My Time with Marilyn

Part 1: Middle Temple Law Library

Confused by the title of this blog post? Don’t worry, I’ll clear it up after I backtrack a bit and tell you about our penultimate class trip. Yesterday, after I visited Wesley’s Chapel and the Museum of Methodism, I made my way back to the dorms (remember, everyone else had gone to see the Museum of London), and joined my classmates to travel to the Middle Temple Law Library. The legal system in Britain is quite different from ours here in the States, and it’s a bit confusing to explain, but I’ll do my best. In the UK, there are two legal professions, Barristers and Solicitors, and each serve different functions within the system. Barristers are actually called to the English Bar, and Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court which are able to do so. All barristers must belong to one of the Inns, which serve as a professional association. The other three Inns of Court are the Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn, but we specifically toured Middle Temple, which has a rockstar history. The Temple actually served as the headquarters of the Knights Templar, until they fell into disfavor and were kicked out.

Middle Temple Law Library

Middle Temple Law Library

Each of the Four Inns has its own library and corresponding subject specialities, with Middle Temple’s being International Law. The current library was built in 1641 and founded by a barrister named Robert Ashley (who donated his personal collection of 4,000 books); it has survived many of London’s travesties, including the Great Fire and the World Wars. Today, the library is home to 250,000 books, journals, and various other legal documents, and contains one of the largest collections of American law related items outside of the US. Unlike many of the libraries and archives we’ve visited throughout the UK, books are not shelved according to size at Middle Temple, but rather by subject. The library uses its own internal subject heading system, as the Library of Congress subject headings were insufficient to meet their needs.

Shelving at Middle Temple Law Library

Shelving at Middle Temple Law Library

Now, here are two special fun facts about Middle Temple: 1. Each of the four Inns has 2 royal benchers, meaning member(s) of the Royal Family are called to the Bar and made Honorary Barristers. Middle Temple’s former 2 benchers were Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. As both of those lovely ladies are now deceased, Prince William was called to the Bar in 2009. 2. In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, he wrote a scene (Act 2, Scene 4) that took place in “the Temple-garden,” and writes of lawyers within rose garden. Now, both the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple match Shakespeare’s description, but we’re all choosing to believe he was definitely talking about Middle Temple! Once we toured the library, we were taken to the Great Hall, which was built in 1570. The hall is magnificent – and actually reminds me of the Great Hall at Hogwarts in Harry Potter. It has the largest double-hammered beam roof in the world, and was the site for the first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. (The playwright himself as well as Queen Elizabeth I were supposedly in attendance!) The table, which is still used by students, Barristers, and other members of the Inn daily, is rumored to have been a gift from the Queen, and the walls are covered with the shields of readers (a stepping-stone towards becoming a bencher).

Readers Shields - Great Hall

Readers Shields

Though I was not initially particularly ecstatic to be visiting a Law Library, I think Middle Temple is probably the Law Library to visit in the UK, and I’m glad we went. Learning about its unique history as well as the UK legal system proved to make for an interesting and informative afternoon!

Part 2: Some Like it Hot

Wednesday evening, after our trip to Middle Temple and then a visit to Jubilee Gardens, Jessica and I went to the BFI for a screening of Some Like it Hot (1959). The BFI (British Film Institute), was founded in 1933 and preserves art, films, television, and moving images from the UK, with the intent of providing access to these materials to the public. The BFI’s National archive is in fact the largest film archive in the world, with hundreds of thousands of items, including collections related to specific people (directors, producers) in the film industry. As I said, access is a key part of the BFI’s strategic plan; they have an IMAX theatre (a 1 minute walk from our dorm rooms!), which is the UK’s biggest cinema screen, and theaters on the Southbank (a 5 minute walk for us). Jessica and I attended our screening on the Southbank!

Some Like It Hot Movie Poster

“Some Like It Hot poster,” Via Wikipedia

Some Like it Hot of course stars the beloved Marilyn Monroe, along with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. I won’t spoil the plot, but if you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. It truly is hilarious, and Monroe, Curtis, and Lemmon are excellent to watch (especially on the big screen!). I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the BFI – the theatre itself was fantastic! It felt like an “old school” type of theatre, with red velvet curtains and matching chair upholstery. The seats were incredibly comfortable, and I had to laugh, thinking that Jim (my step-dad who falls asleep during almost every movie, whether at home or in a theatre), would have been zonked out in about 30 seconds!

