James' Jaunts
London Library
Jane Alford, Deputy Librarian
Helen O'Neill, Head of Reader Services

The London Library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle, predating the Public Library Act.  It was the first lending library in London, and is the largest independent lending library in the world.  It is funded by its members, not the state.  It has 7000 members, 150 corporate bodies.  It is a regulated charity and also relies on subsidies, bequests, legacies, and donations.  It is patroned by the Queen. 

Its collection predominantly focuses on the arts and humanities.  Non-arts and humanities texts are headed under "Science and Miscellaneous."   The collection consists of one million books, 97% of which are available for lending with open access shelving.  There are approximately 30,000 rare books, and most of these are included in the 97% lended out.  The books range from 16th century works to present day.  The library owns a first edition copy of the King James Bible.  First editions works by Charles Darwin are available on the shelves.  Books the library acquires stay with them for life, and they acquire around 8000 new books a year.  The London Library also provides its members with electronic resources and a extensive collection of periodicals.  Because the library is primarily funded by membership, the staff must be very responsive to the members.  They even mail books to international members. 

This is perhaps one of the coolest libraries I have ever visited.  The shelves are a labyrinth of old and new books mixed all together.  The current Librarian believes this is extremely important, as it allows members the see history.  The librarian who have us the tour, Ms. Alford, said that they often have to rescue members from the stacks.  You'd totally believe her if you'd tried to navigate through there!  They have their own unique cataloging system, arranged alphabettically by subject and then alphabetically by surname or title.  As we toured I started browsing the shelves and under, L (literature), Chaucer, I found various publications of Chaucer's works, one dating back to 1741. 

After the tour, we also got to hear and talk to the conservation and stack manager, Stella Worthington.  She gave a summary of their conservation and preservation efforts.  She also described how she manages the stacks with shelving, relocation, and environmental maintenance.  It was very interesting to hear that perspective, as its not one normally provided.

All of the librarians who greeted us and showed us around were very warm and welcoming.  You could tell that they sincerely enjoyed their work and their unique workplace.
Stephen Lawrence Gallery
University of Greenwich

The gallery was established in 2000, in honor of a black teenager who was murdered at a bus stop.  His mother was a student at the University of Greenwich, and she and the University decided to open a gallery in his name because they wanted his creativity to live on.  The gallery embraces all cultures and visual practices. 

The current exhibition celebrates a group of artists' studios that existed from 1974 to 1994.  Some of these artists banded together to form the Art in Perpetuity trust.  The collection features art from these artists; some are works from the original era and some works were inspired by that era.  This exhibition is actually the second in the series.  The first exhibition featured archival photographs of works from that era displayed with current works.   The gallery director gave each of us a booklet of the first exhibition.  He said that the gallery often features archival exhibitions. 

The gallery's website is www.stephenlawrencegallery.net.

Old Royal Naval College

After visiting the Stephen Lawrence Gallery and pinicking, we had a tour of the Old Royal Naval College.  This, according to our tour guide, was the birthplace of America, where the king signed the deeds and gave permission for the pilgrims to travel to the New World.  It has a long royal history.  It was built by King Henry V's brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.  It was the birthplace of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and her sister Mary.  

It functioned as a hospital (i.e. retirement home) for pensioners from 1705 to 1865.  It was reopened in 1873 as the Royal Naval College.   The naval college gave up the lease in 1998.  The government eventually set up the Greenwich Foundation, which required the premises to be used for educational purposes.  It now houses the University of Greenwich and the Trinity College of Music. 

We toured a the undercroft, the Painted Hall, and the Chapel.  I've included pictures below of each.  A few of us then hiked up the hill to the Royal Observatory, where we stood in both hemispheres at once. 

I know those of you reading probably wonder why we didn't actually tour the Greenwich Library.  Because they are moving...as simple as that.  They have closed it down during relocation.  It is usually the number one stop in Greenich for LIS 580. 
WeedendEXPLORE: Paris
July 7-10, 2011

We left for Paris in the afternoon, traveling to Dover to catch the ferry. I took quite a few pictures of the trip across the Channel—many of them the white cliffs of Dover. I've often heard of the significance of them, Dover, and Calais in lectures, but it was exciting see if for myself.

