Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Edinburgh, Scotland-National Library of Scotland & National Archives of Scotland- 7-21-08

Our first tour of the day was at the National Library of Scotland, which is just a short walk down the Royal Mile from the castle. Emma and David were our lecturers/tour guides. We began the tour with a presentation on the history of the John Murray Archive. The collection was developed in 2002, and cost 32.5 million pounds, thanks to John Murray VII. He wanted to make resources more accessible and simpler to the common people. He also wanted to teach people how to use a catalog, research, and read Victorian handwriting.

They hired a curatorial staff, museum curators, and costume-makers to assist with the project. There was a good bit of discussion about how to display manuscripts, what methods would work best to interpret and explain the manuscripts, making them child-friendly or more interactive, as well as the issues of conservation, lighting, height, and environment. They found that labels telling the age and purpose of inclusion, made easier to understand, aesthetically pleasing, and making things relate to current times would benefit users most. They also made things interactive, using light and shadow to highlight items and create dramatic environment. They have done market research and continue to do so by asking for comments or suggestions from visitors.

The Learning Outcomes mentioned were: Knowledge & Understanding, Skills, Attitudes & Values, Enjoyment & Inspiration, Creativity, Activity, Behavior & Progression.

The archive presents documents from 1768-2002, and contains 20,000 authors, with 150,000 items total in the collection. The collection has been built through 7 generations of the Murray family, and all were interested in different subjects: Publishing, literature & poetry, geography, science, and travel. It is the most expensive archive in the world, worth 45 million pounds (1.2 million pounds per item).

We then discussed issues pertaining to conservation, such as repairing and preparing items for use. They are digitizing the collection; they currently have 15,000 images. They are also making copies of documents for travel exhibition purposes.

For more information about the National Library of Scotland or the John Murray collection, please see:

Our visit that afternoon, after a brief walk through the park below the castle, was to the National Archives of Scotland. Margaret McBride was our tour guide. She gave us a lecture with a power point presentation, then toured us through the facilities. The Archives are a National Government Agency, headed by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. They are under the responsibility of the Minister for Europe, External Affairs & Culture Department. They are there to promote, preserve, protect, and make accessible all items in the archive. They have 30-40 archivists, 3 buildings, 160 other staff members, and 5 websites.

There are 2 divisions in the archives: The Record Services Department, which keeps Government Records, Court & Legal documents, Private documents, and do Outreach Services; and the Corporate Services Department, which handles Accommodation for tours and such, Financial and Administration services, Information & Computer Technology, Conservation services, and Reader services.

The General Register House cost 12,000 pounds to build in the 1870s. Both the General Register House and West Register House have Reading Rooms, but the Thomas Thomson House is used for storage, binding, cataloging, and conservation purposes only. The conservation area is similar to the Conservation Centre at the British Library, except they also have vacuum tubes for dust removal.

Their functions are to: select public records and decide if they are worth permanent preservation, acquire historical records of national importance, divert, devolve, or transfer records to appropriate repositories, and arrange for disposal, preserve records, promote public access, provide advice, develop a standard archival & record management practice in Scotland, and deploy resources as needed.

They have over 70 kilometres of records beginning with the 12th century. They have an electronic catalog, card/paper catalog, and 5 websites to assist with research. They do ask for feedback to customize services for better customer usage. They also have partnerships with Botanical Gardens, Lifelong Learning Classes, and hold Community Classes for outreach. In the next couple of years they will be reopening as "Scotland's People Centre."

The website for the National Archives of Scotland is:

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Stratford-upon-Avon-Shakespeare Center Library & Archive, Holy Trinity Church, Royal Shakespeare Company's 'Taming of the Shrew'- 7-18-08

We took a bus out to Stratford for a tour of the Shakespeare Centre Library & Archive. Our tour guides were Claire Maffioli, Deputy Head of Catalog, and Jo Wilding, from the Rare collection. We were first shown into the Catalog/Search room, which is located next to the Reading Room. Ms. Maffioli informed us about the details of the collection, explaining that it included sections that were once separate: Records, Library, Local Collection, and Shakespeare Collection. Local information includes items such as maps of Stratford, photos, historic documents, and genealogical information. The Shakespeare information includes collections of The Shakespeare Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company's collection of production notes and performance programs, criticisms of the productions, prompt books, history of the plays performed by the company, and music used in the productions.

