Wednesday, 30 July 2008

To the National Archives of Scotland

Monday, July 21



After having lunch at the Elephant House and getting pictures taken at the Greyfriar's Bobby, the LIS group hoofed it up to the Magnificent Mile, to Northbridge and Princes Streets, then we came upon the Balmoral Hotel (where I stayed for 2 days last year at the end of a one week Tauk tour).


I just had to go inside and rekindle the memories. I kept saying, "Ah, the Balmoral, I know her well!" I even had a nice chat with the doorman, who wore a spiffy kilt, about my stay there last year with Tauk. He replied in his Scotish broag, "Oh yes, Tauk comes here every year!" Dr. Welsh took a picture of him in his finery and then we all went across the street to the National Archives of Scotland.

We all went in the back entrance and met Margaret McBride and Pat (didn't get her last name). We were led through the Legal Research room, through more hallways, to the Lord Clerk's Cloak Room. we were told to leave all backpacks there. We all took a seat at the tables to hear margaret talk about the Archives. But first, she said that only pencils were allowed in the Archives to make notes, so everyone put away their pens and pencils were passed out.

Margaret began by saying that the NAS is a government agency, comprised of civil servants and archivists, and that it contained materials from publications, exhibiions, talks, and workshops. She also mentioned that the Keeper of Records, Linda Fabriani, also holds the tilte of Minister Europe, External Affairs and Culture , is the overall boss at the NAS.

Then Margaret started the powerpoint presentation slide show which told of their Mission: to preseerve, protect and promote the nations records. She explained the Organization: the NAS has thre locations, an IT staff, Conservation, and 30 to 40 archivists. Further, she explained the Records Services Divisions, which contains Government Records, County and Legal Records, Private Records (family, grants, etc.), and Outreach Services; the Corporate Services Division, which consists of Accommodation Services, Finance and Accounting, Information and Communication Technology, Conservation Services, and Reader Services.

Next, Margaret listed and gave a brief history of the three NAS buildings. 1) The General Register House (GRH; where we were taking the tour),: the foundation was laid in 1774 and later opened in the late 1780s, was designed by Robert Bottom and is registered as a historic landmark. 2) The West Register House (WRH; at Princes Street and Charlotte Square, west of the GRH), opened in 1971 and originally was a church. And 3) The Thomas Thomson House (TTH), which opened in 1995. It has modern architecture and an environmentally controlled storage. We were told that all materials go first to the TTH for storage, initial conservation, and electronic cataloging ( to know what shelf, bay, and building) prior to moving to the General Register House.

Additional information about the Thomas Thompson House (TTH) was given. In Record Storge, materials are stored in boxes and stacked 6 to 7 feet high. In Conservation, the British Standards, or BS5454, is used to maintain the "quality of the building." The archives contains digitized of Scottish wills dating from 1501 to 1901, and are available at local authorities. Also, historic seals are stored in acid-free bags.

Furthermore, functions of the conservation treatment were presented. They were "select public records worthy of permanent preservation; acquire other historical records of national importance, or which merits preservation; divert, desolve, or transfer records to other appropriate repositories, and make suitable arangements for the disposal of other material; to preserve to archive standards of all records selected for permanent preservation in the NAS; to promote public access to the information; to provide aadvice, guidance and support to owners and custodians of records held outwith the NAS; to take lead in development of archival and records management practice in Scotland; and, to display records.

Margaret mentioned that there are approximaely 70 kilometers in length of records dating back to 1870. These include State and Parlimentary records, Registers and Deeds and Sasines, Church Records, Wills and Testiments, Taxation Records, Valuation Records, Family and Estate Papers, Court and Legal Records, Government ecords, Business records, and Railroad Papers.

Resources the NAS offers he public is electronic and paper catalogs, as well as the OPAC. Several websites that were given include: (NAS) (SCAN: Scottish Archive Network) -contains over 45 archives (wills) (handwriting) -how to improve your paleography skills (schools)

Also mentioned was the Historical Search Room, which was built in 1847 and initially was the Antiquarium Room.

Users are only allowed to use pencil and can only bring needed items in a clear plastic bag into any of the Reading Rooms. But first, a Reader's Ticket is required to request any materials. Its a form of security pass. Users enter their surname, seat number, and reference number into computer to access materials. Also mentioned is that users are not charged any money to search for materials, although there is a charge for legal searches.

After the electronic presentation, we were allowed to view some old archived documents. Most of the items were in protective sleeves to pevent dirt and oil stains from fingers/hands. One particular item of interest to me was the Record of Inventories: 22 July - 11 September 1885, entry for Sir Henry Raeburn, died 8 July 1823. Within the Inventory, it stated that Sir Henry Raeburn died "domiciled" or without a will. His total estate was worth 5,000 British Pounds Sterling. Quite a large sum at that time. He was a Scottish painter of portraits and I have a background in art and remember his name from my past studies.

picture of Sir Henry Raeburn


After we finished looking at several items, we walked through the free access Adam Dome (a reading room with computers), and the Matheson Dome (a private area with a second and third level of books and a few computers), and the digitizing camera lab (with 7 cameras in the main room and more in the back room). During our tour, I asked Margaret what the oldest item in the collectiion was. After a short pause, she said that it would have to be the 1174 David I Charter granting lands to St. Cuthburt Church. It measures approximately 8" x 1.5" long.

When the tour was finalized, we all returned to the Cloak Room for our bags and then dispersed to our own accord. I joined Dr. Welsh in walking down Princes Street to do a little shopping and then decided to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh on George Street north of Princes Street. Of course we both had to get a shirt from the HRC Shop. The food was oh so good. After dinner, we walked back to the bus stop and went back to Dalkeith.

Link to Scotlands People Centre

a href="">

Related Links


Monday, 28 July 2008

Up and Away to Edinburgh, and to the NLS

Sunday, July 17

Once again, we had to drag ourselves down to the courtyard, this time by 8:45, so we could get on the bus by 9am for Edinburgh. The drive-up took a total of 10 hours, with a 40 minute lunch break after the first 3 hour segment (while watching Hook without any sound), then another 50 minute break after the second 3.5 hour segment(while watching Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King without any sound). The second break took longer because two girls from the Children's Literature group were late returning to the bus. Back in the bus, we drove the rest of the way watching some other movie. During most of the trip, I was thinking, "Why didn't I pay extra an take the rail to Edinburgh? It would have only taken 5 hours. What was I thinking?!

