Total Pageviews

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The other day our class took a day trip by coach to Stratford, the town where William Shakespere was born, lived, and is buried. Originally we had planned to visit the Shakespere library as a group, but unfortunately we were unable. So instead we were able to tour the city on our own until 7pm when we had tickets to see a lost play of Shakespere's, Cardenio.

During the day I went with a few fellow classmates on a walking tour of the city. We walked along the river, such a beautiful setting to spend the day. Many people were rowing in boats and walking along the river as well. Just being in such a beautiful setting made the day trip there worth it. I would have to say it is probably the prettiest place I have ever been.

During our trip we also went shopping. There are so many little shops along the streets that we could not help but spend some money while we were there! Of course, being girls we ended up spending a little too much money, but we got some cute clothes! Along the store fronts we happened upon a public library. Although it was not the one we orignially intended on touring, we were able to look around and observe. Afterwards we headed to the Shakespere library, but it had already closed for the day. We had heard it closed at 5pm, but it had closed before 4:30. A little disappointed, we headed back through the town and grabbed some dinner before the show.

The show put on by the Royal Shakespere Company and it was FANTASTIC! I truly enjoyed every minute of it. It was also nice that the story is not very well known; I was able to be surprised by the events that took place. Overall, our day trip to Stratford was fabulous and I hope to make it back there someday. Throughout the visit we were able to see Shakesperes birthplace and his gravesite. I really enjoyed my visit here and I had a great time with some friends.

Christ Church College Library

As part of our tour around Oxford, we visited Christ Church College, just one of the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University. Made up of two collections, this library has more issues with finding space for their new editions than funding, which is a rare thing for libraries in todays economy. One of the most used libraries on the Oxford campus, Christ Church College Library has a huge and very important collection of musical scores and manuscripts, making it one of the leading music libraries in the world.

The current library was in 1772 and remains in same place today; even the books inside are arranged and placed in the same order as they were when the library first opened. Everything in the library's collection is available to the public in some way or another. Some books are available online, in pdf form, and other books are only in their original printed form. The library has over 100,000 early printed books which are arranged on the shelves by collection rather than subject. The only part of the library that is cataloged by subject is the music collection. Continuing the process of this type of organization allows for users to see which books were donated by which patron, and to get an insight into the books individuals read at the time. Our tour guide also explained that certain books have annotations inside of them. Another way that readers can gain a different perspective of the work; a way back to the thoughts of an earlier time.

The online catalog for these books is almost complete; about 2/3 of the collection of early printed books is available to patrons online and 100 percent of the music collection is available online for patron use. The early printed book collection here at Christ Church contains many science books, including several 1st editions of Newton, Coppernicus, and Galileo. Two first edition books of Galileo's one from 1543 and the other from 1546 exist in the collection.

I found the tour of Christ Church College Library to be very interesting. The decor of the library was preserved in great condition and I loved being able to see the way the library had looked when it was originally built. The decorations on the walls really captured what the books on the shelves were about and I truly enjoyed that about the library.

Bodleian Library

The Bodlein Library is located in Oxford, just a short train ride away from London. Our class traveled there yesterday and it was a beautiful day! The first settlement in the area was around the year 700. Oxford is located almost in the middle of England, making it easy to get to from all areas. Originally, monks began schools in the area, educating young boys before sending them off to the University of Paris (the closest University at the time).

As most of us are familiar with, the two countries of England and France have not always been the best of friends. Eventually, the students from Oxford who were studying in France were kicked out do to fighting between the two nations. They came back home where the monks who had educated them earlier decided to establish a university there.

In the begining, there was not a school built for these children to use. Students and their teachers would use the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin as their classrooms; the church still exists in Oxford today. After seven years of schooling, the students would recieve a Masters, and from there they would be able to teach their own students. Today, Oxford University is made up of 38 colleges including the orignial colleges which were started as far back as the 13th century.

Our tour guide was very knowledgable about the history of the university and the way in which it operates today, and how it operated in the past. She also explained how the school began to expand outside of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and into buildings built for the school.

Construction on the first building was started in 1425 but took over 15 years just to complete three of the four walls. Before the fourth wall was finished, the builder died. In order to hurry the process along, a new builder was brought in, who decided to add a second story to the building, with the intention of it becoming a library. Upon the completion of the building, Duke Humfries donated his collection of books to the university where it remained until the entire collection, except for three books were destroyed during the time period known as the reformation.

