Thursday, 24 July 2014

Royal Geographical Society Library & Archive

     The last library we visited as a class was the Royal Geographical Society Library and Archive. This photo  was taken by Steve Cadman and posted on Flickr; I am using it because I did not happen to get a picture of the library. Here is the link:
In fact, the only photograph I was able to take was the one below of the nameplate. 

     When we arrived, we were greeted by a very nice librarian, Eugene Rae. Eugene had an impressive spread of archives displayed on a large table. We sat in chairs around the table (it was so nice to sit and listen instead of having to stand for an hour or two) to listen to him. He told us the display was one that was considered a hot and cold display. None of us knew what the term meant. He proceeded to tell us the history of the term. The cabbies of London called the statues of Livingston and Shackleton found outside the building, hot and cold. Livingston was famous for exploring Africa, and Shackleton explored the Arctic, hence the nickname hot and cold (how clever). I forgot to take a picture of the statues after leaving, so I borrowed the one below from

     Eugene gave us information about what he does on a daily basis with the library and archives. Not only does he work the reading room, talk to groups, and help researchers, he also coordinates the use of the archives with museums around the world. The archives contain over 2 million items. Half of the collection are maps from all over the world at various times in the past and present. The rest of the collection contains atlases, globes, pictures, books, bound periodicals, and artifacts.
     The Royal Geographical Society was formed in 1830. The society helped fund expeditions to unknown parts of the world. Eugene mainly talked about Livingston and Shackleton's expeditions. He showed us some really awesome artifacts while spinning the mens' stories like a web in front of us. 
     If you would like to get more information about the Royal Geographic Society, you can go to their website: RGS. The website allows you to search the collection, place a hold on the item, and browse items on the same shelf. The website also has a stunning digitized collection of their photograph collection.

Here is the links to their social media sites:
Linkedin This takes you to a private group-you have to ask permission

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Museum of London

     Our group visited the Museum of London on July 23, 2014. When we arrived, we had a few minutes to look around the quaint gift shop and grab a coffee in the cafe. Our speaker, Sarah Demb, picked us up and took us back through a maze of hallways to a conference room. Sarah Demb is the archivist for the Museum of London, a job that has not always existed. Sarah is an American living in the United Kingdom (she is actually about to move back to the states). Because many of the people in our program would love to live and work in London, Sarah gave us a very detailed account of her school and work history. She has had a very cool career thus far to say the least. Through her words, you get a feeling that she really loves what she does. I hope I convey that when I talk to people about my job as a media specialist. The only bummer about meeting Sarah was there was no archive to tour. The area she uses for archives is much too small for our group. I would have like to see some of the work she does on a daily basis.
    After Sarah finished up, we were free to go or stay and visit the museum. The Museum of London is always free to patrons, which is really nice in the most expensive city in the world (I hope that sounded angry, because my bank account is angry at this point in the trip). I decided to look around the museum for a little while before heading back to the dorms to work on some research. The Museum of London is focused on the history of London from prehistoric times into the present. If you follow the museum in its natural path, then you get to embark on a great journey to see how London became what it is today.
     I did not make it through the entire museum because I quickly became fascinated with the various methods the museum used to display their materials. The museum did a great job of having many different types of exhibits for people's learning styles. Below are pictures of many of the various ways the information is presented. You will notice some information cases that have artifacts protected from the element and some relics get touched all day long. There are interactive computers that have sound and visual information. Listening centers are found throughout the museum; some of them include televisions and some are just for listening. Information is presented in time lines to be easier to understand. Models are used to show the relative size of famous buildings.There was an interactive exhibit where children could try on clothes from a time period. It is amazing that the Museum of London are able to remain free to the public and offer such varied and innovative displays.

     From the windows of the Museum of London you can see part of what used to be the London Wall. I am constantly amazed by the age of the city I am living in this summer. I think Americans take for granted the age of our country in relationship to the age of other places. You just don't seem to think about it until you are in another country.

The Museum of London has a great website that is up-to-date and easy to use. They are connected to tons of social media: Facebooka blogTwitterYouTubeFlickr, and Scribd  (a subscription service).

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Maughan Library at King's College

     The last week of class we were given an opportunity to go on an optional tour of the Maughan Library. The Maughan Library is the library for the Strand Campus of King's College London. Even though it was optional, I felt like I needed to visit another academic library due to the small number we toured during the month. I am glad that I chose to get up and go with the group. 
     The outside of the library was gorgeous. The Victorian building the library is housed in used to be the public records building. The university acquired the Grade II listed property from the Crown Commissioners in 1998. The Public Records Office moved to Kew (another site we were able to visit on our trip).

