Back To Scotland!

Central Library


Our first stop in Edinburgh was the Central Library, a grand public library that was started in 1890.  The rooms in this library were very large and you could tell the structure was an old structure, by the vaulted ceilings and elaborate details.

The first room we visited was a large room with

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Main Library, You Can See the Hold Shelves in the Back

many tables and patrons scattered throughout the room and the card catalog (yes a real card catalog!) that is up to date to what is in the library.

My favorite part of this library was the children’s room, it was one of the best ones I’ve seen.  It had three different rooms just for the children’s library, an activity room (such as readi
ng time), a room with sinks for crafts (that’s open to the public to use anytime), and the main library area.  While we were visiting there was an event happening so the children’s library was packed full of prams and children, but it was so good to see so many people of the public using this space.

We next went to the main public area of the library, that is downstairs from the image1 (2)music library that they house.  What I found most interesting about this area is that they have a hold section that patrons can just go and grab their book from.  Usually hold books are placed behind the check out desk for safety, but these books are places in alphabetical order on a shelf next to the desk, and it works great for them.

Also in this library they have a vast array of genealogical and ancestry records for patrons to research.  Unfortunately they can’t put most of this material online because funding is tight for digitization.

After touring the library we were set in a conference room with refreshments to listen to two presentations on STEM/STEAM activities the library is involved with, that is called Digital Toybox, that gets kids engaged in coding and electronics in a productive setting.

Youth Talk, which is a way to prevent children from going down the wrong path, and giving them a productive outlet, and a safe place to go.  In this program they take the opinions and ideas of teens into great consideration to build the events and activities, this makes the teens feel involved and have a voice in building the program.  It was very informative and gave me many great ideas to pass on to people in community.

The las


Children’s Library

t presenter talked to us about how libraries use the digital world to expand their use to patrons.  She talked to us about how the library uses e-books to allow patrons to check out books without coming to the library.  This included magazines, full books, periodicals and newspapers that can be easily accessed at the patrons fingertips.

New College Library


Our next stop in Edinburgh was New College Library and their school of Divinity.  This library was an intriguing difference from the usual libraries we had seen.  We got to see some pieces from their special collection, and then we were taken down to the archives.  While there we were shown that they did not just collect religious material but have whole libraries from contributors that include literature and poetry.  New College Library was a different type of library to go and see the behind the scenes of, and it was a great experience!


A Quick Stop In Durham

Bill Bryson Library

Visiting Durham was a sight to see as it is the third oldest college in Great Britain and in the top ten institutions in the U.K.  Seeing the library was eye opening because as the librarian are telling us, there seems to be a constant state of change, to find space.  On our tour you can see where the renovations have been made (they have the most outlets in a library I’ve ever seen) and how they have overcome the growing student population and storage of material, and there may be another expansion coming in the next few years.


This library staff is so concerned with accommodating their students they go to long lengths to help their students have what they believe they need.  When the doctoral students asked for a specific room just for them and their materials, the library staff made it happen.  A completely quiet room, with shelves for their materials, including ones from the library,  and a view of the cathedral that lets in natural light.  To figure out what their students need they hold surveys intermittently.  They do a great job with their library.

Palace Green Library


Palace Green Library is the special collections library for the University.  It is filled with dark wood shelves and have portraits above each bay of shelves.  These portraits are in relation to what is on the shelves, meaning that this is the cataloging system for this library, which is unique in itself.  Our next stop was just down the stairs where the digitization area was set up, which was very intriguing to see in action. We had been told about digitization of material the entire trip, but had never been able to see it in action. After these materials are digitized, which takes months to do, they are thenBill Bryson Library put on the online catalog for public use.



Past Cases for New Evidence

Middle Temple Law Library

This library was very different from any of the others that we


Law Library

had seen before, between the set up and the decor.  It was fairly narrow compared to the other libraries we had seen but much brighter, with green marble columns and green and white flooring.


One of the interesting things that we were told is that one of the reasons the law library is use, and the collection they keep is so vast, is that if a crime is committed in the 1970’s, and is then tried in trial in present day, they have to abide by the
laws in the 1970’s.

Walking through the library and the past smoking room,
down a long hallway filled with crests, and into the most elaborate dining room I had ever seen.  Dark wood with grand carvings and filled with crest, similarly to the hallway.  The crests are representative of the people that are honored to be included as a member of the Middle Temple, it is an honor to be included in this membership.

