Sunday, July 31, 2011

Farewell London

In a few hours I will be leaving London so I decided to write some things down about my month studying abroad. This was a great month of travel to many different places and it is filled with some great memories. When I first arrived I was very apprehensive about what to expect during my time here. This apprehension quickly disappeared and I started to feel more comfortable. The first couple of days were planned with neighborhood walks that familiarized us with the city. I am going to remember the libraries my class visited during the first few days and how different but similar each one was. The thing that I am going to remember the most is wandering around the city alone. These times were very interesting and involved getting a lot. I was lost more times than I can count during these few days but these times were always the most interesting and I have seen some of the city that I would not have seen otherwise.

The London Explore for a group of students was getting the opportunity to go to Paris. Paris was interesting and was a good experience to have had. Besides all of the walking I am going to have one or two main memories from this trip. One memory is on the coach ride from London to Paris. Somebody read an article about how a person stowed away under one of these coaches and kept on pounding on the floor. I found this story amusing and each time our coach hit a bump all I could think of was somebody pounding on the floor. The other thing that I am going to remember is walking around the city with two friends that I made during the weekend. We did a lot of walking and one walk in particular stands out. We just left dinner with the group and it was close to midnight. This walk was not suppose to be long but became so when I got us lost and we kind of circled the area where our hotel was located.

The next week of classes involved us going outside the city on a few occasions. We went to Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, and a few libraries within the city boundaries. The week seemed to go by very fast and the next thing I knew we had a free day before leaving for London Away. This free day involved me doing laundry and packing but also included a short walk through the city. The next morning we left for Scotland and in particular Edinburgh.

The coach drive seemed to take a long time but we finally arrived. We stayed at Dalkeith Estate which is a little outside Edinburgh. I went into town that night with some friends and Scotland instantly became one of my favorite places in the world. I love London but Scotland has a different feel about it. We spent a few days in Scotland and visited some of the libraries in the area. One of my favorite things to do in Scotland was just walking around and looking at the beautiful scenery. Everything was so green and I could almost always hear bagpipes in the distance which completed the experience for me.

My mini-break was a lot of fun and involved me meeting up with three of my siblings in London. We did all of the tourist attractions and tried to see everything we could in a limited amount of time. Highlights from this weekend was seeing the Hard Rock Vault, Churchill War Rooms, Wembley Stadium, a football (soccer) match, Buckingham Palace, Dover, Abbey Road, and many others. This too seemed to go by really fast and before I knew it I was checking back in to my dorm room.

The final few days of classes were very relaxing. I made sure I went to some of the museums and galleries that I had not previously gone through and walked around the city a lot. Some of the highlights were going to afternoon tea with three friends and dressing up to go to the research symposium.

This experience was a lot of fun and I am so glad that I decided to come. I was able to see some amazing places, met a lot of nice people, and made some good friends. I am very appreciative of the University of Southern Mississippi and Kings College for allowing me to have this experience. I am going to miss London and Scotland. Hopefully one day I will be able to come back.

Farewell London!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Imperial War Museum

For my optional visit I decided to go to the Imperial War Museum. The idea of the Imperial War Museum was established in 1917 when the Cabinet wanted to collect and display materials from World War I. The museum was firmly established in 1920 when Parliament appointed a board of trustees. On 9 June 1920 the museum officially opened in Crystal Palace by King George V. The original site of the museum was in South Kensington and presented problems due to a split gallery. King George VI opened the museum in its present location in 1936. From 1940 to 1946 the museum was closed and the materials moved to other locations outside London. After the war ended the scope of the museum included World War II and any other military operation the Empire was involved with before 1914.

