant public library specialising in local history for both London and the rest of the UK. While most of its regular users are researchers, students and historians, an extensive collection of secondary resources are designed to help members of the public who wish to use the library's resources to trace their family history. While parts of the collection are available on open access in the main room, far more books are to be found in the stacks, where older or more delicate books and manuscripts are kept along with resources that are used less frequently than those on public display. The more delicate books can only be read in a certain section of the library, where the books and manuscripts can be placed onto stands in order to protect them from over-handling. Other special collections include English law, parliamentary papers, wine and food, clocks and clockmakers and business history.
It is business history which thematically links Guildhall Library to City Business Library, which, as its name suggests, is designed largely around the needs of those who use the library's resources to set up and run their own businesses. Thus whereas Guildhall Library provides information about business history, resources in City Business Library are focussed on current business information which is of practical use. Regular training sessions are run in the IT suite on such varied subjects as Database training, Dealing with difficult clients, How to do successful business in Nigeria, Setting up a Limited Company, Presentations for the petrified, 9 reasons why change doesn't happen, How to get the BEST ever health through raw foods, and Search engine optimisation for small business. The collection is held in a modern, well-organised, business-like space with librarians on hand who clearly have an excellent knowledge of both their collection and their users' needs. Overall I thought the two libraries worked very well together and was impressed by the breadth of the two collections; I came away from the visit confident that anyone trying to find information on any aspect of business would find a librarian able to direct them to exactly the resources they were looking for.
by Sarah Guy-Gibbens
City Business Library 2009 visit
City Business Library is owned by the City of London Corporation, which is basically the local council of a very old and small central section of London (around Moorgate and the Barbican) which is the centre of London (and often UK) business.
The first thing to know about this library is that it is public in the truest sense of the word. Anyone can walk in off the street and use the library; you don't need to get a card and there are no security checks- quite amazing. It is reference-only and a wonderful tool for those running or setting up their own business, students studying business, or city workers in general. They specialise in "current business information which is intended to be of practical use"- many things they do not keep for more than three or five years.
The library's website is very well designed and helpful, with many links to guides about how to find information in the library. The library itself is very clearly laid-out, with colour coding and large direction signs, as well as cards housed amongst the shelves indicating where you can find out more information on a particular subject: a sort of 'if you like this, you'll love this...' tool. There are frequent free (pre-booking) events run at the library, almost every day in fact. These range from "Tax efficient allowances for the start of the new financial year" to "What is a Self Invested Person Pension (SIPP)?" (Good question!) The library also provides free training sessions for users on how to get the most from the many marketing and business databases it subscribes to.
I particularly enjoyed talking to the librarians on this visit. They are friendly and obviously deeply committed to providing their invaluable service to the public. Whilst the information and technology provided by this library is absolutely current, the service is firmly grounded in the ideals of 'old-fashioned' helpfulness. A surprisingly inspiring visit.