Friday, 8 August 2008

Reflections 8-7-08

I am so glad that I decided to take the opportunity to go to the UK. Although the dorms in London were very small, and the shared bathrooms in Dulkeith were not ideal, and the way that the program directors did some things last minute, the program itself gave me the opportunity to see some things that I will probably not have the opportunity to see again and will never forget. Things like seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe, seeing one of Shakespeare’s first folios, going to the church where Shakespeare is buried and seeing the house he was born in, seeing John Donne’s grave at St. Paul’s, the Book of Kells at Trinity, Tolkien’s personal copy of Beowulf, Lewis Carroll’s diary, Dickens’s copy of David Copperfield, Swift’s copy of Gulliver’s Travels, visiting the pubs where Dickens, Twain, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis drank , and simply having the opportunity to visit the Shakespeare Library and Bodleian Library are the reasons I wanted to go to Great Britain, and all of my dreams have been fulfilled. Hopefully some day I can return and enjoy all of it again, but I know that may not be a possibility. So, for now, I will keep all of the memories stored away in my mind and cherish each one of them.

Tower of London, 8-2-08

My last day in London was spent walking on the North bank of the Thames with a Children’s Lit
student to the Tower of London. It was really crowded since it was a Saturday, but we got the opportunity to see some historic sites, a sword fight, some weapons from that time period being fired, some of the Crown Jewels, The Bloody Tower, Traitor’s Gate, the famous ravens of the tower, and both members of the Queen’s Guard and the Beefeaters. The exhibits in the Tower on the famous prisoners that had been held there, as well as the display of torture methods used in that time period, were very informative and interactive. The only bad thing about my last day was that both the Circle and District lines were down, so there was no Underground service between the Tower and Waterloo, meaning that the buses were packed. We ended up walking back to the dorms from the Tower, so I got plenty of walking in on my last day in London.

The official website for the Tower of London is:

That night there was a program get-together at Stamford Arms, so everyone met up and talked a bit more on our last night, exchanged contact information, and said our goodbyes, since we would be parting early the next morning. It was sad, since our class had become so close and felt like an odd sort of family.

Canary Wharf, Museum in Docklands, for Jack the Ripper exhibit, and another visit to Portobello Road 8-1-08

We started the morning by having a traditional English breakfast at a nice inexpensive restaurant in the Docklands a couple of doors down from the Museum. I went to the exhibit with another Library student and two Children’s Lit students. The Jack the Ripper exhibit was excellent, and not at all what I expected. Much of the exhibit was actually about the Whitechapel area, culture and society in the late 1800’s, although the exhibit also had a section dedicated to each one of the murdered victims, which included original police notes, including descriptions and witness testimonies. I went to the exhibit expecting only to learn more detail about the Jack the Ripper murders, but was pleasantly surprised by the amount of history included in the exhibit (Just a little extra information: there are also some conspiracy theories on the web about the possibility that Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper). Also included in the exhibit were the original letters supposedly from Jack the Ripper to the police, where he first names himself ‘Jack the Ripper,’ as well as other numerous letters to the police at the time of the murders. Finally, an extra special little bit I did not expect was the display case of Jack the Ripper memorabilia in pop culture, which included production notes from the movie “From Hell” which was signed by members of the cast, including Johnny Depp.

For more information on the exhibit, please go to:

We then returned to Portobello Road Market to experience it during Market hours. I bought lunch there, and saw plenty of things I would have bought, had I the money and the method of getting it home.

That evening after the research symposium most of our class went to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and then Black Friar pub for some last chance celebration and conversation. It was a good night, and it was great to see the class getting together outside of class time and sharing and just having fun together.

The Globe Theatre for “Timon of Athens,” Hard Rock London, and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese 7-31-08

I went to see an afternoon production of “Timon of Athens” at the Globe with a Children’s Lit student. I am glad that I went, and I am definitely glad that I paid a bit extra to sit, instead of standing in the pit, particularly since there was a light rain on and off during the play. I can now say that I have been to see a play in Shakespeare’s Globe. I can now also say that I can see why “Timon of Athens” is not one of Shakespeare’s more well-known plays, due to the fact that it does not have a finite end. I also bought a few goodies in the gift shop.

The website for the Globe is:

We also took the underground to the Green Park station, where we then walked to Hard Rock Café. I normally would not be so inclined to visit such a touristy spot, but since this Hard Rock Café was the original, it seemed like it would be worth getting a t-shirt from. We then finished the evening by going to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub, where Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Theodore Roosevelt all visited. The pub does not look very big on the outside because it is hidden in a small alley off of Fleet Street, but after walking in and going down several sets of stairs I realized that the pub is basically several floors up and several floors below ground as well. I ate dinner and had a couple of pints of an excellent cider they had on tap.

