Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 1

  1. Seeing the wonderful community engagement at the Edinburgh Central Library
  2. The not-so-secret hidden stairs behind the bookshelves!
  3. Hearing about the Edinburgh Youth Talks Program
  4. Special collections at University of Edinburgh New College Library
  5. The World's End pub
All the Details:
Edinburgh Central Library

My window view of Arthur's Seat
My first day in Edinburgh began with a breath-taking view from my dorm window of Arthur’s Seat, the main peak of mountains near Holyrood Park. After a quick breakfast, our class set out for the National Library Scotland. The library was not open yet, but we were able get coffee and look at the gift shop before we headed across the street for our first appointment of the day at the Edinburgh Central Library.
First, we were given a tour of the many spaces at the Central Library. There was a beautiful reading room where the shelving actually opened revealing hidden staircases to the gallery and more shelving. It was the perfect feature to show a group of librarians because we were all extremely impressed and excited by the idea of hidden passages filled with books. We were also very excited to take a look through some of the card catalogs that are still used at the library as they work to digitally catalog their materials.

Book cases that open to reveal hidden stairs!
The day we visited, there was a program going on in the Children’s Library. The kids and parents were all sitting around one of the librarians reading a book and singing. It was such a warm, happy place! I was very impressed by the large number of parents and kids in attendance at the program, and there were also other kids picking out books and playing in a small arts and crafts area. It was obvious that the library does an excellent job of bringing in kids and their parents from the community. We were also shown the music library, a small teen area, and the main lending library. One thing that stood out was the library’s process for book reservations. They use recyclable book jackets that keep reservations private and easy for patrons to locate when they arrive to pick them up. The library also has a number of community events and clubs for their patrons that keep the library a central part of the city.

After our tour, we got to hear some of the library staff talk about projects that they participate in for the community. More than anything, I was struck by the Youth Talks Program that helps to support teenagers in the area. It seems like the library and other groups in Edinburgh have really come together to provide safe, enriching experiences for teens to participate in during their free time. There was also a Digital Toy Box Program aimed as exposing children to STEM based classes and concepts. Overall, I was very impressed by this particular library’s interaction with the community. I think this is one of the main criteria in distinguishing a productive public library.

New College Library, Edinburgh University

New College Library
In the afternoon, our class had our last group trip over to the University of Edinburgh’s New College Library. Located in a beautiful old church that was built by the Free Church of Scotland, the New College Library is home to the School of Divinity. We were able to look at some of the library’s special collection materials in the Funk Reading Room, as well as the basement level rooms of stacks. The library has been able to digitally catalog about 60% of their collection so far, and still utilized card catalogs. The main focus in this library is print materials, therefore there are few computers available, although students are able to bring their own devices. The library is able to house many of the items needed for both the graduate and postgraduate students at the School of Divinity, making it a central space of learning for these students. As this was our last class visit, we said our goodbyes to everyone before heading out to explore Edinburgh.


Now that class was over, we had some time to relax and enjoy the city before everyone left for more traveling or the trip home. Friday afternoon I went with my friends, India and Emily, to meet Emily’s husband that had just gotten to town. We spent some time at The World’s End, a historic pub that was once located at the gates in and out of the city of Edinburgh. Later that night, India, Jess, and I ordered Indian food and watched a movie while we waited on our laundry. It was a great way to unwind after a month of focusing on school. We had one more day in Edinburgh before the first part of my trip would come to an end.

Friday, July 15, 2016

June 29 & 30

  1. Durham Cathedral
  2. Durham University uses fur-trimmed graduation robes!
  3. Harry Potter themed advertisement at Bill Bryson Library
  4. Bishop Cosin's Library
All the Details:
Durham University Libraries

Durham Cathedral
Our group spent most of Wednesday travelling to Durham by coach. Once we arrived we took a quick walk through the city to Durham Cathedral. The walk took us through the historic city, over the river on a bridge, and up the hill to where Durham University was celebrating graduation. I was extremely impressed by the amazing graduation robes adorned with white fur, which were especially unique, and the women walking the steep, cobblestone roads in their heels. Due to a very busy graduation schedule, our only opportunity to see the cathedral was by attending the Evensong Service. We also got a quick walkthrough of some of the other rooms before the cathedral closed. Our group then headed down to have dinner in town.