We arrived at the hotel about 1AM and I went straight to bed. We met for guided tours at 10AM on Friday and split into smaller groups. My group was lucky to have a native Parisian, so she was able to put a lot of things in the “French” perspective for us. She related many personal anecdotes, as well as history. We took a break in the Latin Quarter, where she described the events of May 1968, when the students went on strike because they were unhappy with the system. Something to think about... She showed us her mother's student cards; she was attending the University of Paris at that time, which Excelle (sp?) says was very much a right wing university.

We then broke for lunch independently, with the option of going to eat or going straight to the Louvre. A few classmates and I went directly to the Louvre. It was...overwhelming, to say the least. Thankfully, they offer a floor plan and it offers highlights for each floor and gallery. Katie and Courtney and I pretty much just picked out the highlighted items we wanted to see and toured that way. Most of what we saw were sculptures, such as the Venis de Milo and Psyche and Cupid. I saw many paintings on the way to the Mona Lisa, but could not possibly name them. The Mona Lisa was disappointing. Not the painting itself, but the furor surrounding it. There were so many people around it, pushing and shoving each other, it was impossible to appreciate it properly. I got one brief glimpse of it over someone's shoulder before I was shoved out of the way, and I only got a dark, blurry photo to commemorate the 'moment'.

After the Louvre, the girls and I walked down the Champs d'Elysees, through the gardens, heading for the Arc de Triomphe. My camera batteries were completely dead by this point, so only a couple of photos for that. We lost sight of the Arc and took a wrong turn, so decided to head straight to the Eiffel Tower instead, due to time constraints. It took FOREVER to get there! But it was pretty cool to stand under it and take a picture in front of it.

Friday night we had dinner at a French cafe, Pied a la Terre (I think). The table I sat at was in the basement or maybe what used to be a wine cellar, but it was still a nice experience. The bread was yummy and the food was fantastique! I had the duck with roasted potatoes. Mmmm...

Saturday we spent most of the day at Versailles, touring the chateau and the gardens. The house was beautiful, but huge! The Hall of Mirrors was pretty cool. I think you can figure out which photo that is! But the gardens were definitely the highlight of the day! They were phenomenal, and intricate. Movies do not do true justice to the grandeur of them.

After Versailles, we did a little shopping. I bought a cheap pair of sandals because my flats I brought are not very friendly to my feet. Then we went on a river cruise up the Seine at 10PM. The lighted buildings were lovely. We passed many of the dinner boats, one of which had a disco in the bottom. There were a lot of people sitting on the banks and many of them waved as we passed by; a couple of really friendly guys flashed the boat. We also passed by a group of people dancing, but it was hard to tell whether it was gypsies or Greeks. It looked like the Greek wedding dance to me, but, again...it was dark.

And speaking of gypsies...as we set off on our tour Friday morning my group witnessed a mugging. A few gypsy kids mugged an elderly woman and two men tried to run them down, but they disappeared. Excelle stopped a few blocks away and warned us to be careful but not frightened because they were not violent, just sneaky. Apparently, they also scam tourists by having them read a note with a sad story while others pick through their bags or just sympathize and give them money. And, no sooner than I sat down at Notre Dame, one approached me and Katie. She asked if we spoke English and showed us a note saying she was from Bosnia and was starving on the streets and needed money. I lied and said I did not have any with me. She then mumbled something about food, so I gave her a pack of peanut butter crackers. She did not look happy. Excelle apparently saw this and said it was the right way to handle such situations, because the children get the food, but the money just goes to the gang boss.

We finished up the trip to Paris with mass at Notre Dame. I thought it was a beautiful ceremony even though it was in a mixture of French and Latin and I only understood a word or two. I don't know why, but Notre Dame seems a much warmer place than St. Paul's.

I bought a few souvenirs after service and we returned to the hotel to get ready to leave. I then had the scare of my life because I couldn't find my passport! I DID NOT want to be stuck in Paris. Luckily, my roommate had found it—it had fallen down by her bag. Phew!

