- A fabulous archivist that overcomes library challenges on a daily basis
- Camel Leopards
- Powerful images of London during World War II
- A farmer's market
- Richard Madden and Lily James in Romeo & Juliet
All the Details:
British Museum Archives
The British Museum Archives tour was extremely interesting because of the way that the material relating to the museum collections has been organized in the past. No catalog of the archive has been kept, which is in direct contrast to the detailed catalog that was maintained for The British Library, which split from the museum. The single archivist on staff, Ms. Francesca Hillier, must answer all inquiries with only her knowledge of where to look in the collection and help from three volunteers. She spoke of a recent inquiry about giraffes that she had difficulty answering. After looking through many volumes and documents, she discovered that the older materials referred to giraffes as “camel leopards”. Changes like this also make it difficult for the archive to collect and organize materials well. She is currently working on a catalog, but the lack of organization and randomly bound archive materials has made this task extremely difficult. She must constantly make decisions about valuable materials and documents without any precedent leading her choices.
|The Reading Room|
It was sad to hear that the beautiful reading room, built by Sir Anthony Panizzi, is no longer in use. It essentially sits empty and underutilized. It is unfortunate that such a beautiful space and historic collection are not seen by the public, which was the original intent. Ms. Hillier is currently working to have the reading room opened to support public access to the archival records.
One of the most powerful things we saw in the archive was a fragment of an incendiary device and photos of the destruction caused by the bombing of London during World War II. This hit me particularly hard because I have heard the stories of the bombings that my grandmother lived through. To see those pieces of history and to know that they had affected my grandmother was a very emotionally charged experience.
This archive, although it poses many challenges, holds many important and valuable materials that would be rewarding to work with. The archivist has plans to create a catalog and organize the materials in way that would make it more accessible to the public, which is especially important for a public archive.
Lunch with Jessica Green
After the British Museum, we walked down to a small library that focuses on the Holocaust and genocide. One of the British Studies alumni, Jessica Green, works at this library and we had the opportunity to speak to her about her library work. We walked past the library to a farmer’s market and sat with Jessica while we all ate lunch. There was a great brick oven pizza truck where we got freshly made pizza! It was great to hear about her experiences moving to the UK and working in a library environment. She gave us great information about how her library has been digitizing materials and the struggles that come with this task. This was particularly important because most of us will encounter similar problems since so many libraries are now expected to have a digital presence.
Romeo and Juliet
|My signed ticket|
|Meeting Lily James|