BFI Theatre

BFI Theatre

Jessica and I had a great time, and it was nice to laugh, relax, and not worry about research papers, or think about how I’ll be heading home in just a few short days. I wish there was a place in Columbia that regularly screened old films – the older I get, the more I appreciate them and understand their cultural significance. It’s wonderful that we have institutions such as the BFI and the AFI (American Film Institute) to preserve these cultural treasures. I’m reminded of MIRC (Moving Image Research Collection), which is one of the libraries at USC. I had the chance to tour MIRC last semester, and was amazed at not only what they do (films are quite tricky and expensive to preserve!), but also their materials, which includes a large Chinese film collection and the Fox Movietone News Collection. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction belonging to a professional field that has such a vested interest in not only preserving, but also providing access to any and all types and formats of information.

Part 3: The Crucible 

The Old Vic

The Old Vic

My not-so-great afternoon was drastically turned around by a Ben’s Cookie and my wonderful theatre adventure with friends! Tonight, Jessica, Michelle (who arrived in London today – yay!), and I had the pleasure of seeing The Crucible at The Old Vic, a legendary London theatre. The Old Vic opened back in 1818, and since then has undergone multiple renovations while under some famous management; in 2004, Kevin Spacey, one of my favorite actors, was named the artistic director, and he appears in the theatre’s productions from time to time. We were fortunate enough to snag some of the “Under 25s” tickets, available for 12 pounds at every performance.

The Crucible was written in the early 1950’s by playwright Arthur Miller, the third and final husband of Marilyn Monroe (does the blog title make sense now?). It is one of my favorite plays, and was able to capture my attention back in high-school with its dark, brooding nature, bits of humor, and non-fictional ties to the Salem Witch Trials of Massachusetts. The protagonist, a flawed, but ultimately noble man named John Proctor was played by Richard Armitage (North & South, The Hobbit trilogy). Unlike the character he played, Armitage’s performance was flawless, as was the entire production. The supporting cast was full of newcomers, but together created a necessary powerful underlying feeling of tension and hysteria throughout the play. In all, the play was 3.5 hours long, but I could have stayed even longer, and was left enamored by the experience.

Below is a 1 minute trailer of The Crucible. Watch it. If you’re a theatre fan at all, you’ll probably get goosebumps, just like I did.

As frustrating as London can be (this week it has been, or at least seemed, stifling hot and extra-crowded), I have cherished the opportunities I’ve had to be a part of London’s exciting and constant cultural offerings. Samuel Johnson, an English writer from the 1700’s, once wrote, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Truer words have never been written.

Thank you London,

Taylor

Advertisements

Westminster Abbey

Part One: A Visit to Westminster Abbey 

Hello, hello!

It’s hard to believe that this sunny and particularly warm Tuesday was our first day of class in a week! It’s been great to see my classmates again and hear about everyone’s mini-break adventures. But alas, the vacation is over and we’re back to work…

This morning there was an optional trip to the Maughan Library, the library of King’s College, where we’ve been living these past few weeks. While I wanted to see this apparently amazing research library, I chose to focus on my research paper. After mulling over various topics, from John Wesley to the British Museum archives, none of which have panned out, I then decided to check out the BFI’s collections. But you’ll read more about them later.

I’m sad to report that my morning did not go as planned, as I woke up having yet another heart episode. After several hours of resting in bed though, it finally stopped in time for me to run a few quick errands and then meet for the class trip to the Westminster Abbey Library! (No pictures could be taken inside the library, but if you click on the link, you can catch a glimpse of what it looks like inside)

Librarian and Keeper of the Muniments Sign - Westminster Abbey

Entrance to Westminster Abbey’s Library

With this fantastic sign on the door of the library, located in the East Cloister, we rang the doorbell and headed upstairs. (Fun Fact: I had no idea what a “muniment” was, and it turns out it basically refers to the records/archives. The technical definition is a document such as a title, deed, contract, etc.) We met with Dr. Tony Trowles, the Head of the Collection, who gave us a rundown of the history of the Abbey itself, as well as specifics about the library. The current library, established since 1591, is located in what used to be a monk’s dormitory! In 1587, a man named William Camden became the first appointed librarian of Westminster; today, Dr. Trowles is only the 34th appointed librarian. If you do the math, that means that in 427 years, there have been 34 men in charge of Westminster’s collections, averaging about 12.5 years of employment/person.