Overall, I have rather mixed feelings about the trip to Paris. I enjoyed visiting the historical sites, museums, and activities, but was not enamored of the city. The metro is a nightmare version of the London Underground. I did not realize how safe I actually feel in London until I went to Paris. I certainly do not regret the trip, as I probably never would have gone on my own. It gave me a reasonably inexpensive way of getting there, and with a group of familiar faces. But if I return to France, I think I would prefer to visit the Loire valley or the French Riviera.

Ferry Ride to Calais, France

Walking Tour, Paris, France

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower and French Food!

Palace of Versailles & Gardens

British Museum Archives
Stephanie Clarke, Archivist
6 July 2011 

The British Museum Archives has existed since the advent of the British Museum but was disorganized and did not have an actual archivist until Ms. Clarke came on staff; most staff up to then were para-professionals, so she has had a daunting task organizing the collection. She has reduced the 117 record areas down to a more manageable six.  It currently lacks a catalog, but still seems readily accessible.  This is primarily due to the extremely detailed and organized record-keeping undertaken by past clerks.

The Collection
The collection is frequently used.  The archives received 20 to 30 email inquiries per week, and can see upwards of 5 or so walk-in inquiries.  Many of the seekers are novelists or students.

The collection consists of staff records, finance records, exhibition records, building records, and records of the round reading room.  When inquiries arrive, the staff first consults the indexes, then minutes to see if reports were written up.  There are also letter books containing transcriptions of directors' letters.  These letters and reports are so detailed they provide a lot of information regarding the minutia of the day or event.  The collection also contains some 5000 photographs of staff, the building, and exhibits.  The earliest dated photographs are from 1875 by Frederick York.  They also have books of hand-painted design plans for the building from 1725.

Staff records consist of a random sample of applications from 1850 to 1950, some of which even include reference letters.  Ms. Clarke showed us an application of a footman named Hayes who was applying for the position of attendant; he included some beautiful sketches of  some of the exhibits.  He got the job and stayed on at the museum for 30+ years.  Building records include plans and property deeds.  Exhibition records, some 300, date from 1960 to the late '90s and provide photographs and specifications of exhibit plans.  Ms. Clarke showed us the book from 1972 containing the King Tut exhibit plan.  The records of the round reading room include applications of those applying to use it from 1890 to 1970 (when it became the British Library).  These applications often include reference letters.  There are also sign-in registry books dating from 1790 to 1970, which offer the names of many notable readers.  We viewed the applications for Bram Stoker, Rudyard Kipling, and Beatrice Potter.

It was an awesome experience for a budding archivist!  Ms. Clarke was very warm and welcoming, and so generous in her samples.  She's even offered to send us scans of the items we viewed just in case we didn't get to see as much as we liked.  This visit, by far, was my favorite.  We got to go into the bowels of the British Museum and see treasures that not everyone gets to see.  It was fantastic!

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon wandering the British Museum since I did not get spend an enormous amount of time there last time.  I went on two of the free tours- “Roman Gods and Goddesses” and “Ancient Iraq.”  I think the ladies who conducted the tours were volunteers and they were natural storytellers!  It was great to see the collections and hear someone weave the pieces together into a story.  I was extremely excited when the “Ancient Iraq” tour brought me to the first library collection in the world, housed in the palace at Nineveh.  There was a piece of the tablet containing the Epic of Gilgamesh, the first epic ever written down!!

Sorry.  I know many of these photos might be meaningless for you, but it will not let me add captions.  I'll try again later. 
Barbican Library
5 July 2011
Geraldine Pote and Jonathan Gibbs, Librarians

Barbican Library is located in the Barbican Centre.  The Barbican Centre was built by the City of London as a gift to its people.  The area where it is located was entirely destroyed in the bombings of WWII.  The only surviving structure is a church, the church Shakespeare attended and where Milton is buried.  The Barbican Library is the first library in London built for public lending and it began lending in 1964.  It is funded by the local authority and serves a local population of 11,000+, but it also serves many of the 350,000 people who commute into the City of London for work.