There are some more frequently used and common resources housed in the reading room, but the rest of the collection is contained downstairs in the basement, in closed strongrooms with temperature control, flood and fire protection, and much theft prevention. They have about 3,000 readers visit per year, but over 6,000 inquiries per year by email or telephone. Their patrons include school children, genealogy researchers, people researching real estate, and fans of Shakespearean actors. They have an online catalog, but it only contains things published since 2000. Anything before that is looked up in an old-fashioned card catalog.

I was surprised and saddened to find out that they are not government-funded, but rely on charity for funding and financial support. I feel that this endeavour is something that this country should really cherish and appreciate. The formats of items in the collection include photos, videos, books, periodicals, catalogs, production notes, and theatrical paperwork. They do rely on assistance from volunteers, which would be an excellent opportunity for a student such as myself (hmm, possible future plan). They send all of their Inter-Library Loan requests through the British Library in London. They have over 50,000 books, and subscribe to about 20 periodicals currently. They also participate in community outreach and tours.

We then were shown some amazing items from their rare books collection, thanks to Ms. Wilding. The most amazing item was one of Shakespeare's first folios published in 1623, which they have 3 of in their collection. We also saw a few other items: a 1619 2nd quarto of Midsummer Night's Dream, a 1597 medicinal plants book, a 1661 facsimile of Bottom's Midsummer Night's Dream play review, a playbill from a 1692 production of Faerie Queen, a 1716 copy of "Pyramus & Thisbe," a 1889 photo of Francis Benson, other 1889 photos from a Midsummer Night's Dream production at Swan Theatre, a 1550 Edward Hall book that could have been used as reference by William Shakespeare, a 1587 Hollingshead book, a 1603 pocket atlas, a 1572 map of London, a 1658 Topp's Bestiary, a 1951 Henry VI Angus McBain photo, and a 1879 poster for Much Ado About Nothing production. This visit was a definite highlight in my life.

I then saw Shakespeare's Birthplace, although I did not tour it. I did make it to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried, but the church had closed before we got there. We had a lovely walk along the Avon and then met at the Courtyard Theatre for a modern interpretation of "Taming of the Shrew" performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. We got back into London late from a long day, but I was so content and fulfilled with the day and I know that it will be something I will always remember.

For more information about the library, homes, and theatrical productions in Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon, please see:

Monday, 28 July 2008

Oxford, England- The Bodleian Library, English Faculty Library of Oxford University, and Eagle & Child pub visit 7-17-08

We took a train to Oxford for a day trip to visit the Bodleian Library. We got to see a lot of the behind the scenes operations at the library, which was amazing. The college is self-governed, with 125 other colleges in the University. It was first opened in 1220 as a divinity school taught by friars, and became a teaching college in 1750.

The library's history is fascinating. It originally started as a library in 1320, in what is now a vestry and meeting room for the church. Between 1424-1488, Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, donated over 281 manuscripts, and a new library was added to house them. This library is now in the second floor of the Divinity School. Duke Humfrey's Library was then cleaned out in 1550 by a visiting Dean of the Christ Church. Sir Thomas Bodley visited the library in the 1590s and then offered the library money to refurbish the collection as well as repair the building. A collection of over 2,500 books were added and a librarian was hired. It opened in 1602, with a printed catalog made available in 1605. In between 1634-1637, another extension was built called Selden End, after John Selden, who donated 8,000 book. Dr. John Radcliffe then left funding to purchase land for a new building, books, and a librarian, so in between 1737-1749, the Radcliffe Camera was built (this is the building most people see pictures of and think is the Bodleian, it is pictured above). It was not until 1860 that the Radcliffe and Bodleian were combined.

In the early 1900s there were an average of 100 people using the library per day, and by the end of the 1800s there were over 1 million books in the collection. Between 1909-1912, the underground storage area was created for shelving. This was the first of its kind.

The class was split up into 2 groups for our tour of the Bodliean, and, luckily, I was on the "super-deluxe tour", because our guide, Mr. John Cross took us to see many parts of the library.

