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. :)



BARBICAN LIBRARY - located in the City of London (London's "downtown" borough, an important business district ) with free membership to those who live, work, or study in the City of London. Current membership is 45,000, with 25, 000 active users. The City has only some 8,000 residents with some 330,000 city workers.

This library is a part of an arts complex, established in 1982, which includes a concert hall, two theatres, three cinemas, two art galleries, a conservatory, and restaurants, as well as the public library. The library now has 44 people on staff, serving some 1200 visitors per day and circulating some 470,000 items per year and is the major of the three lending libraries funded by the City of London.
The Barbican has a steep curve of circulation with 40 % of its patrons visiting between noon and 2:30 p.m. -- during business lunch hours.
The Barbican offers home delivery service for those who cannot come into the library, book box collections to local schools, reading promotions, and other events for all ages. Special collections include London history, financial analysis, arts, young adults, classic crime fiction, and basic skills learning materials.

Listening booths in the Music Library of the Barbican. Rumor is that Orlando Bloom, who was currently starring in a London play, visited the music room the day before we didl.

Its music library includes a patron piano which is frequently reserved for personal practice as well as for patrons trying out scores the library owns. Patrons can book a day ahead.Listening and study booths are also available. We couldn't photograph the keyboard because it was in use

The Children's Library was nice, but similar to most others. It did, as others I have seen in Britain, keep a number of its picture books in colorful wooden crates on rollers. It also had its books separated and labelled by actual age, as well as some by type. Sections included a spinner for 13+ with titles authors such as Francine Pascal, Reynolds, Mal Peet, and Anthony Horowitz. The section for ages 10+ included titles such as Chasing Vermeer, Peter Pan, and Through the Looking Glass.

Other sections include Folk in Fairy tales (in fiction section), Parent's Collection, First Readers, Under Five, Five to Ten, and Fiction 10+.

Individual books in the different sections have a color-coded strip of tape on the spine for easy shelving.

Spinner of books for ages 13+in the Children's Section

Books for ages 15+ are in the Young Adult Section

The Children's Library offers storytime several times a week, a reading group which read and "voted" on the latest Carnegie Awards (none of them voted for the winner), participates in Reading is Fundamental, and numerous other programs.

The Young Adults section

for 15+ was near the

entrance to the

Children's Library.

After hours, patrons can return
and check in their books in the lobby

REFLECTIONS... This was a great visit, not as impressive or as exciting as some of the other visits, but one of the most practical, useful, and helpful as it gave me a good look behind-the-scenes, as well as out front of a public library, which is where I work. Another reminder of how we're all the same and all different --- the City of Zachary (approximately 13,000) is larger than the City of London (8,000), but the 330,000 workers in the City of London give the Barbican a definite difference. With only 600 children living in the City, the Barbican has even a bigger challenge in attracting young adult patronage (my 'specialty), but does have a small section for them. A section more for the 'tweens is included in the Children's Room, which has its own librarian, while the Young Adult librarian also works in other areas of the library.

I liked how this library, as well as others I saw in the U.K., had a section for "Just Returned" books.

I feel that good communication, i.e. signage, can be sooo helpful, so I am always on the lookout for both good and bad examples. The interior of the Barbecan had large, clear signage, rating an A+ in my book. I never did see the sign outside, though, so I don't know if I came in from the wrong side or what. Since the Barbican was so good overall, I prefer to think I came in the wrong way (quite possible, as I had trouble finding my way out of the building -- but that was the problem of the Arts Centre' s maze and signage, not this library which I really liked!
The Music Library was totally impressive, especially the patron keyboard and the listening booths. A patron was silently playing piano while we were there, with their special headphones.

Another program at the Barbican is Book Start by Book Trust encourages parents to start reading to their children by offereing them a kit with several board books, information, and a library membership form when a child is born, then another one when the child is 18 months old.

