CILIPinKent was pleased to offer Information Professionals and Para-Professionals the opportunity to visit the Drill Hall Library in January. Please see an account of the visit below:
The Drill Hall Library in North Road, Chatham, was built as a military drill hall in 1902, for the Royal Navy as part of HMS Pembroke shore establishment and barracks. After the barracks closed in 1984. The Grade II listed buildings of the barracks, were then redeveloped as part of the Universities at Medway.
The Drill Hall stands at the centre of the Universities at Medway campus, supporting students from the University of Kent, Christchurch University and the University of Greenwich. The whole site has some amazing history, and the building does too.
The history of the building and the site permeated the whole visit, and it was obvious that the staff not only knew their history but also had a great respect for it and those that took part in it.
During the tour of the building and the surrounding campus, we were given insights into how this unique 3-university campus works, and how the library functions as a central point, one of very few common buildings on the site, the others being predominantly bars, shops and cafes.
After the tour and some refreshments, the group were introduced to the history of the building and the site by Karen Worden, introduced to the development of the site by a member of staff who has worked in and around the docklands area for his entire career, and talked through the practicalities of supporting three sets of students in one library by the Drill Hall manager, Dave Puplett. Despite all three universities having different library management systems, student cards, catalogues and student desktops, the students have a near seamless experience, and the work behind it is very impressive! (I don’t want to say too much about it in case we run another visit!)
Overall, for me (as I have worked at the Drill Hall a number of times – hence why I organised the visit) the best part of the visit was learning about the history of the place and the unique opportunity the staff have to research the exciting, dramatic, and sometimes sad history of their place of work.
-Kirsty Wallis, CILIPinKent Secretary