Monday, 30 October 2017

ARLG London and South East Visit to the Science Museum Library

I had an interesting visit to the Science Museum Library. The collection concerns the development and history of science, engineering and medicine from the fifteenth century to the present day. The Dana Research Centre and Library is located round the back of the Science Museum itself. We were welcomed by the librarian who told us a bit about the library.

The collection consists of around 6,000 books and journals, with much more located at the Science and Technology Studies Collection stored at Wroughton. Items from this collection, which is made up of over 80,000 books and periodicals, have been collected over the past century or more. There are various collections of rare books and donated archives, including the Patrick Moore Collection, the John Milne Seismological Library, the Comben Collection of works on animal husbandry, and trade pamphlets.

We were taken into the library itself, which is small but bright and airy. The pattern on the window was inspired by the dappled effect of sunlight through trees (reminiscent of Newton's discovery of gravity when an apple fell onto his head), and old-fashioned computer cards. The Library is open to the public, but not everyone can borrow.

Finally we got to look at some of the rare books and archives in the collection, which was fascinating. My favourite was the flight plan for the Apollo 11 moon mission, signed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Library visits - how useful are they?

Since I started my library career several years ago, and particularly since I've been living in London, I've been on many different library visits. However, few if any of them have related to my current job as an Information Officer working with a VLE. Places I've visited over the years have included the Wallace Collection, RADA, St Paul's Cathedral, the British Library, Conway Hall, ZSL London and Shakespeare's Globe.

In fairness I'm not sure there would be any point in a visit focusing on an institution's VLE. I don't think sitting in front of a computer would make for a particularly fascinating day out, and I feel I can learn about this sort of thing from user groups, conferences and online discussions. I don't feel that I learn anything particularly related to my everyday work from these visits.

My job is focused on technology and e-learning, and that's something I enjoy and find interesting. But I have a strong interest in special libraries, involving rare collections or history or heritage, and these visits allow me to explore that. Furthermore I have visited a school library and some academic libraries, which also allow me to experience the breadth of library services and the variety of roles that are available. Library visits help me to feel part of a profession; they help reinforce there is a whole world of libraries out there and help me to see the bigger picture.

My ultimate conclusion is that, even though there is no immediate practical benefit to my visits, I get other things out of them instead. So for me they are definitely worth it.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

ARLG London and South East Visit to the Shakespeare's Globe Library

I signed up for an ALRG London and South East visit to the Shakespeare's Globe library which I was very much looking forward to, as I missed out on a visit a couple of years ago. We met in the foyer and made our way to the library by going backstage, which was exciting in itself. The Library and Archive is in a temporary building, but in the next few years a purpose-built building is due to be constructed.

The Library and Archive services are staffed by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers. There is currently no librarian as the previous post-holder has recently left, but the archive staff were very helpful in explaining what was going on. The service is used mostly by academics as well as by those involved in Globe productions. Some actors are particular regulars.

The staff members got some things out for us to look at that emphasised the level of detail and research that went into the construction of the Globe over a number of years. My favourite was the letter from Eddie Redmayne to then-Artistic Director Mark Rylance, thanking him for the opportunity of performing at Middle Temple Hall but reluctantly declining to move with the production to the Globe as he wants to go back to university and finish his degree. There are other letters, pictures and legal records from the Globe's history, as well as books about theatres in Shakespeare's time.

I was really excited to get the chance to visit the library of one of my favourite places in London. Many thanks to ARLG London and South East for organising it.