Monday, July 18

The next day (Monday, my group met at the nearby bus stop for our trip to Edinburgh. Upon arrival, we followed the map to our destination, the National Library of Scotland (NLS) on King George IV Bridge Street.


After entering the library, we were promptly greeting by Emma Faragher, Education & Outreach Program Officer. She began with general information the National Scottish Library (NSL) and then proceeded into the planned slide presentation on "Interpreting the John Murray Archives: Manuscripts and Accessibility." I found it difficult to hear and understand most of the Scottish speakers, but the following is what I gathered:

Emma began by saying that The John Murray Archives was purchased for £32.5 million in ( ) and contains over 150,000 items dating from 1768 to 1920. It contains materials in the fields of literature, science, politics, travel and exploration. The library receives funding assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government, the John Murray Foundation, and other private donors. And has a team of curators, cataloguers and educators on staff.

Emma continued by discussing the planning all phases of the Archives. Whenn talking about displays, she stated that the planning stages are very careful, specifically for specially designed displays for the viewers. Everything has to be accessible! In the broad range of schemes, to educate the viewer is very important, and to have the materials available to the public to see. The NSL offers fun learning skills and they teach students how to do research.

Getting more specific with The John Murray Archive, Emma informed us of their internal and external exhibits. Focus was put on the exhibit across the hall, where she pointed out that the manuscripts had special lighting issues which were addressed. The display height was furmulated to best serve children and adults for ease of reading. And issues with art, they found that viewers had different responses to it; most liked it, but some hated it. She further explained that objects in the exhibition design needed to be easy to understand, the labels easy to read, and that it was important for the visitors to use their own personal experiences to understand the objects.

Specifically concerning the manuscripts, it was intented for the viewer to read the content and to get the true value or understanding of its purpose. And since some of the handwritten manuscripts were difficult to read, next to it was an interactive computer that showed a legible copy of the manuscript. This made it easier for the viewer to read the content of the manuscript without squinting and spending a lot of time deciphering the handwriting. Some of the journal manuscripts date back to Emma discussed the risks involded with the exhibit being too text and label heavy, with a dry and unengaging atmosphere, and that they have had some "bored" visitors.

Furthermore, she discussed what makes The John Murray Archives an engaging archival exhibition. It includes materials displayed, object rich and label poor, information accessed via interactive, use of light and shadow to create atmosphere, meanings of display, and communicating the process of writing and publishing. Also explained are the learning outcomes of The John Murray Archives, which are increased knowledge and undersatanding; skills; attitudes and values; enjoyment, inspiration and creativity; and activity, behavior and progression. And it recieves its market research from visitor remarks, both verbal and written.

Next, we had the pleasure of meeting David McClay, Curator of the NSL . He stated that The John Murray Archive was the most impressive archive in the world, and most important archive available. He restated some of the information Emma presented earlier, and mentioned that there are 15,000 images in the JMA collection, including business records, etc. that are in the process of being digitized. Theres are 158 members in the group to improve/enhance exhibit content and set-up. The NSL is in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, the Zoo and Botonicals, and couple other institutions.

David restated that the manuscripts are the core of the collection/exhibits. And built in with the talks are the exhibitions, and related programming. And when restating that there are 150,000 objects in the collection, he also said that 45,000 of the total are books, photographs, and manuscripts. But when asked what the overall amount is, he stated that he doesn't quite know the total amount in the collection, because it keeps growing. He did say, though, that there is about 150 metres length of archive materials. David cited a book in the collection, "Seven Lives of John Murray," and said that we all should read it; that it is very good!

When David finished his presentation and answered several questions from our group, we all went across to the other side of the entrance to the John Murray Archive Exhibition. The display area contained an elaborate show of orignial letters, manuscripts, costumes, interactive kiosks, and split wallscreens where old-styled pictures of people and objects moved across the screens; one screen onto the second. The kiosks contained readable-text deciphered from the original hand-written letters so viewers could easily read and understand the documents.

After viewing the Archive Exhibition, we rejoined back into the presentation room for a quick summary and follow-up questions. Emma stated that the exhibit has been up since June 2007, and that most of the items in the display were specially produced for the exhibit, duplicating the originals. I do believe that we all enjoyed ourselves.

I enjoyed viewing this exhibition again. I had initially seen it last summer during a one week tour of Scotland through Tauk Tours, which ended in Edinburgh. I do believe the exhibit was successful because all of the objects and displays, and lighting and information all pulled together to set a stage of information building.

It was close to lunch time, so our group walked down to the Elephant House for a little nosh. The Elephant House was made famous as the birthplace of Harry Potter, where J.K.Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in the US). From there we walked to the Grayfiar's Bobby, which is a statue of a Skye Terrier dog named Bobby.

(Read more about the Greyfriar's Bobby here,

map of Edinburgh, Scotland


Saturday, 26 July 2008

"To Be, Or Not To Be..." at the Shakespeare Library (Stratford-upon-Avon)

Friday, July 18


Our group assembled in the courtyard, along with the Theatre and Children's Literature Groups, for a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. It was a 2 hour drive, with a 20 minute rest stop which ended up to be 40 minutes because 2 girls in the Children's Literature Group were late; the Children's Literature professor even stated that it was 2 from her group and that they did it before on another trip.

When we arrived, our group went directly to the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archives for a tour. We were greeted by Clare Maffoli and were given information on their workplace, specifically that the library was newly refurbished and that they had merged records archives with the library. Clare stated that they have two sections: the Local Collection, which includes information on the city, maps, and family history; and the Shakespeare Collection, which includes the life time of Shakespeare and his collective works, which is further sub-divided into: 1. the Collection of his birthplace, and 2. the Royal Shakespeare Company Archive Collection. Additionally, she told us that the Collections included programs, photos, music, theatre reviews, and related items.

