Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Central Library, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Commute to Edinburgh and Introductions to Carol Marr, Library Officer:

Following a tour of the Dalkeith Library on a Tuesday morning, two days prior to leaving for the mini break to Paris, France to meet my daughter (sigh!), I took a bus ride with a classmate to Edinburgh on the ‘number 3 bus’, walked directly to the Elephant House for lunch and souvenir purchases, to land at my final destination of the Edinburgh Central Library on Princes Street.

In a historic city that is built around volcanic hills, a literary and cultural heritage is revealed through a wealth of resources and records made available in Edinburgh libraries. The Central library is in an Old World Heritage site close to the Royal Mile and is known for providing worldwide knowledge through its wealthy span of resources that seek to meet the information, learning and recreational needs of patrons of all ages.

Insight into the Library as a Communal Space, the Collection and Services:

My initial venture into the French Renaisssance style Carnagie library, built by Architect George Washington Browne, began by taking a few pictures and speaking with the security guard up front about the location and access to the library and the Resource Centre for the handicapped, given that is my research topic. As with all Carnagie libraries, above the entrance were the words 'Let there be light'. Once again in the front hall down the stairs, I read a large title made for the building, which read:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.
Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her for she is thy life.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding and..."(
From the Book of Proverbs).

I took a quick peek at the bust of Andrew Carnegie as I ventured up the main stairwell and came right back down. I read that Carnegie donated 25,000 pounds to the library which was doubled later! I stood in amazement and wonderment after thinking about Carnegie funding so many libraries around the world and once back to earth, was puzzled after climbing the sets of stairs as to how the disabled would enter the library or come upstairs. I later learned that there are areas of this library that are not handicapped accessible. I was relieved to learn that entrance to the Resource Centre for special needs populations was accessible from the ground level and was located next door to the library, being connected and not isolated from the library core. Items from the collection could be brought to the patrons from this point, after a request is made in the resource centre.

With many different departments in this public lending library, similar to what can be found in public libraries in the United States, the collection at Edinburgh Central Library offers more than 850,000 items to browse through, with an option to borrow. The books available covered the gamut of many subject areas to suit all patron ages and tastes with free information and an enquiry service to assist all. Of profit for the patron community, one that expands well beyond the boundaries of the Scottish nation, is study space, Internet, email, PC services and access to the most current digital information reserves that are freely and abundantly furnished. The Central library also maintains collections of CDs, DVDs and audio books. Special services include guided tours, visits, talks and events with an offer of community meeting spaces.

The Edinburgh Central Library provides the city with local studies/research for local or family history information, with the contribution of census returns, Old Parish Registers, directories, local newspapers, free family history resources and digitized images on the “Capital Collections website”. Of importance and added value to Edinburgh patrons, Edinburgh City Archives is publicly available to offer supplementary facets of how their ancestors may have lived to include records such as:

• Education records
• Incorporated Trade records
• Dean of Guild Plans
• Town Council Minutes
• Parochial Board administrative and Poor House records

My tour guide, Mrs. Carol Marr, stated that the lower level of the library offered the largest known special collections in the world! A wonderful offer is the Fiction collection, where literature written in all languages is known to be represented. Interestingly, Mrs. Marr stated that parts of the collection can be rented by scholastic and community groups and organizations to promote literacy and learning. The sizable offer of talking books were mentioned to be available for the visually impaired and other special needs population groups, with no charge to patrons for audio if registered as being disabled at the library. This is a special membership that is available to patrons, with the offer of a library card that indicates this designation. As we walked through the stacks, I noticed several long bookshelves of large print items. I also passed through a generous supply of travel guides, newspapers and teen book displays. Of importance for Mrs. Marr to mention was the fact that the Young Adult, Children’s and Adult sections of the library were blended, as plans for constructing a new building as a separate division for the Young Adult and Teen collections was already in advanced planning stages as we spoke. Lastly, we passed the ‘Learning Centre’ with a lavish supply of computers for patrons to access on a daily basis.

The Resource Centre, for People with Additional Support Needs: Interview and Tour by Jim McKinzie

After a general tour of the collections, Mrs. Marr set up an interview with the Disabilities Services Officer and Librarian, Mr. Jim McKinzie. Prior to entering the facility, accessible from the main building, Mrs. Marr informed me that the Learning Centre is connected to the Resource Centre for community education and information technology/computer education. Mr. McKinzie then informed me that he has been in this particular position for eight years. On a grateful note, Jim stated that he has at least one Library Assistant to help out in the Resource Centre each day! The assistants come to him with full knowledge of the software made available to assist patrons. The software includes Microsoft software to include programs such as Word Processing, Excel, Powerpoint and Access. The Internet is also made free for the public in this zone of the library. The offer of screen magnification and speech output software is available to assist patrons in using the computer facilities. Jim stated that licensing for the speech software is a necessity. Also offered is a selection of equipment to read aloud documents and books, as well as a CCTV magnifier to enlarge photos and text up to 60 times magnification. The offer of an assortment of computer mice and keyboards designed to help the disabled was another advantageous service to patrons. All one needed to do was ‘book’ one-on-one staff support for special assistance and also for equipment to guarantee the availability and use of the equipment. I also learned that the Centre was fully accessible to wheelchair users, with a handicapped restroom nearby for patrons. The Resource Centre offered its own distinctive hours, removed from the main library, and is in full operation Mondays through Fridays, from 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm.