The next morning, we had the opportunity to tour some of the many libraries of Durham University. Since the university was established in 1832, they have a vast collection of materials both old and new. The university focuses on research, which means that the libraries must cater to scholars looking at a variety of materials. We were shown the various libraries by the extremely helpful Library Director, Jon Purcell. First, we were shown the Bill Bryson Library, which is a modern, open plan library with tons of space for students to work in the environment of their choice. This library has already had a huge extension added to the building, and has plans for even more space to be added as the university continues to grow. The library accommodates students with various spaces and goes the extra mile to meet their needs, such as providing eating spaces and a separate study room for postgraduates. The library also houses the university IT department so that students view the library as the place to go for help. Also, I absolutely loved the library’s advertisement in the front lobby comparing it to Hogwarts! I have added Hedwig's Theme to the video, which you can see by clicking here!

Next, we headed over to Palace Green Library, where the special collections are held. Here, we were able to visit the cafĂ©, Somme 1916 Exhibit, and Children’s Learning Space before checking out Bishop Cosin’s Library. Bishop’s Cosin’s Library was a awe inspiring space. The wooden shelving, spiral staircase, and leather bound books had every one of us gasping as we walked through the door. Not only is the room amazing, but the books themselves are extremely rare, many of them acquired from continental Europe before devastating fires destroyed thousands of books in France. We were also able to see books from the Sudan Collection, as well as the digitization and conservation labs. With both modern and classic examples of libraries, Durham has done a wonderful job connecting the university to the community through their exhibitions and accessibility to the public and students alike.
Bishop Cosin's Library
Bishop Cosin's Library
Photo retrieved from:

After visiting the Durham University libraries, we drove over to Ushaw College to see their library and archives that are managed by Durham University. Ushaw College was home to a self-sustaining Catholic community during a time when it was illegal to be Catholic in England. The students here would have studied theology, although the library and archives hold various materials relating to other subjects as well. The librarians as Ushaw College were kind enough to show us American related texts from their collection. These included maps, music, histories of Native Americans, and documents from Catholic missions in America. Since the closure of the college, Durham University has managed the cataloging of the invaluable resources in Ushaw’s libraries. At the end of our day in Durham, our class made our way to Edinburgh by train.

June 28

Just the Highlights:
Tuesday was our group's last day in London, so we spent the day exploring and spending time with wonderful new friends!
  1. Saying hello to Peter Pan
  2. Exploring Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's love story at Kensington Palace
  3. Wandering through Hyde Park
  4. My friend India realizing that the music we could hear in the distance was actually Coldplay doing a sound check for their performance later that night, so we sat on a bench in the park until they stopped playing!
  5. Enjoying tea and scones for the 100th time!
  6. Going to at least three different book stores and looking at all the wonderful books
  7. Accidentally, ending up in a very upscale bar and ordering the most expensive cocktail of my life!
  8. Having dinner with friends at our favorite restaurant, Bill's Restaurant Shoreditch
Peter Pan
A Smoked Margarita

Bill's Shoreditch

June 27

  1. Watching The Imitaiton Game with friends
  2. Seeing the amazing computers
  3. Learning about all the secrecy at Bletchley Park
All the Details:
Bletchley Park

Enigma Machine
Our library science class set out for Bletchley Park on Monday morning, which would be our last group outing in London. In order to have an idea of the importance of Bletchley Park, a few of us had watched The Imitation Game staring Benedict Cumberbatch the night before. The movie, centered around Alan Turing’s work as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during WWII, was a beautiful and emotional tribute to Turing, and provided some background knowledge of code breaking. When we arrived at Bletchley Park, the introductory exhibit showed that there was actually much more happening at Bletchley, other than the dramatized events from the movie. We learned about the process used to break codes and the many machines, like the Enigma Machine, used to create and break the codes.

Due to the large size of Bletchley park, we decided to focus on a few of the areas to explore. First, we were able to tour an exhibit about the relationship between the technical advances at Bletchley and our current World Wide Web. It was extremely interesting to see how progress made during the war has had a lasting effect on the world. Next, we made our way through the museum that features a reconstructed Turing-Welchman Bombe, a huge computer that helped to break codes. The museum did an excellent job of showing the public how the different machines and computers worked. We then went on a walking tour throughout Bletchley and learned about the different people and jobs that existed here during WWII. The stories of people living in secrecy at Bletchley was fascinating. They couldn’t talk to their friends or families about anything that they did at work. This also meant that people working in different buildings within Bletchley had to keep secrets from each other. It would have been extremely difficult to live in an environment that was built on so much secrecy. Finally, we took a look through the beautiful mansion house.