He took us to the Duke Humfrey Library, and explained that the Coat of Arms created for and displayed in the library had an open book and Latin words for "God is my illumination." He explained that all of the books contained in the original collection were chained to the bookcase to keep them from being stolen. He then took us into the Radcliffe Camera and gave us a tour of the first floor reading room, and informed us that there were some computers in the middle for research use and some "ready-reference" items also available for quick access. The catalog does an author search only, so the research must know detailed information particular to what they are searching for. He then lead us to the underground stacks beneath the camera, where he explained that the Bodliean was the first legal repository in England, so they have everything published in England from 1610 to the present. He then took us through the underground tunnel that connects the camera to the main library building, and showed us the vacuum tubes that book requests were made through before electronic means were available. He also showed us the mechanical conveyor system that routed books through the underground tunnel from one part of the library to another, and the lift that assured the book would arrive in the reading room it was requested from. He then toured us through several of the 7 floors of stacks, including one floor which contained metal cages for housing microfiche and other formats.

At the end of the tour, Mr. Cross informed us that the Bodleian currently houses five copies of the Magna Carta, two of Shakespeare's first folios, a papyrus marriage proposal from Egypt, theatrical production programs; and he briefly discussed the issues of e-resources and told us that, although e-resources are becoming more popular, in England the publication of books has doubled in the past 20 years.

I was very impressed with the amount of "behind-the-scenes" areas that we got to see and tour, and was excited that I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the world-renowned Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian's website is:

I then went with some other library students to the English Faculty Library of Oxford University for another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We actually got to view some of J.R.R. Tolkien's personal papers and collections. One of the items we saw was his personal copy of Beowulf. I, unfortunately, went to the upstairs section at one point to do some personal research on Lewis Carroll, and found quite a few resources, so I took notes and made copies. I was glad that I got some of my own research done, but sad, at the same time, because I was not able to view all of the items in Tolkien's personal collection. I was happy with the couple of items and real signatures of his that I did see, though.
The website for the English Faculty Library is:

We then went to the "Eagle & Child" pub, which is where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to meet and have drinks. I had a pint while looking at the memorabilia on display there.
For more information on the pub, please refer to this site:

Also, I went by Alice's Shop and purchased a few items. It was packed in the store, but totally worth a visit for any Lewis Carroll or Alice fan, which I am. This is supposedly the store that Alice Liddell used to visit for sweets, also called the Old Sheep Shop in the books.

Greenwich National Maritime Museum Library 7-16-08

We took the ferry down the Thames, then went to the Greenwich National Maritime Museum. Our tour guide, Hanna Dunmow, Archive & Manuscripts Manager, told us that a book had been published on the museum titled "Of Ships & Stars". The library was established in 1937 by James Caird, who was in the shipping industry, but was also interested in collecting and preserving shipping records. It is the largest research library on Maritime history anywhere. They have resources on subjects such as piracy, immigration, navigation, merchant ships, royal navy, and genealogy. They also have Lloyd's Captain's Registers of Registered Ships and Yachts, and an alphabetical list of naval officers.
They have over 100,000 books published in 1850-forward, 20,000 pamphlets, 20,000 bound periodicals, 2,000 current periodicals, 8,000 rare books published 1474-1850. They keep their more popular retrieval manuscripts on site, and fill a limit of 5 retrievals requests per day. They have their less-popular manuscript collection off-site, but will make them available with a 2 week notice. They have between three to four thousand visits per year. They have an online catalog, and are in the process of producing a manuscript catalog, and also have e-resources available. They are asked 50,000-80,000 questions per year at reception. 2,000 books are used per year and 5,000 manuscripts are used per year. They also have plenty of email, mail, and telephone inquires.
They library and museum is in the process of a renovation which should be completed by 2012. The renovation will cost them around 35 million pounds. There are 6 full-time staff members in the archives department: 3 special librarians, 2 assistants, and 1 information specialist. There are 12 full-time staff members in the entire library.
We then met Renee (from the Archives Department), and Mike (from the Rare Books Department). They each showed us some items of interest. Mike showed us a letter from Admiral Nelson to the Duke of Clarence, a letter arranging Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris to lead the expedition of 1589, Journal of Captain Charles Carlile, Signal book from USS Chesapeake, Journal of Dr. Edward Hodges Cree, South Sea Waggoner Manuscript atlas, William Dampier's collection of accounts on voyages, and a Victualling account from 1558. Renee showed us an essay on the improvement of navigation, and the transcripts for the trail of Captain William Kidd.