Walking up to the museum the first time I was impressed with the two guns that point out from the main entrance. The main exhibition area for the larger military items felt small but contained a lot of machinery. I left this area and went to another floor to look at the WWI and WWII exhibits. The information in the exhibits was really interesting due to the fact that they were presented in an excellent way and contained a lot of detail. Even though the exhibits were interesting I was most interested in two experiences I was told by the director of the British Studies Program. One experience takes you through the trenches of WWI. The first time I went through this I was a little claustrophobic and got a sense of what the soldiers went through in these trenches. The other experience was a Blitz experience from WWII. In this experience you go into a small room and sit down on a bench. The lights then turn off and you get to hear people talking as if they were in a bunker. After listening to this you go through another room and it is suppose to be like you went out into the city to see what happened during the bombing raid. I really enjoyed this experience and it started to get me thinking about the topic for my research paper.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

British Library Centre for Conservation

The British Library can accommodate up to 1,200 readers a day. Each reader can check out ten items at a time. Since the items can be used at such a high rate, general wear and tear can occur. The Centre for Conservation has five different teams of conservationists and has room for six teams. Each conservation team has specialties and only works on those types of materials. When an item needs conservation work it is given to the appropriate team through the curator of a collection. That team takes the items and stabilizes it rather than trying to restore it. This stabilization allows the item to maintain its history. All procedures completed on the items are re-treatable.

On our tour we were shown two different techniques of conservation work. The first technique was the conservation of 300 year old palm leaves. These leaves are religious texts and have serious damage to them. It was interesting to see how they use pulp fibers to hand fill in cracks on the leaves. This process is very meticulous work and leaves that have more damage are repaired by using casters. These casters can speed up the number of leaves that can be completed in a day. The other technique we were shown was how to put on gold leafing on the spines of books. This was very interesting especially since we were shown the traditional way of doing this technique. If done correctly the lettering can remain on the leather for about 400 years without needing additional conservation work.

The conservation studio of the British Library is huge. I was a little taken aback by the size of the area but I really like watching the two techniques of conservation work. This was a good way to end our course work for the month. Photo courtesy of the British Library website.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Middle Temple Library

The Middle Temple Library is the library for one of four Inns of Court. Materials in the original library went missing after some time due to misuse of the library users. After his passing, Robert Ashley donated his private collection to Middle Temple which reestablished the library. The library is not in the original building due to it being destroyed during the bombing of World War II. The new building was built in the 1950s out of reinforced concrete. This was done because the builder was worried about another bombing and wanted to protect the library materials. The reinforced concrete gives advantages to the library. The building can with stand the weight of all the materials and it provides good conditions for the rare materials.

Most of the materials held by the library pertain to law. The audience is usually lawyers, researchers, and others who need access to corporate or international laws. It was interesting to me that this library has a large collection on American law. This collection is one of the largest US law collections in the country. Another interesting fact is that five of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of the Middle Temple. Similar to other libraries, this library does not have a classification system. This library also has no labels on the books and it is suppose to simplify the process of finding materials except when items need to be moved.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

King’s College Maughan Library

King’s College Maughan Library opened in the current building in 2001 but has a long, prestigious history that dates back to 1829. The current building was the building for the public records office and was the first fire proof building. Since the building was mostly closed to the public while it was the public records office, the library had to make the building more accessible for shelf browsing. This proved to be difficult since the building is leased by the library and it had to get approval from the owners and building preservation organizations before anything could be done. Restrictions were placed on the library to what they could do to the building. Working with these restrictions, the library has placed signs at the end of shelves and grouped materials by genre.

The library has 1,000 reading rooms, 1,300 computer places, 750,000 items and volumes, and serves about 11,000 students during term. Materials are mainly from humanities, law, and sciences with medical resources being located at other King’s College libraries. The library also contains DVD and audio materials along with a keyboard that can be used. During the term the library is open seven days a week and 24/7 around exam weeks. The library has also installed self service machines that provide the opportunity for the user to check-in or check-out materials at their convenience.

The special collections’ strength is on travel and discovery. The oldest documents date back to the 1490s. Some of the materials that we were shown included a book by Florence Nightingale, a Pennsylvania Charter that has annotations from Benjamin Franklin, and a Holocaust collection that includes lithographs done by a concentration camp inmate. These materials were really interesting and yet again we were allowed to actually touch the materials.

