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

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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

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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.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

National Art Library at the V&A Museum

Today's journey was to the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  There are two large reading rooms where patrons select their numbered tables from the board. Surrounding them are numerous general reference books. Their collections include: prints, drawings, paintings and the history of the art etc. The Forster and Dyce collections are the two largest collections and help founded the library. The library started before the Museum came to be in 1837.  Our guide was Natash Viner and she explained to us the manual retrieval system that has been in place. It takes approximately 20-40 minutes to get a request to the patron as they only do retrievals once per hour. However they are hoping to implement an electronic requesting system, budget providing. Despite that, most of their holdings are on the online catalog. Their archive is located elsewhere. Their rare books and manuscript collection is held upstairs in a locked cabinet. Although there is no climate control case, they do moniter the enviroment in the box. There is very little deteriation in the rare book and manuscript collection.  They don't have a set date on what is classificed rare versus modern. The paper and book conservation department can't keep up with the collection repairs. They work on them as they come across them or as they are being loaned out or displayed. The collection is catagorized by their own system and shelved by sized to save space. Art books are varied in size. The end of our tour was with Francis. She showed us examples of their treasure of the library. There was an early example of the printing press in Latin in Gothic styled words.  There was a Shakesphere 1st folio that was between the 1st and 2nd editions.  The Dicken's Bleakhouse book written in with corrections and its published pamphlets was also displayed. There was also some book art and book objects that don't seem like books at all. The most interesting was the copy of DaVinci's sketch book and the William Morris book 'The Well at the World's End' which was the first time the name Gandalf had appeared. It is said that this book was one of many that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien.

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We had a day in the country in the quaint town of Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakesphere. I popped into the local public library and it was a Carnegie Library (1905) to boot. It was a very open space with small displays of summer reads and just returned. Off to the side was the dvds and cds for rent. Beyond that was the large print reading books.  Within it housed a space for the BBC. Back in the main area, is the issue/ returns desk and along the walls were public use computers.  The stacks on the first floor were rolling metal bookcases with adjustable shelving. Similar metal bookcases were on the walls.  Upstairs had a similar setup but the bookcases in the middle were not on wheels. The periodical room housed 2 microfilm readers along with the local history and family history. There is one scanner by the workstation.  It was a small community library part of the larger Warwickshire library system. When asked about their collection, the library staff pointed us to the library website.

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London Library

After returning from the National Archives, I had class over at the London Library.  It's an unassuming town house in St. James Square but inside burst with kilometers upon kilometers of shelving for their collection. Since our group was so large, we split into 3 groups. Stella Worthington is the conservator / rare books specialist and she spoke to us in her lab upstairs. There wasn't a lab or any preservation staff before Stella. Books were held in the basement next to sewer pipes There are approximately 35,000 rare books in the collection and all have been stablized to their basic needs. During their recent remodel, the conservatory lab was created with custom shelving, drawers and tables that are reconfigurable as their needs change. Since they are not a copyright library, all their books are lendable. Books pre 1700's are considered rare and will be housed in a more climate control area of the building. Everything else is on the open shelf for members to use. Staff in the issue and return desk give a quick look at the condition of the book and if they feel it warrants a look by the preservation team, then it's sent up. All their repairs are reversable incase the techniques and tools available in the future will better preserve the books.  I enjoyed listening to Stella about how difficult of a task it is to be a rare books librarian and preservation and conservation specialist in an open lending library.

The next part of our tour was by Jan Oldfield, the deputy librarian and she showed us around the buidling. The library is comprised of 4 buildings with its connecting walls removed. One of them belonged to T.S. Eliot, a former president of the library. The original book catalog is still in use since not all of the catalog has been digitized. Even though there has been some remodeling to the building, there are many parts of the stacks still on the original bookcases and flooring. They seemed really to enjoy metal grate see thru flooring and darkness since there is light only when someone pulls the string for light. Down in the basement, is the periodicals.  The Times has been kept since it's first printing and continues to be collected despite there being an online version now.  We sat down with Heather O'Neil, the deputy reader's librarian and she spoke to us about the collection. With each aquisition, hardbacked books have their jackets removed and if have to purchase paperbacks, they are rebound to withstand the open usage. Their cataloging system is their own and are written on the main title page. They mainly collect with the relm of arts and hummanity.  Books that are written in other languages are kept with their English counterparts.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The National Archives