The Young Adult librarian was at lunch, then working the Reference Desk, and as I had little time to speak with her, we plan to e-mail.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


The Writers' Museum

Tucked away

in Edinburgh is

the Writers' Museum which features Scotland's Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott.

The Writers' Museum is tucked away in a lovely 17th century building (isn't everything in the U.K in a lovely old building?) near the Royal Mile in what is known as Lady Stair's House. As well as being home to exhibitions of the memorabilia of Stevenson, Burns, and Scott, it also showcases temporary exhibits, which during our visit, featured Ian Rankin, creator of the Scottish detective, Rebus. Another author to add to my stack of books "To Be Read."

This museum was fairly small and quiet, making it a nice change from some of the larger, almost overpowering museums we have visited. As we each bring our own stories to with us wherever we go, one thing which stayed with me was that both Scott and Burns died of brain aneurysms. Although Stevenson had struggled with what was probably tuberculosis and was sickly much of his life, and Scott had fought polio earlier, supposedly an aneurysm was the cause of death for both. Was it really? Were doctors truly able to tell at that time? Did they both think too much (just kidding - a little dark humor here!!)?

In the museum, a wooden rocking horse with one foot brace higher than the other gave evidence to Scott's battle with polio.
As a lover of quotes, I enjoyed Makar's (Scottish word for writer or poet) Court, which has quotations of Scottish writers in a number of the paving stones. outside the Writers' Museum.

The first inscription in Makar's Court was in 1997, and as there are many more spots available, it will be interesting to see what quotes may be put there in the future.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


REFLECTIONS ON THE DAY: The Scots get the Nancy Lockett Hospitality Award. Not only did they provide informative information, presented in an attention-getting format, they served us TEA. Free TEA! Not only did they serve us free tea but they literally rolled out documents from 1494 for us to ogle. Those Scots are good!

The only drawbacks were that the time in the John Murray Exhibit passed too quickly and that I, who have an accent disability, had to struggle to understand the beautiful Scottish accent of the lecturer. The tea served was certainly a bonus and won me over to the Scottish way of life.

THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND is a library of legal deposit for both Britain and Ireland. Its collections include British, rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, science and technology, official publications and business. It is open to those whose needed material is not readily available elsewhere. Although it is normally considered that students' needs can be me elsewhere, special provisions can sometimes be made.

Its website includes digital libraries related to Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Winston Churchill, maps, war experiences, Scottish bookbinding, the union of the Scottish and British crowns, and numerous other topics.

Our time at The National Library of Scotland was largely involved with their new exhibit on John Murray who established his publishing house in 1768 and was known for publishing such authors as Lord Byron, Charles Darwin, and David Livingstone.
A scene in the John Murray Exhibit
Photo credit - MW
The Scottish Executive, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and other donors assisted the
National Library of Scotland in developing the John Murray Archive which contains
over 150,000 items.

This entertainingly interactive exhibit will change throughout the time it will be on display, with different important colleagues, correspondents, and authors of Murray's being featured.

The exhibit presently includes Darwin, Byron, Scott, and Livingstone. The
Library's technology sets a scene for each one, encouraging visitors to view transcripts of letters and other memorabilia as they learn about the lives and accomplishments of Murray and and his cohorts. In a room of subdued lighting which sets the tone, a different scene highlights each character and his story.

With the 20 or so in our group, all the settings were popular, especially an interactive table that allows the visitor to make choices and "write" his own book.

REFLECTIONS -- A truly fun, interactive, and informative exhibit. The only drawback was that the time passed too quickly.

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SCOTLAND has three building in Edinburgh and is under the Scottish Executive with part of its mission being to select, preserve, and make available the archives of Scotland in a variety of mediums.
After serving us tea, they brought out a number of documents for us to view, including one from 1494 and a cookbook from the 1600's. While the librarian rolled out the 1494 document with white gloves, we were allowed to actually hold and thumb through some of the others.
The National Archives has begun digitalization, with recorded wills and testaments from 1500 to 1901 being available free on their website.
REFLECTIONS: See above. This was great, one of my favorites.