The Resource Centre thoughtfully advertised the services using politically correct terminology of helping those with ‘additional support needs’. Over the eight years Jim has been employed in this centre, the hours have expanded from the very limiting hours of 2 pm to 4pm daily to the lengthier present day hours. Jim stated that there was a measured need, so the time was responsibly expanded. Of the 26 community libraries in Edinburgh, Jim said that there is only one other Resource Centre to offer similar services as what is offered at the Central Library. When questioning Jim as to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the library (SWOT), he offered that a major threat upon services several years back was when the scanning software was totally wiped out due to a new provider installation! This service has yet to be re-instilled and stated that adding a new provider can be a big threat in coordinating with the special needs services offered. It is an ongoing issue between the Resource Centre and the Information Technology (IT) Department, with many hurdles to overcome in the future, with a lack of sufficient communication or coordinative efforts between departments currently to meet with the needs of the library’s special needs populations. He expressed his frustrations in that it was as though the services provided by the Centre were not approached as being as important and I saw this as an opportunity for his position to aggressively advocate the value of the services today and into the future. Jim expressed his concerns with obtaining software with speaking functions as well, due to funding issues and current problems with the IT Department. According to Jim, the software that the Centre maintains is not working as well as it should, but the future looked promising to him.

Description of Special Needs Equipment Acquired, Designed to Serve in Unique Ways:

The library currently uses the Kurzweil System, which is scanning software for books and printed items such as letters, with Optical Character Recognition (OCR)software to read the text out loud for patrons. The centre offers hard speech recognition software called “Dragon Dictate”, but is seeking better software currently. Jim stated that when a patron gets referred to the Centre, an interview is conducted to understand more fully what the patrons needs are at the moment. The first thing that takes place when a patron comes in to use the services after being fully registered is teaching the "touch-type” method (FDSA type), which makes it easier to work with the patron.

Keyboards and Mice:

Of value to my tour of the Resource Centre and brief interview in Mr. Jim McKenzie’s office, he brought out some of the keyboards to demonstrate its use. There were one handed key boards for the disabled with only one functioning hand to manipulate the computer. Jim informed me that the odd shaped, ergonomic keyboard matched natural hand movement with a key arrangement that reduces strain and minimizes finger movement. This design is one that aids the disabled by alleviating the frustration of using a normal keyboard and thereby raising the speed when typing. Of interest to me was that there are left and right handed models used for touch typing. Another keyboard offered large keys that were either black or white for distinctiveness. Of aid to the visually impaired patrons, some of the keyboards had numbers and letters that were of opposing colours. Jim also showed me an example of a coloured keyboard in contrast to the black and white keyboard. He explained that for those patrons with vision disabilities, this keyboard control offered enhanced control with a built in screen reader called Voice Over. Other incredible options offered by this unique keyboard, was the ability to magnify the screen and spoken descriptions of what is on the screen! This keyboard was used in the Resource Centre for not only for those with low vision, but for the blind and patrons with learning difficulties. Another keyboard called the Orbitouch keyboard was called the "keyless" keyboard by Jim, to be used by the physically handicapped minus the use of functioning fingers or those with limited mobility or hand injuries (i.e. carpal tunnel syndrome). On this keyboard device, two sliding domes or dials for the right and left hands replace the mouse and keyboard to allow movement in any direction (not twisting!), similar to laptop track nubs, and keystrokes are created to type letters! This tracker ball system offers a wonderful alternative for the elderly as well and is quite popular in the Resource Centre.

Referrals to Edinburgh Central Library’s Resource Centre:

Because the Resource Centre is integrated with the Learning Centre and accessible by all Central Library patrons, oftentimes patrons feed into the technology zone to use the computers either by means of overflow from the main library or referred there by the library staff. Once inside, Mr. McKinzie and his staff may not initially know who has special needs as oftentimes it is not visible. He explained that the special needs patrons either come eventually to the staff to request more time or have many questions, which alerts them to the fact the individual has specific needs that the usual equipment or services does not provide them. Patrons feed to them in this sometimes indirect or direct manner and also feeds from the main library staff who refer them directly to the centre. Referrals also come from phone calls or email requests for more specialized assistance and service. Front house tours and classes at the library offer referrals to the Resource Centre as well. It is important to mention that many of the patrons that use the Resource Centre are elderly patrons. Jim stated that with two staff on board each day to assist patrons, more one-on-one service is valuably offered.

Needs of the Resource Centre at Edinburgh Central Library:

The current needs of the Resource Centre is to obtain a new DVD player, obtain the equipment to make text conversion into Braille and to fix the Doorbell that connects the front desk amplifier with the street door entrance to the Centre. I learned that this door remains locked. Jim stated that he was not entirely sure of why it must be kept locked from this outdoor entrance (must enter the Resource Centre from the Main Library entrance that feeds into the Centre; a longer distance for the special needs individuals) other than the liability of having it open and just to ensure that only library patrons are fed into the Resource Centre with security guards at the front entrance to the main library. He also mentioned that theft of the special needs equipment and the technology in the learning centre was most probably a big concern of the library. Jim said that they need a larger facility, especially since the tremendous growth during his employ at the Resource Centre. Of the main barriers in access to the Resource Centre, he stated that limited space in a growing Centre was a big concern and the IT Department not completely networking the Resource Centre to the main computers (a big, ongoing issue! Protection software for dyslexics diffused currently). Other needs are for more accessible toilets with ample space for durable medical equipment ‘DME’ (i.e. wheelchairs, walkers, safety bars, etc.).

