Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maughan Library - July 29 2010

Our last tour was the library of our host college, King's College's, Maughan Library. It's located off of Fleet Street in an incredible building. That's of course is right in the neighborhood of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.  Inside the library was a multitude of new shelves lined with books and study areas and computers for students. They preserved the integrity of the building and added a new generation of library systems to it. There were self check out machines and reference computers at many corners. Even though with these new gadgets, librarians are always on hand to help.  One of the most impressive reading rooms is the round room lined with shelves to the top. It's a quiet study room as voices and any noise echos extremely in there.

Royal Geographic Society - July 27, 2010

We were treated to an optional tour to the Royal Geographic Society. The buildings were a 3 part renovation extension with the last being funded by the heritage lottery fund. This grant made possible for them to have new space for the library and storage but also digitize and open their collections up to patrons that may not have known about them. As with most libraries, they are out of space and don't take donation of materials unless it's something very special like the boot Shackleton wore. Their new library space is mostly a reading room and map room blended together. Although their award wall is covered with the names of many notable explorers, today's explores tend to be of the academic world discoveries not the wilderness.  With their new lecture hall, many of today's leading research and scholars have spoken there about current trends. Maybe the next breakthrough would be a complete mapping of the ocean's floor.

The National Archives of Scotland - July 20, 2010

from  1087_18_2---National-Archives-of-Scotland--Edinburgh_web.jpg
After the morning in Dunfirmline, we returned to Edinburgh and had a tour of the National Archives of Scotland. They are known as the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.  There are so many records that there are actually 3 buildings that make up the National Archives. There are 2 main divisions, record services and corporate services. Their record keeping has records from about the 12th century to today. Much of the current building we tour this day was dedicated to the Scottish People Center where people from around the world come to research their family history. Much of general family history records have been digitized. Patrons can order, pay for and print pictures and certain documents at home. Although there are 8 websites for the different departments of the archives, there are links and references to which patrons can be directed to for the correct one. This was an impressively, purpose built building as well. 

Dunfermline Public Library - July 20, 2010,_Dunfermline.jpg#file
To the Kingdom of Fife!!!  We travel by coach to Dunfermline, birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, to see the first Carnegie library. Like the Edinburgh Central Library, this building is made of stone, unlike many in the UK which are brick. This is the first library created from the donation of about 8000 pounds from Andrew Carnegie, and obviously not his last. Although Carnegie donated the original money to raise a building and to fill its shelves, it was left to the town to continue its upkeep.  The demand was so great for a public lending library that on its first day, the library ran out of books to lend. Their archive and special collections had its own climate controlled space. This was the first true climate controlled space in a library we had seen in the UK. Some of their special collections are on display in a dedicated gallery space which include: Erskine Beveridge, George Reid, Murrison Burns, and Robert Henryson collections. It may have been the first Carnegie library, but to the locals this is the Dunfermline Public Library that Carnegie happened to give money for first.

Central Library of Edinburgh - July 19 2010

photo from
After lunching at the Elephant House the birthplace of Harry Potter, we went to the Central Library of Edinburgh. Edinburgh has been named by UNESCO as the city of literature and this main branch is its heart. Began with a donation from Andrew Carnegie, the Central Library has grown to over 850,000 items. This collection includes the usual suspects of a main branch library but it also had a separate space, 2 levels dedicated to everything Scotland, and everything Edinburgh. This special reference space was dedicated to the history and culture and people of Edinburgh and Scotland. Many people use the reference here and across the street at the National Library of Scotland to do family history searches. They have implemented a Web 2.0  and virtual library across the system to reach rural areas and house bound patrons as well as bring access to the people. It has brought in more patronage and been able to reach more users in finding resources the library can offer. They have launched a digital project called "Your Edinburgh" and it's a community website of the heritage of Scotland in images.  Patrons can browse and order prints any time. Their Reader Advisory program not only promotes famous authors but rather emerging authors from Edinburgh and Scotland. Patrons can easily reach out and speak and discuss the authors books during the book readings and promotions. Many of these are held in outlying branches since not everyone is able to get to the central branch. The librarians we met here imparted a great sense of community commitment and development I much respect and admire. They are very proud of their library and what they do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Library of Scotland - July 19 2010