Afterwards, a name by the name of Thomas Bodley, a former student of Oxford, donated his large collection of over 3,000 books to the school around 1598. Not only did he give his books, but he also had the library refurbished after the damage and destruction caused by the removal of the Humfries collection. Bodley had heavy wooden shelves made and installed for the books in the library, but the weight of the books and the shelving was too heavy for the building and the foundation to handle. It was then that Sir Christopher Wren, who has been tied to almost all of our library visits so far, saved the day! He reinforced the building to be able to withstand the weight of the books.

The Bodlein Library began the first copyright library with the second largest collection of books. Today, the library houses over 11 million books in their collection. The Bodleian is not a lending library; books can be used inside of the building but must not be taken out. In order to use a book, the patron (typically and student or researcher), must tell the librarian which reading room they will be working in. Only librarians can take the older books off of the shelves.

Another library, part of the Oxford campus that we visited on this tour was the Radcliffe Camera. Built after the man John Radcliffe donated money to the school for the collection of medical and science books. I really enjoyed this tour, and I am so glad I was able to visit such a historical library. I would love to one day be a student at Oxford and utilize the resources of the Bodleian for my studies.

Royal Geographical Society

Our class met wth Eugene Rae, a librarian at the Royal Geographical Society one afternoon. Mr. Rae was full of interesting information and historical facts. He shared some of his knowledge with us, about particular artifacts, photographs, and items which are part of the Society's collection. Mr. Rae also helped to explain how the library works and the history of the society itself.

Oringally, the Royal Geographical Society was housed in one building, but spread out throughout mulitple rooms. This made accessing the collection, archives, and other documents difficult for both the staff and the patrons. In 2004, the completion of construction on the building, resulted in one large reading room. In here, all the materials can be accessed from one easy and simple location. Moving all the items into one large reading room also created a secure feeling; a contained space helps to ensure items stay inside of the library and are not taken out with patrons.

While some items are kept out in the reading rooms, most of the 2 million items belonging to the society are kept inside of climate control rooms to help with preservation. These items include but are not limited to books, periodicals, pictures, objects and artifacts, and documents. prior to 2004, the online card catalog was not completed. However, since the remodel and rennovation in 2004, the items and records have been fully cataloged and are available online. Mr. Rae explained to our class that a list of all the items was made, multiple photocopies were created and then sent to India, where individuals there input the information onto an online database.

Admission to the Royal Geographical Society is free to memebers, non-members must pay a £10 fee; anyone who is not a member is allowed to use the resources inside as long as they pay the daily fee. Certain exceptions are made for non-members who are using the library as a resource for educational reasons.  The Royal Geographical Society is only a lending library to its members. While non-members are allowed to come in and use the resources, they are not allowed to take any books home.

While on our visit, our guide explained many objects and documents on display inside of the large reading room. Not knowing much about the history of world exploration, or British explorers, I was extremely interested in listening to the history of the objects. The documents and artifacts shared with us were truly priceless. Shoes, hats, photographs of the Arctic from some of the first people to visit were unbelievable. These items were all in such fantastic condition as well. Learning about them and their history was a very interesting and entertaining way to spend the afternoon. I wish I had more time to go back and learn some more from Mr. Rae.

Photo courtesy of

Friday, July 15, 2011

National Art Library @ The Victoria and Albert Museum

Visiting the library inside of the V & A Museum was probably my favorite tour so far. I was unaware that such a large collection of books and a library open to the public existed in this museum. Opened before the museum, the library was originally part of the School of Design, first belonging to the Sommerset House and then in 1884 moved to its current location. It is still one of the few functioning victorian librarians left. An important fact of the National Art Library is that it is not a lending library. Books can be accessed on used on in the two reading rooms, but they cannot be taken out. Because of this, the library provides its users with multiple copy machines, both color and black and white, and scanners to email photos to themselves or save the pictures onto USB drives.

Requests are submitted to a librarian as a desk and from there, books are retrieved from the stacks every half past the hour. So, if a patron arrives at the library at 10:35, they will have to wait until 11:30 to get the book they requested. The library has a huge collection of periodicals and catalogs; many of which are used by auction houses such as Sotheby's. The collection also contains a large amount of manuscripts, many Medieval from the 15th century. The collection also contains 11 Dicken's manuscripts.

The annual budget for the acquisition of new items is £300,000 per year. New items are always being purchased and added to the collection. Roughly 46 employees work in the library, restacking books, cataloging new ones, and helping costumers. The most unbelievable thing to me about this library is that the books on the shelves are not in any real order; they are placed on the shelf by size, in a semi-alphabetical order. Once I heard this I was not surprised it took an hour to find patron's books!

Our class was also given the opportunity to look at some of the treasures of the National Art Library. We were able to see an original Charles Dickens manuscript for David Copperfield, which was donated to the library by John Forester. The library also has a large collection of artist books; even though they do not official collect them, they have a significant amount in their possession.