I enjoyed touring this library and seeing how they have implemented different programs to benefit the user. Self service machines seem to be really popular and if used correctly can allow librarians to help users with more difficult questions. I liked how this library has so many computer spaces and study rooms throughout the building. This seems to makes it more convenient for study and research.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dunfermline Carnegie Public Library

The Dunfermline Public Library is the first Carnegie library. It was opened on 29 August 1883 and all books were checked out on this day. Users of the library can choose from the nearly 59,000 items in a large variety of genres. The library has expanded the building on two separate occasions with the last one being in 1992. The 1992 expansion provided an area for the children’s department. This area conducts rhythm time sessions, toddler sessions, and craft events. A summer reading program began last year and is called Circus Stars Program. This summer the program has continued to grow with 139 children enrolled thus far.

The special collections department houses exhibits of the Murison Burns and George Reid collections. In the collections are medieval manuscripts and early printed books. The materials in these collections are closed to the public except for requests.

The local history department is a major strength of the library. It contains space for exhibitions that users of the community or the library can show collections. The open access books in the section are arranged by locality. It is determined which part of Scotland the book is referring and it is placed with other books of its kind. I was intrigued by this classification system and did not know if it would really be that effective. However it seems that this is the best way for these materials to be arranged since it is a relatively small collection and the users mostly want books about certain areas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Edinburgh Central Library

This library was a different experience from the other libraries we have visited. We were met by a number of different librarians from different departments and given information about these departments. The first department that we were given information on was the digital information team. This team tries to provide the user with 24/7 online service. Throughout the library are touch screens that gives the user more information about the library. Also on these touch screens are exhibitions that allow for more material to be viewed. The library also has strong social media connection with a developed and well visited blog. One of the most interesting things to me about this department was the program Library2Go. This program allows the library user to read or download ebooks and audio online for free. The department’s goal is to increase the use of the library’s resources which they seem to be doing a great job in achieving.

The next department that we were given information on was reader development. In reader development it seems like the goal is to promote reading to any and all members of the community. Author events are one of the many events that the department hosts. In the author events, an author is invited to speak to the public which promotes the authors’ works and also the library. An aspect of the department that I found interesting was the book groups that are promoted through the library. The book groups can be the traditional idea of a book group or they can be specialized for a certain population in the community. All of the events that are promoted through this department are to get people to read more and to read different genres.

The most interesting thing to me that this library does is through the informal aspect of learning department. This department teaches computer literacy and literacy to members of the community. Sensitive, warm environments are created so that members can learn in a non-threatening environment. A six week program was set up to provide this learning environment. An additional program that was set up is the IT Buddies and is for people who still are not comfortable with computers after the first six weeks. A volunteer then works with this person until they are comfortable using the electronic resources. Along with the electronic teaching is ESL and non-literate teaching. The library has books in many different languages and mature content books at lower reading levels for people just starting to read.

This library is very advanced and does everything possible to give their users what they need in a variety of different ways. Photo from the Edinburgh Central Library blog.

National Archives of Scotland

In April the National Archives of Scotland merged with another agency to become the National Records of Scotland (NRS). This merger has given the NRS six buildings and 72 kilometers of historical records that date to the 12th Century. Records include the Scottish registers such as birth, marriage, and death certificates. Along with the registers are census records that date back to 1841.

The range of the records contained by the NRS is large. Records include state and parliamentary papers, registers of deeds, church records, photographs, maps, private records, and many more. The NRS does provide online services and gives links to other sites with related resources. To use the services of the NRS a person needs to give identification with an address and two passport photographs. This will give the user a reader’s ticket and allow them to use the search rooms. The audience is very diverse in the upper floors and mainly mature users in the family history rooms.

One of the most interesting things to me about the NRS was the amount of genealogy that occurs. The NRS has five genealogy search rooms and the materials in this department are digital. Any other material that is not digital is given priority to be digitized. The oldest document in the collection is a brief from King David I from the 1120s. This document contains information about the King granting land to the church.

