Today I visited the City of London's Barbican Library. At this site is perhaps the oldest public library service in England, known as Guildhall. There are several historical sites and ruins in the surrounding area including the church where Milton is buried.
Information on Guildhall can be found at the link below:
The rest of the center is very modern, it opened in 1982; with conference rooms, theaters, and a cafe. The outdoor areas are filled with flowerbeds and fountains.
The library includes the Main Library, Music Library, Children's Library, and Art Library. The first thing I saw in a display cabinet of the Music Library were vinyl records and pictures of...(guess who family)...Adam Ant! I took a couple of pictures. The music library also has a really great reference book. The librarian here stated that a lot of visitors come here trying to locate a song and actually try to sing it to him if they don't know the name! Funny. Anyway, he called the reference book an "up-down" book as you start with the first note then decide if the next note will be up or down from the first, and so-on until you derive at the song you were trying to locate (not sure of exact details). In the Art Library they allow mostly new artists to display their work for 15GBP per month. The library, in return, gets 20 or 25% of sales. I enjoyed the Children's Library as well. It had it's own glass door to the outside of the center making it very bright and cheerful inside, especially with all the colorful chairs and books, and the dangling planets that hung from the ceiling. There is a program partially funded by the government called "Book Start" in which every child that is born in this "city-within-a-city" receives a book bag from the library to get them started reading, as well as two more packets as they age.
The highlight for me at the Barbican Center was actually the theater show we saw later in the evening, "Nevermore: the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe". It was amazing, theater meets Poe meets Tim Burton...There was not a large variety in the musical portion, but it was well suited and some portions quite powerful for this dark performance. I hope to read some reviews on what others thought of the musical and would love to get my hands on the score if available somewhere!
(Image available at http://robertopachari.com/ )