Taking a break at the Scottish border....
Our next door neighbor at The University of Edinburgh ...

We had a wonderful double decker bus with dvd player and lots of room and several stops for food, which was good since the trip was nine hours.
As we leave England, it has been suffering from historically bad torrential rain, but we have fortunately avoided it. Other than a few showers, our weather has been great -- and what's a few showers?

The countryside was lovely, getting more and more so as we neared and then entered Scotland.

The University of Edinburgh, where we stayed, has some beautiful, historic, old buildings and some nice, new ones in which we stayed.

This dorm room was spacious and clean and comfy and had a reading lamp which is the real test of a good room. The only problem was that the bathroom was down the hall, so you had to plan your trips and grab it before someone else did for your shower. Plus it was co-ed, so it was interesting.

WESTMINISTER - Saturday, July 21

Strolled in the mist in London. Toured Westminister Abbey where lots of dead writers and other people are buried.

Had coffee and lunch there; was pretty cool.

DAY OF RESEARCH & REST? - Friday, July 20

Can't remember this day too well, but since I like research and love rest, I must have had fun. :)

Friday, 20 July 2007


We boarded the train at Paddington Station.

REFLECTIONS: We returned today to one of my favorite British cities ( I think I have been in four by now, so I really know my British cities well!)

The train ride was fast, comfortable, and pleasant. There is a lot to be said for the British Mass Transit System, both the underground (tube) and the train. I have never lived in a city which used mass transit much. In Baton Rouge, it seems to be almost only those who have no choice. Here, it is a wide variety of people zooming along together -- in the stuffy tube or the comfy train. I am afraid our country may be too big and too independent for us to use mass transit well unless/until we are forced to.

Hundreds of bicycles filled the bike lot at the Oxford Train Station. Evidently, many combine these two forms of transportation.

Maybe mass transit is one reason that there anything goes over here as far as clothing and hair styles. Sweating in the tube and zooming on the bike make for a interesting appearance upon arrival. Well, come to think of it, maybe that's not the only reason for this wide variety of styles.


A wonderfully-British, white-haired gentleman in corduroys led us around and shared stories. I think he enjoyed it also, as our group was evidently a bit more enthusiastic than some. :) We are pretty enthusiastic about things which others consider quite dry and others might even call dull . :):)

Here, we were allowed to sit on the benches where scholars sat in medieval days as they waited to be called upon for their oral exams. It's hard to imagine or describe the beauty of these ancient British buildings we are seeing, just as it is hard to grasp that young men sat on these same benches hundreds of years ago.

Our walk through the "tunnels" between the stacks of books could be the basis for another National Treasure movie. Our white-headed gent would make a great character actor. When you think of the inside of the buildings, think Harry Potter; some scenes were actually filmed here.

The main research library of the University of Oxford, The Bodleian takes its name from Sir Thomas Bodley who restored the library, re-opening it in 1602. It had been founded in the 1400's.

The Bodleian is primarily for the use of Oxford students and faculty, but also for the "community of the learned".

The Old School's Quadrangle was finished in 1619, and the area around it includes The Divinity School (the University's first examination school), The Chancellor's Court, and The Convocation House (used by Parliament for a short period).

The Bodleian also has seven other sites including a law library, Indian library, and Japanese library.

Standing in The Old School's Quadrangle, one sees the doors which still have the names of their former schools painted on them in Latin.

The "Old Library" across the street houses the tall books, and the "New Library" houses the small library in a shelving system similar, although more antiquated,than the British Library. It uses conveyor belts to send the books to the proper reading room, and our guide did not seem quite sure how the books could be located. He referred to the librarians who located them as troglodytes, and it sounded as if they just were not allowed to die, since no one would ever be able to locate the books if they did.