It was explained that there are temperature/humidity controlled rooms in the basement that stores most of the old, valuable materials. There is even a flood control system in the basement to prevent damage. Clare mentioned that they use archive quality labels, covers, and related items in storing all of their materials.

First, we were taken through the Reading Room, where we noticed some people were accessing some materials. We were also informed that when viewing original books and materials, it is mandatory to wear gloves when inspecting the contents, to only use pencils when writing notes about the materials, and to only use weights to hold down pages when viewing books.

Statistics of library usage were given. On average, approximately 3,000 readers use the Shakespeare Library every year. This includes school children who need information for reports, such as streets in Stratford and how they've changed; local and "out-of-towners who are seeking family and/or burial information; new home owners who want to find some history of their house, such as historic pictures of the street, or plans (blueprints); and even A level students (high school), who are studying Shakespeare performance history, or need illustrations or portraits of actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Images in the library database date back to Shakespeare's time (approximately 1590 to 1613), up to more modern times, and that on average, 50,000 books, maps, and other materials are requested in any given year.

Overall, the Trust was formed in 1847, with the purchase of Shakespeare’s birthplace and now comprise of four additional buildings. They are not connected to the government, they are a private charity, and apply for funding as a major source of operational expenses.

Regarding collection development for the library, Clare said they try to purchase things that will be used and that others (libraries) don't have. Currently, the collection consists of pre-1700 books up to modern day, with many foreign language texts, and periodicals are displayed in the Reading Room. She mentioned that they have a subscription to the William Shakespeare Bibliography, and also borrow materials from the British Library.

On staff, there are 12 members that have different duties. There are two librarians, various library assistants and subject specialists. The library also relies on volunteers for conservation, and various other duties. An former theatre director is assisting in the library, as well. And the staff utilizes the Copac library catalog (, which is a free access of merged online catalogs consisting of the major universities and national libraries in the UK and Ireland, to research and gather information on various related subjects.

Clare further discussed more about their Local Collection, stating that they have a community outreach program where they either go out and do talks at schools and such, or they have groups come in for special visits.

The next part of our tour took us down to the Strong Rooms in the basement area. These rooms are environmentally controlled with air conditioners and dehumidifiers. We were shown four of these rooms and told about their contents. Amusingly, I refer to them as the "vaults" because of the vault-like door that seals in the environmental control atmosphere, as well as acts as flood protectors (they have had floods in the past and lost much of the previous collection).

After all the meandering around reading and storage rooms, we were then led upstairs to the conference room to meet Jo Welding, User Services Librarian extraordinaire. She proceeded to give her overview of the collection, stating that the Trust was founded in 1847 with the intention to collect items to form a library and archive consisting of materials, history, etc. That the Royal Shakespeare Company took over the collection from the theatre in 1964. It contains 250,000 photos (mostly black/white), and will be digitizing the collection shortly, starting with reviews of Shakespeare plays. She continued telling us that she does all the displays for A level students on drama, production materials, and study performance history.

Jo then got to the good stuff. She proceeded to describe each book, photo, and playbill that was placed on the conference room table. They were all related to A Midsummer Nights Dream, Shakespeare's play. after discovering that we will be seeing "Taming of the Shrew," she said that she would get examples from that play. But we all said that A Midsummer Nights Dream was fine and so she proceeded. While talking about each piece, she stated that they tried to collect things that were on the shelves during Shakespeare's time, and that Lord Strange was one of Shakespeare's early patron. Incidentally, Jo pointed out how the herb thyme was spelled in a Shakespeare play; it was spelled "time".

When she finished, she pulled out the Shakespeare Folio, one of several that were printed in 1623, shortly after the death of Shakespeare's death as a memorial to him. She stated that their copy was close to the original copy, further stating that not all of the Shakespeare Folios, 229 copies in all, were printed in the same place, therefore, each having a slight difference about them. Also, that eight plays would have disappeared if they were not published, and that there are 32 total plays in the Folio. Incidentally, one Folio was auctioned off for £2.8 million ($5.6 million) in London. Our group was then told that the Royal Shakespeare Company has three Folios in there procession: one located in Shakespeare's birthplace which is imperfect, having many original pages missing; the second in the Trust; and the third Folio at the Theatre, having some facsimile pages in place of the originals. Oxford has a copy, and others are held privately.

After the wonderful presentation and inspection in the conference room, we were taken downstairs to Storage, entered 4 or 5 "Strong Rooms" and were shown the various materials stored there. Each contained specifically cataloged materials, such as books, videos, cassette tapes, 8mm film, photos, prints, and production records of plays, among other things. One item in particular, "The Lives of the Nobles," was pointed out and was mentioned that it had been repaired, but it's published date is unknown. All of these rooms (I call them "vaults" because of the vault-like outer door), contained rolling stacks to conserve space, with some additional metal shelving against the walls. When asked if there were any questions, one group member asked what classification system they used. Jo answered that they created their own specialized system, because they are a specialized library. And when in the storage area downstairs, we all got cold from the air conditioning (the environmental control system).

We ended the tour by returning to the Conference Room to get our belongings. Throughout the second part of the tour with Jo, I could help but be amused with Jo's spunk and excitement about the library and it's collection. She reminded me of Patsy from the BBC show AbFab (Absolutely Fabulous!, an exciting tour.

I then joined up with Dr. Welsh for some Indian food at the Coconut Lagoon, located down the street from the Shakespeare Theatre. The food was very good! We also walked by the Swan Theatre and tooks pictures, which was directly across from the Shakespeare theatre. The play we saw, The Taming of the Shrew, started and ended with a modernistic twist of the original play. Very enjoyable, but a little bizarre! It was after 11pm (23:00) when we all convened back to the bus after the play, where we were rushed back to the dorm, shortly after 1am (01:00).

Of note: The Buffalo Library of Buffalo New York, USA, has 80 copies of the Shakespeare Folio. They recently acquired the Durham copy of the First Folio.