On a positive note, Scotland’s National Disability and Information Service was updated to offer the library and other organizations that serve the disabled in Scotland membership packages of disability information, resources and an array of other supportive services for the organization in the offer of up-to-date and current disability information to clients. A helpline is made available as well as an informative website to assist with many questions concerning such things as equipment and local sources of advice and help for the special needs populations.


Websites of Interest:

Edinburgh Central Library

Edinburgh Central Lending Library

Edinburgh Central Learning Centre

Scotland's National Disability Information Service

Dalkeith Library & Arts Centre, Scotland

Good Morning Dalkeith. A Jumpstart, but No Takeoff! Don’t Worry, be Happy!

The day began very early with an anticipation of getting a lot of work accomplished a few days prior to my departure to Paris! With two libraries to visit, I had just enough time left to do some exploring and touring in Edinburgh, do some observational research/field work and pack it all up so that I may leave Scotland for the next country on Stacey’s agenda. With so much on my mind, I woke up sometime after 5:30 am, which is something I ‘never’ do, but being in another country and having no one to depend upon/fall back on but yourself, this survivalist mode turned on naturally and set me in gear, full speed ahead. Yet, maybe a little too much on this day! But the sun was shining and I was ready to start my day and that I did. My friend and fellow SLIS classmate, Sheila, was to meet with me this morning to do a quick tour of the local Dalkeith library and Arts Centre on White Hart Street, just a few blocks away from the lovely County Hotel on High Street I had been happily staying at.

The only problem is that I quickly learned after a brisk walk there to locate the library that it did not open until a very late 9:30 am, so I walked around the quaint, small town of Dalkeith, waiting for coffee shops to open while snapping pictures of buildings and as many flowers beds as I could. I was reworking in my mind the flower beds I have at home in Baton Rouge, as I took note of the lovely gardens and hanging arrangements in this historic town outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

I actually saw a few British Studies program students wandering about either alone as myself or in small groups looking for breakfast, yet they discovered as I had, that Dalkeith was not fully awaken yet! These very small towns have businesses and shops that are slow to open and quick to close at the end of the day. What that means for us students is to make sure to gather supplies and food when the opportunity presents itself during our scheduled days.

The Midlothian Library and Arts Centre in Dalkeith, Scotland:

The visit at the Dalkeith Library began by taking initial pictures (after introducing myself as a library student and getting permission to use my camera, which is something that is typically not allowed) and walking around the outer and inner perimeter of the library. I jotted notes of what I observed about the general layout and my initial exposure and responses to the surroundings, such as the physical accommodations for patrons, posted informational flyers and signage, available seating, and who was coming in or already seated in the library. Immediately, I discovered that there was not a public restroom there, having consumed several large cups of coffee earlier, and had to walk one block over to a public restroom in a questionable alley in the back of some office buildings that was near the library. Possibly, the town is so small that having a restroom in the library was not deemed necessary, as one could arrive back at home with a hop, skip and a jump in this small town? The adjoining Art Centre was not open, so I assumed that it had a restroom within, but did not ask because I did not want to appear rude after the staff allowed me to take pictures, ask questions and observe that morning! While this seemed a big inconvenience to patrons, I quickly made my pit stop out of sheer necessity and zoomed back to the library!

There were a number of more elderly individuals coming in and I noticed the “Live It Computer Zone” was busy enough for a small library, with mostly young adults who were quietly at work. Towards the back of the library I discovered that the Children’s Room nicely integrated with the Teen Zone, which was separated by shorter bookshelves to offer somewhat of a barrier. There there was a buzz about the library as the library staff looked as though they were in some steady preparation for a children’s event that was soon to begin. The parents and very young children and infants were trickling in. There was a small but fairly good representation of all patron age groups there that morning!

A Town Profile to put the Library into Perspective of its Community: An Overview of the Library and Collections

The Town:

Dalkeith is a town in Midlothian, Scotland that is nestled on the River North Esk and has a population of 11,566 residents according to the 2001 census. The name is Scottish Gaelic meaning ‘the valley with the wood’ and the town motto is ‘once the Keeper, always the Defender.’ The Scottish town has four distinctive zones: the historic Towne Centre and the historic core; Eskbank on the West that encompasses many large Victorian homes and newer constructions; and Woodburn on the Eastern side, consisting of the working class council estate. Dalkeith is 400 miles north of London and only eight miles southeast of Edinburgh, making this a convenient stay given good bus transportation funnelling students and teachers to and from Dalkeith and Edinburgh for our required class visits and touring needs.

The economy is primarily based off of dairy, printing, bookbinding, wool-spinning, supermarkets, grain milling and cattle. What was historically a market town due to its thriving grain, horse and cattle market, has been built up over the years around the notable and historic 12th Century Dalkeith Castle (the seat of Scottish government under Oliver Cromwell, in 1650), which the majority of British Studies students stayed at during our brief stay.

The Library:

The Dalkeith Library is part of a branched library network that is managed by Midlothian libraries that offers an assorted collection to serve its community which includes a large reference section, digital resources, tools and Microsoft software, a learning centre, career information, periodicals and office equipment for the public to freely access and use. The library is made very accessible with full wheel chair access, enlarged keyboards for personal computers, screenreader software, hearing loops and magnification equipment. I learned while there that the adjoining Arts Centre was part of a modernization and renovation effort of the town centre by the mayor in a single story building with an outdoor patio adjoining to the library. The promotion of the arts followed the formation of the Dalkeith & District Arts Guild with an offer of arts events and activities, musical performances and exhibitions to name a few. Of benefit to the local and nearby community organizations is use the facility in promotion of the arts, cultural, and heritage interests that are open to the public.