Although one of the reading rooms was rather utilitarian, the Camera Reading Room was straight out of the movies.

And literally, at the movies, you can get a glimpse of one of Bodlean buildings as it served as the Hogwarts Library in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

C.S. LEWIS TOUR: Several of my classmates and I took a C.S. Lewis tour in Oxford. We viewed several places Lewis lived, as well as one of the places his good buddy, J.R.R. Tolkien lived. We visited the church Lewis worshipped in as an adult and his grave.

I'm glad I took this tour, but the tour guide gave off negative "vibes" which did detract from the afternoon. I will try to remember how much one's own attitude can affect others.

THE EAGLE AND THE BABY: Now this was really cool! Most of the class, from the current generation.. what is it now? . to us Baby Boomers just happened to show up at the pub where the Inklings, Lewis, Tolkien, and buddies, would gather to talk about their writings, etc., How fascinating to wonder what parts of Narnia and Middle Earth may have been born here! And how cool to remember that they had no idea that we would all gather here years later and think of them. Makes one wonder what group out there might be another group of unknown Inklings...

WORKING HARD - Wednesday, July 18

"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together."

I used this research day to work on my blog and my stamina. :) I succeeded fairly well with both as I am more comfortable with where I am on my blog, and I am in hopes I will once again be able to rise in the morning. :):)

"There is a time for many words and there is a time for sleep"

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


(The library was a bit more impressive than Blackfriar's, but respecting the library's privacy, I will not post library photos. Plus, the cottage pie was pretty impressive.)

A private tour of a cathedral library may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's why it's great to do it with a group of librarians, especially who are also library students and are not yet burned out and disillusioned. The library had the atmosphere as well as the beauty which one would desire in a cathedral library: And can you believe the librarian’s last name is Wisdom?
This is too good to be true!

A noisy, sweaty, but swift tube ride, a private tour at St. Paul's, cottage pie at Blackfriar's Pub and a walk across Blackfriar's Bridge in the strong London breeze preceded a nice afternoon nap to prepare me for an evening of blogging! I did find time for a nice kitchen chat with my classmates, a walk to the store (I love English yogurt--it's creamier than ours), and a little fun computer time (checking my email - did YOU email me? and making reservations to fly from Edinburgh to Dublin!). It was a very good day.

The history of the Cathedral itself is long and eventful. First built in 606, the present building was completed in 1710. St. Paul’s was ransacked by the Vikings to the point it had to be rebuilt, burned in the Great Fire of 1666, struck by lightning in 1651 and was a bombing target during the Blitz in World War II. St. Paul’s Cathedral has seen a memorial service for Queen Victoria and the funerals of the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill, the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, several Jubilee celebrations, and a memorial service for the victims of 9/11. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke there.

But our focus this day was on the Cathedral Library.

To get there, one must have special permission as it is not normally open to the public. Then, one must climb a seemingly never-ending staircase. A person does not enter this library easily!
Not surprising, since it is in the majestic St. Paul’s, the ceiling in this library is extremely high. But this serves an additional purpose according to Librarian Joe Wisdom; this ceiling is high enough that it "allows thoughts to soar," both for "clients" and employees. And it was obvious that Mr.Wisdom's own thoughts soar as he talked about preservation of, conservation of and access to the some 13,500 volumes which live in the solemn room.

Mr. Wisdom also talked about the symbolism of the decorative plaster in the library and other parts of the cathedral as he noted the intertwined books and quills denoting that the library is a place of learning and that St. Paul's is a place where God's Word is read.

The library is "open to all who can make good use of it," but Mr. Wisdom quickly assured us that he is very careful with this collection. One is allowed access to no more than three documents at a time, and a user would not be left alone with many of the items.

The Cathedral Library is fortunate that most of the 300 bugs which live in libraries do not live in England, according to Mr. Wisdom. Even though he is the only librarian on staff, he does receive assistance in conservation from a specialty group which will be funded through a grant and through the assistance of special volunteers.