This morning we had to ourselves to explore as we pleased and I decided to go out to The National Archives.  It was way out by Kew Gardens and I had to extend my travel card to include zone 3. It was about a 45 minute ride out and 10 minute walk to the National Archive.  They have one of the largest archival collections spaning 1000 years of British history to recently released government papers. After checking my belongings into a locker, I headed upstairs to the Talks room.  There I had a half hour power point presentation on what the proper procedure on using an archive and a brief summary of the holdings of the archive. Most of their holdings are microfilmed/ microfiched.  There are parts of their holdings like the census records are completely online and they have removed the microfiches.  Unless requesting original documents, there is no need for a reader's ticket. However there is very strict security for the reading rooms. Not only was your belongings locked up, the stuff you needed for research was placed into a see thru plastic bag and upon entering and exiting was searched. This includes computers, to make sure nothing is smuggled out.  There is security at every check point and if you are not meant to go somewhere or just want a peek, they stop you.  their library holds approximately 65,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, etc. and are completely open access. Everything there is cataloged in the Dewey system. Their website is extremely useful and user friendly. There are links to search other archives in the UK and you can search them. Downstairs on the main floor was a small display museum. They have the code books used in the War, illuminated books and the Domesday books. I attempted to ask more questions about their digitization projects, setup, collections, reference, etc. but hit a stone wall as the person that led the introduction knew nothing on these matters. I couldn't find someone who did. Disappointed.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

National Maritime Museum Library

After a lazy Sunday, Monday brought about an early morning meeting and boat ride to the National Maritime Museum.  The Caird Library is expanding into a new space and has reduced its access to the public to 3 times a week instead of the usual 6 times a week.  On average the liHowever researchers can still request material online and once retrieved from the off site storage (happens only twice a week) can be read / viewed at the library. At the moment the library is almost hidden from public view. Even though most of the users are researchers and academics, most don't know about it since it's hidden behind a rotundra. The rotundra was part of the original library and houses a bust of Sir James Caird whose collection help found the library. They are the largest maritime library in the UK and possibly the world. The collection consists of journals, astronomy, voyages, navigation, naval architecture, merchant and royal navy, immigration, maps and charts amongst other things. There are 2 specialists for maps and charts collections. The collections are cataloged according to MARC and AACR2 and ISAD-G. Materials dated pre 1850 (about 100,000 items) are considered rare and post 1850 (about 8,000 items) is modern.  There are also about 200,000 periodicals in the archives as well as 70,000 manuscripts.  There is about 4 miles of shelving in the archives.  Martin and Hannah, both archivist, showed us some rare manuscripts and books. Among them was the Principles of John Harrison, whom the Board of Longitude had published for others to replicate his work inexpensively. There was also a code book of the USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812.  It was weighted in the spine to help it sink before it fell into enemy hands. It wasn't able to be tossed and landed into the hands of the British. 

After the library tour, we climbed up to the Royal Observatory. In the Flemstead house, John Harrison's chronometers were on displayed. The H1 and H3 were on display without their encasement. The H2 was being restored at this time. The H4 was much larger than one imagined. It was about the size of a pancake. It wouldn't fit in a pocket but it was much smaller than its predecessors. The H5, at the Clockmaker's Museum, is tiny in comparison. Amazing amount of detail can be seen in the H1 and H3 without its encasement. The wooden wheels and thin metal and springs that make the whole thing still work. After a photo-op of the prime meridian, we climbed into the Onion dome of the observatory.  It was yet another spiral, see-through stair case up and down. The 28 inch telescope filled the entire room.  After the observatory and lunch, I took the bus home.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Dover Castle and Cantebury Day Trip

My second day trip was to Dover Castle and Canterbury. We went to Dover Castle first and on approach we had a glimpse of the white cliffs and the English Channel.  Dover Castle has excellent views of both the countryside, valley below, and the ocean from the top of the hill.  This makes it a very good location strategically and for the French (whom they were enemies at the time) an imposing strong front. After an uphill journey, and crossing over the drawbridge, we stood before the keep. There was an re-enactment of Prince John, King Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and her release from his imprisonment for supporting the revolt by Prince Henry. Into the Keep! Up the stairs I climb, to the view the different chambers for the garrison, scribes and main hall.  The main hall was decorated brightly with bold primary colors with chairs along the side with an open court for people to address the king. Further away we had a warm, crackling fire in the king's chambers.  It was lavishly done with furs and linens. It was a very tiny and low to the ground bed. Smaller than a full size mattress. Up the tower stairs to have a view and it was a far as the eye can see.  Before the mist rolled in, there was a clear view to the English Channel and country side. Down on the first floor of the keep was the working quarters and a kitchen and bakery. The mist rolled in the castle grounds as we were leaving, hiding it from view.