Upon entering the library that morning, I noticed that it was fairly small and very colourful, livened up with reds, yellows and blue colors, along with fairly modern library furniture.

The nearest library sections to the front door are the community information zone, the reference books and a huge large-print collection to service the large elderly community as well as the visually impaired. I noticed many stacks of chairs off to one side wall for library events. The reference books included many outdated items such as: encyclopaedias, Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a small section of government documents, Scottish Parliament Acts and other publications. I observed a sign in the reference area that said many of these books and registers are searchable in ‘KnowUK’ on the library computers and I was in hopes that the digital reference books were more updated.

Following my initial conversation with the librarian about my research work, getting permission to use my camera and directions to the public restrooms around the corner, I asked a little later about the talking books on CD because the equipment to preview it within the library was partially removed. The very nice but uninformed library worker stated that she was unsure why it was removed and did not know when it would be returning, yet stated it had been well used in the past.

Of interest was a Photo ID Booth in front of the library. It was certainly a unique addition to the library with the offer of a picture booth with curtains, yet I think that having it in a library is a nice and appropriate offer for a small community as it is centrally located for all to use without having to access in a postal centre with possibly lesser hours to access it. One of the greatest benefits of using this library was the free wireless/Internet access and other computer technologies, as well as the offer of a wonderful community meeting place where needed information could be obtained and entertainment needs could be met.

Community Resources:

The community resources on display offered many brochures, flyers, booklets and pamphlets near the photo booth and was free information for the public to access for a range of information that may assist with things as health issues, abuse issues, safety, education and technology training for examples. Basically, information was made available as services and programs through the library or community organiations to promote healthy and productive living in order to thrive in the Dalkeith community.

Servicing Special Needs Groups and the Collection:

As far as the library offering a safe haven that provides handicapped persons successful access to the building and a supply of resources, I observed a front door ramp and electronic doors for entry. The tables found throughout the library allowed ample spacing for wheelchair access and manoeuvrability. Even in the smaller areas, as was found in the small periodicals section that maintained a collection of newspapers, magazines and journals of local news, Scottish history and health primarily, movement and free flowing turn around space was allowed for those on foot or in a wheelchair. Open spaces was definitely the theme in this small library that appeared to be working well for the library patrons on the day of my visit. I observed a wheelchair-bound man to manipulate his way through the library front entry to the outdoors with no problems. The electronic doors are a big plus for libraries and when working efficiently serves all patrons!

Special collection tables highlighting local or award winning authors were found in several locations. Of interest to me was one on the Mallorca collection of suspense and comedy. I was very surprised to see such a huge collection of crime books. The rows of talking books were fairly extensive to serve special needs populations, as well as an alternative format that youth enjoy as well as travellers to name others. To service poor vision or blind patrons, ‘The Advertiser’ was advertised as a community service outside where patrons could request sample copies of the Midlothian Newspaper to take home on Cassette tape. All patrons needed to do was ask the library workers if there were any questions or just call or email for more information.

The collection offered a small amount of CD’s that were on display tables near the centre of the library to include classical, folk & country, easy listening, pop & rock and jazz. Other parts of the collection I observed as I made my way through the library was the signage near the periodicals advertising the electronic database 'Proquest' as an offer of an alternative format for up-to-date news for the United Kingdom.

Management Rules of the Library:

To become a registered borrower at the Dalkeith Library, patrons would have to be a resident, employed or attending a school or college in the Midlothian Council area. Individuals can apply to become a registered borrower by completion of an application. Visitors, such as myself, can borrow materials when producing identification and a home address. Children ages 0-10 can join by a parent filling out and signing an application for them. Those aged 11 -13 can fill out a teen application signed by a parent or other responsible adult to become a registered borrower. Those youth in secondary education also fill out an application with a parent’s signature for borrowing rights. The loan period is 28 days with extensions being given in person, over the telephone and by letter. Patrons can borrow audio, video, multimedia and other materials. There are fees for overdue items as determined by the Council. Lastly, no pets are allowed in the library, other than guide dogs for the blind.

Live It Computer Zone:

This computer zone was a popular area in the Dalkeith Library and offered career resources and books as well as computer help guides on surrounding tables. The offer of a printer/scanner, large keyboard with big and colourful keys and ten computers was a plus for the patrons. I dared not stay in this section long, because I had no intentions of using the computers and did not want to disturb the workers! The computers looked in very good condition and I appreciated the fact the library offered large monitors for every work station. The offer of the Midlothian Library Catalogue was a plus and while I did not manipulate it/use it, I observed it to offer a simple database with author, title, subject, keyword and ISBN searches.

Other Interesting Tidbits to Mention about the Collection and Services:

The largest part of the collection appeared to be Non-Fiction interestingly, with a generous amount of travel books. A part-time library worker informed me that as a member of the Midlothian Council and Library, patrons are offered a wider choice in selections to also include access to the Lothian libraries of the east and west. These patrons benefit as well by having access to the Napier University campus libraries.

As far as classification schemes for the collection, the Dalkeith library uses the Dewey Decimal System. Some subjects are simply alphabetised though, such as the romance books. Another exception is the adventure books which are organized and arranged on the shelf by subject (ie. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime).