A related feature we were allowed to view was a model of an earlier replacement cathedral design by Christopher Wren, rejected because it was too "Catholic."

STONEHENGE - Sunday, July 15


It was cool! Both literally and figuratively!

It was hard to believe we were really at the historical and mysterious Stonehenge in Wiltshire, near Winchester, England. Although the fact that it was roped off and that there were hundreds of others gathering 'round it did detract a bit, Stonehenge still resonated of mystery and mysticism, even if a bit less than it must have in years past, when one could walk amongst the giant stones.

It is believed that Stonehenge was constructed in three phases and took more than 30 million hours of labor. Some 25 miles north is another stone grouping, Avebury.

Speculation on the use of Stonehenge ranges from human sacrifice to astronomy. I prefer the astronomy version.

AN EARLY DAY OF REST :) - Saturday, July 14 rest or not to rest, that is the question...

ahh yes, to rest!


Totally majestic both inside and out! The view from the River Thames is amazing; the view from across the River Thames is amazing, the view from the street is amazing, and the entire interior is amazing. I will now watch the broadcasts of the British Parliaments with much more interest as it is now real to me. I do wonder what this trip and these sites mean to the majority of the undergraduates and what it would have meant to me at that age. They will have so much longer to have these experiences be a part of them, to let these experiences affect their lives and the lives surrounding them. Would Tech Rome have changed me much if I had gone when I was 19? Each decision can affect so many things....

Parliament Itself
We were able to bypass much of the queue at here as we had a special tour arranged. Security was tight, and wands were used.
To be continued... I have run out of steam.:)


The British Library is gorgeous, impressive, and massive -- on the inside. The exterior does not appeal to me, not that that matters. :) It is designed to resemble a ship, which does nothing for me. However, once I entered, I certainly did not care what the exterior looked like. In the center of the first floor is the King’s Library, encased in glass, containing some 90,000 items donated by King George III, aka Mad George.It’s also totally impressive to think that one is standing on top of the British Library collection which is stored underneath the front piazza and the building itself. Below sea level, this area is equipped with tanks and pumps which pump surrounding water out to the River Thames.

I was also impressed that the target (which is usually met) for a person to obtain a reader’s card is 20 minutes, which includes a rather thorough interview. The target is normally met; a classmate reported he received his in about 15 minutes. Being accustomed to seeing delays at our local circulation desk makes me think that the British are quite efficient – not that it normally takes 20 minutes to get a card at our library – but I am afraid that it COULD -- and supposedly we don't have to do a thorough interview at this point.

I also like that the building was designed to last 300 years. Hmm, what might we be learn here?

The Library Itself
The British Library began operation in 1973 with the merging of the library from the British Museum with collections of other institutions. The collection has over 13 million books and numerous other holdings. A person 18 of older, with proper id, may obtain a reader’s card after an interview regarding the person's research needs. After he has searched the catalog which is online, he may request the needed item and can expect to have it in hand soon if it is on site. H must know what he wants and must use it in the reading room. This is not a lending library.

Amazingly, the books are arranged according to size in order to maximize usage of space. and are listed on a grid reference which provides the location.

The current special exhibition is Sacred, which displays numerous important books of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.

Standing exhibits include fascinating items from the Magna Carta to Beatles manuscripts.

Security is quite tight here; other than the airport, it is the only place I have been searched (only my bag here).

I was not able to view the exhibits as I had an interview for my research paper. I hope to be able to return to see at least a little more of the treasures here.

My Interview
For my research project, I had an afternoon long visit with a young guru of young adult services in the UK, Matthew Imrie. Although Matthew’s title is lending librarian at this point, his passion is young adult services and he is being allowed to develop that at his present location. We met at on the piazza at the British Library, had lunch and coffee, lots of talk, and then rode the big red double decker bus to his library some distance a way. As he described it, it is in a somewhat deprived area, but not as deprived as his previous one. It is in a shopping mall which reminded me slightly of Baton Rouge’s Bon Marche Mall at the time of its decline, except it was busy.

