Barbican Library

IMG_1094The Barbican Library is located in the Barbican Art Center that opened in 1982 by Queen Elizabeth II. It is part of a three branch lending library system in the City of London. It has been rated as a Grade 1 historic building.

The library uses a personalized Dewey classification system, RFID, wifi, and automated checkout machine. It has an internet suite, a buggy park, and promotes city read. They have an income generator by charging loan fees for CD and DVD. Their website has foreign language courses, talking books, and ebooks. I did find it interesting that they don’t offer courses, but promote others who provide courses for their patrons.

The Barbican library has an art collection that connects to the art center, a crime fiction collection from the 1920s, and a collection of items about London before 1900. Their collection of maps is laminated for the reason of “weather ability”. It makes sense for the layers of clothes needed for London’s weather.

There is a small children section with a total of 23,000 items with 15,000 open access and the rest in storage. There are only 4 categories of books that are determined by age. The summer reading challenge is ran by the national authority.

Their Music library has a large collection of vinyl records. It has 9,000 books and 16,000 scores. They have a collection called ‘Unsigned London’ which is composed of CDs by artists that are not signed to a record company. The Barbican Library has shown that you can have a piano in the middle of the library and still have silence. Ok, the use of headphones is needed, but you can barely hear the tapping of the keys (the same noise level of someone typing on a computer keyboard) With their huge collection of CDs, they have listening booths for patrons to use as well.

The patrons of the library enjoy visiting the library on their lunch hour. My ears could not believe that until I heard that they have a small local community and a huge commuting population.




Blythe House

The class visited the Blythe House, which has a large Beatrix Potter Collection. The Blythe House is also part of the V&A Archives. The library catalog has 350 drawings, but still need to add 1500 more. There are 200 pencil drawings in the collection. The items that the class were able to view allowed the curator to tell Beatrix Potter’s life story from childhood to end of her life

Beatrix Potter is famous for her Peter Rabbit series. However, she started drawing at a young age. She created a sketchbook at 8 years old that lead to demonstrate the career of a naturalist. In 1893, she bought a rabbit named Peter that became her imaginative drawing source. She would illustrate popular fairytales using rabbits. For example, a drawing of Cinderella’s coach is pulled by rabbits instead of horses. She wrote letters to children of a friend that started the adventures of Peter Rabbit. She was a child illustrator and writer until her marriage late in life.

A unique fact about Beatrix Potter is that she wrote her journals in code that was eventually cracked by an engineer that became a huge collector of her material and donated it all to the Blythe House.

I did receive advice on getting a job in the library field in the England is to be multi-skilled. The Curator teaches, advise, does exhibitions, research, and is hands on with conservation and preservation.


Bletchley Park

When I saw the “Imitation Game” film back in the theatre, I never imagined that the journey I took to learn more about the subject. A book for class reading was about Bletchley Park and I learned more than about the mysterious home and its effect on history. Fast forward to my birthday and I step off the train to learn more about the employment of the codebreakers.

First thing I learned is the 6 steps for the operation of Bletchley Park. Behind some glass, there was the famous Enigma machine that caused so much trouble. I learned the difference between a code and a cipher. I was fascinated by a poem that described the various military branches that were stationed there.

You can read a description of a place and try to vision it in your mind. You can do research and rely on other’s drawings. The best way to see something is all of its reality to better understand the true impact of it. I am talking about the lake on the property and the mansion. The picture can be pretty, but you can’t relate to what the codebreakers felt when they first came to Bletchley Park.

I was extremely excited to see that the exhibition of the film was still displayed in the mansion. It was a highlight of the day to sit at the table in the bar scene. The movie may have faults but it was the reason for my visit that day.

What is a visit without seeing the huts? In one of the huts, they used technology to have a “bombe” girl talk about the reality of working with the machines. In others, there was the posters that were displayed to warn about the dangers of revealing their work. In all of the huts, you can see the reality of the working spaces as if the staff were out to lunch instead of 70 years later. I truly enjoyed the visit to Hut 6 because of my influence from the film about the work of Alan Turing.

The hidden secret for me during that day was the discovery of the library at Bletchley Park.


Central Library

In 1890, the Central Library of Scotland was started as a public library. It was in 1920 when people were able to take a book off the shelf. In 1930, the building next door was bought for an expansion. It was refurbished in 2014. It is a great source for the local community with 1,000 visitors per day. They are a leader in digital services and dealing with youth.

I was fascinated by the reference library where one-third of the collection is available. It is a two story library with staircases in every pillar. Due to the timeless classic of the room, it is used for events. I like their term “editing” instead of using “weeding” for a collection. It was interesting to learn that a famous illustrator did the murals in the children’s room. As the city of Edinburgh doesn’t have a permanent dedication of a World War I nursing memorial, the library stepped up and has a place for it at this time.