The library's website is:

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Globe Tour & National Art Library 7-15-08

I spent the morning with a fellow library student touring Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which is a short walk from our dorms. We got the opportunity to see some behind-the-scenes action, because during the tour inside the theatre, the stage-hands were busy setting the stage for the production that afternoon. It was interesting to learn the history of the building, and the tips for which areas were better seats. I was pleased to learn that you can pack a picnic and bring it to the show. We were also allowed to take pictures. It was also informative about society during Shakespeare's time; for example, we learned that, since there was no indoor plumbing at the time, a bucket was passed around in the audience, for bathroom purposes (ewww).

That afternoon we visited the National Art Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Our tour guide was Francis, a librarian, who showed us the Account desk, Reading room, Periodicals, Special Collections & Manuscripts, the collection of Sales & Exhibition catalogs, and the 3 galleries which contain most of the book collection. She also led us through the staff section, where they catalog items and order acquisitions.
They use Dewey classification for most of the book collection, but organize other items such as the exhibition catalogs by Country, Catalog, Year, or Size. The Victoria & Albert Museum was founded in 1852, but the library was established in 1837 at the Somerset House, then relocated to the museum once it was founded. The catalog they utilize is the Horizon system, which allows patrons to search by subject, artist, serial number, or exhibition year.
We also got the opportunity to see, touch, and photograph some rare books, including: the Journal of Henry Cole (curator of the museum), the Universal Catalog of Books on Art, The Hypnophotackiophile (not sure about the spelling, but it was published in 1444), but most importantly, Jonathan Swift's annotated copies of Gulliver's Travels, a simile of Leonardo Da Vinci's sketchbook, and corrected proofs, in Charles Dickens's handwriting, of David Copperfield.

I then went to the Natural History Museum for a brief visit with another library student, where we got to see some amazing gemstones on display, as well as the Natural Disaster and Global Warming areas, and the prehistoric dinosaurs.

That evening I had Fish & Chips with mushy peas at Black Friar Pub off of Fleet St. with a couple of library students.

For more on Black Friar pub:

Museum of London, St. Paul's crypt & climb, and "The Revenger's Tragedy" 7-14-08

The day started off with a tour of the Museum of London by Jon Cotton, Senior Curator of Prehistory. We first had a PowerPoint presentation which went through the history of the museum. The museum was built in the 70's with the merging of the Guildhall Museum (which opened in 1825) and the London Museum (which opened in 1911). The Museum of London has two other "branches," which include the Museum in Docklands, at Canary Wharf, and the London Archaeological Research center (Archives).
It is the world's largest urban history museum. Fifty percent of their visitors are Londoners, 10-15% are from the UK, and the rest are mostly English-speaking tourists. The museum covers 19th century Victorian London, Tudor period (16th & 17th century), Stewart period, Roman history, as well as prehistory (which is the time before written records in London or the time before the Roman history). Prehistory includes information on survival in the wild, adaptability, pottery, monuments in landscape (such as Stonehenge or Sea henge).
We also learned that they have found quite a few items in the Thames that hint at the prehistory of the city, such as pottery, weapons, etc.
He also briefly discussed the update of the look of the gallery, including color scheme and texture, and how they incorporated that with the important issues of climate, surrounding the subjects of the river, people, and legacy.

Next another library student and I returned to St. Paul's in hopes of visiting the crypt. We got the opportunity to do that, see the rest of the cathedral, and climb to the Whispering Gallery, 257 steps from the floor, then the Stone Gallery, 376 steps up, then finally, the Golden Gallery, 528 steps up. The climb was well worth it, since we got a gorgeous view of the city skyline. The only problem we had was that during the climb down, the fire alarm went off, so we had to rush our descent.
That evening, after a bit of resting, I walked the short walk to the National Theatre from our dorms with a Children's Lit. student in hopes of last minute tickets to "The Revenger's Tragedy". We got £10 seats, which were very good seats, and got a chance to see a very intense performance. I really enjoyed it, and particularly enjoyed the fact that this was a smaller theatre than the ones I am used to, so I had a really good view of the action on stage. Although the play was violent, bloody, and contained some nudity and sex, it was very similar to some of Shakespeare's tragedies, such as Titus Andronicus. I was very glad I had the chance to see this production.