His colleagues and supervisors were most gracious, as were the members of his Teen Reading Group which I met. They wanted to know if I was from Texas; when I told them Louisiana, they wanted to know if I knew Brittney Spears. Oh so sadly, :):) I said no, and asked if they liked her. They kind of mumbled negatively and said “no, she changed.”

Matthew was wonderful and escorted me all the way back to Waterloo Station which is by my dorm. It was a great afternoon and it's amazing how much Matthew and I have in common and what we are each doing on our side of the pond in spite of him being a 31 yr old young man from South Africa, and I being Nancy. :)

He was most helpful and we hope to keep in touch. Maybe we can do something internationally with our teens! He will email me photos which I will post later.

STRATFORD ON THE AVON - Thursday, July 10

"... where oxlips and the nodding violets grow..."

Oxford was a hard act to follow, but Stratford-on-the-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown certainly has its own charm. Its only drawback is that the large number of tourists make it hard for it not to be too "touristy". It's almost hard to remember that it is real and old and not a 21st century Disney theme center. I especially enjoyed Stratford as I had recently read Loving Will, young adult historical fiction available at your Zachary Branch Library, told from the point of view of Anne Hathaway. I wanted to see her home also, but I am trying to accept that I will not see EVERYTHING in England. My favourite place was Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare worshipped and where others continue to do so today.

Famous sites I did see in Stratford include the house in which Shakespeare was born, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter and her husband John Hall (Hall’s Croft), and the home of Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth, and her first husband Thomas Nash (Nash’s House), and the foundations of the house in which Shakespeare and probably Anne Hathaway died. (New Place).

Gardens flourish at all of these sites and were my favourite part of each stop.

In Shakespeare’s birthplace, I also liked the room which was used for his father’s glove-making business. What a different legacy WS would have left if he had continued his father’s business.

The Shakespeare Library, located next to the house in which he was born, is open by appointment for scholarly research. With its own cataloging system, this library has a small but gracious staff available to assist.

The peaceful and historic grounds around Trinity Church ,scattered with graves from centuries back, called for me to wander, but time did not permit. Instead, I spent time absorbing the beauty of the 25 stained glass windows. I keep looking for a stained glass window of Job, my Bible hero, but it wasn't here either.

The chapel included copies of parish registers, which document Shakespeare's baptismal and burial. It also featured a 15th century baptismal font in which Shakespeare was probably baptized. At some point it was removed from the church, then discovered in a local garden and returned to the church in 1823. For many, the highlight of the building was the area bearing the grave of William Shakespeare and members of his family, including Anne. He was given this privilege because he had become a "lay rector" .

Moonflowers bloomed over the brick wall of the cemetery grounds as I left Trinity Church.

"Macbeth" at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre finished off the evening and almost finished off me also! In spite of the beauty and histor, it was a bit daunting watching the play from the third gallery and needing to lean over the rail to see some of the action. Needless to say, I missed that action. But action there was! Signs cautioning the visitor about loud noises, and instances of graphic violence and sex had wisely been posted around the theatre. I enjoyed the idea of being in Shakespeare's world, but the play reminded me that I prefer his comedies to his tragedies, as well as why they call these plays tragedies.

It was a memorable evening.

"'s but a walking shadow..."



"There is a great deal of human nature in people."


I came away from this museum with some of what our guide wanted us to, but possibly with some different connections. His messages of climate, river, people, and legacy spread out much further than London for me.

I felt a strange connection to London as I learned about the Great Fire of London of 1666 which had startling parallels to our own year of 2005 with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the breaking of the levee in New Orleans. It literally chilled me to read about the price-gouging and looting of some as well as the heroics of others during the Great Fire, when we lived through the same human reactions to our own disaster along the United States Gulf Coast with Katrina and Rita less than two years ago.. Hundreds of years and thousands of miles apart, and human nature remains the same; tragedy brings out the best in people -- or the worst.

