Friday, 2 January 2009

18 Months after British Studies

It's 18 months later and I am still enjoying the memories of my adventure in the U.K. I am in the middle of an intercession class, LIS 558 which, while not exactly London, is still pretty cool. I am learning more about blogs and wikis and rss feeds and all those other good things which kids today just grow up knowing and which baby boomers actually have to think about. Well, some of us anyway. I have learned lots, even though I knew a bit about the topic before.I still have much to learn as somehow or other I just printed my entire blog while trying to print an email from Google.:)

I do feel that each class I take, takes me to the next level. Of course the two British Studies classes moved me up a coupla notches I hope. :)
The professor of this class, Dr. Klingler, has a great sense of humor. Since I feel humor is one of God's great gifts, I appreciate that.

I remain in touch with some of the Mad Hatters and with my U.K. mentor in all things YA over there. I was even able to visit with some at the Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg in 08. I mentally return to my whirlwind jaunt through Ireland with Edie, my Scottish climb up Arthur's Seat with Drew, and to my English days and nights in pubs and libraries and museums to perk myself up on those not-so-great days.

I hope to finish my Master's in Library Science at USM in May. I should start my Master's project this month and take comps in a few months. One of the things I have appreciated about this program is that the professors appear to want us to succeed. It's also been neat both in my online classes and in my British Studies getting to be involved with others who care about the library.

Several of the things which this program has done for me:
1) given me more confidence in my opinions. Being a paraprofessional for 20 years, I really didn't know where my thoughts and opinions stood in the professional world of librarianship. Now I realize that my natural instinct is on target. This program has confirmed that my opinions usually coincide with those of the profession itself, even if those around me see it differently.
2) broken my writer's block!
3) gave me something positive to focus on.
4) gave me something positive to talk about.
5) allowed me to show others that you might be surprised at what you can do.

I am still not sure why I am working so hard and spending so much money on graduate school when I will soon be old enough for Medicare, but it is one thing in my life that seems right, right now. :) The position I want does not exist; there is no position for a librarian for teens in my community library. But even though the future and what I will be doing in it interests me, it does not worry me.

Life is filled with surprises, some better than others.... Returning to school at this point in life was never in my plans, but has turned out to be one of those really good surprises. It helps me to remember that you never know just what's around the corner in life.. and sometimes it IS good. And thank God for that.
Blessings to all!

Friday, 17 August 2007


of any
photo credit unknown
The Keepers & Sharers of Information
at the Writer's Museum in Edinburgh


At The Mad Hatter in London
But NOT older than dirt!
Where were you, Mike?

So many people welcomed us to the United Kingdom, but none more so than those from North Wales. My thanks to Louis and his friends for turning a dreary evening in a train station into a memorable one in a pub. If you're ever in North Wales, I recommend the Edinburgh Castle, pub extraordinaire!

Drew Sharkey (formerly known in Thibodaux, La. as "The Shark") my son's college friend and my Scottish connection. Thanks Drew, for showing me another beautiful part of Edinburgh.

My travelin' buddy, Edie from Oklahoma
who led me around Ireland, with one of the most
important people in the U.K. -- the man at the Information Desk!

Street musicians or buscars entertain on the city streets of the U.K. This one is a one-man band, while Edinbourg had bagpipers and guitarists, Dublin had harpists and London had

Edinburgh Dancers

GUILDHALL LIBRARY - Friday, August 3

MY FAVORITE PART --The Guildhall has an electronic database called Collage, which is a pathfinder to 35 to 40,000 of their images which can either be downloaded or ordered. Even though downloaded images would not be quality images, this database sounds as if it is one which I might recommend to students and just sounds like fun. I try to give the Teen Council a "Library Secret" each month -- something which most patrons don't know, and this sounds like a good one to share, as well as just keep in mind for regular use.

THE GUILDHALL LIBRARY - The Guildhall Library is another part of the City of London Library Services, which includes the Barbican Library which we visited previously and two other smaller lending libraries. The City of London is only one square mile and filled with businesses rather than residences. Andrew Harper, printed books librarian, told us that, like many other libraries, they are having a hard time right now due to e-resources.

The Guildhall is the largest of the City of London's libraries and is locally and publicly funded with no membership restrictions.

The first building of the Guildhall library was built in the 1420's, with the present one being the fourth structure. The original one was largely theological as it was next to a chapel. It lasted around 100 years until Edward VI purloined it, taking the most of the collection.

In the 1820's it was refounded with the theme being those things of London interest. At this point, it was open to only corporation members. More and more guests began to use it, and in 1875 a new building opened to the general public. It was the first to provide to the public, and became a more general library. The City Business Library separated from it.

In December 1940, though it was not directly hit, but was burned out. Much had already been moved out, some survived, and some were replaced through donations and purchases.

Some collections are just housed in the Guildhall, but still owned by a different institution.

Taking its name from the trade guilds, which had originally built up many individual collections of their own, partly to educate their apprentices.
Some collections the Guildehall is known for include those on clock and watch-making, maritime, and the stock exchange. The London Stock Exchange gave the Guildehall all its historical and annual reports from 1880 through 1964, that in itself making the Guildehall of international importance.