After Dover, we headed off to Canterbury which was the quaintest town I've seen so far. The Canterbury Cathedral had a wedding in progress and therefore we couldn't go into certain parts. We headed into the crypt and saw many small chapels and alters. There was a room of treasures of the church.  There were gem encrusted crosses and silver plates and globlets. The town center was filled with shops of all kinds, including witchcraft and magic. We ate at a pub called Hobgoblin. Before we knew it, time was up and onto the bus we went, homewardbound.

Dover Castle picture courtesy of
Canterbury Cathedral picture courtesy of

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip

The first side trip that was not part of the class was a bus day trip to Stonehenge.  As I had done my undergraduate degree in Anthropology/ Archaeology, this was something I was looking forward to. The journey there was long, through the western country side of London.  Then after the rolling hills and farms, by the side of the road was Stonehenge. I was not pleased with how close the road was next to this extraordinary monument of the Druids. The sheer size of the stone and the engineering of the stone to cut and lift is mind bloggling. One wonders what other knowledge anceint people knew that we have now forgotten. Being there midday, one can't appreciate the beauty and meaning behind building Stonehenge. To see the sun rise or set thru the stone would be a treat.

photo courtesy of

After spending only 40 minutes at Stonehenge, we were off to Bath, to see the Roman Bath house and Bath Abbey.  The Roman Bath House is a World Heritage Site and I am standing next to the plack and its emblem that designates it. Back home, I worked with Prof. (retired) Ching- Chih Chen on her, Global Memory Net and her larger project World Heritage Memory Net as a graduate assistant. The World Heritage Memory Net has not lauched yet.  You can see some of our work on Global Memory Net.

We took an audio guide with us through the Bath House and it was a very warm place. The water bubbles and steams up and fills the baths 'til this day. There are many layers underneath the current visable baths of temples and alters.  The excavation is still underway. Water still runs thru the overflow channels as design many centuries ago. Another enginnering masterpiece. I wondered if the water still holds its healing powers but we were not allow to touch the water. I was so tempted to stick my legs in.

After looking around town for a pottery shop that apperently didn't exist, we had a few minutes left to poke into the Bath Abbey and its stained glass was so beautiful.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the biggest in the world with its collections housing approximately 200 million items. The only other national libraries that can be in the same league as the British Library in size are: Library of Congress, Russian State Library, and the Bibliotheque nationale de Fance. Since their collecting policy is 1 copy of everything, the collection grows by about 8000 items a day. Before the library became its own entity, they were a part of the British Museum. There are things in their collection that seem out of place like the petri dish of Sir Alexander Fleming. The library's collection started with 4 large private collecion that were donated. These collections belonged to Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Joesph Banks, Thomas Grandfield, and Sir Han Sloan. Sloan's collection founded the British Museum and was originally housed in the Englightment exhibit room. You can still see the bookshelves that are now displaying artifacts there. The architect of the building, Sandy Wilson, designed the building in the shape of an ocean liner. He also made sure that art was also incorporated into the building and had commissioned pieces to be made like the Newton monument in the plaza outside. Underneath the plaza and the building lies about 8 stories of storage for half of the collection. There is also a blast freeze facility on the grounds for diasters.  Getting books and manuscripts up from the vaults is an amazing barcode automated system. There are 33,000 possible routes the system can route to get things to the right place. Rare books and manuscripts are handled more differently, the human delivery system. Security is the highest priority for the British Library.  The reader cards are only issued with full identification and recommendation along with proof of need.  This is taken very seriously. In the middle of the library, is King George III's library. His collection is part of the working research library and is 6 floors high.

At the British Library, they have their treasures room of illuminated codexes, bibles and a room for the Magna Carta. There was the Beauwolf manuscript and Alice in Wonderland books. Below the treasure room was an exhibit of maps. The maps were from all over the world and showed how they viewed the other countries in relation to themselves. That was an amazing exhibit to see. Many of these maps were very old yet they have retained most of their original colors

Photo courtesy of the British Library.