The library does just a little weeding of the collection as needed and discards books for sale. These items are for sale at 50 pence per item. The library may also request/interlibrary loan items published by the Midlothian Council in the community. Items typically requested are language, large print, Braille (Dalkeith Library does not have Braille items)or audio.

Insightful Information about the library from a Library Worker:

The library worker I spoke with, that I unfortunately ceased to write her name down legibly, stated the ongoing children's program that had just flowered in the Children's room with the offer of nursery rhymes singing that helps to promote literacy, is called 'Rhyme Time'. The children ranged from 0 - 5 years old. The parents looked to be having as much fun as the children! What a wonderfully creative avenue for parents to come together with their children and have some fun while building language skills through music at the library!

Other notes of interest that the library worker mentioned were the members of the Blind Institute being provided with resources through the library. She also mentioned that because the reference books are outdated and the collection fund is extremely limited, the library staff buys books from the Grocery, as it is quicker and cheaper than purchasing through library vendors! She also informed me that with such a large elderly and poor population, the collection caters to meeting their needs. There are three full time library workers and three part time library workers. There is only one head librarian in the library system and the rest of the library staff are considered ‘library assistants'. Dalkeith Library is one of 12 branches of the Midlothian libraries, with the main library residing in the town of Loanhead, which is west of Dalkeith. Sheila and I thanked the library staff worker for speaking with us and we were off once again to Edinburgh to visit the Central library and do a bit more sightseeing, shopping, eating and picture taking!


Websites of Interest:

Midlothian Library Services

Midlothian Council: Learning and Libraries

Welcome to Dalkeith! Information on Dalkeith Castle

Dalkeith County Hotel

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Library @ The Bridge, Glasgow

Introductions to Steven Finnie and a Tour of the Easterhouse Centre:

The Bridge is a matrix shaped centre that offers patrons a leisurely environment where learning, training and arts is on the forefront in Scotland. The centre is the product of a union between the Culture and Sport Glasgow, the John Wheatley College, Glasgow City Council and the Greater Easterhouse Arts Company. The organizations together strive to ‘bridge’ opportunities for the residents/community of Easterhouse. The centre has won many awards for its innovative and modern facility that offers an invigorating and central hub where culture is the focal point bolstering improvement in lifestyle, living and education. The facility offers a art centre for the community that is engaging and is positioned to be between the activities surrounding the University of Strathclyde, linking the people to the public swimming pool and other services provided such as a workshop, recording studio, theatre, gallery, café and last but most definitely not least, the library.

The “Easterhouse” is most certainly a ‘meeting place’ and as a primary goal, the Architect invigorated it with the offer of an improved facility that has been statistically identified as being a need for a community that wants to come together! With high rates of unemployment, falling area population, poor health, lack of transport, lack of formal educational qualifications, and rising numbers of dependent children without working parents, serious problems have existed in the community and the Bridge was especially designed to bring value to a community with so many needs.

The Library at the Bridge: Defining Features

The library is in an open expanse of the building and has segmented rows within a unique open area of varying levels. There is an ‘Inquiry Desk’ up front, a well integrated collection and many ramps and lifts to ensure access for all. The facility has a tree house effect with varying levels and a rich use of woodwork throughout. ‘The Den’ is a meeting area on the upper level that offers a tree house effect and functions as a small community room with computers.

The Bridge offers a joint use library to be shared in the community along with its services. It features a new service delivery model where the college and the library is joined to form where services are delivered and developed together. An offer of the Internet and technical support is a plus for all age groups in the general public and university community.

Benefits of the Library at the Bridge:

Of the many benefits offered to the Easterhouse patron community are:

• Enhanced library services
• Access to support by professional library staff
• Greater activity base and spacing
• Flexible hours of operation
• Enlarged and improved meeting spaces
• Greater study space
• Broadened services, resources and level of expertise
• More efficient and effective use of resources
• Increased performance, accountability and awareness
• More funding opportunities
• The offer of a fully integrated facility
• Integrated activities
• Enhanced staff satisfaction levels due to challenging work, career development and wider opportunity

Other Unique Features of the Library at the Bridge:

As the centre of the building, the library offers a wonderful zone for the community that is brightly lit and seems to bring the outside in with large windows encircling the facility. The layout is uniformly geometric with shelving in alignment that has the effect of drawing patrons directly into the stacks. Each area (Periodicals, Adults, Teens/Young Adult and Children) is separated by shelving that serves as walls or dividers, but certainly not barriers. Each section offers ample seating and tables for lounging and reading purposes. The fabulous design of the library, as a unified structure with a design that carries throughout the facility, is one that the community is proud of with generous accommodating facilities for dance, music, swimming and theatre as well. The sloping floor plane throughout the structure offers easy access for everyone and is truly an urbanized jewel for the Easterhouse community.

