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. :)