I really liked the National Records of Scotland and the information we were given by Margaret McBryde who is the Education Officer. After a short informal lecture we were shown some documents concerning Scotland and then the Southern states. One document was a letter written from the States to a person in Scotland. This letter was written normally but then turned on its side and the writer then wrote over the top of the other writing. The letter was really awesome and I could actually read most of it.

Photo is from the National Archives of Scotland website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Christ Church College Library

Christ Church College is a college of the University of Oxford. The library was established in the current building in 1772. Users of the library are often outside researchers. Music is the strong aspect of the collection. It contains 100,000 titles from the establishment of the printing press until the 1800s. One of the interesting things about the library is that the collection is arranged by individual’s collections. One of the largest is by William Wake who was associated with Oxford and later became the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. The books line one complete large wall with the manuscripts in a separate location. Also in the books are annotations written by Wake along with correspondence with various authors. Other collections contain artifacts that were associated with the individual collection. The physical materials are can only be used on an appointment basis. Other materials can be accessed online through the online catalog and some items are digitized.

The library also has a strong special collections area with about 700 manuscripts. Most manuscripts are Roman script manuscripts but the library does have other types of manuscripts. The collection has a variety of old manuscripts with one being dated 1163. Other manuscripts are for Royalty with one being entitled “How to be a King” written for Edward III. An interesting piece of information we received was that Lewis Carrol, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was a sub librarian at the library.

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is the main library for the University of Oxford. The library opened in 1320 and the original building was used for about a hundred years. In 1425 a building was constructed that would house the library and an examination room. This building took many years to complete and only three walls were completed. The final wall was completed and fundraising was done to build a ceiling. In 1488 the building was completely finished with extraordinary craftsmanship and detail. The library was nearly destroyed during the Reformation with all but a few books being burned. Sir Thomas Bodley returned to Oxford after traveling and collecting books and reestablished the decimated library collection with his personal collection. The original building would not hold the massive collection Bodley obtained so Sir Christopher Wren was charged to build the structure of the library. Wren reinforced the original building and placed a second level on it along with building some of the buildings surrounding the library.

On the tour we visited Duke Humfrey’s Library and the Radcliffe Camera which are close together. Oxford has many libraries with each library having its own area of expertise. The Bodleian Library is the main library and it is not lending a library. Users must use the materials of the library in the reading rooms only. The collection of the library is massive and is approximately 11 million books. The library owns a copy of every book published in England.

I really enjoyed the architecture and detailed carvings in each of the rooms. The first room we went into was the original building. The original three walls and the ceiling have great detail to them and the fourth wall is less detailed but it accents the rest of the room quite well. On the tour we were told that this main room was the hospital wing in the Harry Potter movies. The upstairs library is the Duke Humfrey’s Library and was the model of the Hogwarts library. One of the interesting things about the Duke Humfrey’s Library is that the books were often on the shelf with the spine towards the back of the shelf and it was chained to the bookshelf.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Royal Geographic Society Library

The Royal Geographical Society Library is a very large collection of geographical materials. The collection contains one million maps, half million pictures, quarter million books, several thousand archival materials, and 1,500 objects. Materials are from many regions including the Arctic, Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. All of these materials are located on site and can be easily retrieved. The library has no restriction on who can use the materials except nonmembers of the society cannot borrow materials. Nonmember users of the library pay a fee and can only use the materials in the Foyle Reading Room which opened in 2004. This new reading room allows for more access and a better contained space. The library has an online catalog which replaced four card catalogs. This was a lengthy process that involved sending copies of the card catalog outside the library. The library does have digitized materials which are mostly prints and number about 1,200 items. Even though the library has digital items they do not collect materials that are only in digital format.

Our class received a lecture by Eugene Rae, the librarian at the library. He had an exhibit of materials out of the library collection. These materials were amazing and included items from different explorations. The materials were from explorations such as Mt. Everest, source of the Nile River, Arctic, and Antarctica. One of the things that I enjoyed most was this food canister from one of the explorations to the Arctic. There is nothing too special about the canister itself but it has a good story. The canister was on a ship that was abandoned in the Arctic. The ship was then found by some Americans who repaired it and gave it back to the British. The British used the ship for a number of years before it was decommissioned. The wood from the ship was then used to build a desk which the British gave as a present to the Americans. This desk was the Resolute Desk which now resides in the White House.