     Our tour guide for the first half of the morning was Alan Fricker, the Library Liason Manager. We started the tour just past the entrance. The first area of the library has an inquiry desk (enquiry in Queen's English). This desk is what we would call the reference desk in an American library. The staff are ready to help students with research or library based questions. There is a section to the left entitled, "The Compass" that is staffed to answer general questions for students. I think this is a great idea for a college library that sees high traffic. Having a separate desk to ask general questions would allow the reference (or enquiry in this case) desk to aid more people.

The library uses radio-frequency identification technology for loans and returns.The kiosks are all self-service and are located in various areas of the library.

The college has the most high-tech sorter I have ever seen (not that I am a sort connoisseur or anything). The machine receives the books the students return and sorts them into 9 different bins. The books are then picked up by staff members and shelved four hours within four hours or less. The turn around time for items is better than I have ever heard of in a library of this size.
     I was really impressed with the way the college takes a pulse of the students and makes decisions based on the opinions of the students they serve. The library is now open longer hours due to student feedback. When an organization (the library) takes the time to ask you what could make them better and follows through, you feel that you matter...that is a great feeling.
     This is a picture of a laptop checkout that is accessible with a library card. How awesome is that? A station like this requires less personnel time and once again promotes student friendliness.
     Every area of the library has one of these signs. The signs tell you the guidelines for the type of area you are in at that moment. It tells you how much noise, if any, you can make, what kind of snacks you may have, and if collaboration is allowed. It is very straight forward. Students do not have to wonder about how to behave in the different rooms of this library. The students can also text issues to library services to let them know someone is not respecting the library.
     There are great ideas galore at this college library. If you would like to read more about the library or use the catalog, visit Maughan Library.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


     I decided to take an optional day trip to Dunfermline with some of my classmates and my two professors. I was interested in seeing the abbey and the library, but did not know what a treat the trip would be. After arriving at the bus station, this is the view from across the street. Looks like a quaint (and awesome) little town, right? 

     After some java, we walked to Dunfermline Abbey to see the Parish Church and the ruins of the the Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Trinity and St. Margaret. The remains of the abbey can be seen in the first photo below. Dunfermline Abbey holds the tombs of many important people including Queen Margaret of Scotland (Saint Margaret) and Robert the Bruce. I took a lot of pictures at Dunfermline Abbey and could not pick which ones to remove, so I left them all for your viewing pleasure.


     Next stop was the very first Carnegie (car-nay-gee) Library ever built. In 1880 Andrew Carnegie offered up £5000 for someone to construct a library in his hometown. James Campbell Walker was commissioned to build the library. Carnegie's mother, Margaret Carnegie, laid the library's memorial stone on July 27th, 1881, and the library was opened in 1883 by Lord Roseberry (who later became the British Prime Minister). The Dunfermline Carnegie Library sadly closed its doors in March of this year. The library will have a part in the Dunfermline Museum and Art Gallery planned to open in 2016. 
     Out group was lucky enough to get to tour the library. The library had already been vacated of books, but we still had a chance to look throughout the building. Our tour guides for the day were Janice Erskine, the Local History Librarian, Sharron McColl, a Library Assistant, and Anne Gilmour, the Customer Service Coordinator. Sharron had an instant connection with our professor, Dr. Griffis; they are both Carnegie scholars in their respective countries. I personally really enjoyed talking with Janice. She was very knowledgeable about the history of the building and the daily functions of the library. After a full tour, the ladies had us over for a tea and biscuits. They get the award for the most thoughtful hosts, having Scottish caramels and all butter Scottish shortbread (to die for). Below are pictures from library exterior and interior...

View of Parish Church from window.

     The last stop in Dunfermline (ok, I did go shopping afterwards, but we are talking about the important stuff) was to visit the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie. His parents' house has been turned into a museum. The free entry allows you to see the house and a museum dedicated to all things Carnegie. I have a much deeper respect for all the philanthropy Carnegie was a part of in his life and that his foundation carries on even today. I did not realize how much he truly gave back.

The website for the Dunfermline Carnegie Library now gives information about the four libraries that are being used until the library reopens in 2016. We made the Fife Direct Website after visiting the library (how cool).