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens 7-13-08

I went with another library student to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. We took the underground to Bond Street and entered at the Marble Arch and Speakers' Corner. There were only 4 or 5 people on their "soap boxes" at the time, though, so we continued our walk across Hyde Park, over the Serpentine bridge, to Kensington Gardens. We found the Peter Pan statue and I got a picture with it. We also went to the Italian fountains and noticed that there were lots of artists selling their works on the street-side at the Lancaster Gate exit. I found some great buys in the form of unique gifts to take home for friends and family. Apparently, the street-side vendors are a regular Sunday activity there. We then ate lunch at a restaurant named "The Swan," and walked back down through Kensington Gardens to the Albert Memorial, where we saw the Royal Albert Hall across the street. We continued walking through to the Flower Walk. By that point, we had done a good bit of walking, so we turned around and went back to the Marble Arch exit, where we walked down Oxford Street, until it became so crowded we decide to take the underground back to the dorms.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Westminster Abbey & Tate Britain 7-11-08

I visited Westminster Abbey after a walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. I was worried that the amount of tourists inside would interfere with my enjoyment of the audio tour made available to me. However, even with crammed conditions, the audio tour was enjoyable. I would have loved to take photos of the inside of the abbey, but I was not allowed to, although I did get a few in the College Garden section, and the Cloisters.

I had heard of Poets' Corner, but did not realize how many people were included in it. Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, John Dryden, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Samuel Johnson, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens are all buried there. Lord Byron, William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Shelley, William Blake, T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Henry James, and Lewis Carroll all have memorials there. I sat in the Poets' Corner section to take it all in, just as they announced the moment of prayer on the hour. The amount of history in this grandiose abbey was breath-taking.

The abbey also contains the graves of Elizabeth I and Mary I, Mary: Queen of Scots, Henry III, Edward I, Eleanor of Castile, Edward III, Richard II and Queen Anne of Bohemia, Henry IV, Margaret (daughter of Edward IV), Elizabeth (daughter of of Henry VII), James I, Charles II, Edward V, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and Edward VI.

The Coronation Chair that has been used for royalty since 1066 is also housed there. The abbey was originally founded in 960 AD by Benedictine monks, which makes it over 1,000 years old. I was very pleased with my visit to the abbey, and particularly in the fact that not everything was roped off, allowing me to interact more with such an important piece of history.
I also visited the Tate Britain Art Museum that day and got the chance to see several of Monet's paintings, as well as Dante Gabriel Rossetti's, John Everett Millais', John William Waterhouse's, and William Blake's artwork. I also purchased a small book on Lewis Carroll in the Museum gift store.

Barbican Library and British Library Centre for Conservation 7-10-08

On our tour of Barbican Library, we saw the Children's, Music, and Lending libraries. Our tour guide for the Children's library was Children's Librarian Amanda Owens. She told us that they currently have a staff of 8 people: 1 full-time librarian, 1 full-time assistant, and 6 part-time assistants. They cater to children from birth to age 14. They have 24,000 items to loan, and use Dewey classification. Their items consist of books, Cd's, cassettes, and "Play-Aways," and are on loan for a limit of 3 weeks. The children's DVDs and VHS tapes are available for loan in the lending library section. Public schools visit weekly for story time, and the librarian visits schools that are unable to come to Barbican to continue outreach through classroom story time and singing. They limit loans to 40 books per class per semester, to keep circulation manageable.
They also encourage their patrons to vote for and review books for the Carnegie Award for children's books in the UK. They also schedule special programs on Saturdays, such as puppets, crafts, author visits, etc. to continue outreach in the community. They participate in the national "BookStart" program, which makes available to all children under the age of 5 living in the UK 3 packages of books to encourage literacy and library support. They also do special Summer Reading Sessions as community outreach.
We then toured the music library with Liz Wells, Music Librarian at Barbican. It is one of the largest public music libraries in London, mainly due to its location in the Barbican Centre. The collection began in 1980. Their customers are mainly residents of the Borough and students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which is located next door to the library. They have 16.5 thousand Cd's in their collection, including: jazz, pop, blues, folk, film, musicals, country, world, and classical, which are all located in subject and alphabetical order. They purchase 60-70 Cd's per month, which means that they withdraw items that are not necessary for archival frequently, and have sales usually once or twice a year, which continue to financially support the library. They do charge for lending, £ .40 for Cd's and £2.75 for DVDs. They have a number of Online Resources available as well, including Naxos Music Library, Oxford Music Online, and their own song index of popular and classical songs in print anthologies. They have a number of Periodicals, circulating Books (in Dewey classification), Reference, Bound Periodicals, and a large collection of scores (in McColeom Reeves classification scheme). They also have listening stations with: 6 CD players, 1 tape deck, and 1 connected to a record player, and laptop connections. The Electric Piano (with headphones) located at the entry has proved a popular resource, since an appointment must be booked at least a day in advance and is limited to 1 hour.
The Lending library section has an exhibit area with a 2-year waiting list, 20 public computers, a membership desk, fiction section (in subject and author order) and non-fiction section (in Dewey classification). They are proud of their RFID technology, which allows for extremely easy self-check out.

