Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ACADEMIC - Caird Library

Image provided by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

On Monday we visited the Caird Library which is housed within the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. As Carlye can tell you I have an affinity for the sea and this was a great visit.

Before you enter the library there are computers in the lobby from which you can access the library's electronic resources. Visitors can use the databases for no charge. The furniture in this library was really nice. Great old bookshelves, maybe not practical but gorgeous. We were shown various archival materials and manuscripts in the collection. We got to see a signal book, which explains all the signals the navy would use. These books were really valuable and in the wrong hands could hurt the navy. So the book we saw had weights in the spine. This way if a ship was captured by pirates the book could be thrown overboard and not float into enemy hands. I thought that was really interesting to see. The book in the picture is one of many tiny books with covers from the wood of the Royal George.

Throughout this trip I'm getting to see a lot of archive materials and its great to watch these librarians handle these materials. I'm actually really envious and I wonder if I could ever do that kind of work...

The Caird Library is named after its main founder Sir James Caird. The library contains over 140,000 items and is the largest library of maritime subject materials.

The library is now open less hours than it was before, due to planned reconstruction of the museum. The staff has been facing many organizational problems because the reconstruction has forced them to move materials. It was interesting for me to see other librarians, especially in library where many materials have to be retrieved for readers, deal with moving and organizing items during transition. It's these technical issues that interest me, probably because they are the issues I end up dealing with in my work. To learn more about the Caird library, click here.

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