I really enjoyed the fact that anyone can get a library card for the National Art Library. Even though we are not residents of the UK, my fellow classmates and myself were allowed to use and access the materials held in this library. I really enjoyed this tour, and seeing a sort of behind the scenes look at how this library works and functions.

London Library

The other day our class went on a tour of the London Library. This library has a rich history; it was founded in 1841 and continues to be utilized by over 7,000 members today. We met with Jane Oldfield who gave us a brief history and introduction of the library along with a tour of part of the 15 miles of shelving contained within the library's walls.

Thomas Carlyle, the founder of the London Library wanted to establish a place where books could be checked out and taken home. He did not understand why people would want to read inside of the library and not in their home. The collection began with mainly books in the humanities and art fields, but has largely expanded today. The London Library is private; memebers must pay a fee to use the books. Because of this, their funding comes from private sources such as the membership fees, donations, legacies, and bequests. Originally the library was founded with 500 members.

Over the years, many people have become members of the London Library. Some of these members include Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Rebecca West, Agatha Christie, T.S. Eliot, and even Winston Churchill who served as Vice President of the library in 1948. The library is still used today by writers, actors, and the general public.

Instead of using a system such as Dewey, like we do in the United States, the London Library arranges their books by subject and by size of the physical book. The big books go on the bottom shelves and the smaller ones on the top shevles. Our tour guide explained that there are over 1 million books in the collection, with 97% of them accessable to the public for ciculation. This includes 30,000 rare books. Only hardback books are placed on the shelves, and no book is ever taken out of the collection. No weeding takes places; the only time a book is taken off the shelf is when it is checked out.

The London Library has an allowance of £282,500 to spend on the purchase of new books which includes one third of that budget to be used on periodicals. There are four reading rooms in the library; each room is used daily, by many people. The first of the reading rooms was built in the 1890s.

I am very glad to have been able to visit the London Library. The building itself, with all the architecutural changes and styling was facinating. I had no idea a library existed in the world where books of all ages were open to the public in general circulation. I am dissapointed that I do not live closer to such a fantastic resource otherwise I would become a member!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Old Royal Naval College

After visiting the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, our group went on a tour of the Old Royal Naval College. Before becoming a Royal College, the land and buildings were part of a royal palace which served as the home to many royals. Built in Greenwich, it was the perfect spot to watch for invasions both by land and by sea. In 1705 William and Mary used the land to build homes for former sailors. The plans were drawn up by Sir Christopher Wren. In 1869 the home closed and in 1873 the Royal Navy signed a lease for use of the buildings for 150 years. During that time period, students used the former buildings for classrooms.

Prior to the school moving in, the 4 buildings on the property served as homes for sailors. The property contained living quarters, a church, a bowling alley, and the largest painted ceiling in Europe which was built as a dining hall for the men. The sailors prefered not to eat in such a large and fancy environment, so after a short period of time, the Great Hall was transformed into a museum. Also known as the Navy Museum, this room housed exhibits, artwork, and even had Lord Nelson lie in state after his death. Once the Royal Navy signed their lease, the Navy Museum continued to stay inside of the Great Hall. All the paintings inside, including those on the ceiling and the wall, celebrate the British Navy and Britian in some way.

The current chapel that is on the property is not the orignial chapel which was designed by Wren. In 1779, a fire destroyed the chapel and a new one had to be built. A resident of the property, James Stewart, was responsible for designing and rebuilding the new chruch. Stewart changed some of Wren's orignial ideas; he created a curved ceiling and took out a large space behind the altar. The church today was beautiful; it had lovely artwork inside along with a beautiful organ and marble work.

Our tour guide for this was fantastic. She was so knowledgeable, not just about the history of the college and the homes before, but also of British history. I learned a ton of new information on this tour and I am so glad I was able to be apart of it. Although we did not visit an archive or a library, this was one of my favorite visits so far.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stephen Lawrence Gallery

For class yesterday, July 11th we traveled by boat on the river to Greenwich. While in Greenwich we vistited two different places for class and explored the city. The first stop on our visit was the Stephen Lawrence Gallery located in the University of Greenwich. The story behind the gallery is one that is very sad.

Stephen Lawrence was a young boy who was murdered in 1993. His mother was a student at the university at the time of the murder; afterwards she worked at the university. In 2000 the gallery was established on the campus in Stephen's name to help speak to a wide audience. His mother felt that an art gallery was a perfect way to remember Stephen; it expresses creativity, culture, and art, something Stephen would have spread if his life had not been cut short.