Reading that the mayor of London saw the fire, but thought it would burn itself out, and therefore went back to sleep, reminded me of decisions made related to our trying times of 2005. How many people in positions of responsibility thought there would be more time to improve the levee system? Did the mayor of New Orleans not evacuate early enough? Did our governor think the federal government was sending prompt assistance and as a result wait too long to take more aggressive action? Did we not do as the mayor of London did, thought it would "burn itself out and therefore went back to sleep?"

And what a reminder this is -- both the mayor going back to sleep and the bakery where the fire began -- of how much we affect others and sometimes even history itself. And the examples the exhibit gives of heroism and villainy of 1666 sounding so similar to the heroism and villainy of 2005. All are reminders of how we affect others by our decisions – some made in innocence, some not. There's the legacy part.

Yes, I came away with messages of both London’s’ climate and our own hurricane climate, of the River Thames, and the Mississippi, of the people who, in all places, and at all times, leave a legacy.

The Museum Itself
The Museum of London came into existence when The London Museum (1911) and Guildhall Museum (1825) merged around 1976. It is a non-department public body and is financed by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport and the Corporation of London. It is a part of the Museum of London Group which includes The Museum in Docklands, the Museum of London Archaeology Service, and the London Archaeological Archive and Research Center. This particular facility has a staff of 150.

One of the most distinctive marketing campaigns ever must be one that the Museum used, driving vans emblazoned with “London Has Only 1 Museum” around London and parking it in front of the other museums.

Even though there are numerous museums in the city, this one is a really great place to start, as it brings the different aspects and periods together.

Joe Cotton, Curator of Pre-history, reminded us that pre-history can be considered that time before written records were kept. In the case of London, it would pretty much be considered pre-Roman.
Thus, the museum’s exhibits begin around 450,000 BC and at this time has the main emphasis on pre-historic, the Great Fire of London, and the Roman era. Other areas are closed with their eras not available due to restoration which should be completed in 2009.

Mr. Cotton emphasized access, community, and diversity. Museum-goers tend to be middle-aged Caucasians (there I am; I am middle-aged if I live to be really old!) even though some of London’s boroughs are 60 per cent ethnic groups. The museum is trying to ensure that it provides what these ethnic groups want to see also, and a special exhibit on India is now on view in the museum

The pre-history area offered a large exhibit which included flint,bone and antler tools, axe-heads, pottery, bear skulls, human skulls, and a human skeleton. The curator spoke respectfully of the human remains and how much thought is put into displaying them sensitively. Whether or not they have succeeded at this depends on the individual .'Nuff said.


"...recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home..."

An afternoon at the Museum of Children was a pleasant respite to thinking about fires and hurricanes. My favourite part was the exhibit of recycled objects in the front lobby. Watch the Zachary Branch Library for a recycling workshop – brought to you by my esteemed colleague, BJ!

The coffee and sausages at the Museum of London were quite fun also!

The Museum Itself
Originally opened as the Bethanal Green Museum in 1872, its focus remained vague until 1925 when the children became the focus. In 1974, it took another step forward , it was officially dedicated to the subject of childhood. It has been and continues to be connected to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and since 2003 has received funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This museum displays numerous toys throughout history from toy trains and Raggedy Ann dolls to an original Playstation, Care Bears, and Weebles (“Weebles Wobble, but they don’t fall down!”).
Oh yes, and Barbie! I never found Cabbage Patch dolls, which was quite a disappointment.

The collection is divided into Moving Toys (Push and Pulls, Springs and Clogs, Circuits and Motors, and Look See which are optical toys) and Creativity (Imagine, Be Inspired, and Explore).