Surprisingly, only approximately 1/2 of the library’s collection is religious in nature (sermons, history of the early Church Fathers, etc.), and there is a sizable collection of British history, which includes the reign of the Romans. The library’s early printed book collection is now closed and rarely added to, as the focus of acquisitions today is on the Abbey itself (the building, monuments and memorials on the grounds, coronations, etc.) The muniments detail the administrative history of the Abbey and dates back to the 10th century.

Today, the library is still in fact a working library, and visitors can utilize the collections in the Reading Room, while the small group of staff work to answer specialized inquiries and research questions that pour in from around the world. In addition, staff are just beginning to computerize the library’s catalog, meaning a good old fashioned card catalogue is still in use! (Personally, I love that fact about the Abbey…. it just seems fitting to me).

I know that I gushed over getting to visit St. Paul’s library, and y’all are probably tired of reading about my affinity for theological libraries, but I’m going to say it again – I am SO thrilled that I was able to tour Westminster’s Library. Something about them just makes this future librarian’s heart happy.

Part 2: A Semi-Productive Afternoon 

I’m not sure how I’ve made it this far without mentioning our daily class tradition – at virtually every library/archive/museum we’ve visited, Dr. Griffis and Dr. Welsh have assembled us into fabulous group photos! At this point, we have a fairly large and impressive collection of group shots from all across London and beyond! After our tour of Westminster ended, Dr. Griffis led us to the nearby Trafalgar’s Square, where we took several group shots – remember, that’s where my main man, Lord Nelson is located, so I was happy to visit his monument yet again. At the bottom of this post I created a slide show of our group photos so you can see my classmates and some of the places we’ve been! We’re a motley crew, but I think we’re all pretty awesome.

Since I did not have a chance to check out the BFI this morning, I made a solo trip there after leaving Trafalgar’s Square to scope out their Reuben Library, and maybe speak with a librarian there about helping with my research paper. Needless to say, that trip ended in disappointment, and I trudged back from the BFI to our dorms (fortunately, it’s a 5 minute walk), and tried to re-group.

BUT, after an emergency meeting with Dr. Griffis and Dr. Welsh, I am pleased to announce to everyone that I now OFFICIALLY have a research topic – though really I’m back to square one, I will be writing about John Wesley and the Museum of Methodism! I have been given permission to skip our Museum of London tour tomorrow morning in order to do some research, so I can’t wait to get started and update you all tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that this works because we are rapidly running out of research time!

I am stuffed full of pizza, and sleepy after a relaxing night in our dorms, so I’m off to bed.

Send me happy research thoughts, please,

Taylor

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To the Motherland!

Hello from IRELAND, everyone!

This morning Laura Douglass, Jessica, and I made the trek from Edinburgh to Dublin, Ireland. Though I was sad to be leaving Edinburgh, I am THRILLED BEYOND WORDS to be in Ireland – you see, I am Irish (on both sides of my family), and it’s always been a dream of mine to travel here.

Our flight left at 8:05 am from the Edinburgh Airport, about a 30 minute taxi ride from our dorms at the University of Edinburgh; just to be safe, we left the dorms a little before 6 am – Jade even rode with us because she was picking up Chris, her husband, from the airport not too long after our flight left. We were exhausted from waking up so early, but fortunately everything was fairly uneventful at the airport. We flew on Ryanair, and the plane ride lasted just over an hour. Before I knew it, we were landing in Dublin!

My first view of Ireland!

My first view of Ireland!

The girls and I will be taking a tour of Northern Ireland through Paddywagon Tours, which is headquartered in Dublin. Tonight we’re actually staying in their hostel, so that all we’ll have to do is run downstairs when it’s time for our bus to leave in the morning. And, the tour company is nice enough to provide free transportation to and from the airport – which we fully intended on taking advantage of. However, once our flight landed, we obviously had to pass through Immigration (I now have a beautiful green stamp in my passport!), and by the time we did that, we had missed the Paddywagon shuttle. So, our two options were to either wait for a few hours for the next shuttle, or find our own way to the hostel – being the resourceful gals that we are, we hopped on the Airlink bus, which took us fairly close by our destination. It was too early to check-in, but we were allowed to leave our luggage, so we set off to explore Dublin!