National Art Library

The National Art Library is located inside the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. The library was founded in 1837, which predates the museum, and moved to its current location in the 1950s. To use the library a person must register as a library reader. Doing so allows the user to obtain six books or three special collection books at a time. All material must be viewed in one of the reading rooms of the library and books cannot be borrowed. The main audiences of the library are post-graduates or curators of the museum doing research.

This library was surprising to me due to the size and nature of the collection. The library’s collection is mainly on fine and design arts. It is also the curatorial staff of the museum regarding the art of the book. In the library collection are 8,000 periodicals with 2,000 being current periodicals. These periodicals are bound for safety and preservation purposes. The library also has about 3,000 artist books in their collection. Materials are not just in English but in many languages.

The most interesting thing to me was how this library arranges the material. Some materials are arranged by subject but most are arranged on the shelves by size. This forces the library to have materials with like subjects in different areas in the stacks. Materials can be located quickly due to press marks on the materials and finding lists throughout the stacks. One of the books we were shown was an original manuscript of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. The book has been placed on large paper and has a relaxed binding. It was awesome to see how the library has preserved the book and it was nice of them to actually let us touch this book and others like it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Day in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Stratford-Upon-Avon is the birthplace to William Shakespeare and is a very picturesque area. A lot of people were in the area but this did not distract from the feel of the place. Once off the bus, we reached the street where Shakespeare was born. One of the libraries on this street is the Shakespeare Centre Library which is housed in the Shakespeare Centre. Unfortunately we did not get to go inside this library but I was curious so I looked up some information concerning their holdings. The library collects materials associated with Shakespeare’s life including an original edition of a play dating back to 1623. Other holdings include materials from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The other library on the street is only a few buildings down and is a public library. We only went into this library for a few minutes and did not get to speak with anyone.

The day was a free day so some friends and I walked around the town. On this walk we went to Shakespeare’s grave, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and the river. After wondering around the area for a few hours, my class along with a couple other classes went to Swan Theatre to see a production of Cardenio. Cardenio is one of Shakespeare’s lost plays that has been reimaged. The play was not what I expected because I could actually follow along with the dialogue.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

London Library

The London Library is a subscription library that was founded by Thomas Carlyle in 1841. The library is the largest independent private lending library in the world with 97 percent of the books available to be loaned. To use the library a person needs to become a member which then gives them open access to about 1 million books. These books include 30,000 rare books, 2,500 periodicals, and 750 current periodicals. About 8,000 new books are added each year in fifty different languages. The books are placed on about fifteen miles of shelving. Books cover topics from the 16th Century to the present and include the subjects of: Arts & Humanities, History, Literature, Biology, Art, Science & Miscellaneous, and Religion. Currently there are 7,000 members and 150 corporate institutions. Early members included Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, George Eliot, TS Eliot, and Virginia Woolf.

In the beginning the library was located in a rented town house. Rapid growth occurred in the library and expansion was necessary. The library has expanded the building a few times with the most recent just being completed a couple of months ago. The library now consists of four different areas with plenty of room for further acquisitions.

The most interesting thing about the London Library to me was that they do not use the Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress Control Numbers. All books are arranged and classified according to subjects. At first I was a little skeptic about the subject shelf arrangement but once the system was explained more it made sense. The books are classified by a main subject such as art or science and then placed in a lower subject classification and placed on the shelf. Members of the staff and subscribers seem to really like this classification better and think that it is easier than the other systems.

Another really interesting thing about the library is that no book has a dust jacket and all books are hardbacks. Since most books are available for loan, any paperback book is converted into a hardbound one which is more durable. All of the books look like they are from the early 1900s or earlier due to the fact that all books are intermingled regardless of age.

