Libraries, the universe and everything


A library at sea
August 8, 2012, 20:58
Filed under: Chartership, Libraries | Tags: , ,

Being the massive library geek that I am, on a recent Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 I was absolutely delighted to discover that the shipboard library was located on the same corridor as our cabin.

The library on board the Queen Mary 2

Consequently I visited it every day (and frequently 2 or 3 times a day), taking full opportunity of the time the voyage allowed for lengthy periods of reading. Situated above the bows of the ship, it was clearly a favourite spot for many other passengers too, with great views out across the ocean.

Mostly it was really busy when we visited, but I did manage to take advantage of one quiet afternoon to have a chat with Matt, the librarian, about the library and its contents.

Apparently the QM2 library holds just under 10,000 books (mostly hardbacks), which are acquired and processed by the company Ocean Books. They also supply stock for the libraries on Cunard’s other ships, and are based near Southampton.

They have a basic database, searchable by author and title only. The lack of keyword searching can cause problems, or at least challenges the librarian’s knowledge of the collection, and there is limited internet access too.

Books are arranged in a simple subject-based way. The collection is largely contemporary fiction, with some classics and young adult titles. Books for young children are held in the kids zone of the ship and can be borrowed from there. Non-fiction subjects include fairly big travel and history sections and with a range of other subjects too, some of which cover rather more unexpected areas like cooking and gardening. There are also a few cabinets of reference material, and a selection a magazines for use in the library.

The library on board the Queen Mary 2

Up to 2 books can be borrowed at a time, and there are a number of seating options for reading (or snoozing!) in the library itself – sofas, comfy chairs and desks too. Fiction is perennially popular, as are biographies, whilst interest in the non-fiction material waxes and wanes – apparently gardening has seen a lot of use recently!

Although the library is staffed from 09:00-18:00 on sea days the space remains open the whole time, so all the bookshelves have doors which are locked around them overnight. Each bay of shelves has two sets of doors, so opening and closing the library is quite a procedure!

The library is adjacent to a small bookshop, and the two staff members seemed to work more-or-less interchangeably. They also held a bookgroup session towards the end of the voyage, to discuss S.J. Watson’s Before I go to sleep, which I was sorry to miss.

The library on board the Queen Mary 2

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12 Comments so far
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[…] we discovered just how well-equipped she is, with a theatre, planetarium, art gallery, spa, gym, library, nightclub, ballroom, 4 swimming pools, a handful of shops, several restaurants and numerous […]

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Pingback by Crossing the Atlantic | Leaves from the big apple

Oh wow, this is great! Thanks for sharing the photos and doing some investigating to find out more about how it works 🙂

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Comment by Jo Alcock

Thanks Jo – sad to say I just couldn’t stop myself! I was massively envious of the librarian there, it’s such a beautiful space to work in.

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Comment by Emma Davidson

This is brilliant! I’ve always wanted to know what a library on a cruise ship was like.

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Comment by Adventures in the library

What a way to start your american adventure!

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Comment by Alan Fricker

Awesome post. Hope you are enjoying New York – I’ll be going there later this year hopefully for a week or so too 🙂

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Comment by Richard Hawkins

It’s all good so far thanks. Let me know if you do make it over here, would be cool to meet for a drink 🙂

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Comment by Emma Davidson

OK cool 🙂

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Comment by Richard Hawkins

How cool!

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Comment by Lilian

Fantastic. Loved the photographs too, thanks for sharing.

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Comment by creativecloudfix

Thanks for sharing this – I would have been exactly the same! I’m intrigued though – did you ask how they deal with non-returns? Do they have fines or is the cost of the book somehow added to the person’s cruise ‘tab’ like a drink would be? (Having never been on a cruise I have no idea how these things work!). Thanks

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Comment by AlisonF

Thanks Alison. I’m afraid I didn’t ask about this (knew I’d missed something!), although we were asked to return books by 2pm on the day before we arrived so I’m guessing that allowed time for contacting people and asking for the books back. The librarian did say he occasionally noticed gaps on the shelves where people had taken books without checking them out, so they do lose some stock, but I didn’t get the impression it was a major problem.

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Comment by Emma Davidson




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