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Behind the scenes at Exeter Library

Posted on 08 Mar 2019

Blog by David Barber, Chair of the Friends of Ottery St Mary Library

Our Friends Group thought it would be a good idea if we could get some idea of some of the workings behind the scenes of Libraries Unlimited’s HQ at Exeter Library.  We first discussed it with our Library Supervisor who went along with the idea of me (the chairman) speaking with Rachel Gee to see if it was possible. Rachel thought this was a great idea and put me in touch with Jo Lawrence, one of Exeter’s senior supervisors who arranged our visit at the end of October 18.

Eight of us including Xanthe, Ottery Library Supervisor, who had never been behind the scenes herself, went on the visit.  Jo met us in the foyer and our tour began. The first surprise was the wide range of services available to members in the library itself (over 5 floors) – computer access, gaming, business advice, hi-tech facilities such as 3D printers, routers  and so on, meeting rooms, quiet areas, activity and conference rooms – oh yes, and a few books available for borrowing as well.

We learned that Exeter has 60,000+ books on the open shelves and 150,000 more in the reserve stacks with 1km of shelves! Then Jo took us through the door to the bit where the carpet stopped and the “library” took on the appearance of a factory store room with a multitude of shelves, pigeon-holes, secure bits, areas devoted to music, play scripts, bulk-orders for reading groups to use at meetings, despatch and sorting areas. Each section had its own defined work area where each senior organiser kindly (and patiently!) explained to us how their section fitted into the overall system. While we were visiting Chief Executive Ciara and Head of Service Delivery Joanne popped down from their office on the 4th floor to say hello too.

As each piece of the Libraries Unlimited jigsaw slotted into place, we became aware of the extent of Libraries Unlimited’s importance to the Devon community and, in our case, Ottery in particular. We now know what happens when Mr or Mrs Borrower asks our supervisor  “Please could you just ……. for me/my child/my reading group/my choir”.

Many thanks to all concerned in making this a successful visit.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.