I really liked this library and the systems they have in place. This system might not be the best for all libraries but it is beneficial to the members of staff and to the patrons of the library which is the most important.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Old Royal Naval College

The area that is now known as the Old Royal Naval College has served as many different purposes. Originally the property was known as Bellacourt and built by Humphrey Duke of Gloucester in 1427. The property was chosen because the view would show any invasions. Any vessel approaching London on the Thames could be spotted and a watch tower on the hill would show any other intruders. The Royal Family maintains control over the property and a few future Kings and Queens being born here. Expansions and renovations occurred on this property to appease the Royal residence.

In 1705 the property becomes the Royal Hospital for which old sailors can reside and receive treatment. During its prime the Hospital housed around 3,000 pensioners. Due to the amount of people living on the property, it was suggested to give the residents some entertainment. The entertainment that was provided was a skittle or bowling alley. A lot of building occurred during this time. In 1708 work began on the Painted Hall which when completed would become the largest painted ceiling in Europe. The final building of Queen Mary Court was completed in 1751. After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1806 Admiral Lord Nelson lied in state in the Painted Hall. By 1869 the Royal Hospital closed but the property continued to have ties to the Navy.

The Royal Naval College moved onto the property in 1873. The charge of the College was to train young Naval Officers. In 1936 the National Maritime Museum was founded and the collections of the Royal Museum and Gallery were transferred to the new museum. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Francis Chichester in 1967 which was one of the only public knighting. In 1997 the Greenwich Foundation was established to manage the property. The Royal Naval College is relocated in 1998 and the University of Greenwich begins teaching in the buildings on the property. Even though the property has been home for different purposes, the history of the property is remembered and preserved.

I really enjoyed our tour of Meantime Greenwich. The property has some amazing buildings and a very in depth history. I really enjoyed the Painted Hall and the detailed work that went into the paintings. Interestingly, in the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie the first five minutes shows the painted hall. The building even has one of the costumes Johnny Deep wore during the filming.

Stephen Lawrence Gallery

The Stephen Lawrence Gallery is located in Maritime Greenwich and is associated with the University of Greenwich. The gallery began after a young man in the community was murdered and the police didn’t pursue the people responsible due to family wealth. This lack of action outraged the greater community and it was suggested that this gallery be founded and named after the young man killed. The gallery’s aim then is to provide the community with visual arts that allows people to view art in a different way with regards to race, gender, and disability.

Currently the gallery is showing an exhibition concerning the recent art of the former Greenwich Studios artists. The exhibition is small, only containing twenty-eight pieces, but is arranged in such a way that all items work with each other. The exhibition gives some history of Greenwich and especially of the studio artists. A previous exhibition showed archival material from the Greenwich Studios along with selected art works. This exhibition also provided information about the studio artists but more of the behind the scenes aspects.

I really enjoyed this gallery and the information that was given. The gallery showed me a different side of library science and how artistic galleries can be associated with library science.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Due to a scheduling conflict, I was not able to go to the British Library. Fortunately the class gets to go back to the library later on in the month and those who missed the first trip can get a recap on what was said. Instead I am going to discuss some of the things that I did on my weekend in Paris.

Two of the tourist attractions that I visited are highly related to the library sciences. The first placed that I visited that I will discuss is the Louvre. The Louvre is incredibly large and contains a wide variety of items from paintings to statues. One can very easily get lost in this building due to its immense size and vast amounts of people that it can hold. Of course one of the greatest pieces of art in the museum is the Mona Lisa. I think that it is very interesting how such a small painting on its own fairly large wall can have a large crowd of people surrounding it. The painting is magnificent and I did get a good view of it despite the crowd. The other pieces that I saw were incredible and I got to see many of the main pieces from the museum.

The other attraction was the Palace of Versailles. I thought that the Louvre property was large until I saw the property of the Versailles. I don’t think that the buildings are equivalent but the grounds of Versailles are expansive. One of the coolest things for me was seeing the room that the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The room is in one of the separate quarters and it is a beautifully decorated room that is entrenched with history.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

British Museum Archives

The British Museum Archives is a special, unique type of archives because it is solely associated with the museum. Stephanie Clarke is the archivist of the
museum and provided us with the tour. We began our tour on the main level and had to proceed to the lower levels to reach the archives. The archival materials are divided up into six different collections. These collections are Trustee, Staff, Financial, Exhibition, Building, and Reading Room records.