Here is a website with more information on Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub:

Getting a reader’s card at the British Library 7-30-08

This morning I got up and went with another library student back to the British Library to do some research. I had to go through the process of getting a reader’s card, which I think is an excellent souvenir because it is free! I then looked up several items of interest in the catalog, then requested them and waited for about 30 minutes until they arrived. I took some notes, wrote down some references, and got some ideas for further research. We then ate lunch at the café in the library and were on our way.

This afternoon I went with another library student to Camden Town to the market. I went because I had heard that the market in Camden was full of unique and interesting stuff, but I did not see much that I needed, or more importantly, much that I wanted and could fit in an already stuffed suitcase. I did find a black leather bracelet with a Celtic design on it, however, so I purchased that. It was also pretty busy and crowded. We grabbed some food from one of the booths set up and headed back to the dorms.

Hayward Gallery, “Psycho Buildings” and Portobello Road 7-29-08

I went to Portobello Road and did some shopping this morning with another library student. It was very nice, since it was a Tuesday and the tourists weren’t crawling all over the place. The only bad part was that the markets and stalls were not open, since they only open on Friday and Saturday. I found some unique souvenirs while shopping there.

They have an official website:

This afternoon we walked up to the Hayward Gallery, which is very close to the dorms. I had wanted to see the “Psycho Buildings” exhibit since I heard about it before the trip while doing research online. It was definitely worth the cover charge, in particular because while I am not a huge fan of modern art, for some reason the installations by participating artists were amazing to me. These art pieces are made on such a large scale that each has its own room, or in some cases part of the rooftop. There was a room lit only by the lights inside hundreds of dollhouses arranged to look like a village, a room set up like the inside of apartment in the middle of being bombed, and several others. The one that was my favorite, though, was the one we had to stand in line for 30 minutes for, which was the opportunity to get in a row boat and paddle around in a pond made out of a sculpture garden on the rooftop of the Hayward Gallery.

Here is the website for "Psycho Buildings":

Hay-on-Wye, Wales, the Secondhand Bookstore Town 7-27-08

I, with another library student, finally reached the small town of Hay-on-Wye after much traveling by airplane, train, and bus. It felt as though we were out in the middle of nowhere, but the countryside was so beautiful and peaceful that I really enjoyed the few days we had there. Obviously I did some book shopping while I was there. I got a first edition copy of Tolkien’s “Mr. Bliss”, as well as a first edition of a Lewis Carroll biography, along with three other Lewis Carroll books. I was very tempted by a first edition of Carroll’s “Sylvie and Bruno”, but just could not reasonably pay the 48 pounds (almost $100) that it would cost. I also got a look at several first editions of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” along with numerous other first editions of books that I had studied, read, and loved throughout school. We also took a leisurely walk down to the Wye River, which apparently was a hidden swimming hole for the locals. After walking alongside the river for a while, we came to a meadow full of wild flowers, and followed the trails through the tall wild flowers to a pebble beach on the riverside, where there were all ages out enjoying the sunny day and cool water. While at Hay-on-Wye, we had traditional English breakfasts both mornings of our stay at the Belmont House B & B, which consists of toast, a poached egg, two breakfast sausages, two pieces of ham/bacon, sautéed mushrooms or a halved tomato, and sometimes baked beans.

There is a website for this small town:

Dublin, Ireland-The Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin Writer’s Museum, and a Humorous Bus Tour 7-25-08

This was the first day of my mini-break not spent traveling. I, with several other library students, decided to go spend a couple of nights in Dublin, which basically included one full day. We got up that morning and met up to take the Double Decker tour bus through Dublin. We were going to use it mainly for transportation between places we wanted to visit, but the driver/tour guide on that particular bus was very entertaining, so we ended up riding it all the way around, which gave us a chance to see a good bit of Dublin and learn some of the history there. We then went to the Dublin Writer’s Museum and got the chance to see original letters, photos, and other personal effects of some of Ireland’s more well-known writers, and quite a few writers that I had not heard of before. Some of the writers included in the exhibit were: Jonathan Swift, Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, George Moore, Samuel Beckett, and Elizabeth Bowen.

For more information about the Dublin Writers' Museum, go to:

Then we took the bus back down and across the river to Trinity College, where the “Book of Kells” is kept on display. We paid a pretty hefty entrance fee, but figured it was worth it since this was probably the only opportunity we would ever have to see the book up close. Apparently we picked a bad day/time to visit the exhibit, because it was packed with other tourists, every one of which wanted to stand around the glass case that housed the book, along with three other manuscripts, and remain there as long as possible. I don’t blame them for wanting to get a closer long look at these items, but the exhibit case was not that big and there were a lot of people waiting for their turn. I made my way into the crowd to get a peek at these amazingly beautiful and ornately detailed manuscripts, then I went up the stairs to the Long Room, which is the main part of the old Trinity College Library. The old library is beautiful, with two stories of book cases full of old leather-bound books, and the main walk lined by marble busts of Ireland’s famous writers (one of such was Jonathan Swift), artists, musicians, politicians, etc. There is also a case with the oldest surviving harp in Ireland in it, from the 15th century. Apparently this is the harp that is represented on Irish coin money.