(Related Sources)


Saturday, 19 July 2008

Off to the Bodlein Library - Oxford

Thursday, July 17


The group met in the courtyard at 8am, then took the Bakerloo Line to Paddington tube station. The we hopped on the 9:21 train to Oxford, which took about an hour in duration. We all then were directed to take the "hop-on, hop-ff" city bus that includes headphones and an audio guide to the route taken. We followed the route from the rail station and got off at the Bodlein Library.

When we arrived at the Library, we were guided to the Divinity Hall, where we received an introductions of the two guides and some historical background of Oxford University and all the colleges. Because the group was 15 people, we were split into two smaller groups. The group I was in was directed by Sydney Hicks. He gave us further information regarding the Divinity Hall, specifically stating that the room was used in a Harry Potter film where Harry was in the Infirmery. He also pointed out just where the bed Harry laid in was located. I will definately have to watch the movie again (I believe it is the Chamber of Secrets.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Greenwich National Maritime Museum

Wednesday, July


Today, after meeting in the courtyard at 8am, we set off on an adventure by foot to the boat launch next to the London Eye, on the Thames South Bank. He had to wait about 10-15 minutes for the boat (there is a boat every 20 minutes). We boarded the "Hurrican Cutter." It looks more like a katamaran than a cutter-type boat. Traveling to our destination takes about 30 minutes or so, with five stops along the way prior to the Greenwich Pier stop. The ferris wheel, or "Eye," was the landmark.

There was a short distance to walk before arriving at the National Maritime Museum, where we were met by Hannah Dunmow. She was carrying the book, "Of Ships and Stars" by Buckler, and began telling the history of the Caird Library. It opened in 1897 and Sir James Caird was the sole benefactor, bequeathing his entire library collection.

Today, the Caird Library is the largest research library of maritime information. It contains books and information on piracy, astronomy, the Merchant and Royal Navys, various family histories, and other related materials. It also contains the follwing resources: Lloyds Captains Registry of ships, masters lists, merchantile shipping of 1857-1977, Lloyds List of Ocean Going Ships, microfilm, and other related materials. To date, there are over 100,000 maritime relatedbooks dating from 1850 to the present, 20,000 pamphlets, and numerous periodicals, such as the Mariners Mirror. In their rare books collections, there are approximately 8,000 books dating from 1474-1850, with books dated after 1850 that are classified as open access. There is onsite storage for the collections. There is on average 5 retreivals per day for books, and 20 per day for manuscripts, with a required 2 week notice for viewing.

It was stated that the open access collections were more used then the restricted collections. To use the library, patrons must be over 16 years of age, and there is no creditials required for accessing materials. Patrons just fill out a library ticket, read the rules, sign a usage form, and show a pictured ID showing residential address, such as a driver's license or passport. Patrons can then access online catalogs and archives. It was noted that a separate online catalog for manuscripts will be going live later this year. There are, on average, a total of 3,000 to 4,000 visitors per year. With 15,000 to 18,000 inquiries per year for various pictures, sculptures, books and other materials and access to 2,000 books and 5,000 manuscripts per year. While listening to our speaker, I noticed that there were computers in the initial access/reception area.

The library is staffed by six archivists, five in manuscripts and one in hydrography (charts), 3 additional specialists, one information specialist, and a head manager. It was stated that there are no library assistants; that they all work together on library service duties. Additionally, the library receives email and post inquireries, as well. Hannah concluded that the Caird Library is primarily a 2-D library (on paper), with more information on their website (listed above).

After some questions, we were led in a Meeting Room (Meeting Room 11, to be exact), to view samples. Two additional staff were on hand, Renee and Mike, to give us overviews of each selected book or manuscript. We received a handout which explained each book/manuscript, as well. It was a thoroughly enriching experience to see and hear the history of these selected materials.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum

Tuesday, July 15


Today, the group assembled at 1pm in the courtyard, received instructions and ventured on to the tube (underground). We took the Jubilee line (West) one stop to Westminster, changed to the District line, went (West) four stops to the South Kensington tube stop, and then walked the connecting tunnel directly to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Once inside the museum, we went straight to the National Arts Library to meet our contact. After a few minutes, Francis Warrell came to greet us and took us first through the main center area with registration and computers, where patrons can search for books and utilize databases of museum objects.

We then walked quietly through to the special collections area. We passed by the Reproduction Area (copy machines), which Francis indicated that journals and books dated before 1930 can be digitally photographed. Next, it was to the Marshalling Area, in which we had to hike up stairs to reach (on the second floor, their Floor 1). This area has a Retrieval person to locate and pull requested books, set them on the counter through an opening in the wall, along with the triplicate slip filled out beforehand, and delivered to the table as indicated by the seat number. The seat number is garnered by the patron upon arrival to the art library. Francis also mentioned that staff can borrow up to 20 items for 3 months, but have to keep them in the building in case a patron requests them. Books in the stacks in this area are organized by form and subject. There are over 8,000 titles, which all volumes are bound for preservation and security. It was also stated that the oldest periodical dates to the Victorian era, between 1837 and 1901.

Next, we were led to the 2nd mezzanine floor, which was said to be former gallery space, now used as storage. There are a multitude of locked cupboards containing special collections, consisting of medieval manuscripts, printing presses, artists books, etc. Notably, their 20th century book collection is the largest in England. Also in the collection are Dickens' original book proofs, John Forester letters and folios, and other materials. It was explained here that the National Art Library was originated in 1837 at the somerset House and was resettled to the present Victoria & Albert location in 1857. It contains other books, manuscripts, sculptures, the 1851 exhibition catalog, as well.

The third room we were taken to was the West Room, which was in the midst of reconstruction for the 20th century gallery space, but the books on its second level will remain. This area will contain the Gilbert Collection, now at the Somerset House. Francis stated that there is additional storage in the crypt, and that students from Sotheby's come periodically to do restoration on numerous books that need mending.

We then followed our guide to the Staff Area, which is directly over the 20th Century Gallery. It is the workroom with desks and computers, and lots of paperwork piled up. This is where Francis explained their online access: circulation, ILL, etc.; off line access: inquiries, examples include Latin, prints and drawings, and general V & A questions. She also talked about the cataloging section with in the Staff Area, which is all retrievable. In the Acquisitions section, Francis spoke about gifting, which the library gratefully accepts all items, and also explained their exchange program of loaning to other museums. And that the library is a National depository, after receiving donations from the British Library.