Our LondonAway trip was to Edinburgh, Scotland. We stayed in the suburb of Dalkeith and bussed into the city. Our first trip was to the National Library of Scotland. They are the largest library in Scotland and major research library in Europe with 14 million printed items and 100,000 manuscripts. They house 2 million maps and atlases, 300,000 music scores, 32,000 film and video, and 25,000 of magazines and newspapers. The library has items in 490 different languages and grows with 6000 new items every week.  They specialize in Scotland's knowledge, history and culture. They are the legal deposit of Scotland and don't lend out books; reference only. The collection is vast and available to anyone who wishes to consult them. The reader's tickets are for special collections, rare materials and for licensed digital resources. Users don't need a ticket to use the map rooms. Much of their catalog is online and an interesting database that they have is called Scots Abroad.  This is further subdivided into Scots in North America, Emigrants guide to North America, Australia and New Zealand and Emigration Correspondence.  Their digital archive is in beta form and the Scottish Screen Archive is created with the Heritage Lottery Fund. Users can view 1000 flim clips and moving imagaes online. Not all of that archive is professional works, but amatuer work preserving the life of ordinary citizens and the Gaelic language.

Picture from National Library of Scotland

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bodlien Library at Oxford University

After stopping to see Paddington Bear at Paddington Station, we hopped onto a very overcrowded train to Oxford. The whole town was one big scenic historic place and the University of Oxford seemed to have buildings everywhere. We started our tour in the Humphrey's Library which is now a research reading room. They house "Western Medieval and early-Modern manuscripts, pre-1641, special and rare book collections, codicology, bibliography and local history. The Library is composed of three major portions; the original medieval section (completed 1487, rededicated 1602), the Arts End (1612) to the east, and Selden End (1637) to the west. Duke Humfrey’s Library contains both open and closed access collections and is home to the octavo, quarto and folio volumes of the old Theology (Th.) and Art (Art.) classifications." ( . The library originally started with 20 books and by donations and gifts from Duke Humphrey, the library began to grow. When scholars went to use the library, they had to use it during the day since there was no artificial light in the building and no candles because of fire.  Therefore there was no heat either. After the reformation, Thomas Bodley offered money to help refurbish and rebuild the library.  It was the first time that bookshelves and chairs were introduced to the library. Formerly there were only standing tables. Although books were still chained to the shelves, readers can at least sit down to read them. Books were numbered on the page side not the spine because of the chains that held them in place and a list at the end of each shelf would tell you what it was. Since 1610, the library has been a copyright library and has grown by 3-4 thousand books a week. Now they only receive 6% of every book published beginning with M as the British library takes the majority and distributes among the other 6 copyright libraries in the country.  Nowadays there are no chains on the books in the library but the shelves are alarmed. When they took off the chains, there was about 8 tons of metal. The books are only removed to be cleaned once every 10 years. This applies across the board into the underground stores and preservation areas. There is a ventilation system that keeps enough air circulating and dry so the books don't mold. After an additional building was built, tunnels and a vacuum request system was built to link the buildings.  Although the vacuum system is no longer used anymore the pipes are still there.  The tunnels have been retrofitted with a conveyor system to carry the bins between the library buildings and reading rooms.

The first round building in the UK was the Radcliffe Library building, now named Radcliffe Camera. John Radcliffe was the personal physician to Queen Anne. He left money specifically to build a science library with his name on it. Later on he did give the library over to Oxford University and they retained his name to the building. Oxford use it mainly as a reading room since it had gas light built in and allowed its scholars to read in the dark which was not possible in the old library. We couldn't see the treasure room of the Bodlien since they are under construction. They house first edition copies of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien books! At last count, there is approximately 19 million books, the largest of university libraries in the world. We also got to look at the Divinity School where now graduation of doctoral students procession thru. It was formerly used as a lecture hall for Oxford and an exam hall. The exams used to be oral and student and dons (professors) would debate back and forth until it was satisfactory enough. The longest was about 3 days long. Today only doctoral students have their exams orally to defend their thesis. Oxford is a beautiful blend of old and new.  Hollywood believes it to be as Harry Potter films have been film inside many of its buildings and grounds.

photos from