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.

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