Francis explained that they have a large collection of exhibition catalogs, stating that 75% come from abroad and are shelved by country/gallery/year/size. Then she concluded by saying that the art library is also known as the Words and Image Department.

Finally, we were taken to the final room where we met Jennie Farmer. She had a table full of various books displayed for explaining and viewing. After she talked about each book, we were invited to look through each one. It was a very interesting and exciting opportunity to do so. Especially viewing the collaged book from Detroit, Michigan; the Soft Book, which every page was rabbit fur; and also, the book made totally out of a student’s wooden chair.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Museum of London

Monday, July 14


As usual, the group assembled in the courtyard by 9am to receive the schedule for the day and directions. As we all scurried to the Waterloo tube station, we became separated into 2 or 3 groups going to the Museum of London. When we all arrived at the museum, we were met by Jon Cotton, who is the Senior Curator for the "London before London Gallery" (dealing in Prehistory). Our group was wisked away down a flight of steps, outside of the museum, and into an attached small presentation room. There, Jon presented a slide show of the museum, but specifically that of "The London Before London Gallery."

He started out by saying the museum was built in the 1970s, and said it is relatively "new" to London standards. Jon added that libraries are statutory, meaning they are required by law, and that museums are not. And that the museum was first housed in Kensington Palace, which I thought was rather interesting. But I guess that it had to be put somewhere, after all.

Jon said there are three sites, or branches, of the museum throughout London. The main site is the Museum of London near the Barbicon Centre. The second site is the Museum in Docklands (, and the third is the Museum of London Archeology Service (MoLAS). All three fall under the umbrella of the Museum of London. (
Jon reiterated that he is in charge of the Prehistory section of the museum, and that it dates from 600,000-700,000 prior years up to the Romans. The museums major marketing line is "world's largest urban history collection, from Roman times forward. This statement falls in line with the National Curriculum of early settlers, Romans and Saxons.

The visitor demographics was discussed next. Jon stated that overall, a large population of museum visitors include tourists, foreign and British. However, more and more Londoners are coming in. The statistical breakdown is as follows:

- 400,000 visitors per year (50% Londoners and students)
- 10 to 15% other British visitors
- 40 to 30% foreigners

Interestingly enough, there are no foreign language informational panels in the museum; only English signage.

Furthermore, three areas of visitor focus was discussed. These included, 1. 19th Century London, Victorian-Age, Dickens, etc.; 2. Tudor and Stuart London, Shakespeare, etc.; and 3. Roman, Londinium -the Roman capital of England. And once again, John reiterated his responsibilities in Prehistory, which is before written records That Prehistory is up to, but not including the Romans.

He stated that they want to change from the old stereotypical image of the cavemen using Raquel Welch, or other popular British stars with a big club and animal pelts. He included several slides of the aforementioned individuals. Next a slide of Rick Mears was shown, as well as the famous "Iceman" discovered on the Italian/Austrian Alps, with its copper axe dating back to approximately 3000 B.C. Also, slides of prehistoric pottery dating back to the "Iceman" was shown, one with finger indentations notably by a woman.

From here, Jon described, in depth, the theme of "Landscape" while showing slides of Stonehenge, Seahenge, and then a map of the Thames, the London landmark. He then segued into found objects from the Thames, noting them as personal religious ceremonial objects and the river was a connection to the divine or departed. Some of the items mentioned included Hindu figurines, bones, candles, crucifixes, and other things in plastic bags.

A discription of the "London Before London Gallery" was described as being very panel-oriented, with reconstructed scenes and interactive areas. A straight-forward design scheme was carried out, using straight lines to keep the exhibit design continuous and cohesive. There are three major design areas noticeable in the exhibit that focus on landscape and design, a river wall that runs through the gallery, and plints (or display cases). All of the incorporated design elements work very well together to create a fluid transition of the viewer.

During the design, Jon said that the designers, as well as himself, looked at the spirituality of the people and decided to incorporate quotes and poems on the panels. The blue wall, previously indicated as the river wall, displays all of the items that were drudged out of the Thames. Together, the three major design elements truly enhance the viewing and ambiance for the viewer. I do believe, and I told Jon before leaving, that the "London Before London Gallery was far superior to the other current displays. He seemed pleased that I said that and mentioned that the Roman Gallery was the next scheduled improvement to come.

Overall, the presentation and self-walking tour was very enjoyable!

Following the tour, I had lunch with a few members in the group at the Museum Cafe, and then joined Elizabeth to St. Paul's Cathedral crypt. It was very interesting to see so many memorial and markers for famous and heroic men and women. After the crypt, we decided to climb up to the Whispering Gallery to look-out to the Cathedral floor below. We then decided to keep climbing higher to the next level, the Golden Gallery, looked around, then up to the Balland and Latern section, which is the top of the Cathedral which took us outside to experience a magnificent view of the Thames and the city. The climb to the upper level was quite narrow. And as we started to make a decent, the audio-fire alarm went off. So everyone was herded quickly as possible out of the building. Needless to say, our legs where really shaking when we got back down to the ground level outside. We both agreed that it was kind of a once in a lifetime moment to have climbed to the very top of St. Paul's Cathedral. It was 1,151 steps to the top. It really did take our breath away, since we were huffing and puffing.

We then decided that it would be much better on our legs to take the double-decker bus back to Waterloo station, that I saw a another double-decker bus stopped in the middle of the street with two police cars with their lights flashing, with a severely cracked front windshield. I thought, "WOW I'm glad we weren't on that bus!"

Sunday, 13 July 2008

A Day in Sevenoaks, Kent

Sunday, July 13

Today, I hopped on the Rail at Waterloo East Station and caught the 11:47 train to Sevenoaks, Kent. It was a pleasant 30 minute ride, in which I spent the entire time writing postcards (4 to 5 cards both ways). Upon arrival I headed straight towards the pay phone. After waiting about 5 minutes for an annoyed caller to finish her discussion, I tried calling my cousin Emily, but the phone was busy. I tried calling after another woman made a call and finally got connected to my cousin. She told me to take a cab to the house, which was close to the rail station.