Our first stop was to Trinity College, to visit their library and the Book of Kells. The college was founded back in 1592, under a charter of Queen Elizabeth I. You may remember me telling you before that Trinity College’s Library is one of the 6 legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland; because of this, the library has a sizable collection of approximately 3 million books stored in its eight storage facilities. I was very anxious to get to the Long Room – this room is 65 metres in length, and holds 200,000 of the oldest and rarest books in the library. If you’ve ever seen a picture of the Trinity College Library, it’s probably been of the Long Room. Visiting here has been on my bucket list for years – any time you see an article about the “best” and most “beautiful” libraries around the world, Trinity College always makes the list… like in this article from Architectural Digest: The Most Spectacular Libraries Around the World. This is why…

Long Room - Trinity College Library, Dublin

Long Room – Trinity College Library

Everything about the room is breathtaking – the high vaulted ceilings, the dark wood, the floor to ceiling book shelves… I could go on and on. It was probably without a doubt, the most beautiful library I’ve ever been in, and likely one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve seen,

Shelving - Trinity College Library

Shelving – Trinity College Library

period. I wanted to research in that room, sleep there, and stay forever! But I had to much look forward to at the Book of Kells exhibit.

The book is a manuscript written in Latin circa 800 AD, and was likely created by the monks of Iona on the western coast of Scotland. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, along with various other texts, and is lavishly and colorfully decorated and illustrated. Fun Fact: the book is based on the Latin Vulgate (a 4th century Latin translation of the Bible), which was translated by St. Jerome, who is the patron saint of libraries!

Understandably, no pictures could be taken in the exhibit, but I highly encourage you to visit Trinity College’s Digital Collections, where you can view and explore the entire book online. The vivid colors and illustrations alone are worth seeing, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to look at this historical treasure in person.

Here’s another Fun Fact about Dublin: nearly all signage is written in both English and Irish Gaelic (at the airport, street signs, etc.). Outside of Trinity, we discovered that the Gaelic word for library is “Leabharlann.” How cool!?

Leabharlann sign- Trinity College

Leabharlann

After we thoroughly explored Trinity, we decided to walk to the Guinness Storehouse, which was a decent distance away. It was nice to have a chance to explore Dublin and take it all in – I have to say though, that it wasn’t initially what I expected. (And I’m not sure what my expectations were exactly). It’s hard to explain, but Dublin reminds me of London in many ways, though the city as a whole kind of has a darker vibe; the people are different, and the clothing styles/fashion/hair styles I saw seemed a little more “punk” than London, if you will. All in all, I feel like Dublin is much more raw and gritty than London could ever be. It was a bit disconcerting at first, but the more I walked around and processed the people and sights around me, the more that it struck me how UNsurprised I was at the atmosphere in Dublin. The Irish people have a pretty dark and raw history, and somehow the way Dublin made me feel seemed completely fitting. Dublin has that historical sense of London mixed with an underlying current of emotions (a sense of tension, perhaps?). I’m not sure, but all at once, I felt immense pride at being Irish.

Just when I felt that I could walk no further, I spied with my green eyes – the St. James’s Gate entrance to the Guinness brewery!

St. James Gate - Guinness Brewery

Once inside the Storehouse, which is 7 stories tall, you’re exposed to the fascinating world and history of Guinness! Fun Fact: The 9,000(!) year lease to the original brewery site is on display, which was signed by Arthur Guinness in 1759. The Storehouse building was a fermentation house when it opened back in 1904, so visitors have the chance to learn about the Guinness brewing process. Guinness is composed of 4 main ingredients – water, barley, hops, and yeast, and the Guinness Master Brewer guides you through step-by-step. Next, we had the chance to do the “Taste Experience,” where we were given a small glass of Guinness and taught a “new” way to drink it, which really brings out the various flavors. I am all about a taste test… particularly when Guinness is involved!

Other floors allowed you to look at the Guinness brand or learn how perfectly pour a Guinness Draught, Original, Foreign Extra Stout, or Black Lager. But I probably enjoyed the Gravity Bar the most, which was on the 7th level, and yielded an amazing 360 degree view of Dublin.

View from the Gravity Bar - Guinness Storehouse

Dublin!