Library Activities:

With a mission to cater to the community’s need for a library space that enhances learning through the offer of information and recreation, the Library at the Bridge provides a target patron community with a large percentage of vulnerable individuals that have special needs or disabilities, a place that addresses these issues. Those individuals Steven discussed consisted of the following population groups: ethic minorities; sole parents; unemployed; mentally ill; disabled; young; old; unemployed; disabled; homeless; and those with chemical addictions. With such a broad number of special needs groups that the library serves on a daily basis, many partnership activities have be formulated to address their specific needs through various activities:

1. Healthy Reading Initiative (special collection of health-related books)
2. Health Promotion Initiatives with Greater Glasgow NHS (information service)
3. Easterhouse Writer’s Group
4. Big Plus and BBC RAW (Adult literacy and numeracy)
5. Get Glasgow Reading
6. ICT Taster Sessions (Introduction to computer classes)
7. Youth Progamme (variety of youth activities; ongoing during the tour!)
8. McMillan Cancer Information and Support Services
9. Careers Scotland (Workshops)
10. Riddie Disability Group (library community group of various partnerships)
11. Adult Literacy and Numeracy Support
12. Bounce ‘n’ Rhyme (Stories, Rhymes and Book sharing of parents and children)
13. Doors Open Day (Annual architectural event)

It is clear to see that the offer of such a wide range of opportunities promote lifelong learning for all age groups that, as our speaker/tour guide informed us, is advantageously all housed under one roof!

More Interesting Information to Add:

The facility in entirety offers over 4,140 square feet of space, yet that surprises me as I imagined the space to be larger due to the openness and high ceilings that encourage you to look upwards (such as you would when looking up to a tree house, which appeared to be a library design theme). I was also surprised to see that the library shelving, furniture and some of the library supplies are supplied by Demco, as this company must be an 'international' library supplier. Another interesting and astonishing thing to mention is that the cost of the facility is over a hefty eight million pounds! The library is open 64 hours per week, Monday through Sunday, with Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays offering earlier closures at 5pm. The collection at present generously offers 33,820 items. Funding comes through the Scottish Arts Council, the Glasgow Community Planning, Strathclyde European Partnership, Glasgow City Council, the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the John Wheatley College.

Unique Things I learned about the Bridge:

While the offer of a café in the library is not altogether surprising, the offer of alcohol in a facility that houses a library was most unusual to me. Yet, this concept of a library within a community centre is most unique and incorporates a mixture of different services and the offer of numerous art/entertainment venues in addressing community needs. There is also a recording studio and we were told that all auditoriums offered links to the café. The facility generates revenue to sustain the costs of upkeep and development. With that thought in mind, the library nicely receives ample funding from very unique revenue sources to maintain and further develop its collection and services!


Websites of Relevance and Interest:

Glasgow: The Bridge

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The Largest School in the United Kingdom: University of Strathclyde

Discussion of Research and UK Librarians

While in Scotland, the class took a tour by bus to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, an academic institution that began in 1796 as a place for useful learning for all, with a reputation for reasearch and technical education. Our main hosts/speakers were David McMenemy and Alen Poulter. As a special treat, we got to hear about their research work and as an extra perk, listened as well to the ongoing research of a doctoral student, Christine Brown. The first part of our tour would begin in the Saltier Center and end at the library at 'the Bridge' (Easter House) for the socially deprived primarily, yet for the community as a whole to use. The Bridge is run by the government and has merged with local public libraries, universities and art centers. For the overview of the academic institution, UK libraries and research, David was to offer helpful information concerning the background of libraries. Christine was to offer the social values of the profession and Allen would discuss forensic readiness. Allen Dawson would be the last speaker to discuss his digital research.


David McMenemy, the Course Director of the Science Department, gave the class an overview of the university. He informed us that he teaches about technology, with special interests in metadata and research. After walking through the building, the class came together in a large room upstairs to comfortably sit/listen to the different talks and watch a few powerpoint presentations. I took notice that the university facility was a modern one in stark contrast to the campus facilities visited at Oxford University. After listening to Mr. McMenemy, we learned the campus and the Library at the Bridge predominantly served the socially disadvantaged students. He let us know that the facilities are fantastic and that it is an impressive university center that is more of a learning space.

Classification System:

As a review of classification systems used, Mr. McMenemy informed the class that the public libaries use the Dewey Decimal system. The British Library uses the Library of Congress’s subject headings and they make use of cards that are reusable and are of the British version (Silip).

Crisis in the Library Profession and Other Interesting Information:

Mr. McMenemy let us know that the crisis of confidence in the United Kingdom is in “keeping it going”, meaning to keep people in the library profession. He said that in the United Kingdom, public Librarians are considered “managers.” The managers handle all of the professional issues, yet he said that the manager title philosophically damages the image of a Librarian as someone who is self absorbed and not patron focused, as can be associated with management. The public libraries in the United Kingdom use the “Starbucks” bookshop type model that has been taken over by business persons.

There has been a movement of literacy he informed us about at his institution where there is a direct connect of patrons with tutors, given available service points to the students. There is also a movement of consulate libraries, where patrons feed in from other areas to be serviced. It was interesting to learn that bandwidth serves as a catalyst for public libraries, yet that the largest percentage of the population there did not use the Internet. There is little funding for technology and we were told it is very hard to keep up with the upgrades in technology. As a lifesaver for the library, it has been most helpful that the “lottery fund” provides a substantial amount of capital to offset many of these costs. Mr. McMenemy said that the public library as a goal strives to scale staff, upgrade technology and service people better.

Statistics: The University of Strathclyde

In the year 2006, the Scotlands had the third largest university. In 1964, the University of Strathclyde moved up in rank as they merged with the Scottish College of Commerce. There are approximately 25,000 students, with 10,000 post graduate students. The university of Strathclyde has the largest number of postgraduate courses offered. For 60 years, the University has been teaching Librarian coursework, yet according to Mr. McMenemy, became more “librarianish” in 2007. The University of Strathclyde is the second United Kingdom university to teach library subjects after the University of London. A “MSc” is the Masters of Science in Library and Information Studies professional designation, not the MLIS or MLS as found in the United States.

