A Library for our Sixth Century
On September 12, 2011 the doors to the new University Library at the University of Aberdeen opened to customers for the first time. This was the culmination of one of the most ambitious fund-raising projects the University has undertaken, and has resulted in an iconic library building designed for learning in the 21st century.
The new University Library at Aberdeen replaces the Queen Mother Library, built in the 1960s and extended in the 1980s when the number of students at Aberdeen was around 6000. With a student population now of around 16,000 the old facilities were both inadequate in terms of space and facilities and inflexible in design to accommodate modern learning methods.
Construction to the design of Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen began in 2009, and occupation and transfer of books from the old library took place during the summer of 2011.
The ground floor of the library, with its Gallery, Café and Events Area, is open to everyone, and members of the public are welcome to visit and view the magnificent atrium which draws the eye up to the 7th floor and, in the words of the architects, “democratises” the space.
Access to the upper and lower floors is controlled by a Sentry Isis system linked to Gunnebo Speedstile gates, where students, staff and signed-in visitors can explore the collections. The stainless steel cabinets and transparent gates were chosen to fit in with the light, spacious, and elegant design aesthetic of the building.
The Sentry Isis system was the obvious choice as Sentry had been in use in the Queen Mother Library since 2003, and the library has had a long working relationship with Telepen staff since barcode scanners were first introduced in the 1980s.
ACCESS FOR ALL
The Sentry Isis system incorporates both MiFare card readers, to read University staff and student ID cards, and barcode scanners for visitor passes.
There are two gates at both the entrance and the exit – one regular width and a wider one to allow for wheelchair access, the latter having additional Mifare readers and barcode scanners on the end of the cabinet to allow for easy access from a seated position. University Librarian, Chris Banks, reported “we wanted the building to be fully accessible, including to wheelchair users, without the need to call on staff assistance”.
FULL COLOUR CLARITY
The installation at Aberdeen was one of the first to incorporate the new full colour graphics displays, which provide a much more welcoming and interactive experience for users than the previous text-only displays, with clear visual instructions on how to place the ID card for entry, as well as when to enter or exit.
Since the building opened, the statistics available from Sentry Isis Reporter have shown an increase in peak occupancy of up to 150% on the highest occupancy in the old library. This reflects the fact that students are finding it a much more attractive building to work in and also that the building itself is drawing visitors both from the local area and further afield. In the first seven months since opening there have been well over half a million visits, including around 30,000 visits by members of the public. The Library is also proving to be a popular venue for meetings and conferences, including the Scottish Sentry User Group in April.
Anne Beavan Quality & Library Applications Manager, University of Aberdeen