The Guildhall staff can give some assistance with research, potentially around 20 minutes; after that the fee is 50 pounds. Some of this research is done by staff, other by free-lancers.

Digital cameras are frequently used by patrons to photograph the information they need.

This library is frequently used by historians, as well as commercially for film, magazines, and books.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

GREENWICH - Wednesday, August 1

AND THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY photo credit mr. mike

Standing on the Prime Meridian...

An actor relates the story of the Royal Observatory. If you're from Baton Rouge, notice that the actor looks like Leo Honeycutt, newscaster.

Royal Observatory

The National Maritime Museum

A day in Greenwich --another beautiful day....

Present day Greenwich is actually the London Borough of Greenwich which was formed in 1965 from the boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich. It is home to the Royal Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory, and numerous other sites of history, science, and grandeur. But standing on the Prime Meridian must be the coolest thing!

However, the National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, and the Queens' House (which is actually a part of the Musuem) were also great visits.

Reading Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobol enhanced this day and stayed with me. Recognizing that the development of the equipment to be able to measure longitude was a basis for the British developing their Royal Navy which allowed them to dominate the seas and grow their empire, including our colonies. Of course, it changed the world enormously in other ways also, but this really clicked for me.

It was a great reminder to me of how one event/development can make a difference and how we never know what the results may be. It is a perfect example of adage about dropping a pebble and not knowing where the ripples may go.

I hope to soon read The Longitude Prize, a young adult book about the same subject.

The National Maritime Museum, of course, is THE place to find information on anything maritime-related. It contains 4.5 miles of manuscripts, with the earliest being from 1322.

A number of items were brought out for us to view. These included original photographs taken by survivors of the Titanic from the Carpathian and a dinner menu from the Titanic.

It was also memorable to hold a ship log of John Newton's, who wrote Amazing Grace, when he was a slave trader.

This year, the National Maritime Museum is commemorating the 1807 Act for the Abolution of Slave Trade.

The National Maritime Museum also has offsite storage and is funded by the government.

It was fun, but not surprising, to hear that acadamecians are quiet in their research, while family historians like to talk.

The Royal Observatory's 28-inch refracting telescope, the seventh largest in the world, also stands out in my mind. It was completed in 1893. The lens itself weighs 200 pounds and the tube is over 28 foot long.

The Queen's House, which was again, not surprisingly, the house for a queen in the 1600's, was later a school for orphans of children of sailors, houses an enormous collection of art. It includes portraiture work by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which I especially enjoyed viewing, since one of my favorite people is Joshua McReynolds, teen council member. I am sure there must be a connection!


After returning from a whirlwind tour of Ireland, with a memorable sidetrip to North Wales, sleeping half the night in the train station in Holyhead and the other half on a train with three inebriated Brits, who alternated between singing, arguing, snoring, and missing their stop, and then finally arriving at Kings' College in London at 8 a.m. with our visit to the VA Art Museum at 1, I didn't really expect this to be one of my more enjoyable visits.
I was pleasantly surprised. We were split into two groups, which made it a nicer size and easier to see and hear. The tour was good, but the viewing of artists' books was what made it memorable.
Artists' books are basically that, books which are created by or conceived of by artists. They vary greatly and are delightful to view.

Some were almost like origami and were truly forms of paper engineering. Others were based on quilt patterns, while another was like a tunnel.
Other special collections of the V&A include some of Dickens' manuscripts and DaVinci's sketchbooks. More plebian items are James Bond paperbacks and the British version of the Sears catalog.
Galleries of the V&A include Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Roccocco,as well as 18th, 19th, and 20th century.
Considerered by many to be the world's premier museum of art and design, the V&A is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The V&A Museum family consists of this one, the Museum of Childhood (visited last week) and previously, the Theatre Museum which is now available only online.They are governed by a board of trustees who are appointed by the prime minister.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Still working on it....


WINCHESTER CASTLE: Its Great Hall holds King Arthur's Round Table on its great wall. King Arthur was a legend, you say? Well, the table is there, but as with much history, some mystery still surrounds it. Some say that Winchester itself was Camelot, but who's to know? In 1976, scientific investigations advised that this round table was built in the 1270's in the reign of King Edward I who showed great interest in things Arthurian. It is felt that possibly this enormous table, 18 ' across and weighing over one ton, was used by Edward for some sort of tournaments he held.

Even though science shows this Round Table doesn't date to the 6th century, it's still pretty impressive and great fun to see in the Great Hall.

WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL: The present cathedral was begun in 1079, but the first one there was started in 642. The nave is the longest in Europe, which is really saying something, considering England's plethora of enormous cathedrals. The grave of Jane Austen, as well as several English kings are here, but I missed them as I was about to miss our coach!

The Cathedral was as beautiful as one could imagine, but we found a bit of sadness here, as someone stole a classmate's camera when she laid it down for about two minutes. Such things are sad anywhere, but in such a Cathedral...

JANE AUSTEN'S HOUSE: Much as I love her, I didn't make it to her house. However, since she only lived there the last six weeks of her life, I don't consider it her true home. That's how I pacify myself for missing it anyway. :)