How Librarians are Governed: Impact of Devolution

There are 4,515 public libraries, 846 academic libraries and as of current, there are no statistics collected of how many UK school libraries exist. We were pretty surprised to learn that there is not a required statutory certificate requirement for teachers to get a library degree! We were informed that there are huge academic differences of the profession in the United States and the United Kingdom, with librarians historically being undervalued greatly in the United Kingdom. We were also told that there is not a lot of research found in school libraries there.

In the United Kingdom, Mr. McMenemy stated that public libraries are legally obligated to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service for anyone who lives, works, or studies in the community under: 1964 Public Libraries & Museum Act (England and Wales); and the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1973. Scotland and Wales has a council over their libraries.

Most library sectors are as Mr. McMenemy stated, “devolved.” All public library services are now governed by developed parliaments (school, academic, public, and health libraries). There is a very distinctive organization of librarianship.

Key Professional Issues:

Mr. McMenemy stated that there are significant drops in borrowing figures/statistics. Librarians are having to attract non-users/patrons today. The Digital Divide is also a huge concern here as in the United States. Lastly, the deprofessionalism and how to measure library services effectively are other key issues of the library profession.

CHRISTINE ROONEY (Doctoral Student): The Social Value of Librarianship

Christine is a doctoral student who gave us a talk on the social values of the profession and her ongoing research work. She works within the Department of Computers and Information Sciences. Of interest to our group, Christine is doing extensive research of the United Kingdom and United States libraries currently.

For background information, Christine informed the class that the traditional role of the public library has many expectations and is not just about books, but the library is seen as an institution that offers something for everyone. The social value of the profession are those that have impacts that go above and beyond the book, as the library collection offers patrons self esteem, a means of communication, literacy and knowledge for examples. The library is more than just ‘book issuing points.’ An example of the services of the library is one for the elderly where the offer of books by a “Mobile Team” may help lessen loneliness in addition to offering a means of self expression, bolstering self esteem and increasing knowledge stores.

Measuring Performance and Social Value:

Christine stated that in measuring performance, the economic value of libraries must be accessed. For example, audits and valuation studies are performed regularly. The social values of the field is measured by means of qualitative evaluation methodologies, where the social impact is measured using data collection methods such as self assessment. She stated that the good that comes from measuring performance impact on social values is that it is very important as it allows library managers to communicate professional values to the institution. The bad that comes from it is that there is a long term impact of devaluation of the field. She explained that this measurement is kind of a flawed method. Her personal research strives for meaningful evaluation to determine the ‘true value’ because there is a lack of meaningful consensus in measuring performance and value because social values are particularly overlooked. Christine stated that she will question what is social value in her research and will come up with a methodology to measure it in public libraries using a “Social Impact Audit.” This will involve a series of questions, interviews and focus groups. There is an encouraged dialogue that will be adaptable to provide “retro-data.”

Stages of Research:

In Stage I of Christine's qualitative research methodology, she will identify the stakeholders and establish links in case studies. One focus of her research will be on how major catastrophic events, such as Hurricane Katrina, affects public libraries. She plans to collect data from New Orleans and was open to listen to our stories about Katrina, hoping to gain more insight and data. She seeks to look at the impact of such a disaster upon libraries and on the rebuilding of a community through things such as FEMA assistance, being dislocated and the information sources available. She is studying these impacts for the future benefit of libraries!

Stage II of her research is more quantitative research. Christine is collecting data through a collection of statistics, reports, analysis, and questionnaires. The data is based upon gender, age and things such as social status. Interestingly, she found that compared with affluent libraries in her area, the socially deprived libraries offered a unique social space and communal hub for patrons where users are offered and demand a welcome environment with ample gateways to information, literacy and a means of escapism.

What Research Should Do:

Christine stated that research from an international perspective should responsibly empower library professionals. Research in this area should also communicate the characteristics and roles of pubic libraries of the 21st century. Of importance to conducting research of public libraries, she added that research should promote an understanding of the social values and offer/produce a model.


For this part of the session, Alen Poulter told us that he is conducting research on computer misuses. He took a look at postgraduate courses on computer networking in his overview of forensic readiness. To discuss the frills as he called it, Alen offered a background of the “People’s Network.” To address the Digital Divide, what is offered to combat it is Information technology courses online. He also stated that libraries should have acceptable usage rates of computers that patrons must accept. Additionally, Mr. Poulter confirmed that there is some evidence of misuse that has been found on the Internet with privacy related issues. A lot of monitoring is what is going on currently with libraries and filters are being used, yet currently they are looking for an alternative.

His Research:

Mr. Poulter stated that in his proposal outline, he developed a logging system to document low level actions as a monitoring system that offers a fuller range of measuring evidences of computer misuses. His methodology valuably offers literature reviews of computers misuses. What he has found so far concerning computer misuses is quite a bit of forgery and breeching acceptable use policies (AUP). Examples he gave of misuses are of pornography, chatting, using Bebo, and instant messaging in the library. As a means of data collection, Mr. Poulter has used interviews of small public library staff members. He found that the AUP were out of date, undefined and unacceptable. Unfortunately,there was no standard of recording that misuse either.