Creativity includes those well-loved Fischer- Price sets, tea sets, Super Heroes (including Star Wars!) and beauties such as a Chinese rock garden. Also under Creativity come Legos,model bricks, and toys made by children themselves.



A tube ride back and a short rest, then it was off to The Old Vic to see the suspenseful Victorian thriller "Gaslight." The play was good, but the theatre was better! There was even room for my long legs!

The Old Vic first opened in 1818 as The Royal Coburg and was badly damaged by WWII bombs in 1941, and repaired and renovated and reopened in 1950.

It has seen numerous name changes (including The Royal Victoria - for Queen Victoria -- and The New Vic), owners, companies, and plays. It has also seen performances byAlec Guiness, Judith Dench, Lawrence Olivier, Albert Finney, Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton. In 2003 Kevin Spacey was appointed the first artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company. It also was home to the National Theatre Company at one time.

The Old Vic is not government-subsidized and ticket sales do not cover costs, so The Old Vic depends on support from generous benefactors. PICTURES LATER!!

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Dr. Wiest, a USM history professor led a group of us around the Greenwich and Westminister areas. Sitting on the green grass of the parks of London next to the River Thames, listening to the history of England is THE way to learn history.

This three-hour tour took us up close and personal to the horse guard and other royal guards at the St. James horse stables as well as St. James Palace where Prince Charles lives with his family. Further down was Buckinham Palace, saved for another day.

The Brits like their statues and have a large impressive one of Abraham Lincoln -- The Great Emancipator in this area as well as Cromwell and numerous others. It's gratifying not only that the Lincoln statue is a good-looking statue, but that the British have enough respect for him to have one.

My favorite part of this tour was sitting in St. James Park listening to Dr. Wiest's tales of Henry and his wives. As a longtime reader of historical fiction about Englands royalty, it was a treat to sit where some of the action actually took place.

We ended at Trafalgar Square where the legend is that if you have your photo taken on one of the massive lions, you will return to London. The square commemorates the British naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and includes Nelson's Column, honoring Admiral Horatio Nelson, and other statues and fountains. One recent addition is that a previously unused area will now be used as a changing venue for contemporary sculpture. At this time, it features "Alison Lapper Pregnant", a white marble nude sculpture of Alison Laper who was born in 1965 without arms and with shortened legs.

The Trafalgar Square area has includes the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery (free admission), as well as pigeons, pigeons, and more pigeons. :)

Monday, 9 July 2007

Where Aaaaaaaaam I???

I am sitting in a computer lab at King's College, London, England, Great Britain, United Kingdom, Europe, Planet Earth and have just created this blog! Those of you who know me (and who else would be reading this?) are properly impressed, I'm sure. :) I personally am properly impressed.

This is Day 3 of "Ms. Nancy Goes to Europe", and so far, so good. I am sooo amazed to be here. There are so many things to REMEMBER, and so far, I have only lost my sunglasses. Of course I have done a couple of dumb "mature person" things which I will not post here, but I have also been able to purchase with pounds, buy an oyster (a tube pass), eat fish and chips while strolling through London, order food and recieve what I ordered (notice there are a number of food connections), enjoy Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan" at The National Theatre, strolled along The Thames, and made it to my first class on time this morning.

This afternoon we will drift down the Thames River while being entertained by a very personable professor. Tuesday, we go to Stratford on the Avon to tour and view Macbeth. I just learned we won't be back to London until 1 a.m. Wednesday. This will certainly be a challenge for me. I, of course, plan to doze on the coach, but some of you know my secret challenge with dozing in public. :) And my classmates will soon find out!

The diversity of London fascinates me. I think of our Zachary Library as having a nice amount of diversity, but of course it all depends on your perspective. This amount of diversity definitely reminds me of how different God made us all and how we all choose to use what we have been given.

This class is ending so I must close for now, and find some lunch before we hit the river.

I can be reached at and . Y'all keep in touchh too.

Take care; I miss you all, but am so pleased to be here.
More later!