The library staff presented two videos about projects that they are doing with great interest from their patrons. The first was called “Youth Talk”. It was about outreach to youth in community to find extra projects. The Youth was involved in process from the start, with their viewpoints, involvement, and agreement. The Library was used as local hub of engagement for the project. The second was called “Digital Toy box”. It was about how to engage youth with technology. They used Minecraft to make local landmarks and a 3D printer to make them in reality. They also used events to teach coding, robotics, synth kit.

The history of New College Library at Edinburgh University is that it started as a church. In 1843, there was a split from the Church of Scotland, so they had to build a library from donations. In 1930, there was church reunification in Scotland, so the library was back with Edinburgh University.

It is a five floor Theology library with a traditional reading environment. Due to a generous donor, a rare reading room is encased in glass for their special collections. They are hoping to digitize 500 items that are unique and prior to the 1800s.

In their collection, they use reader lists to buy books. There is a mixture of classification systems due to age of the collection. For example, new items are added using the Library of Congress classification system. Since ministers have no access to e-journals, the library needs to keep print copies. Their pamphlet collection is 35,000 items from the 16th to 20th century.



Along with Veronica and Kimberly, I took the opportunity to visit Parliament instead of the Middle Temple Law Library. The visit occurred on the day of the referendum results deciding the new future of Great Britain.


Parliament is the ultimate authority of law in the United Kingdom. It has its own fire service and dining room. When the old palace was burned in 1834 by tally sticks, the crowd cheered when the House of Lords burned but the crowd rushed to save Westminster Hall. The building is laid out with the central lobby in an octagonal shape that is sits between the House of Lords and the House of Common.

The House of Lords is made up of 802 members that are paid no salary, but can claim daily expenses. The members are nominated by peers for life, however they may retire. The chamber has television cameras that are attached above the seats and microphones that drop to 7 feet off the floor from the high ceiling.

The House of Common has 650 members that are elected every 5 years in a general election. The party with the most seats is the government following the election and the Leader of that party is Prime Minister. Every session is recorded and the ‘faithful account’ of the proceedings is in public libraries within one week. If a vote is needed, the members will file out of the room into 2 lobbies (one for aye, the other for no). The process is stand up and be counted. No electronics is used at all.

After learning about the basis of government in England, we chose to partake in the tradition of having afternoon tea on the terrace of Parliament overlooking the Thames.


It was a simple and delicious way to think about the differences in systems between Great Britain and an old British colony across the Atlantic.

King’s College

The history of the building is being a public record office until the 1980s. The college didn’t move the library into the space until 2000. It is unique because it has been designed as a fire proof building. It contains cast iron and slate shelves in small storage areas. The cast iron doors of old are now part of the décor. I fell in love with the octagonal reading room with 3 floors of shelving.


The Maughan Library has two desks to indicate support. One desk is library reference desk while the other desk is student support in all other college matters. The library uses technology, such as the machines for self-issue and self-return of items. I was fascinated by the automated laptop checkout. There are different kinds of areas of study, such as the silence zone, quiet zone, and group zone which are self-policed by the students using the library.

The most useful information that I received to apply toward my career as a librarian was the steps taken from start to finish of setting up an exhibition.

Did you know that King’s College is located in the historic printing press area? The Special Collections library contains 200,000 items from the 15th century to present. Items need to merit conservation.

The collections of chapter books and popular medicine caught my attention. The chapter books collection composes of books that were cheap and printed in the local area of the college that were sold to illiterate readers. The books were about fairy-tales, politics, and folklore that contained woodcut drawings. Another collection is popular medicine because the items are cheap, easy to buy, but are still uncommon items. The library’s collection of 18th century medicine books have been digitized by Internet Archives.

I did enjoy seeing the Benjamin Franklin signed book “Charters of Pennsylvania” from 1742 which was the Colonial Office copy. Another item was the Thomas Payne signed copy of Common Sense published in 1776. That book had blanked out the controversial text that someone filled it in later by hand.

An interesting fact is that there are no objects in their Special Collection.

National Maritime Museum – Greenwich


As the class traveled via river taxi to Greenwich to visit the library of the Maritime Museum, I witnessed history being a protest over Britain’s future with the European Union of different size boats on the Thames. A fitting start to understand how events on water can be historical artifacts.

The start of the Maritime Museum is due to Rudyard Kipling and his maritime interest. He made the suggestion of the museum to the first director and donated 80 book to the collection.

The Caird Library is a special library of maritime interest.

Their reading room is adapted for both uses of a library and archives. The Universal Dewey classification system is used to catalog the collection of materials. Most of the inquires are of a naval nature. The library uses Aeon software for reader records. During a tour of the library, I learned about their conservation team working in the CPR (Collection Preservation Room).

Some of their collection is digitized; patrons still need to come in for rest of items. The collection consists of ship logs and mess memorabilia. Some specific collections are original correspondence of survivors of Titanic, Admiralty series, and Office copy of Master’s certificates. Some electronic resources are digital newspapers and State papers.

The information in the library is valuable to genealogists due to Britain’s global empire over hundreds of years. As I work in Interlibrary Loan, it is a highly requested subject to determine the time frame of a family’s history in the country.