Turing-Welchman Bombe
Bletchley Park Mansion

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

June 25 & 26


  1. Beautiful decorations and gardens at Hampton Court Palace
  2. Beautiful gardens at St. Dunstan-in-the-East
  3. Beautiful carriages at the Royal Mews
  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
All the Details:
Hampton Court Palace
Clock Court

Saturday morning, I took a completely empty tube to Waterloo train station before catching a train to Hampton Court Palace. The former home to many kings and queens of England, has many exhibits and sprawling gardens for visitors to explore. I began my tour by entering the gate and heading to the center of the palace courtyards, or Base Court. Each tour then takes you through a different route of the castle. I admired the Great Hall, kitchens, and apartments of Henry VIII, as well as an exhibit of the monarch’s younger years. The rooms were beautifully and lavishly decorated, capturing the overindulgence that most people associate with Henry’s reign. “Young Henry VIII’s Story” did a wonderful job of communicating the difficulties that Henry faced as a child and new king. It was extremely interesting to look at his life before his infamous six marriages.

Next, I explored William III’s Apartments and the Georgian Story. The former, began with a beautifully painted staircase that courtiers would have ascended to be presented to the king and travelled through ceremonial spaces and private rooms. The rooms emphasized the great spectacle that was made of monarchs in the late 1600s by showing how spaces we see as private now, such as a bedroom, were actually places where nobles had access to the king. The Georgian Story was filled with intricate white paper costumes, used to show how courtiers would have dressed in the early 1700s. After exploring the courtyards and kitchens, I also took a walk through parts of the gardens. These are the types of gardens that cover huge expanses around the palace and would take hours to explore properly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have hours before my train, so I looked at everything I could before heading back to the station. The Rose Garden was by far my favorite, filled with huge rose bushes situated around statues. Since Hampton Court was a place that I had learned about in both European History in high school and Early Modern England during study abroad at BISC, I was extremely excited to be able to finally visit it myself. The audio guide provided excellent information and both the indoor and outdoor displays were fabulous!
A dress made of folded paper
Rose Garden

St. Dunstan-in-the-East

The next day Melody and I went to check out a church called St. Dunstan-in-the-East. This church is unique because it no longer functions as a church, but as a public garden space. The church dates back to 1100 and has experienced many repairs and patchwork over the years. After severe damage during the Blitz in 1941 it was decided that the church would not be repaired. Instead, in 1967 the City of London converted the space into the public garden seen today. The rough, cold stone against the crawling, green foliage make this garden a special kind of hauntingly beautiful. We walked around admiring the gardens and taking pictures, having a wonderful time!

The old wall of the church surrounded by the garden

Buckingham Palace Royal Mews & Queen’s Gallery

After visiting St. Dunstan’s, we headed over to Buckingham Palace. Although, the palace itself is not currently open for tours there are two attractions worth seeing. We explored two art exhibits in the Queen’s Gallery; one honoring Scottish artists and one featuring the work of Maria Merian. We saw many parallels between Maria Merian and Beatrix Potter, who both studied natural science as well as art. Then we headed over to the Royal Mews, which hold the horses, carriages, and vehicles used by the Royal Family. The horses had just been fed, so they were not very social, but we did get a chance to admire the beautiful carriages they are trained to pull. The carriages are covered with jewels, gold, carvings, and symbolism. The most recent one even has air conditioning! It was fun to look at all the beautiful creations that are used for transportation around London!
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach

Monday, July 11, 2016

June 24

  1. The coats of arms inside the Middle Temple dining hall
  2. My classmates putting up with me while I took 100 photos of all the coats of arms
All the Details:

Middle Temple Law Library

Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court, which also includes Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. In order to become a lawyer or barrister in England or Wales, students must join one of the four Inns. The Inns traditionally served as the community for students to live in and learn from. Although students no longer contain their lives within the confines of the Inns’ buildings, they are still the hub of learning for those studying law. The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple began in the 13th century and was the headquarters of the Knights Templar.

