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.

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