For more information about the Barbican Library, go to:

We next visited the British Library again, for a tour of the Centre for Conservation. We got to see how books are cleaned, repaired, and re-bound. Ruth, one of the conservationists, first demonstrated how she used a smoke sponge to remove dirt from paper, then explained how she washed the paper, de-acidified it, and added an alkaline substance to preserve the paper. Then Doug, another conservationist, showed us how to repair tears and cracks in the paper by using a flour paste and rice paper. Finally Chris, another conservationist, showed us how to repair binding and replace boards and leather on cover. Ruth informed us that the process takes at least 44 hours to repair an item.

More information about the Centre for Conservation is available at:

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

British Library and Regent's Park 7-8-08

Kevin, the Donations Librarian at the British Library, met us in the main entry-meeting zone section and began our tour with a discussion on the facts and figures of the library. There are 2,200 current employees, and 35 million items in the collection at that location alone (170 million items total between all of the branches). The collection is housed in 6 floors underneath the surface, protecting them from environmental damage. There are large industrial freezers housed on each of the floors, for preservation needs in case of water damage; however, there is also a system that wicks water away and out to the Thames as well.

Kevin tells us that there are 3 main purposes for their collection: to be a national bibliographic collection for everything published in the country (meaning publishers must send them books within a month of publication for addition to the collection), to archive items in the collection forever, and to make them available to researchers.

They just recently celebrated their 10th year anniversary. While the decision to separate the books from the British Museum began in 1961, the issues of finding a building plan that was suitable for everyone delayed the construction of the building until the 1990's. Sir Hans Sloan's personal library combined with his idea that knowledge should be shared started the British Library's Collection. Today, the library is the 3rd largest in the world, following Moscow and Library of Congress.

The library is organized by size, with closed stacks. The employees find books in the collection by using shelf labels that note location, floor, and quadrant. They also use dye stamps to mark the books, so that anyone who opens a book knows that they are the British Library's property. Thirty-five percent of their users are overseas researchers, and the library has collections representing every language.

In the middle of the building is a 6-story glass tower encasing King George III's collection. The collection can be accessed by staff members through a side door and elevator, making it not only a beautiful display, but a functional library resource, as well.

The library is separated into two sections: Humanities, and Sciences.

Kevin then talked to us a bit about digitizing collections. He told us that they hoped to have 40% of the collection in electronic format by 2020. Currently 75,000 pages are digitized per day. However he does note that the rapid changes to technology and format make it difficult to know in which formats to make items available electronically.

Their current budget is 120 BSP per year, which is generated from selling their catalog to other libraries and Inter Library Loan. 6.5 million BSP of that budget is going into preservation.

Kevin allowed us to view some of the "behind-the-scenes" action at the library, by allowing us to tour the offices and see the system that allows users to order a library book, have employees find it, and get the book to the user in the appropriate reading room.

We also got a chance to view the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, which currently houses the "Treasures of the British Library" collection. Some of my favorite items on display were: Jane Austen's notebook, Lewis Carroll's diary, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles folio, and one of Shakespeare's first folios.