The British Museum

The British Museum is an awe inspiring, massive building.  They currently have a South Africa Landscape Kew outside, perhaps to acknowledge the World Cup in South Africa. We could only go in groups of 7 to the archives since it is a small vault. I was slated for the 2nd group and had time to see a few exhibits first. I went to the Enlightenment Room. There were many books in the mezzentine that surrounded the room. There was a mixture of artifacts like buddhas, cunniform clay tablets, shells, astrological instruments amongst other things. A copy of the Rosetta stone was also in this room and you were encourage to touch it. In the Life and Death exhibit, there was this net of pills to illustrate that something that small can save the life of people.  Many people in poor countries die without basic medications and treatments that we are privillaged to have. In a corner of this exhibit, was the crystal skull bought from Tiffany and Co. by the museum. It's rumored to have been left by anceint people as part of a library of knowledge to prevent the end of the world.

In the British Museum's basement, after a maze of tunnels, lies the archive. This central archive managed by Stephaine Clarke, their only archivist.  The collections are divided up into 8 departments and each of that is separated into 6 record series. To retrieve detailed information, it appears not to be computerized.  They need to consult indexes, original papers book, book of presents, and letter books. Also there are time periods where one method was used for a while, keeping letters in the original papers book, then changing to keeping the letters with the book of presents. One has to keep mind of when things happened to change and know where to find them.  Inside this archive are the library lending cards and the patron's information and signitures.  We were shown Karl Marx's signiture and T. S. Elliot's signiture and lending card. We were shown pictures of the museum after the WW II bombings and a blown shell that was recoved on the site. Not sure on how one would write the provenance to that or really wanted that 'gift'.

After the archives and lunch, I poked around quickly thru the exhibits. I went to Egypt, Japan, China prints, Asia exhibits. I didn't stay long since my legs began to hurt again. I found myself in Chinatown having accupuncture for the first time and it was amazing and scarey. I don't like needles.

Photo courtesy of


After our day in the Barbican Library, we were treated to a show at the Catalyst Theatre.  It was a Canadian production called Nevermore, that  will travel to NYC after London.  This was a humerous musical tale about Edgar Allen Poe's life and the myths that surrounded him.  Definately out of the ordinary twist to musicals and captivating with the costumes and lighting. One could  tell the exact character the actor/actress was portraying by the costumes. Elmira was defined by her tulip shaped dress, whom Poe had drawn pictures of under a tulip tree. One could say that  this production is very Tim Burton like but on  the flip side, Tim Burton was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Clockmaker's Museum

After lunch at the Terrace Cafe on the 4th floor of the Barbican Library Centre, a group of us went to the Clockmaker's Museum over at the Guildhall.  There was an amazing amount of clocks in this small museum space. The early pieces of pocket watches were the size of large ornate pill boxes. There were cases of keys that wound the watches.  Some of these watch keys were as ornate to match the ornateness of the watch.  There was a section dedicated to John Harrison for making an accurate chronometer.  Although only the H5 is displayed here, his other clocks are on displayed in the Greenwich Museum.  The chronometers displayed are other makers like Mudge, Arnold and Earnshaws whom after had seen and studied the drawings that Harrison made, attempted to make.  The book Longitude by Dava Sobel, an excellent book, talks about his story.

Photos courtesy of Clockmaker's Museum website. No cameras were allowed.

Barbican Library

This morning we were treated to the Barbican Library, part of the City of London Libraries and the Barbican Centre. John Lake, one of our librarian guides began our tour with the history of how this library was created. It took nearly 40 years from planning to completion of the Barbican Centre and Library after the bombings in London during the war. The two other librarians, the Adult Services Librarian, (I couldn't hear her name) and the I.T. and Operations Librarian, Jonathan Gibbs took us around the library. Because the library is housed within a complex that is musical and theatrical in nature, their collections on these subjects is much more expansive than an average public lending library. Also their adult collections tend to focus more on business because of their clientele. Even though the art collection books are extensive, they don't house the art archives nor do in depth reference services. Down in the music library, we were shown the private listen playable pianos. Most of the music collection is rebound, by an outside service, to keep the sheets of music from disappearing.

The Barbican Library uses the Dewey decimal system for cataloging just as the public libraries in the US. When users check out their books, there are now new self serve RFID stations. They are design to blend in with the decor. The library uses an OPAC system called Talis Prism- for patrons and Talis Atlus - for staff.  There is slower progress in terms of doing digitization projects as the recession has cut funding to current projects. Since Guildhall Library doesn't lend, there are digitization projects there.  London Metropolitan does as well but the databases are not complete bibliographical.  However, the Barbican Library tries to have a strong web presence. You can access their library catalog on the web and reserve books or renew them. Also, they are part of the international system for Ask-A-Librarian program to do chat reference interviews. So far, the majority of the questions that Jonathan Gibbs has received were homework questions.