The Trustee records contain any information that was presented to the Trustees or written to or from them. Most of the collection contains minutes which are very detailed. An index is available and was handwritten once then handwritten again in better writing. Reports are included and are arranged by how they were presented in the Trustees. Letter books are associated with the reports and can fill in the gap between each report.

Staff records contain information related to the staff of the British Museum. Application forms are included and contain personal information about the applicant along with references. An interesting part in the collection concerns Aaron Hayes (check name). He had a low level job in the museum and he sketched various pictures of the objects in the museum. These records are only kept for 72 years after the birth of the individual or five years after the death of the individual whichever comes first.

Building records contain any kind of material associated with the British Museum building or the ground on which it is built. These materials can range from deeds architectural sketches. One of the deeds contained in this collection is a 1694 deed that is in good condition. Included in this collection are hand drawn sketches by the architect Robert Smirke who designed the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum. Some sketches are small, detailed birds-eye views of the interior of the building. Other sketches are of the overall outside of the building and they extraordinarily resemble what the building looks like today.

Exhibition records are books made once an exhibit is finished. In these books are photographs, information on the design of the exhibit, exhibit labels, paint or flooring swatches, and fabrics. The collection contains about 300 books between the 1960s and the late 1990s. Most of these books have been taken apart and place into acid free folders to prevent harm to the materials.

The reading room records are very interesting. The reading room of the British Museum was a very prestigious room to use and one had to apply to use the room. It was used as a reading room from 1790 to 1970. The collection contains the applications of individuals from 1890 to 1970 and also contains the sign in books. Some of the frequent users of the reading room include Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Beatrix Potter.

The archives do not contain all information concerning the museum. Each department houses and is responsible for a lot of their own material. The British Museum Archives is really interesting and reminded me of how much I like archival work.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Barbican Library

I was really interested to go to the Barbican because the area where the complex now resides was one of the hardest hit by the bombs of World War II. The Barbican Centre houses a concert hall, two cinemas, galleries, a conservatory, and the library. Since the Barbican Library is located inside the Centre it is one of the loudest in the country. The library is designed to minimize the noise as much as possible and does provide areas with minimal noise. The library is a tenant of the Barbican Centre and tries to extend the cultural aims of the Centre. To achieve this, the library produces artistic exhibits different locations throughout the library.

When our group arrived at the library we were greeted by Geraldine Pote and Jonathan Gibbs. These two librarians were extremely knowledgeable and friendly as they showed us around the library. They also provided us with refreshments and a short rest in the middle of our tour which was much appreciated. The first thing that was discussed was the amount of people that are served by this library. Most people using the library services are between 25-45 years old, male, and part of the working population. Colleges and universities are close to the library and often use the services provided at the library.
Hours at the library can be limited but the library has a 24 hour web service that regular patrons of the library can use at any time.

One of the most interesting aspects of the library is that they have both a self service system and a traditional librarian encounter system. The self service system provides the user with the ability to check out resources from the library or return those resources without having to interact with a staff member of the library. In order for this system to succeed, each item had to have a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip placed somewhere on the item. We were told that this system has had its problems but it has cut down of the service desks and allows for other tasks to be completed.

The library has a strong collection of audio and visual items that can be borrowed for free or at a low price. A section is dedicated for internet and basic computer use which has a lot of use. Young adults have a section of the library which includes programs at night to provide entertainment but also involves literacy skills. The Children’s Library is well organized with books being organized by reading level. Summer reading programs are also established and are quite successful even though the area has few children.

The Music Library is one of the biggest in the country and complements the Westminster Music Library. It contains a strong staff of music specialists.
This library was established in 1983 from scratch and most of the collection has come from donations. Two keyboards are available for use at no charge. Listening booths, laptop booths, and computer terminals are also available inside this section of the library. The library has an established reference and periodicals section that provides information on a variety of musical genres. CDs are also available for borrowing and the library has between 15,000 and 16,000 CDs. Along with these albums, the library promotes local musicians by having copies of their CDs available for borrowing.