Included in the admission price of your ticket is a free pint of Guinness, which people were happily enjoying in the Gravity Bar. It

Guinness at the Gravity Bar

A pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar made me a happy Irish girl!

was crowded, but we eventually had the chance to sit, relax, and gaze out over the city. After a long day of traveling and walking, we were all pretty tired, so we decided to call it a day. We walked back to our hostel, Paddy’s Palace, and stopped to eat at Bobo’s Gourmet Irish Burgers on the way.

Now, I suppose I have to talk about our hostel experience! I have never stayed in a hostel, so that was one of the things I was most excited/nervous about on this entire study abroad trip. And granted, I have no basis of comparison, but let me just politely say that Paddy’s Palace in Dublin is not the ideal place to crash for a night…

It IS only 13 Euros per person, so that’s a plus, but doesn’t have much else going for it. The girls and I are staying in a 6 person room with 3 other women, which isn’t so bad; but there’s obviously no bathroom in the room. I decided to take a shower before we leave for Belfast in the morning, so I wandered down the hall to the bathroom. There, I quickly learned that the shower uses a push button(?!) – when you press the button, water pours out for about 3 seconds and then stops. So you push. And push. And push. And every time you push, the water gets hotter and hotter. By the end, I was exhausted and also convinced I was suffering from 3rd degree burns. Not a pleasant experience. I am fully on board with the idea of conserving water, but this seems a little extreme! Hey, it’s all in the name of adventure, right? Chalk it up to another life-experience, as my Mom would say. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to relax on my bunk-bed in this stifling hot room, and get some sleep before our journey begins in the morning!

Wish us luck (ha ha, get it?). But really, please do.

–Taylor

New College Library and the Central Library

Part 1: New College Library 

Hello, everyone!

Our second full day here in Edinburgh has been action packed, so I’ll jump right in. Prepare yourself for lots of pictures!

This morning our class visited the New College Library, which serves the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity. It also happens to be one of the largest theological libraries in the UK, so this former Religious Studies major was thrilled!

Though Edinburgh is similar to London in many ways, there are some particular similarities, with one being architectural styles.

New College's courtyard view

New College’s courtyard view

Both cities have clearly been built throughout various historical periods, and so are home to buildings of medieval, gothic, Georgian, Victorian, and modern styles – but it is Edinburgh’s medieval and gothic buildings that stand out to me. This architecture was apparent from the view within the courtyard of New College, as seen in the picture to the right. But I digress…

Inside the New College Library are gorgeous stained glass windows that not only provide light but also a sense of peace and tranquility, which probably stems from the fact that the library was originally a church called the Free High Church; even today, when renovations and work are done in the library, great care is taken to ensure that the original building is left intact.

Main Floor - New College Library

Main Floor – New College Library

The library is primarily used by those in the Divinity School, but is open to the entire University as well as the general public. The current collection contains approximately 250,000 books, many of which are rare and valuable, and span a variety of subjects, both religious and otherwise. One interesting thing I noted is that the library contain Reserve books, which reminded me of my dear old Thomas Cooper Library (USC’s Main Library on campus, where I am also a Public Services Intern). Many academic libraries have Reserve books – this allows students to avoid spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on textbooks and instead check them out at the library; typically policies are in place, such as the textbooks cannot leave the building, and can only be checked out for 2-3 hours. Regardless, I think it is a great service to the University community and I can say firsthand from working at Thomas Cooper’s Circulation Desk that our Reserve books are extremely popular!Underground stacks at New College Library

Though I could have stayed in New College’s underground stacks for hours, we sadly had to move on. The girls, plus Paul and I treated ourselves for lunch! We decided to visit the Elephant House, which is a Tea and Coffee shop in downtown Edinburgh. BUT, this is not just any coffee shop… the Elephant House is where J.K. Rowling herself wrote much of the early Harry Potter books! I tried to contain my excitement when I saw that they have a signed 1st edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – I’d happily empty my bank account to have one of those. The shop is very charming and also quite busy, but our lunch was enjoyable. I can see why she picked such a spot to write!

The Elephant House

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Central Library 

After our lunch stop, it was time for tour #2 of the day, which took place at the Central Library. This library is a beautiful building, with the slogan “Let there be Light” over the entrance, and so I was not at all surprised to learn that it is in fact Carnegie Library, which opened in 1890. Our class was split up into several tour groups, and my group visited the Children’s Library first, which was actually not part of the original Carnegie building. The Children’s Library is also currently

Children's Library - Central Library

Children’s Library – Central Library

hosting a Summer Reading Challenge program, just like the Barbican Library and also my beloved Richland Library back home. I have to say that the library appears to be an awesome place for kids – it’s cozy, but also has room for movement, and just overall seems to be a fun and creative space.

