Recent changes in the Reading Room

Our regular visitors will have noticed recent changes in the Reading Room; these changes form part of our ongoing program of improvements both to the general facilities and as part of our response to the Security Review we completed in early 2017.

The most obvious change has been the addition of opaque decals to the windows and doors. These decals contain images drawn from the collections and are designed to reduce some of the visual noise in the Reading Room and to modernize the d├ęcor. As part of the overall design, we also painted our entrance doors, the first time they had been touched since c1958. Prior to being painted, the woodwork sills still contained cigarette burns from the era when smoking was allowed in the Library!

The other area of major change has been the installation of our new service desk. The desk was designed to allow two staff to work in the Reading Room at the same time, though this aspect of the design needs some changes as the additional module is a little too large to be practical in its current form. The desk allows researchers to sit comfortably and talk to staff, without having to twist sideways, and we can now also accommodate wheel chairs for the first time.

New security cameras have also been installed both in the Reading Room and in the staff area and repository, allowing all of these locations to be live monitored. This change greatly improves on our former coverage.

We have further changes in the pipeline and all of them are either in response to recommendations of the Security Review and designed to improve our ability to protect the University’s valuable collections (we oversee access to over $200 million worth of assets in the Reading Room), or to improve researcher access to collections. A particular area of improvement long in our sights is the provision of hardware to facilitate access to digital collection assets, such as audio and visual files, digital copies of documents and book. This is particularly important in light of our work in digitizing the University’s theses collection. We are also trying to replace our carpets.

For those interested, there is a document on the reception desk outlining the decal design and feel free to ask us any questions, either of the staff on desk when you visit or by contacting us by email or telephone.

[Image: Prior to being painted, the woodwork sills still contained cigarette burns from the era when smoking was allowed in the Library]

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Reading Room

+61 3 8344 5380