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When name dropping can change your view

At its best, radio should be about mental pictures and there was an excellent example of this on the Today programme this morning.

At its best, radio should be about mental pictures and there was an excellent example of this on the Today programme this morning. Evan Davis was interviewing the head of library services at LSE (London School of Economics). She was talking about her university’s acquisition of the Women’s Library collection. Hadn’t there been some controversy about this? Davis asked. She explained that yes the collection had had to leave its purpose-converted building in East London when London Met University could no longer afford to keep the collection (the building, designed by Wright and Wright, was much praised and nothing to do with the financial problems). But, she went on, this was an exciting acquisition for LSE and there would be some great synergies with the other collections.

But wasn’t LSE’s library a ‘great beast’ where the new collection would be lost? She replied ‘I don’t like to think of it as a great beast but as an inspiring building by Norman Foster,’ she replied, before going on to explain that the Women’s Library collection would have its own dedicated space. And with those words the whole mental image shifted – from a fusty place where you couldn’t find anything to an inspiring bright go-ahead place. No matter that few listeners could visualise the actual building, their perceptions had shifted.

And maybe another perception as well? The stereotyped librarian is just not as warm and witty and sharp as this. The Women’s Library is definitely in good hands and a good building. A shame about that Wright and Wright building though.

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