It was a very memorable visit. For more about the British Library,

After my tour of the British Library, I met some Children's Lit. students at Regent's Park for lunch at a cafe. I was very proud of myself, because that was the first time I had to navigate through the city on my own. I managed to get on the right bus and get off at the right stop and walk to the cafe in Regent's Park's Queen Mary's Garden, after briefly getting lost and winding up behind the zoo. All of the trouble was worth it in the end, though, because the rose garden was absolutely heavenly. I only wish I could have stayed there longer.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

St. Paul Library 7-7-08

Photo above from in About St. Paul's/Library

St. Paul's Cathedral is a monument, itself, to the history of the city of London. There has been a cathedral dedicated to St. Paul at the site since 604 AD, but the current one, designed by architect Christopher Wren was erected between the years 1675 and 1710. It was the site of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding.

The library is located on the triforia section, SW side of building. It consists of a main floor and a balcony section. The smell of dust, leather binding, and old books fills the air as the doors are opened. Mr. Wisdom, the librarian touring us tells us that a library is created from the combination of 3 things: books, people, and a building. He does not consider computers a part of that, although, he notes, they are necessary for research assistance. The arched ceiling "tents" the library, so that it creates an environment more conducive for thinking. The columns lining the room have books, fruit, wheat, and other items carved into them. Some are so detailed that the books lying open have carved pages.

They are currently monitoring the collection for environmental impact, for preservation purposes. Most of the collection consists of liturgies, sermons, and bibles, but there is some Newton, Greek classics, science, medicine, art and law. He points out that there are quite a few duplicates due to the fact that they indicate different important aspects of the society at the time they are used...particularly things that are left in the books.

Although the library is not open to public access, the public can use it by emailing or phoning the library with research questions. The collection is organized by size and slight subject organization. The collection is searched through a database and kept up with by shelf-lists and past catalogs. The books are labeled with call numbers/shelf marks which list their designated bookcase and shelf.

The last thing that Mr. Wisdom points out is a 13th or 14th century prayer book that has been "conserved," (meaning to make the item as good as possible while actually changing as little as possible). He points out the woodworm damage on the cover and notes that the leather has been replaced in some places. He tells us that it is very important to them that they keep items in their collection in as original condition as possible, because all of the aspects of the items are important.

More information about the St. Paul Cathedral's Library can be found at:

Monday, 7 July 2008

London Alives, Bookstores, and Covent Garden 7-5-08 & 7-6-08

My first London Alive was with the Children's Lit. professor, who seemed to have a bit of an obsession with Harry Potter, so she was a good choice for the Leaky Cauldron tour. I met some Children's Lit students on this tour that are in my flat at the dorms. We walked across Waterloo, into Trafalgar Square, up Charing Cross, to Cecil Court, where there are a bunch of second-hand bookstores. Another library student and I decided to try and find 84 Charing Cross Rd., so we went to where it should be, but there is now a Pizza Hut there :(. So we were going back to meet the group and we kind of got lost, but found our way back to them in time to continue with the tour. We then went to Foyle's Bookstore, which is the largest in London, and I think, in the UK. I got a couple of handy pocket maps, and then we had coffee in the coffee bar on the top floor of Foyle's. By then, the London Alive tour was over, but I stayed with the professor and two Children's Lit students, and we went to the Border's across the street from Foyle's, and then we made our way to Covent Garden, went through St. Paul's Covent Garden (also called The Actor's Church), where there was a symphony practicing, and then we went to a nice Indonesian/Mediterranean restaurant for dinner.

The next day I was supposed to go on the London Alive Towering Spires, Creepy Crypts tour with the Shakespeare teacher, but only made it to St. Paul's with her. She apparently has a morning routine everyday that involves speed-walking, but half of our group could not keep up with her, so we got left. It ended up being nice though, because it gave me the chance to use the map I had bought at Foyle's and figure my way around. I was with 3 Children's Lit students, 2 of which I had been with the day before, so we walked down Fleet Street, passed Lloyd's of London, the Royal Courts of Justice, and found our way back to Trafalgar Square and St. Martin in the Fields Church, which was the last stop on the London Alive tour. We then ate lunch and went to Oxford Street in search of cell phones, which we found.