12 August 2014
This blog is now complete, so the only thing that will be changing from now on is the CILIP RSS feed directly above this post. If you would like to read more about my trip to England, Scotland, and Wales please visit my travel blog called Wide-Eyed Wanderer. The entries from here have been copied over to WEW, and the rest of my trip will (slowly) be added soon.
22 July 2014
|Laptop rental machine|
After our tour through the library, we visited an area with several items from the library's collections on display for us to see and touch. King's mainly collects items related to theology, health, history, and foreign policy. They are also especially interested in where the items they collect have come from -- who they used to belong to and where the document has been during its life. There were many really cool items including a book called The Charters of the Province of Pensilvania and City of Philadelphia that had Benjamin Franklin's signature on the cover page. They also have a book on sanitary history with the first published colored graphs and an inscription by Florence Nightingale. My favorite item from the collection was a scrapbook of photographs and memorabilia from Queen Elizabeth II's coronation celebrations across the globe.
18 July 2014
|Chatsworth House grounds|
Today Lindsay and I traveled by bus from Sheffield (where we are staying) to Chatsworth House, which is a leisurely hour-long ride through the gorgeous English countryside and an adorable town called Bakewell. Bakewell looks like what you would picture in your head as an "English town" for a movie. True to its name, Bakewell had an old-timey shop selling artisan bread loaves that made me want to stop and taste. Carbs are my weakness! But I stuck to the plan and we continued on to Chatsworth House.
|The staircase featured in the P&P movie|
Chatsworth is a huge house with even bigger gardens. I believe the term "house" is a little bit of an understatement for a building like this. This house is rumored to be the inspiration for Jane Austen's Pemberley, and it was used as Pemberley in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film starring Keira Knightley.
|Mural above the grand staircase|
|Wood-paneled wall carvings|
|Veiled Vestal Virgin|
|The formal dining room|
|Part of the library|
The library that the statue is housed in would make any reader insanely jealous. It was converted from a long gallery originally used to showcase paintings, then spills into the next room and the next smaller room connecting it to the formal dining room. And all of the splendor inside is magnified by the view on the outside. The house overlooks rolling hills and fields with a river running through for the many sheep roaming around to drink from. There are several ponds and fountains on the property with the most impressive ones being located near the house. There is one behind the house called the Cascade, which is located on a hillside and made up of a series of waterfalls to follow the hill's descent. The other impressive one is a huge, geyser-style fountain on the side of the house with a large reflecting pool. This is so lovely that I would have had the roads redone so that this side of the house would become the front. It's what I would want people to see when they drove up.
15 July 2014
|Central Library entrance|
One of the most impressive rooms is their reading room, which houses the reference library. I was excited to learn that this library is another that still uses its card catalog! The cards are still used for items from 1918-1980 that have yet to be digitally cataloged. I like the card catalog at my library, so I was glad to see another still in use.
Although the reading room might be the most impressive space, my favorite would still be the children's library. This area is filled with modern shelving where kids can sit inside areas on the wall, a tree-shaped shelf with painted animals clinging to the branches, and a separate craft room that is kid-friendly. Having a craft area for kids in a children's library makes so much sense, and I wish more libraries in the US would do this. Crafting encourages creativity just like reading does, so both benefit a child's learning and development.
The art library was another cool stop on our journey through the library. The books are about half and half lending and reference materials, and there are some really cool items in the collection including a copy of The Corpuscle Story by James Clegg that is completely covered in fur on the outside. It looked like something straight out of Harry Potter! The art books were probably some of the most beautiful in the library, and they are also a valuable resource for artists in the area.
|New College Library|
We started the day today at New College Library, which is a part of the University of Edinburgh. The library holds over 250,000 items (50,000 of which are special collections) and is one of the United Kingdom's biggest theological libraries. The library is used primarily by the students of the Divinity School, but can also be accessed by other University of Edinburgh students and the public.
The space is absolutely stunning and was used until the 1930s as a church. The original pews were used as much as possible in the redesign, so the desks and shelving have a very unique look. The stained glass windows have an especially interesting story because they were funded by the church members but were finished after the space had become a library.
14 July 2014
|National Library of Scotland|
(photo courtesy of the Gazetteer for Scotland)
One large collection the library holds is the John Murray Archives, which is a collection of publishing company John Murray's records and published works spanning 234 years. One of the new exhibitions in the library features a recreation of the London John Murray reading room, complete with some of the books published by John Murray on the shelves. It is surprising that many of these are sitting out where visitors can remove them and flip through them!
The rest of the exhibition is a collection of "living figures" depicting famous authors, poets, and explorers whose works were published by John Murray. Some of the people included were Sir Walter Scott, David Livingstone, and Charles Darwin. The living figures are made up of a costume related to the person surrounded by original books and manuscripts related to their work or life. The cases also feature mood lighting that reflects different colors for each person and interactive touchscreens that visitors can use to explore the items in the cases. The custom designed lighting only highlights the items being viewed so that each item is only exposed to light while being examined. Once the user selects another item, the lights will go off and a new item will be lit. Music plays for certain items and animations are shown on the screens for others. Users even have the option to have letters and shirt manuscripts read to them. The readers are actors who have been told to use the specific accent or way of speaking that the author would have used to give the performance authenticity. I was truly amazed at the thought and planning behind each individual element, and can safely say that this is the most engaging exhibit I have ever seen. No photographs were allowed inside, so I unfortunately cannot show you how amazing this exhibit was.
09 July 2014
|View from the boat|
As a special treat today, our class got to ride one of the Thames Clipper boats to Greenwich. Traveling by boat has been my favorite way to see the city so far because it's more scenic than the bus and a lot less stressful than the Tube. Plus, being from the coast I feel like anything on the water is the same as being at home. The scenery definitely changed from old world to new world as you moved eastwards down the Thames.
|Lord Nelson's letter|
Another fascinating set of items were the travel journals of various sailors and explorers. One had such beautiful watercolor paintings of what the person had seen that it's a shame they could not be framed and put on exhibit. I particularly enjoyed flipping through these visual representations of the journey, and really wished I had time to read all of the stories behind the pictures.
|One of the stunning watercolors|
The most innovative part of the library itself was an interactive display that allowed the user to look up ships' plans and view or manipulate the images on screen. This would be an invaluable tool for researchers, and also is a fun way to view documents without placing stress on the originals. Another amazing aspect of the library's services is their phenomenal digitization and its presentation on their web site. Many of the letters and handwritten documents we viewed on our tour are available in almost better-than-life quality on the collections web site. This is another way to give access to thousands of people without harming the priceless original documents.