When I reached the house and paid the cab, I walked toward the house and heard her voice calling out to me, but didn't see a face. I looked toward both doors, then heard her voice again and went to the right-side door. There I met her with a big grin on both of our faces, so happy to see each other once again. I went inside the Victorian-style home and met up with her husband, John. He was pleased to see me again as well. It had been three years since I was last to London and visited them, and 23 years before that. We preceded into the living room, sat down, and caught up on what I was doing and what they were doing, then our discussion turned to family. My cousin offered tea and we all relaxed a bit more with quaint conversations until it was time for a little nosh (lunch).

When things were cleared off the table and put away, we continued our discussion on various matters. One topic was activities my course included for the upcoming week and what places I'll be traveling to. As I rambled off the itinerary, I mentioned that my group will be traveling soon to Oxford, and John got a bit animated because he attended Oxford University Law. he briefly left the room and returned shortly with an old travel guide, Alden's Guide to Oxford (Two Shilling Net, John said it was about 50 years old), and said that I could borrow it for the trip. I was hesitant to take it at first because of its age and condition, but John said that if was fine, even if it falls apart. He also gave me a return envelope. How nice was that?!

After various other discussions about the economy, currency, weather and politics, we convened to having a second tea. This time I helped my cousin setting up everything needed. She sat down and I said, "Welcome to Bryce's Tea Party, I will be serving you today." From that exclamation, both laughed, as I did, and I proceeded to pour the tea, "one lump or two?" and also served the English muffins with butter and jam. I do believe they both got a real kick out of that!

As we all were talking and reminiscing, I looked at the clock and looked at the rail schedule to plan a return time. I said that I was getting tired and that I should be getting back to London soon. John assisted with checking the rail schedule and we decided that we should get ready, and that John would drive me back to the rail station. Emily mentioned that if I needed a place to stay during my 6 day min-break,that their home was available to stay at. I was really touched by that offer and stated that I would not reserve any time at King's College and focus on planning my trip to Berlin to visit my friend Shelley. And if I decide to return early, that I would certainly let them know of my plans in advance.

I have to say that I enjoyed my visit today even more so than the last time I was here in London; and even 23 years ago. I'll have to plan to return again real soon to have another pleasant reunion with them.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The Dali Experience

Wednesday, July 9


We were given an Independent Research Day, but it was rainy and dreary, so I did some unrelated research at the Dali Universe exhibit at the County Hall Gallery on the south bank of the Thames. It was awesome!

Entrance to the exhibit cost £10, but I was handed a £1 off coupon, so I got in for £9. Yeah, I saved a £ (pound)! Upon entering the main doorway, it led to a curve to the left, which contained enlarged photos and prints of Dali, along with a plethora of his quotes staggered down a dark black hallway. The path suddenly turned right to an open gallery space with more light, showcasing many of his drawing, paints, and sculptures, many of erotic design. I noted that some of his work were very intense (emotionally), yet others had very subtle intensity, and others showing varying degrees. All of his pieces were quite psychological, strange, but interesting to the eye.

Some of the quotes in the initial hallway I found interesting included:
- "The least one could ask of a sculpture is that it does not move"
- "Everything alters me, but nothing changes me"
- "I'm in a permanent state of intellectual erection"

And some of the pieces I really enjoyed included:
- Telephone Homard (Lobster Telephone, 1938-78)
- Golden Newton (1968)
- The Profile of Time (1972)
- Space Elephant (1980) -which had an elephant body, giraffe legs, and a large
crystal pyramid on the elephants back
- LeCabinet Anthropomorphique (1982
- Space Venus (1977-84)
- Venus Intersected by Long Drawers (1989)
- The "Alice in Wonderland" series
- The Chain of Spoons (1960-74)
- Venus aux Tiroirs

In this exhibit, I noticed repetitive symbols of:
- Lobster
- Rhinoceros
- Snail
- Time, melted clock
- Venus de Milo
- crutch (supporting stick)

Half-way through the Dali exhibit, I came upon a directional sign that directed the viewers to the floor below for the Picasso exhibit. I was excited when I saw the sign, because I love Picasso. I had a big grin on my face! When i finished viewing the remaining Dali pieces, I headed down the steps and basked in the Picasso exhibit. It incorporated some minor drawings, ceramics, and some obscure "Blue period" paintings that I've never seen before. It was very nice to see these pieces.

When I completed the tour, I walked into a gallery of small Dalli painting/sculpture reproductions which were for sale. I was so tempted to buy a painting priced at £750. In fact, I'm still debating. In US dollars, the price would total $1,500. Next, I stopped in the Cafe for a late lunch which I really didn't care for. Then I walked into the Gift shop, where I purchased a Dali exhibit catalog and almost bought a Dali watch. I may go back to buy one. We'll see!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself viewing this exhibit!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Barbican Centre Library and British Library Conservation Studios Tour

Friday, July 10


Today, our library group met out in the courtyard prior to setting off for another adventure. We shuffled off via the tube, to the Barbican Centre Library. initially, we were greeted by a member of the library who I didn't get the name of (that is bad, since I always make it a point to get the names of everyone involved in a tour).

It was a bit smaller than the British Library, but still impressive. We initially met with the Children's Librarian Amanda Owens and Julie, Sr. Assistant Librarian to start our tour. Amanda explained that they had a staff of 6 in the children's area. We were given a short descriptive tour(look-around) of their good-sized room which had two mini-stepped ampitheatres for the young children to sit on during storytime, as well as some bean-bag chairs and a traditional couch. On the floor infront of the seating was a series of wooden boxes that contained books that were labeled alphabetically. I also noticed a large painted graphic on the wall extending from the entrance which was of a race track, 6 numbered lanes on the left side and the finish line at the right, with the title of READING CHALLENGE, centered at the top of the graphic. I was going to ask about it, however, time ran out and we needed to proceed onto the next section, which was the Music Library.

We were greeted by Liz Wells, Music Librarian, given a short introduction of herself and what to expect at our next stop. We were led into the Music Library, where we...