This library is wonderful. It has many features that can be of use to just about any user of the library.

The photographs are courtesy of the Barbican Library website and the Barbican Music Library website respectively.

Monday, July 4, 2011

St. Paul’s Cathedral Library

Monday was our first class site visit with instruction from a British library professional. On this visit we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral Library. We took a bus to St. Paul’s and had some time before we had to go into the building so we took some pictures and toured around for a few minutes. After we entered the cathedral we were greeted by Joseph Wisdom the librarian at St. Paul’s.

We began our tour by climbing a few stairs to the triforium level. In the corridors of this level are various objects that could not find another home and thus became the stewardship of the archives. A museum is planned for these objects and this area of the triforium level. Next we moved on to the viewing area and were able to see most of the lower level. This view was spectacular and anyone can appreciate the beauty of the building.

The tour continued with Mr. Wisdom leading us to some huge wood doors where he took out some fairly big sized keys and unlocked the doors. Upon entering the room all I could see was the model of St. Paul’s created by Sir Christopher Wren. This model was rejected because it too closely resembled St. Peter’s Basilica. Mr. Wisdom also told us that this chamber was planned to be another wing of the library but this never happened. An idea for this wing was to make it a national library that would be free to the public.

Back tracking in our tour we headed over to the library. Again Mr. Wisdom unlocked the doors and let us through into the room. The wonderful smell of old books overpowers the senses as you walk into the room. The library
collection looks magnificent today, but after the Great Fire of London in 1666 most of the collection was destroyed. Only about ten books and three manuscripts survived the fire. To rebuild the collection of the library, books were either donated or purchased. Henry Compton, the Bishop of London, in 1712 donated about 2,000 books which greatly benefited the library. Towards the end of our tour, Mr. Wisdom gave us some interesting facts about the library and the collections within it. One of the books in the library is a 1526 copy of Tyndale’s New Testament. Since St. Paul’s was targeted during the Nazi Blitz, the library collections were moved to Wales to protect them. Before leaving the library, Mr. Wisdom showed us how to properly take a book off a shelf. When taking the book off of a shelf, a firm grasp on the spine is required and while pulling it off the shelf, the other hand should be supporting the bottom.

To leave the triforium level we were privileged
to take the geometric staircase. This is a spiral, stone staircase which is completely awesome. Some of you might recognize this staircase because it was used in the Harry Potter movies as the staircase to the divination classroom.

This building and tour was amazing. I am really looking forward to going back during my break to go to the Whispering Gallery.

The last two photographs are courtsey of St. Paul's Cathedral Library and St. Paul's Cathedral websites respectively.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ready, Set, Go

It has been a very long twenty four hours. I left Payson at 9 am and arrived at the Salt Lake Airport around 10 am. My Mom and Dad along with my sister stayed at the airport with me until I had to go through security. I loaded the plane in the last group and barely had enough room for my carryon luggage. The flight to Dallas was really good except for a bit of minor turbulence; however, the next flight was a different story. We started off with a delay at the gate after everyone had loaded due to a small maintenance problem. After we took off I thought that I would just sleep most of the flight but that did not happen. Out of the eight hour plus flight I only slept for about an hour and a half with most of that at the end of the flight. Well the flight finally ended and customs was a breeze. The British Studies Program picked us up and took us to our home for the next month. I checked in and got my room assignment which is kind of small but is pretty nice.

That first night we went on a neighborhood walk with our classes. After seeing a few things around our dorms, my class went on the Queen’s Walk along the South Bank of the Thames. This is probably one of my favorite places in the city so far and I have even walked down there a few times on my own already. Next we walked to Waterloo Station and purchased our travel cards. We took the underground to Leicester Square, walked to Trafalgar Square, and then had dinner at the Texas Embassy Cantina. This restaurant was previously the White Star Line and was the place where passengers of the Titanic purchased tickets. This neighborhood walk was a great way to stay awake after the flight and to get to know the area a little better.