For more on the Book of Kells, please see:
For more on the Long Room, please see:

Holyrood Park, The Museum of Childhood, and the Underground Tour 7-23-08

This morning we took a bus out to Edinburgh, then walked down the Royal Mile to the Holyrood Palace and made our way across to the Holyrood Park. I was with 3 other library students, as we climbed up the mountainside towards Arthur’s Seat. It was a bit of a climb, and unfortunately I did not make it all the way to the top, but I did make it ¾ of the way up, and stopped at a cliff-side to admire the view. As I was taking the view of Edinburgh and the Strait beyond that, I thought that it would be a great time to call my mom, who was just waking up, as it was 6 am in Mississippi. It was a beautiful view and I just wanted to share the moment with someone I loved.

The other three library students returned after their descent from the top, and we made our way back down and then back up the Royal Mile to the Museum of Childhood. Although some were not as impressed by the displays, I found the number of items in their collection impressive, and the condition of the toys, for the most part, was pretty good. I was sad that some of their interactive games were not functioning, as were a few other children that I saw visiting the museum. There was a display of children’s novels, and one of the books included was “Alice in Wonderland”. There were some unusual toys, including one doll based on the book “Struwwelpeter”, which looked like it might have been the inspiration for Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands”.

For more about the Museum of Childhood, along with other museums in Edinburgh, go to:

That evening I met with another library student and we went on a tour of Edinburgh’s underground city. It was pretty cheesy, and touristy, but we did get to hear some good “ghost” stories and did get to view and walk through a small portion of the underground.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Glasgow, Scotland- University of Strathclyde & Bridge Library- 7-22-08

We took a bus from Edinburgh to Glasgow for a day trip to the University of Strathclyde. The first part of the day was a combination of lectures and discussions from Dr. David McMenemy (Course Director for MSC Information & Library Studies at the University), Christine Rooney-Browne (Graduate Student doing research at the University), Alan Poulter, and Alan Dorset (from the Centre for Digital Library Research).

Dr. McMenemy began by giving us some history and statistics on libraries in the area. He told us that although the University of Strathclyde opened under that name in 1964, it began in 1796 as Anderson's Institution. They currently have 25,000 students, with 50 % of the students being library students. The university has been teaching library science for 60 years. There are 4,515 public libraries total in the UK, and 846 academic libraries. The public libraries in the UK are legally obligated to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" public library service for any one who lives, works, or studies in the community, due to a Public Libraries and Museums Act. All of the publicly funded libraries are governed by parliaments. He is currently researching how to reduce the significant drop in borrowing statistics, how to attract non-users, how to reduce the digital divide, how to reduce the issue of non-professionalism in the workplace, and how to measure services effectively.

Christine Rooney-Browne then discussed her research. She is currently trying to create a way of measuring the social value a public library has to the community it serves. She gave the examples of using the library as a place to break cultural barriers, a place to give the elderly an escape from loneliness, and using the library as a place of support, particularly after a natural disaster. She explained that currently the statistics on libraries only show the economic values determined by things such as Government Audits and Contingent Values. She says that the Social Values should be just as important, if not more important in measuring the value of a library to its community, and that these Social Values could be measured by Social Impact Audits and Self-Assessment toolkits. She also is in the process of conducting surveys and Quantitative Research to record the results of libraries in different situations and areas.

Alan Poulter then discussed FRILLS (Forensic Readiness for Local Libraries in Scotland). He said that they offer IT training, online/CD/DVD courses, and they address the "Digital Divide". They have enforced an Acceptable Use Policy and done reviews, surveys, and interviews to get input on how to improve it.

Alan Dorset then wrapped the lecture up by discussing the Centre for Digital Library Research. It opened in 2000, and it is set up online at They have set up several online reference resources, including: BUBL, CAIRNS, Glasgow Digital Library, Shaman, and AILT4. He then showed us the sites and how they were set up to find things.

After lunch we then visited the Library at the Bridge. The Library at the Bridge opened in July 2006, so it is still new, but so far, the positive effects it has had on the community outweighs the few problems that they have had with scheduling and other problems that have come up due to the combining of several different ideas under one roof. It is a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Culture and Sport Glasgow, John Wheatley College, and the Greater Easterhouse Arts Company. The community was in need of a positive force to encourage and enlighten them. The Bridge Complex contains a public pool and recreation area, a multipurpose conference room that can be converted for stage use, a theatre, a recording studio, a costume workshop, a public library, a community college library, a café, and the college. It offers many options, such as swimming classes, dance classes, concerts, theatrical performances, and other numerous community classes. It is one of the top six best issuing libraries in Scotland. The complex cost 8.5 million pounds to build, so it did not come cheap, but the effect it has had on the community has been worth it. They have 33,820 books currently in stock.