In addition to the separate Children’s Library and the typical Lending Library that any public library has, Central also has an Art Library, a Music Library, Reference Library, and a special Edinburgh and Scottish Collection. We visited the Art Library as well as the Reference Library, which is in an impressively huge and stately room. There were plenty of people in the Reference Library, which is always nice to see as someone who works at a Reference Desk.

Reference Library - Central Library

Reference Library – Central Library

After the tours were complete, we had a talk from Jim Thompson, the Development and Quality Manager, where we learned some interesting facts about the library. Apparently it uses the Library of Congress classification system, and is the only public library in Britain to do so. The Central Library also has approximately 500,000 visitors/year, which is an excellent number! The library system has 30 (yes, 30!) branch libraries, and over 70 book groups! (My jaw dropped at those numbers). A library app (the 1st of its kind in the UK) can be traced back to the Central Library, and so it was no surprise to hear that the library has been given the “Gold Standard” in their library accreditation process.

I will admit that I tend to sometimes think that all public libraries are basically the same, and likewise for all academic libraries -but the offerings and facilities of the Central Library certainly proved me wrong! I was blown away by the library, and grateful we had the opportunity to tour such a public library with such high-standards.

Part 3: Arthur’s Seat

Now, here is where I come to what you have all undoubtedly been waiting for ….. our hike up Arthur’s Seat! The elevation of the hill is 823 feet, and though it is often attributed to the legends of King Arthur himself, it was actually formed by a now extinct volcanic system. There are several paths that lead you to the top of the hill, and we (of course) picked the “short but steep” route. Dr. Griffis accompanied the girls and I on this adventure, and it took only about 45 minutes to hike to the top – but I should probably mention that the path we walked was virtually Hiking up Arthur's Seat!straight uphill! Though I haven’t mentioned it for a few days, I’m still sick, and I was fairly certain that my lungs were going to burst while climbing this hill. (Note to self: Do NOT go hiking when you have a respiratory infection! Also, TOMS are probably not the wisest choice of foot-wear…) We stopped several times to catch our breath and take pictures – the scenery all along the hike was breathtaking, and the higher you climbed, the better views of the city you were rewarded with. Just when I wasn’t sure I could go any further, I made it to the top!! I had to pause and walk away from the others just to catch my breath, both in the literal sense, but also because the 360 degree panoramic view was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Scotland is truly the most amazing place I have ever seen, and I was brought to tears at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

View of Edinburgh from the peak of Arthur's Seat

View of Edinburgh from the peak of Arthur’s Seat

The hike was definitely one of the most challenging things I have probably ever done, and though I may have pushed my body to its limits, I am so proud of all of us for making that hike. We enjoyed absorbing in the views while snapping a ton of pictures, and Dr. Griffis was kind enough to take a photo of the four of us:

The girls and I at the top of Arthur's Seat!

From L to R:
Jade, me, Laura Douglass, and Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the hike down, which was unexpectedly scarier and more treacherous than the hike up, the girls and I headed back into town and grabbed dinner at the Pizza Express. Though the name may sound like it’s a typical Pizza Hut or Papa John’s type of place, this was actually a nice restaurant, and we deserved those pizza calories after our hill-climbing extravaganza!

All I can say is that I know I will sleep soundly tonight!

Goodnight everyone,

Taylor

National Library and National Archives

Part 1: The National Library of Scotland

Now, normally, I am not at all excited about Mondays – but I’m in beautiful SCOTLAND, so that’s something to be excited about! I’m also pumped about my free and delicious breakfast I had this morning  – complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, a croissant loaded with Nutella, and some fruit… yummy.

Today we made two class trips – first to the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in the morning, and then to the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) after lunch. The two buildings are only blocks away from each other, and are located right off the Royal Mile, which is composed of the main streets of Edinburgh, and is the major shopping and restaurant district. Traveling from our dorms at the University of Edinburgh is easy. Though there’s no tube, Edinburgh uses a bus system that is similar to London’s, with one slight difference – our daily bus pass tickets are scratch-off, like a lottery ticket! Ha.