It was great to see a different style of library, and see what they, as law librarians, do to provide them with the best resources and collection available.

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Main Dining Table reserved for Members


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Middle Temple Dining Room

Allen Ginsberg and Shakespeare

Maughan Library at Kings College

The Maughan Library has a collection that spans from the 15th century to the present day, and this collection has a wide variety of materials from maps to poems.  One of the most interesting and probably influential to our generation is a poem written on a body bag, in regards to the crisis for refugees.

This collection isn’t entirely based on how old an item is or where it came from, but they include unique aspects that are in an item, such as a note or signature.  Such as a book of Allen Ginsberg Collected Poems, that has drawings and personalized notes on the title page.


Drawing and Signature of Allen Ginsberg




Early Map of North and South America











On the next part of the tour we were shown the main part of the library that houses the check out area, that includes self check out terminals and the student help desk for the campus.  In the exhibit area of the library they are holding a Shakespeare inspired exhibit, for the 400th anniversary of his death.

What was interesting about this exhibit is that they did not focus on Shakespeare’s life but what was happening during his life time.  Along with this we got an inside look about how to set up an exhibit and what kind of effort goes into it.  Between getting the materials needed, because some have to be borrowed, actually placing the material in the cases,  and then writing up the excerpts that the public reads when looking at the exhibit.  There’s a lot that goes into setting up an entire exhibit, but it came out great!

Beatrix Potter and Her Amazing Talent


After mini break we had the option to view the Beatrix Potter archive at Blythe House, and it was without a doubt amazing, even if I was exhausted from travelling the day before.  While this collection is essentially off sight, it is part of the V&A Museums Library’s collection.

While I know Peter Rabbit from how popular it is and working in a bookstore, I knew very little about Beatrix Potter herself.  It was interesting to see her early artwork, that is impressive as is, but that it was made by a child is even more of a feat.  Beatrix Potter had an interesting affinity with animals, while she loved them, she also had an issue with being curious about the inner mechanisms of them as well, so she would boil and dissect a variety of animals.

Even with this slightly disturbing fact it is undeniable that she was a great painter and writer.  Her life was especially interesting to me because she married very late in life, for that time period, therefore she lived with her parents until she married.  After she married, her writing became very limited and she didn’t publish any works.

It was a very interesting collection to see and a great experience that may never happen again.


Land Ahoy!

National Maritime Museum Library

eh1211481_national_maritime_museum_10For our next adventure we took a boat to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (that’s pronounced GREN-ITCH), that I’m sure was lovely and had great sights but made me very motion sick (good times).  The National Maritime Museum Library was opened in 1937 and named Rudyard Kipling, the author or the Jungle Book in the same year.

When we arrived we were shown a variety of items from the collection that the librarians had pulled for us to view.  Including naval rank certifications, a ticket to Admiral Nelson’s funeral and items regarding Captain Matthew Webb, who was the first person to swim the English Channel.

The second part of our tour was to see the actual archival stores that are well guarded and climate controlled.  In the stores, which are on movable shelves to degree the amount of movement the books have to do, there are naval records, atlas’s that are not completely accurate anymore but still relevant or research and many magazines and periodicals.

They have such a variety of materials that digitization of the collection is especially important, but funding is always an issue.  So choosing which materials to digitize is especially important.

This is such a specialized library and it was so nice to see the care that goes into the naval and maritime collections they hold.

The Smell of Old Leather

Royal Geographic Society Library

research-library-archivesOur next destination had a unique collection because it didn’t specifically cater to books, but in objects and navigational apparatuses.  The Royal Geographic Society Library holds about 2 million items and was founded in 1830.  They house a variety of maps, atlases, paintings, archives, books and periodicals.

We were sat around a very large table that was covered in a variety objects from the collection.  We were told that they were from different expeditions from around the world, specifically, the Arctic, South Central Africa, the Antarctic and Mount Everest.

We were shown many different objects from these expeditions, including a bar of choloclate, beef fat sweets (they were for energy), and a lone leather climbing boot.  While we were told about all of the journey’s that the Society help to finance and facilitate throughout his time, the one that most intrigued me was the journey to the top of Mount Everest and George Mallory.