Then we met up with Jonathan Gibbs, IT Librarian, who gave us a quick tour of the young adult and adult reading sections...

(To be continued)

Thursday, 10 July 2008

British Library

July 8, 2008


Today, our British Studies Program -Library Group ventured over to the British Library today by way of the Underground, aka "The Tube". While waiting for about 10-15 minutes, since we were a bit early, we busied ourselves viewing the sites within the library. First, there was the seat which was designed as an open book; it is very unique. Many of the group members sat and posed for pictures. Second, there was the "Turning the Pages" electronic display that projected a series of scanned books. As the placard on the kiosk read, "’Turning the Pages’ is the British Library's award-wining interactive program that allows you to 'turn' the pages of precious manuscripts and books, and zoom in on the high-quality digitized images.” There was one book, I think it was called the "Turin Bible" which was either in Hebrew or Arabic and the pages were turned from right to left. This display certainly was a WOW! factor.

After a fashion, our guide Kevin arrived and began with a brief introduction of himself. He stated that he has been employed at the Library for 25 year and is currently the Donation Officer. He continued saying that the BL is a working library, with two art galleries and a gift shop, and there are 2,300 staff members. The function of the library has the following functions: 1. To acquire an entire bibliography (Acquire), 2. Keep the archive forever (Retain), and 3. Make available all services (Review). He pointed out that the open-book chair with the attached ball and chain was symbolic of keeping the books secure and prevent loss. Kevin also highlighted that all of the books are stored within 6 floors, a total of 75 feet underground.

Furthermore, Ken informed us that the library was born in 1973 [by Act of Parliament in 1972], that land was acquired from the British Rail, and the library was operated out of nineteen buildings until 1997.

After a few more tid-bits, Ken walked the group over to the giant hand-woven wall tapestry, gave some background on it, than walked over to the Founding Fathers, a series of bust-figures. He called them the “garden of gnomes,” which everyone giggled at his remark. Each one was described and given history, but one stood out, that of Sir Hans Sloane – scholar, academic, traveller… His main claimed to fame was that he introduced chocolate from Jamaica to the United Kingdom, had a small private library which he loaned out to friends and dignitaries, which he bequeathed to the British Museum (originally the Montagu House).

We arrived at the Philatelic Collection, which Ken said is the largest in the world, with 8.5 million items. He pulled a few vertical drawers from the wall and then talked about a particular stamp, one of the world’s most expensive stamps; it’s worth £2.5 million. He asked the group if we knew what it was. And after a few seconds, a member (yours truly), shot out the name of Queen Victoria. And Ken said that I was correct, and that there were 14 in existence. I was a bit flabbergasted that I answered correctly. It was a good guess on my part! Ken was a little surprised that anyone knew. Kudos for me, I guess!

Next, we walked to a model of the library, which we were told by Ken was designed to represent a boat (because the architect liked boats). The model also showed a cut-away which showed the underground area, four of the actual six floors, where all the books are shelved. At this point, Ken mentioned his father was a diplomat with NATO and is currently 89 years [young]. He spoke of conservation of books and materials as well, stating that if the books would get wet from a fire alarm, flood, etc., they would be put into an industrial sized freezer to dry and treated when thawed.

From that point, Ken went into statistic of the entire collection: the library consists of 170 million items which estimates to approximately 800 miles worth of books, and it continuously grows eight miles a year. Another quiz was asked of our group: Who has the largest collection? After several wrong guesses, the answer revealed to be the Lenin in Moscow. The second largest is the Library of Congress, and the third is the British Library. On our way to our next stop, we passed a display of miniature books. I kiddingly called them “mini-me” books. That got a few laughs from the group!

From there, we went to the Reading Room where people can register for a Reading Pass (aka, Library card), and heard the procedures of getting a pass, which included 1. Filling out the online application on the Reader Registration System, 2. An interview by a library staff member to get further information, and 3. Information of the materials required. We also received a hands-on demonstration of how the books/materials are digitally ordered via computer by patrons, pulled from the subterranean storage levels, sent to receiving room behind the Reading Room, put in a bin, and then rolled out to the librarian in the Reading Room by a conveyor system. INGENIOUS! Very “auto-manufacturing” style! With a Reader Pass, one can order materials (requesting up to 8 to 10 items) and access the Reader Room(s). It was stated that the books are organized by subject.

Ken continued by speaking about the Anglo American Catalog, (spelled Catalogue in the UK), and how their books are classified and shelved, which are by size and grid reference (building, location/floor, quadrant/section). National ownership, which is applying a die stamp a minimum of three stamps in each book; front, middle, and back. As well as CIP data, which is an abbreviated version of the machine-readable cataloging (or MARC) record that resides in the Library's database, as stated on

One question brought up by a group member was about patrons and copyright issues regarding copying parts of a book. Ken said that it was allowed to copy 5% of a book under British copyright law.

Ken then cited various statistics about the history of book materials, stating that older books were produced from cotton rag, but merged to wood pulp because of cost and supply. That the British Museum is the most popular library in the world because every language spoken is represented in it’s collection, and that 35% of it’s users are overseas researchers. At this point he finally told us information on the central collection of books encased behind a glass pillar. It is the King George III Collection, also known as the King’s Library. There is a door with an elevator that goes up, down and sides-ways to access the books, and they are currently being used by researchers. Further, more statistics were revealed regarding preservation and that by 2020, 40% of the collection will be in digital output format.

A very interesting and very large book we viewed was the Klencke Atlas, also known as the Atlas of the World, dated 1660. It is of Dutch origin, as was my paternal forefathers, and is the largest printed piece in the BL collection. It was a gift from the Dutch. It is also one of the largest printed works in the world.

The final area we visited was the Manuscripts room. Housed here are the printed treasures of the world, dating back centuries. Some of these included the original Beowolf manuscript, the Gutenberg Bible, hand-written music scores for the Beatles, various illuminated manuscripts, and so much more. After we were finished looking around, viewing all the treasures, we all were exhausted!

I decided to join Dr. Welsh for some hot chocolate and pastries. I was hooked when she told that the BL has the BEST hot chocolate in the world. And she was right! After we indulged ourselves, we trudged home with sore feet and backs (and eyes). I am exhausted just typing this information. It was a full day!