We were lucky enough to be shown around Middle Temple by librarian Renae Satterley. The library at Middle Temple focuses on American and European Union law. We were shown around the library main floors that contain two levels of book shelves. We were told that there were also two basement levels for storage and a climate controlled level for rare books. The library, unfortunately, has no classification system, due to the idea that classification labels detract from the appeal of the ‘Gentlemen’s Library’ look. There were also two rare globes from the 16th century on display at the front of the library; one depicting the Earth and the other the sky.

Next we were shown through some of the more luxurious rooms that would have served as drawing rooms and smoking rooms for the lawyers of the Middle Temple. My absolute favorite part of Middle Temple was the dining hall. Its walls, as well as the wall of the hallways leading to it, are covered in hundreds of coats of arms. The coats of arms represent the ‘readers’ that have presented lectures at qualifying sessions that are attended by the students. Students must attend twelve of these sessions that usually involve dinner and a lecture, debate, or performance. Each lecturer or ‘reader’ then has their coat of arms placed on the wall. The beautiful display of colors and symbols was mesmerizing!

June 22 & 23

  1. Revisiting Herstmonceux Castle for the first time in four years!
  2. Tea at Chestnut's Tea Room
  3. Exploring the gardens
  4. A Midsummer Night's Dream
All the Details:
Herstmonceux Castle

Four years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to study at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle. Since arriving in London, visiting the castle again had been at the top of my list of things to do. I had even convinced my friend Melody, another student in my Library Science program, to join me in a day trip to East Sussex!
Herstmonceux Castle

We woke up and headed to the train station, but unfortunately missed our train by two minutes. The next train was scheduled to leave in 30 minutes, but after waiting for about 20 minutes we found out that that train was cancelled. We spoke to some of the station workers and ended up taking a different train to Brighton instead of directly to Polegate, which is closest to the castle. Once we made it to Brighton we took a train to Lewes and another train to Polegate where we met our taxi. It was so great to be in the English countryside again, watching the rolling hills and groups of sheep out the window of the taxi. When we made it to the castle I actually made Melody turn away from it until we had passed the trees, so that when she turned around she got the full view of the castle and moat. This had been the way I had gotten my first views of the castle four years ago on a coach from Heathrow airport, and I knew it was the best way to appreciate the beauty. I will admit that I got a little emotional seeing the place that I had spent six of the best weeks of my life.
First we took a tour of the castle. It was so much fun walking around and seeing the courtyard, classrooms, ballroom, and staircases that had been my home away from home. I also enjoyed the look on the faces of the other people on the tour when I told them that the dungeon they were seeing just happened to be under the floor of the classroom I spent most of my time in four years ago! After the tour, Melody and I were able to speak with the assistant librarian at the small castle library. She told us about how the library was currently focusing on weeding duplicate print materials and building up their online resources. Since the BISC is owned by Queen’s University in Canada, students at the castle have access to the same databases that Queen’s students use, as well as access to the castle library and University of Sussex library. The library also has silent study spaces in the reading room and a group space for students to work collaboratively. 
After exploring the castle, we had tea at Chestnut’s Tea Room and spent some time in the beautiful gardens. Melody was so nice about letting me reminisce and tell stories about my time at the castle. We walked through all the gardens, saw one of the peacocks, and spent some time enjoying the sun. Before heading back to London I was able to get some small souvenirs. When I studied at the castle I didn’t buy anything with the castle crest on it, which I have regretted for years, so I was happy to be able to buy a mug and tea towel. I loved being back at the castle for the day and our train ride back to London was much less eventful than our trip getting there!


The next day our class travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon with some other students from the British Studies program. After a long coach ride, we were ready for breakfast! We found a great restaurant that had great food, coffee, and tea. We then took some time to explore the town where the great playwright, William Shakespeare, grew up and raised a family. We had a limited amount of time, so we explored the shops and the cathedral where Shakespeare and his family were buried. Unfortunately, due to a lack of time and the high cost, we did not go into the home and birthplace of Shakespeare. We walked toward the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre and enjoyed the garden statues that honor the playwright and his characters. There was also a line of adorable small boats, all named for Shakespeare’s female characters. After exploring, we headed to the theatre to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream! The British Studies Program had gotten all of us tickets, and a few of us were lucky enough to sit front row! The show was amazing and hilarious, especially when the character Puck climbed over our row of seats and sat on us!
Boats named after Shakespeare's characters