The Collection
The collection features many of the sections found in most public libraries: a general fiction and non-fiction book collection, a reference section, and sections for children and young adults.  They also have an IT section, but they refer to it as the corporate section because they allow individuals to conduct business here for up to two hours a day.  They have an extensive DVD collection, for which they charge a base fee of 2.75, no matter the number borrowed.  They also offer audio books and books uploaded to MP3 devices.  As of now, there is no linkup for e-books.

Two sections you do not find in most libraries are their art and music section.  The Art Library covers all disciplines of art, from landscape design, ballet, and media production.  They also have the London Library and, while most libraries offer a section devoted to regional history, the Barbican library allows readers to borrow old and rare items.  The oldest on record and available for lending is a book from 1742.  The other section is their Music Library.  This section opened in 1983 and houses some 15-16,000 CDs and DVDs, 9000 reference books, and scores from all styles and artists.  They offer two keyboards for people to practice and listening kiosks for patrons to test the material before check-out. They also offer special edition and box sets for check-out.  The best part, in my opinion, is “Unsigned London.”  These are self-produced CDs from local artists that patrons can check-out and listen to.  The librarians who work in the Music Library are both musicians and librarians, so they are especially qualified to help patrons with their musical needs. 

The Barbican Library is also set up for self-service.  Jonathan, the IT and Operations Librarian, demonstrated the various self-service issue and return systems they have.  However, Jonathan pointed out that he does not aim to shift issue/return services entirely to self-service, as that can be intimidating for many patrons.  Rather, he prefers a nice mix of desk services and self-service.  Also, they offer home delivery service for patrons unable to travel to them.

I could honestly go on and on about the Barbican Library.  It is a truly wonderful place and, I think, what all libraries should aspire to.  The librarians who gave the tour, Geraldine and Jonathan, were a great team.  They were very personable, knowledgeable, and worked great together.  They even scheduled a refreshment break for us, which after 4 days in this concrete jungle, was a relief!  And, as we left, they offered us each their business cards for future contact and a goody bag with information on the Barbican Library and the Centre.  You can tell they are very proud of what they have achieved and can offer their patrons.  And rightly so!

Unfortunately, I somehow managed to mess up my image transfer, so all of my pictures of the Barbican Centre and Library have been corrupted.  For images, you'll have to go to their website.  Or do it anyway, because it is a fabulous place!

St. Paul's Cathedral Library
4 July 2011
Joseph Wisdom, Librarian

The library at St. Paul's Cathedral dates back to the 1650s. The original cathedral plan incorporated two chambers to function as libraries, but only one was actually outfitted. The collection was moved to another part of the city at one point, which was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666; only 10 books and 3 manuscripts returned to their home at St. Paul's. The current collection was put together by donations and purchases. The Bishop of London donated 2000 books to the library upon his death in 1713. Books were bought from other clergy or their estates as they died. Humphrey Wamley, an antiquarian book dealer, was one of the primary collectors; he acquired books for the library and helped advise on the set up. The current collection was halfway complete by 1713, and they acquired a large collection in 1783. During WWII the library was moved to a cave in Wales; they only lost one book in the transition.

The Collection
The collection includes books focusing on the subject of theology, the history of the cathedral, and the people involved with it. It stopped as a working theological library in the mid-nineteenth century. They still add items to the collection, but only on a very limited basis. The library collection still includes the 3 manuscripts that returned after the fire of 1666; one is a manuscript on medicine, one is a psalter, and one is completely unidentifiable. The library's prize possession, however, is a 1526 edition of the Tindale New Testament, of which there are only 3 surviving copies.

There are also artifacts from the cathedral, such as pulpits used at various times, cartoons of the mosaics in the dome, and Christopher Wren's Great Model of the cathedral.

The collection is primarily accessed by novelists who are looking to incorporate St. Paul's history in their book, researchers working on scholarly research of music or sermons, for example, or some researching genealogy and their family's connections to the cathedral.

The Librarian
Mr. Wisdom, the librarian at St. Paul's, was a very gracious fellow. He offered a lot of sage advice on the role of librarians in general, pop quizzed us off and on—keeping us on our toes—and offered historical trivia and anecdotes with a wry sense of humor. We even had a funny moment when he asked about the ideal temperature setting for collections and seemed genuinely shocked that we still compute temperature in Fahrenheit.  I thought everyone knew that about us Amercian. :) He led us from the library via the Geometric Staircase, which is the staircase used in the Harry Potter films.