I found that this library really encompasses and engages the community it serves.  There are readers' events, children's events and even local immunization events; not to mention the cultural, entertainment events. The Barbican Library is an extension of the Barbican Centre for the people living in the residences above them. It is truly a community center.

Photo above is courtesy of the Barbican Library Flickr page.

Sommerset House

Last night was the welcoming ceremony for students, held at Sommerset House. We started upstairs in the chapel with a few words and prayers for those that have helped us along our way to be here. A very energetic chaplin spoke with us about the history of King's College. We then went down to the Great Hall for refreshments and finger food. Great laughter and chatter were abound as students spoke about the adaptations to a large city that is London. Dreams and plans to fulfill those dreams were dicussed. This will be a summer to remember.

Photo courtesy of  Sommerset House.

Monday, July 5, 2010

St. Paul's Cathedral

Pictures of the interior are from the St. Paul's Cathedral website as no cameras were allowed inside.

St. Paul's Cathedral was our first official trip as a class. We met with Joesph Wisdom the librarian of St. Paul's Cathedral. I explored the cathedral as only half the class was to be allowed up at a time. I can understand the people of the past would be in awe and humbled in the house of God as I stood in the middle of the rotundra and looked up. The trip down the stairs into the crypt of the cathedral was also amazing. I wondered how they were able to get the tombs and statues downstairs.

We went up towards the library in which one of the original rooms that could've been a library or scriptoruim housed Wren's great model. Into the library we went afterwards and saw the sulta psalms book that was illuminated and is belived but no provonence was given that to have survive the pre-fire that struck the cathedral. Joesph spoke about how catalogs and lists of the catalog was how they knew what books the library had.  During WW 2, the books were house in an underground cave in Wales. Although the library has their books catalog onto a database, that database is not published online openly. The do import / export some of their database with OCLC.  The problem with using exisiting records by other is there are extra things that only pertain to the creating library for it to matter. The card catalog still remain for the St. Paul's Cathedral library as it is relavent to the copy that is in the collection. Even if the library went digital, the master catalog lists should never be tossed out. It is a more permanent and complete list. At the moment, the collection is about 85% cataloged into the database. The collection is only available to researchers with prior approval and arrangement with the librarian. I found that by having a closed database makes this library more like a special collections archive.  Users would have to know roughly what their collection contained and ask the librarian for additional research help. 

After our library tour, we were allowed to go about on our own. I, decided to continue climbing up to the Whispering Gallery of the dome. After whispering to someone across the way, I continued to climb up to the Stone Gallery. That was a workout. I then climbed the last 152 steps up to the Golden Gallery. I thought it would be the same tower stone or wooden steps. No, it was not. It was a winding, metal, see -through shaking stairwell. To say I was frighten was an understatement and there was no way to turn around, so I went up. It was the most amazing yet frightening view I've seen.  I was lucky enought to have made it to the top as I was part of the last group up and down. I had climb up 528 up and down within 1 hour. No need for the stairmaster machine. When I am able to upload my personal photos, you will see the amazing height and view. You can see the webpage here to read about the climb. Climb the Dome at St. Paul's

London Alive Walk

The London Alive Walk that I took was the photograph tour with Dr. Noble. She is a professor of photography and she gave us an overview of the types of things that would be in her class.  We had a crash course in how to take interesting pictures rather than just taking vacation pictures.  Topics included perspective, themes, and structure amongst other things.
We began our walk down Stamford Street to see the top of the OXO tower with its sign.  At night this would be illuminated.  Along the way to the Queen's Riverside Walk, we past by the Bernie Spain Gardens. This is a public garden with many different flowers and trees. We entered the Riverside walk by Gabriel's Wharf and headed towards the Tate Modern. There we photographed Birch trees for their repeatitive lines. Inside the Tate Modern, we photographed the architecture of the building, which was enormous. Outside was the Millenium Bridge, which we took to St. Paul's Cathedral. It was shaky in the light wind but it provided an excellent view of the Tower Bridge of London.  After a few photographs of St. Paul's Cathedral, our walk was over. I took the bus back to Waterloo station.