Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Well I'm writing this back in Maine. This was quite a whirlwind trip and it lived up to my expectations. I really feel like I got to experience Scotland and especially England. I saw so many museums and libraries I have trouble remembering them off the top of my head. I learned about new practices at libraries that I want to incorporate into my own career in America. The book prescription was probably the most fascinating to me. The Edinburgh central library allows people to take books out on mental and physical health with a doctor's "prescription". For my three extra visits and blog posts I went to the Tower of London, the Royal Observatory, and the Globe Theatre. This is a program that I would be interested in being involved with here. So for seeing the UK and learning about library operations this was a very educational experience.
Our tour of the King's College library marked our last library tour, certainly bitter sweet. We went all through the library seeing the reading room and the special collections area. We saw some of the old slate bookshelves that now sit empty. Most of these slate bookshelves have been replaced but it was interesting to see a room that still contained them to see what the library looked like in the past.
The Royal Geographical Society was a particular treat for me because it related to my paper topic, the collections relating to Shackleton and Scott's expeditions to the Antarctic. The RGS was formed in the 19th century in order to promote exploration and geographical mapping. The current president is Michael Palin, one of the monty pythons he has done many travel documentaries including one in which he traveled around the world in eighty days.
Some highlights of the tour include seeing the lecture room, the 'map' room which used to be used to look at maps but the new reading room fulfills this task. We were able to look at some very interesting artifacts, such as George Mallory's boot which was found on Mt. Everest. We saw one of Shackleton's balaclavas that he wore on one of his expeditions and some provision pouches from Scott's expedition. This tour will certainly add to my research.
I'd like to take the time here to go into my research project a little as it relates to our trip to the Royal Geographical Society. I am looking at the material available in regard to the British expeditions to the Antarctic, specifically those conducted by Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton. As a history major and general history buff I have always been interested in the tales of the great age of exploration. This was a time when people decided to go and walk across a giant continent of ice just because nobody else had done it before. Scott was not successful in his attempt to be the first to the South Pole and died on his return. Shackleton had his ship sink on the way to his crossing of the Antarctic but was successful of getting his party back to safety (some of those who had planted provisions along the second leg of the journey across the Antarctic sadly perished).
My project will look at what materials are available in both secondary and primary source material and how this material is organized. I also want to look at what is available to the public at a lending library such as the Barbican, to see what is initially available to students. In addition I would like to compare the differences between British and American sources when pertaining to these subjects.