Barbican Lending Library, Music Library and Children's Library

On Tuesday, July 14th, our class took the "Tube" to the Barbican. The Barbican Library is a perfect example of a library and a building in its appropriate context. The neighborhood has been through many metamorphoses, and it it's current architecture and function is a testament to its torrid past. During the Elizabethan Age, the neighborhood was the home to criminals and impoverished families, when Plague hit London, this area lost 8,000 of its 11,000 inhabitants. During the Great Fire, the loss was especially high for this area and during Word War II, this community was devastated once again. (
How could any neighborhood come back from all this, and what could any architect design that could renew the spirits of its inhabitants? The answer is what we now know as the Barbican complex. The Barbican is minutes from St. Paul in the very historic center of London, but the space has a very different flavor than the buildings around it. When I read that the Barbican employs Brutalist architecture, I had to learn more about this style. According to Wikipedia, "Brutalism is criticised as disregarding the social, historic, and architectural environment of its surroundings, it was a popular style between 1950 and 1970, and it encompassed inexpensive materials that could used while world economies were rebounding from World War II (

The Barbican project would be affected by all of these variables, and I could feel this energy as I wandered through the complex. The building's materials are clearly rough enough to display the tenacity of a community, yet the residential flower pots and tranquil water fountains show a breath of life that could see it through any other disaster.

It is ironic that this tank of a building is used primarily for art, music, film and theatre purposes. The Music Library was the most impressive section of the library for me. There were biographies of any musician, from any genre that one could think of. There was shelf after shelf of sheet music for instruments as diverse as flutes, oboes, clarinets, pianos, operas, harmonicas and hymn books. There was even sheet music from some of today's more popular artists including Jack Johnson and The Ting Tings. There were concert DVDs, music CD's, and audio stations for patrons to listen to music within the library.
Although the specialty of the library was clearly music, there was still ample material in the children's section and the adult fiction and non-fiction section. This library is a genuine information source for the community and it fulfilled this role by its collection and its bulletins about health, community activities, education, careers, and other ways of improving one's quality of life. On this particular day, the art of the spoken word was the theme, which included a spoken word performance and displays full of poetry books. I was truly impressed by the specific nature of the collection at the Barbican and it looks like the perfect place for an aspiring musician to learn about the craft from all of the important angles.


  1. You are slacking on updating your posts. Get on it Pappy Powell! For every day you miss we are putting a group hug in the bank for you.

    Your peeps in MSR

  2. HA ha.. I'm in London, it's hard to make time for the computer lab. Don't worry, I'll catch up before the hugs get out of hand, :)