View of the BL Cafe where hot chocolate and patries were enjoyed.


Additional Information

The British Library’s websites boasts “We hold over 13 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 57 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and so much more” ( Wikipedia states that “The British Library (BL) is the national library of the United Kingdom. It is based in London and is one of the world's most significant research libraries, holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats; books, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and much more, making it, by certain measures, the largest collection in the world. The Library's collections include around 25 million books, along with substantial additional collection of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 300 BC.”

The British Library was created by Act of Parliament in 1972, which combined several national archives under a single administration. The library is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and through donations and gifts.

And from the BBC’s website, “at long last - in its new home at St Pancras in central London, the library is comparable with other great national institutions such as the American Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris” ( A461990).

The British Reading Rooms

History of the British Museum

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

St. Paul Cathedral Library

July 8, 2008

<The library of Dean and Chapter is situated at triforium level behind the south-west tower in a chamber designed for it by Wren.


Today, met with the USM Library Program group in the courtyard at 8:45am to discuss details of the day. We proceeded over to the library computer lab across the street from the dorm to go over more details and to begin a blog. We are required to keep a daily blog, recording our adventures of day trips to designated locations and other related and fun activities we encounter. Also discussed was the required Bibliography for our research paper, which is due August 31. Several suggestions for Primary Sources of Information include talking with people who know the topic of our chosen research paper. Also recommended, is to start the paper with a related quote at the beginning, incorporate at least one graphic, and use footnotes at the bottom (see EndNotes software, or within Word) if familiar. Use APA style.

I asked Dr. Welsh for ideas about my research subject after telling my background and interest in museums, and she suggested to either 1. compare programs and services of public school libraries (my work experience), or 2. cataloging art items/ exhibit(s) at a museum. GOOD IDEAS!

After our class meeting, we ventured over to St. Paul's Cathedral to visit the library, under the tutelage of Mr. Joe Wisdom (interesting name for a librarian, and appropriate!). He is a very charming, petite, and soft spoken man. Mr. Wisdom began with a general overview of the Cathedral, history and all, then we proceeded to a very tall locked door within the Cathedral. After unlocking and entering, we walked near a stone spiral staircase. Mr. Wisdom further explained that this was the "Dean's Staircase," explaining that the Dean could enter the door, behind the staircase, and climb the stairs up to the Triforium, or just go straight into the Cathedral. A certain student (me), mentioned that this was the circular stair case from the Harry Potter movies (which was mentioned by Dr. Welsh prior to arriving at the Cathedral. He acknowledged that it is the same.

While at the top of the staircase, Mr. Wisdom brought our attention to the various pediments and architectural fixtures while walking the corridor. He noted that the plain pediments dated back to the Reformation of King Henry VIII and the creation of the Church of England. He also noted the Baroque style used in some sections, as well. Additionally, the support beams in the hall were noted as being of Gothic design, with basic/classic shape.

While on the catwalk above the ground floor, known as the BBC View, we viewed:

1. People below in the Cathedral. It was an interesting sight!

2. A Latin engravement on the wall that read:


Plures libros

Nulles Est Finis

which translates to: Of making many books, there is no end.

3. A casket-like stone structure that was used to collect rain water (back in the day). It has a carving on the front side containing two different crossed swords with a "D" situated in the upper v-shape of the crossed swords. It was uncovered to be St. Paul's coat-of-arms.

4. An old wooded pulpit, which I corrrectly identified when asked by Mr. Wisdom), dating back to 1864.

5. The Model Room: Christopher Wren's small-scale wooden model of St. Paul's Cathedral. NOTE: As Mr. Wisdom was revealing the history behind the model, my eyes explored the whole room, noting the enormous wooden model, as well as the many pen and ink drawings of proposed floor plans and archectural details. Also, a large, wooden medallion of Christopher Wren on the Western wall, above the Model of the West Portico. And of special note, was the vaulted ceiling and the stained glass of Walter Wilkins on the inner wall facing into the cathedral. Why was it there? Mr. Wisdom stated that it was the only Victorian stain glass not destroyed during WWII.

Nest, it was off to the library across from the Model Room. Before entering the library, we came upon a sign on the door which read, "Beware Pigeons." When asked about the sign, Mr. Wisdom told the story of when the door was left open when he was about to close the library and a pigeon wandered/flew in. After an unsuccessful attempt of removing the pigeon, he gave up, covered all the books and things with black paper/plastic and left the door open, hoping the bird would leave on its own. And when he returned the next day, the bird was gone. And from then on, the rule is to always keep the door shut!

Mr. Wisdom began by saying that we were in the "Library of Horrors!" I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that comment. But just be looking around, one could see the history. As he was describing the library, its contents and history, I scanned the room and noticed wall-to-wall books in bookcases numbered 1-54 on two levels. I was wondering if it was anything like the bookstore scene in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." I don't think it was. I also noticed the high, vaulted ceiling, a fireplace, and numerous portraits on the walls. Mr. Wisdom chimed in with, "The library architecture has an effect on users." That's not the only affect; it was affecting my allergies. The smell was quite dusty and musty. Then the plaster pillars were discussed in detail, questioning the meaning/symbolism of the incorporated forms. Many guesses drew the final meanings. And the light source was mentioned, due to the fact that the library is very dark, but has electricity.

Mr. Wisdom discussed the types of books in the collection. Mainly, they consist of theology (Newton, etc.), bibles, litigies, and various important biographies. Others included the arts and sciences, medicine, and others. He continued by describing the type of classification used, which he described as, "...big on bottom, small on top, and get a good catalog." And the authority catalog is by philosophy and subject. This is so much different from U.S. classification; not logical at all! Also mentioned, were shelf marks, or as in the U.S., call letters.

Conservation procedures were discussed. He mentioned that problems with 19th century books were encountered; they aredetatched one or more boards and rebound with leather, which was a poor substitute. Mr. Wisdom called restoration, "Tarting it up to look better."

Throughout this presentation, Mr. Wisdom stated that he was "over gasing," meaning he was talking too much. I thought this was very humerous!