The gallery displays all types of art work and also puts on art shows. This week, during our visit, the art displayed was quite different than has been displayed in the previous weeks. We saw paintings and scultures that reflect the local history of Greenwich. The current exhibit contains works from artists who worked in small galleries from 1974 until 1994. After 1994, there was an unusual art movement.

During our tour we were shown different pieces of art and it was explained how the different exhibitions are set up and displayed. Working with our curators helps to bring in new ideas. By bringing in multiple opinions, ideas, and creative ways, the best exhibit can be displayed.

Visiting the gallery was much different than any other visit we have done. I found it very interesting how much the work of a curator in a gallery really does overlap with the job of a archivist or librarian. A curator is responsible for knowing the history of the work, the history of the exhibit and organization, school, or company they are working for. They must come up with ways to represent that history through artwork. I really enjoyed the exhibit and I even found a piece that I wish I could display in my home!

Monday, July 11, 2011


This weekend I was given the opportunity to visit Paris, France. One of the most famous cities in the world, the weekend trip was hard to resist. But, taking this opportunity meant leaving one behind. By deciding to go to Paris I was unable to visit the British Library. I am upset I was unable to attend this class meeting but Paris was also fun.

The trip started off to a great start! The bus driver was just a little late (about 2 hours)...pushing our arrival time back to 1am. When our group finally arrived we were all exhausted but excited to be in Paris. In the morning we were split into groups where we walked around the city seeing sites such as the Latin Quarter and the Pantheon. The groups all reconvened at Notre Dame, where we recieved our ticket to the Louvre. I went with two other MLIS students to the Louvre. The walk was long but enjoyable. While inside I felt a little overwhelmed. There are so many things to do and see inside of the museum; I also felt as though the building itself was a piece of artwork.

After spending a few hours in the Louvre and seeing sites such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, my friends and I left where we embarked on a long journey to the Eiffel Tower and the Arch de Triumph. We walked the whole way down the river to the two sites. The Eiffel Tower was spectacular. So far, it is the first site that has not been a disapointment. After posing for some pictures and walking to the Arch, we decided to take the Metro back to our hotel. We had walked over 15 miles that day. That night, we had dinner together with our entire group in a lovely French restaurant. Good food, good wine, and good company made for a fantastic evening. Not to mention, the French bread was delicious!

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early for our day trip to Versailles. Again, I was taken back with the palace; the amount of work that went into every detail was absolutely amazing. While touring the palace I walked through a room with a large amount of books in it. Once a study or a library, some of the books are still in place. This made me realize the importance of books in past societies.

While the palace was amazing, there are no words for how stunning and beautiful the gardens were. I spent most of the afternoon walking around looking at the several fountains and ponds and flowers that fill the large area. I wish I had more time to spent there. I would have loved to sit out there all day!

That evening, after our tour of Versaille, I went shopping at the Galleries Lafayette were I purchased an adorable dress. Afterwards, my friend and I walked to the Eiffel Tower were I enjoyed a delicious sandwhich under the Eiffel Tower while waiting for the rest of the group. We enjoyed a lovely boat cruise along the Seine River, seeing the sights of Paris at night.

Sunday morning I woke up early and went with some friends to mass at Notre Dame. The church was much different on the inside than I had expected. It was very dark and gothic; which I should have assumed from the outside, but I was still surprised when I went in. The mass was all in French, so it was hard to understand what was being said, however I really did enjoy it. Just being inside for mass was a special treat. The organ was amazing. The man playing was very good; it sounded very deep and dark, just the way the church felt inside. I thought it was very fitting.

After a very long and tiring weekend, I was ready to head back to London after mass.The bus ride seemed to take longer than the ride there, and I was extremely greatful to get back to King's College.

British Museum Archives

The British Museum is huge and holds such valuable pieces inside of it such as the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, Egyptian antiquities, and many others. In addition to these items which are known around the world, the museum also used to house the British Library; the round reading room still exists today.

For our tour, we met with Stephanie Clarke, the museums one and only Archivist, ever! This was an interesting fact to learn about the museum. Being such a large museum with a huge collection, one would have thought many archivists would be needed. During our tour with Ms. Clarke, we learned about the history of the collection; what is contained and housed in the archives, some of the history of the museum and library, and some notable library users.

The archives of the British Museum hold a lot of interesting items; some more intriguing than others.  Ms. Clarke explained that the archives contain finance, staff, and building records, a long with some records from the British Library which include library applications for use and for jobs. As part of our tour, we were able to look at the records and read applications from notable people such as Beatrix Potter, Bram Stoker, and even Karl Marx.

