Thursday, 24 March 2016

Information Services Group Visit to the Zoological Society of London Library

The CILIP Information Services Group recently organised a visit to the Zoological Society of London Library, which I signed up for really quickly. The Library is located near London Zoo, and we gathered in the Council Room of the ZSL headquarters to begin the visit.

ZSL is the charity behind London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, as well as being a research institute funded by UCL. We were told a bit about the history of ZSL, which was established by Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphry Davy in 1826. Impressively, women were admitted as fellows from 1827. The Council Room is full of pictures of individuals who have made contributions to the Society, including Prince Albert, who was the President from 1851-61, Harry Johnston (who discovered the okapi and many, many other animals), and Miriam Rothschild. Famous names in the visitors' book include Elizabeth II, Emperor Hirohito, John Paul Getty and Jackie Kennedy.

The Library, which can be reached online at, is located upstairs in the building and is a rich resource of books and journals about zoology and animal conservation. It is open Monday to Friday, and is open to all for reference purposes, but only Fellows of the ZSL can borrow books. We got to wander around the Library and explore for ourselves. Naturally I went straight to the penguin section:

My favourite part of the visit was getting the chance to look at some of the archives and rare books that the librarians had very kindly got out for us. They included an early "Daily Occurrences" ledger, the very first Council Minutes (with the signature of Sir Stamford Raffles), the animal record card for Winnie the bear (the original Winnie-the-Pooh), newspaper clippings concerning an escapee eagle, and a medieval tome containing pictures of all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures (some real, some imagined).

Daily Occurrences 1865

Council Minutes

Animal record card for Winnie the bear

Goldie the golden eagle

Ulyssis Aldrovandi Monstrorum historia

I really enjoyed the visit, which was fascinating.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

ARLG London and South East Visit to the Conway Hall Library

Conway Hall entrance. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I visited the Conway Hall Library with ARLG. Conway Hall is a building near Holborn, London, owned by Conway Hall Ethical Society. It was opened in 1929, named after Moncure Daniel Conway (1832-1907), an anti-slavery advocate and supporter of free thought. These days it hosts a wide variety of performances, lectures and classes.

The Library contains the Ethical Society's collection, the largest and most comprehensive Humanist Research resource of its kind in the UK. Members of the Ethical Society can borrow books, and the Library is open to the public for research.

The Library is beautiful, as befits a resource contained within a Grade II listed building. The resources it contains include historical texts, artworks, music, pamphlets and archives. We got the chance to look at several items from the collection, including records of previous lectures and events held within the building.

As well as looking around the Library, we also got a tour of the building as a whole. The lecture hall is particularly impressive.

I enjoyed the chance to look around such an interesting and unusual library.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

#uklibchat: Mid-Career Directions - Reflection

At the beginning of March I took part in my first ever #UKLibChat. The theme was 'Mid-Career Directions' and I thought it seemed quite appropriate for me. I graduated five years ago last summer, have been in my current job for five years and have recently begun Chartership, so I am clearly no longer a "new professional".

To prepare for the session I read Laura Woods' thought-provoking blog post on the subject, which was really interesting. In it she talks about how her experience has helped her work out what she likes and what she doesn't like, so she knows what to focus on when selecting and applying for future jobs. It's slightly different for me as I've only had one role since graduating from my Masters (except for a few months temping) so I don't quite have the breadth of experience, but undoubtedly I've gained a lot of experience in my current role.

The libchat itself has been Storified here if you would like to look it up. I really enjoyed it and it left me with lots to think about. One of the interesting things about the chat was that no one seemed to be certain what exactly "mid-career" meant. I actually see this as a positive as to me it implies flexibility, that it can be whatever you want to make it. We discussed ways to stay motivated and relevant and how to keep up with CPD, and I left feeling more confident than when I arrived.