There are still some questions that still arise from this first trek.  In 1922 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were put on an exhibition to be the first people to make it to the top of Mount Everest.  They did not come back from that journey.  A team was sent to hopefully find the mens bodies, but they only found Mallory, but because the trek is so treacherous and exhausting his body wasn’t brought back just some of his personal belongings, that include a climbing shoe.  They were sent with a camera but it was never found, its believed it may be with Irvine’s body that wasn’t recovered, so the journey is partially shrouded in mystery because of this.

Public Libraries!

Barbican Centre Library

The Barbican Library was opened in 1982 and was the first public library that


General Library

we were going to see on our trip.  Our tour guide for the day was Jonathan
Gibbs, and you could just tell that he enjoyed where he worked, even if they were in the midst of changing some IT aspects at the time, as the IT and Operations Librarian he had a lot on his plate at the time.

We got to see the three main sections of the library, that were the children’s library, general library and the music library. The children’s library is the part that most interested me because that is the age group that I am planning on going into.  The librarian and her assistant were so in tune and has such great ideas for library programs that were going on in that section, and seemed to take the noise and ch


Children’s Library

children running around all in stride.

I found the music interesting because I had never seen one before, they had such a large collection of records, cds and sheet music to choose from, it is the largest multicultural building in the world.  One of the pieces that struck me was that this section had a section specifically for unsigned artists and was on full display for the public.

We found on this trip that British libraries have many of the same issues as American Libraries, such as where to place the Young Adult Section that readers feel included in adult sections but are not in an intimidating place that younger readers are afraid to find it.  Along with that there is the issue of making out of print and not very popular books, they haven’t been checked out in a certain amount of time, available t


Music Library

o the public, but where to store them.

This library was a nice change to what we had been seeing, and made us realize that everyone, regardless of where you live, deal with many of the same issues in the public sphere.

1,000 Year Old Scrolls and Ancient Flags

British Library Conservation Centre

Our next site was back at the British Library, there we got a behind


Work Place

the scenes look at the Conservation Centre.  In relationship to the library, the conservation center is very new, just under a decade old.

This was such a great site to see, because we got to see first hand what this team is working on and they explained the steps they were taking on each project.  One in particular was the flag that they were in the process of restoring and conserving.  The flag was so deteriorated that essentially just the emblems and threads were left of it.  Yet they were painstakingly trying to restore it, and spending hundreds of hours, because it was one of only a few left of its kind.


Learning about Binding books

We went to four different stations and at each one we learned a different type of conservation, from material conservation, digitization, binding and scroll work.

The work of preserving the scrolls were especially interesting, because they are around 1,000 years old and the found in the Gobi Desert, that was the scene for Genghis Khan’s last battle.

Camel Leopards and the Lost Reading Room

The British Museum Archives

The British Museum was opened in 1759 and was originally housed a very large collection of natural history exhibits.  The museum was first started in the Montague House that was on the same spot of land the museum is currently on.


Entrance to the Museum

The Montague house was bought for 20,000 pounds, and they decided on this house because their first choice, The Buckingham Palace, was trying to sell for 30,000 pounds.

As you go down into the archives you are taken over by a sense of you are now entering the bowels of this prestigious institution.  One of the first things that was shown to us was the “original papers” about the construction and start up of the museum.  These papers were once loose leaf type pages, but are now bound into large tombs and very hard to catalog in this state.  There was no catalog for the British Museum for over 200 years, so going through the collection for the current archivist is a huge undertaking.  Francesca Hiller, the current archivist has to comb through these articles to find out what they about and catalog them herself, which can get pretty interesting by some stories she told.  As a class I believe one of the stories that stuck with us is that she was trying to find out when giraffes were introduced to the museum, but could find no record of them.  She found out that they were not called giraffes at the time but instead called camel leopards

The British Library Reading Room inside the British Museum, Bloomsbury, before the move of the British Library to its current location at St.Pancras.

The Reading Room 

, because of their body type and markings.

One of the most interesting and saddening piece of information that was told to us, is that the infamous reading room that they have is closed to the public.  It is completely no longer in use, but they still house the library cards that were in use during the time that it was opened.  There are many influential people that used this reading room, such as Brom Stoker and Oscar Wilde.

There were fascinating objects that are housed in these archives and it was such a great experience to get to see some of them.