Overall, the St. Paul's Cathedral Library was a wonderful site to visit. Even though we did not get to actually view any of the collection, being surrounded by those old tomes was an awesome experience. The smell and feel of the room was extraordinary...

I have a few pictures posted below of our trip around the exterior of the cathedral. We were not allowed to take photos of the inside, but if I can find some online, I will post those as well.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a huge amount of photos of this very interesting part of London.  Our guide, Dr. Seefeldt, said we should try really hard not to look like tourists so we wouldn't get beat up.  He was joking...I think.  Haha.  Camden Town was awesome, interesting, and intimidating all the same time.  We went on Sunday afternoon, which he said is the busiest times for the markets.  And the markets were awesome let me tell you!  They sell anything you could possibly think of there.  They have a huge collection of vinyls for like £5-10, depending on the vendor, covering music from all styles and artists and groups.  Dr. Robison, I even found a couple of Zappa vinyls.  :-)  Anyway, didn't buy much, but we are going back.  But I will definitely give myself a budget.

Also unfortunately, I didn't hear a lot of Dr. Seefeldt's lecture because it was extremely noisy there and he spoke softly so he wouldn't get beat up.  :)  But I posted pictures of the music venues he directed us too.  Maybe someone, like Dr. Robison or Dr. Saucier, can fill in the blanks. 

Hyde Park


1 Comment

Three BSP classmates and I visited Hyde Park on Sunday morning.  It was a fabulous day-the weather was gorgeous and the park was too crowded.  We discovered that paddle boating is available at the lake, so some of us hope to return there for that. 

We just casually strolled along the path beside the Serpentine and enjoyed the day.

One thing of note--how do the Brits get their dogs to behave so well?  They were all over the park, hardly any of them were on leashes and they weren't running/jumping on strangers, diving in the water, or tearing up the plants.  They just politely trotted in their masters' wake(s).  It was amazing.  I might need to find Solomon an exchange family for a few months.  Haha. 

We ended our visit at Speaker's Corner, a place where anyone and everyone can get up on their soapbox, literally, and express their opinions.  I've posted a short video for you!

Made It!



Hey everyone!

Finally made it here.  Thankfully our plane was able to arrive and depart to/from Miami.  Some were not.  So we made to the dorms about 12:30 yesterday, Friday, July 1st.  I was literally asleep on my feet, but I made myself unpack and go shopping.  Bought a cell phone so I can call Mommy!  Haha.  Also did a little grocery shopping.  Then we went on our walkabouts with our instructor, to get familiar with each other, our instructor, and our neighborhood.  Honestly, though, it's like I've always been here.  No since of foreigness at all.  Which is a good thing. 

After our walkabout, our instructor, Dr. Welch, had us go eat at the Texas Embassy.  She is really really great.  So sweet and easy to talk to.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much to say as my head was falling into my plate.

So today we had our first class meeting where Dr. Welch laid out our plans.  And we got a big surprise!  We are going to Stratford-upon-Avon, which we already knew, but we are going to get to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Cardenio, the lost Shakespearian play.  How incredible is that!  I guess because we are traveling with the Elizabethan course, and they were going, so to make things easier BSP booked us all.  Whoo hoo! 

Anyway, we also had our group orientation and then our first London Alive event.  I will post pictures soonest!  I just got my adapter figured out and must charge up my laptop battery before downloading pics. 

More soon!
I apologize everyone.  I forgot my information sheet with my notes.  I'll update the pub info this evening!

    London Away:
    British Studies
    Summer 2011


    I am a professional student.  I have a formal education--both a Bachelor and Master's degree in English, and I am working on a Master's in Library and Information Sciences.  But I believe that life experience is the greatest teacher anyone can have.  So I am hitting the road to have fun and to learn--and no, that's not mutally exclusive!--and live life to the fullest.



    July 2011
    June 2011
    May 2011
    April 2011



    RSS Feed