Shops along the Royal Mile

Shops along the Royal Mile

We were not allowed to take pictures in the NLS, but I’ll have other pictures to show you later. The NLS is actually spread among several buildings throughout Scotland, but we were in the primary one, which is in fact 15 stories high! It’s the largest library in Scotland, and the place to go if you want to research Scottish history and culture. Similarly to the British Library, the NLS is also a legal deposits library, which if you don’t remember, means they are able to have any book published in the UK if they desire. However, the difference is that the NLS must actually claim these published materials directly from the publisher, and so they do not own every book (unlike the British Library, to whom publishers automatically send books).

As opposed to venturing into the stacks and touring the facilities like we’ve done with other libraries, we instead focused on the John Murray Archive and exhibit. This particular archive is composed of materials from the John Murray Publishing House, which was founded in 1768. The website says it best:

“The archive contains manuscripts, private letters and business papers from authors who shaped the modern world through their writings on: Publishing, politics and society, literature, travel and exploration, and science.”

There are many famous people whose works and personal items appear in the archive, including David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Byron, and Jane Austen. The archive is currently composed of 1 million items, crosses every genre, and includes materials in a variety of formats. The exhibit itself is unique and interactive; the exhibit room is quite dark, with custom lighting – displays are only lit when someone approaches the item. Diminished lighting of course helps to preserve these items on display. After all, the primary goal of the archive is to preserve these treasures for future generations, and thus focus on conservation and preservation. Hearing about the “best practices” policies of such prominent archives, libraries, and museums will never get old to me, and I love absorbing the information about budgets, strategic plans, collection development and acquisitions policies, digitization plans, and all other management and administrative issues. I think my 704 class (Management of Libraries) has really rubbed off on me for the better!

Part 2: The National Archives 

After a lunch break, we walked down the National Archives, which is the Scottish government’s official archive, and is also known as the National Records of Scotland. Initially established in 1774, the archives merged with the General Register Office for Scotland back in

National Archives of Scotland

National Archives of Scotland

2011. The General Register Office for Scotland contains numerous materials, including demographic statistics and censuses (records of births/marriages/deaths), deeds for estates and land, business records, and numerous resources and databases pertaining to Scottish genealogy. The archive contains additional items from the 12th-21st centuries, including old parish registers, wills and testaments, taxations records, maps and plans, church records, state and parliamentary papers, government records, court/legal documents, family papers, photographs, etc. Currently, the archive is in possession of 78 km worth of historical records, and they are adding approximately 1 km/year. An interesting note: unlike most libraries/archives/museums, this archive has the power to weed and devaluate records, which is a tricky practice, and according to our guide, has “resulted in poor decision making in the past.” I’m not sure that I would ever feel comfortable simply throwing away or destroying documents – the exception being if there were duplicates. Too much responsibility!

Many of these records are housed in a classically simple, yet elegant room (seen above) with an impressive domed ceiling. Fun Fact: the head of the archives is known as the “Keeper of the Records of Scotland.” It’s such a legit title – I love it! Can you imagine that being on your business card? No big deal…

We were shown some interesting items from the collection, and our guide was kind enough to pull some letters, maps, and press clippings relating to America – including a map of the Charleston Harbor, along with a letter criticizing the British disposition towards South Carolina’s slavery legislation! I think sometimes it’s so easy for us to be consumed in our little bubbles, that we forget how history almost always reveals to have an impact on a grand scale…. who would think that documents relating to good ol’ South Carolina would be found in the National Archives of Scotland of all places?

Once we finished up at the NAS, we were free to explore Edinburgh. A group of us walked up and down the Royal Mile, which

Tea at Mimi's Bakehouse

Tea at Mimi’s Bakehouse

links the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. I’d love to visit both places and hope to have a chance to before we leave on Thursday! We went into several stores, and then Jessica, Jade, and I popped into a charming little place called Mimi’s Bakehouse for some afternoon tea and treats. After we’d explored the Royal Mile, we headed back towards the dorms, but stopped to order Chinese take-away. Though it was pretty chilly and windy, we sat outside the dorms to eat – I just love how clean the air is here!

Remember how I mentioned before that the campus is at the base of Arthur’s Seat? Well, Arthur’s Seat can be seen here in the background…

Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

It’s a little intimidating to say the least, but we are planning on conquering this gigantic hill tomorrow after class!

 

 

 

And on that note, I think it’s time to get some sleep, so I’m well rested before attempting the impossible tomorrow!

Miss you all,

Taylor