Meeting with the archivist was an exciting experience; it was the first archive visit of the trip and I must say it was very interesting. While the job of an archivist is similar to that of a librarian, it is very different as well. Ms. Clarke also explained to us that digital records for the archives are not being pursued at the moment, which was very interesting to me. In a museum with vast amounts of knowledge at its fingertips, funding and budget cuts are also affecting them and the public. Overall, I truly enjoyed my tour of the archives along with my visit to the museum after!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Second day of classes...

Today, for my class I went to the Barbican Public library. Located in the Barbican Center, this library serves a small population of just over 11,000 individuals. It is in a building that also houses a movie theater, apartments, and several other things as well. Located in London, it was build in an area that was heavily damaged from bombings during WWII. The area was rebuilt into a city center, complete with a library and a museum!

Our library tour was fantastic this morning. I learned so many things and heard of so many great techniques which have been implemented into the Barbican Library. The librarians leading our tour gave us imformation about their reference collection, circulating materials for adults, teenagers, and children, and their large music library. By the end of my visit, I was wishing I lived in London just to visit this library on a regular basis!

A large topic covered in today's tour was RFID tagging. Used in the library for about 6 years, this type of technology is starting to be used in the United States. Just before leaving for the UK I spent several days RFID tagging the collection at the public library I work in. Learning and hearing about a subject I am familiar with, and seeing it in use was very helpful to me.

Throughout our tour we were shown different areas of the Barbican Library and how ideas have been implemented in their library. Speaking with different librarians, from an environment new to me, helped me to gain a new perspective about the library as a whole. It also gave me some ideas about how to run a library and things that should be included in the library I work in back home.

Not only were the librarians who guided our tour helpful, they were super friendly and nice. They answered so many questions, with a smile and a good sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there this morning, and I hope to go back soon!

Here is a picture of the beautiful Barbican Center. It is an amazing complex, with lots and lots of concrete, but it still manages to be beautiful with flowers and fountains in the courtyard outside of the library.

Monday, July 4, 2011

London so far..

Well, I have been in London for three whole days now and in that such a short period of time I have seen so many things already. Yesterday I went on another walking tour of the city where I saw St. James Palce and other sites near there such as Westminster and Parliament. Before my walking tour I went to church at St. James Cathedral where I was able to sit in the front row for mass.

The building was beautiful inside. There is nothing at all like sitting under the dome listening to the service. But what I found to be awesome was the music. An all boys choir sang while an orchestra played their instruments. The whole setting was amazing; an unforgettable exerperience to say the least.

This morning I woke up extra early to go on a walk from our college, which is located near Waterloo Station. We visited Buckinham Palace, Kensington Palce, and Hyde Park. Hyde Park was spectacular. The scenery was so pretty, pictures will not do it justice. I wish I had brough a blanket and a book to lay out on the grass with and relax all afternoon. I also visited the Peter Pan statue and the memorial fountain for Princess Diana.

In the afternoon I met up with my classmates for a day at St. Paul's Library. Having been there the day before, it was nice to have the previous experience fresh in my mind for today. Upon arrival, we met with Mr. Joseph Wisdom, the Librarian for St. Paul's. Mr. Wisdom was full of helpful information and knowledge not only about the library located inside of the Cathedral, but also about the history of church itself. Being in a room with books from the 16th and 17th centuries is truly an honor that I was so fortunate to have. I was even able to touch one! We did not only learn about the collection of books in the Cathedral's library, we also were able to walk down a staircase used in one the of Harry Potter films. It was definitely a high point in my day.

After the class session ended, I met up with a friend and we walked from school back to Buckingham Palace and then to Harrods and TopShop for a little evening shopping. We also went to the Texas Embassy for a little 4th of July celebration and then we dined at McDonalds, an American classic! I could not have thought of a more perfect way to spend the day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hello from London!

Since arriving in London yesterday afternoon, I have been quite busy. Not only have I made some new friends, but I have also been site-seeing during most of the day light hours. I have been here less than 48 hours and I have already seen so much!

Yesterday my professor took my MLIS class around town. We learned how to use the tube and we also visited Trafalger Square, Leicester Square, Waterloo station, the theatre district and many other sights. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Texas Embassy, formerly the White Star Line building where hopefully individuals purchased their tickets for America aboard the Titanic.

This afternoon I walked with a group through out the city where we visited Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the National Museum, and many others. I was able to get a view of Buckingham Palace just after seeing several painting by Monet, Renior, Degas, and Manet. The weather was beautiful today. It was a lovely afternoon.

Our group also visited Covent Gardens. I was able to try my first cup of British tea, and I must say it was FABULOUS! So much better than the tea at home.

Tomorrow I will be going to Church in the morning in the beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral and afterwards I will enjoy another walking tour of the city!