Aim of Finding Tools to Monitor Computer Misuses:

Mr. Poulter informed the class that the use of windows software, no open use software and no recording of passwords for security of information is optimal. He thought about giving patrons the option to develop information on an encrypted network. He also stated that he would love to have local policies for checking and reporting misuses. There exists a tension between free access and not, but he stated that “logging” is an option. Unfortunately, the public library infrastructure does not support this. There exists only a random checking of patron computer usage at the present which he stated is not sufficient.


The last speaker, Allen number two, works in the Centre for Digital Library Research. His research themes are collaboration and catalogues. He tries with his research to “bridge the gap” between research theory and practice through informative research.


Allen stated that the BUBL link is a Internet Catalogue of Internet resources. It has been around a long time. The interface is good and is very browsable and popular!


Allen stated that CAIRNS is a catalogue of Scottish libraries that offers keyword searches. It is similar to a university catalogue.

These two catalogues are used in his research, as he conducts research on digital libraries. Alen looks to the popularly used and well built up and maintained Glasgow Digital Library, which is a collection of people, events, groups, literature and images for example. Each is a collection in and of itself. The theme is how to keep each of these collections going maintenance-wise. It was explained to be a simple database that is cost effective and searchable because of its HTML format. Of importance, the digital collections supports: Teaching; Learning; and Research. We were told that the content is dynamically linked. Alen stated that he strives to optimize the subjects and links. Interoperability is extremely relevant and of importance to his research and was explained as not being a difficult process. He stated that using open access sources makes it exciting.

Mr. Dawson’s ongoing research today is in “Digital Preservation.” At present, there is a huge four year European project in digital preservation he is involved with called “SHAMAN.” It delves into ‘Terminology Mapping’ by subject and terms in a subject scheme that is incompatable with other schemes (ie. MESH).

Websites of Relevance and Interest:

The University of Strathclyde Glasgow

Monday, July 21, 2008

National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh

Starting the day with a Special Inside Tour by Mrs. McBryde:

Our first entrance into the National Archives of Scotland began with an introduction and tour of the facility and of the collection by the librarian, archivist and Education Officer, Mrs. Margaret McBryde. She informed us that her work was service related in working with the public, exhibitions, websites and other tasks.

History, Service and Operation of the Organization:

The National Archives of Scotland is a governmental agency that offers employment opportunities to civil servants and is funded by government archivists. As an Archives, the library is the keeper of the records of Scotland. The agency sits under the ministry and is headed by the Records of Scotland. Mrs. McBryde informed us that there is a good working relationship between agencies and there are valuable partnerships formed. The mission of the organization is to preserve, protect, and promote the preservation of national records. Included in this mission is to provide the best inclusive and accessible archives for the nation.

The Organization and the Staff:

There are over 160 library staff members at the National Archives of Scotland. Most of those numbers consist of Information Technology staff, with the inclusion of 30 to 40 archivists. The National Archives of Scotland (NAS)offers three separate buildings (Main Building, West Register House, and the Thomas Thomson House) in Edinburgh and operates five websites, headed by a Deputy Keeper. There are two main divisions of the National Archives to include: (1) Record Services Division; and the (2) Corporate Services Division. The Record Services Division includes the government, the court system, legal, private, and outreach services and records. The Corporate Services Division is over the accommodating services, finances, administration, information and communication technology, conservation services and reader services.

The Three Buildings:

The historic main building is the General Register House, built in 1274 and opened much later for the public in the 1780’s. Today, it is a public space for all patrons. The West Register House is a public search room for patrons. It also serves a purpose in storage for the collection. This house was opened in 1971. The Thomas Thomson House is the third building of the NAS, built and set up under the direction of Mr. Thomas Thomson to function as an Archives and offers various programs for the public. This building is also a public access area.

Organization of Records, Conservation and Digitization:

Mrs. McBryde stated that the items of the collection come in as “raw” in form and then inserted in the collection after initial conservation, sorting, weeding, cataloguing electronically, and boxing/labelling. We learned that all items in the archives collection is tagged in the building. If items are moved, the system must be updated right away to reflect the change. The items must then be returned their correct positions to minimize errors from occurring as much as possible.

When items are in their “Record Stage,” they are categorized. The “Conservation Department” is another department that dismantles the item, taking off the covers before digitization occurs. Our guide said that this is a very important and time consuming process that is very worthwhile in careful handling and preserving the items appropriately.

With much pride, Mrs. McBryde informed us that all national records can be accessed because of digitization of each item. This digitized copy is offered to locals in their own local electronic archives and is accessible locally, nationally and internationally. The standard for modern archives in which items must meet in British archives is called: BS5454.

Functions of Archives:

According to Mrs. McBryde, the main function of the archives is to select public records worthy of permanent preservation, acquire other list records, and to revert or transfer records to other more appropriate repositories. Another function is to preserve the original standards of all records. Also, to promote public access and increase access electronically by producing catalogues, exhibitions, and publications is another important function of the NAS. Other major functions of the Archives is to provide advice to owners and custodians of records, especially local authorities and the Scottish public authorities, disseminate information and facilitate access to such records. The National Archives of Scotland seeks to take the lead in the development of archives and records management practices in Scotland and deploy resources.

NAS Holdings:

There are over 70 kilometers (km) of records dating back from the 12th century. Some examples of these holdings are: State/Parliamentary papers; registers of Deeds and Sasines; Church records; Wills & Testaments; Taxation records; Valuation rolls; Family & Estate papers; Court & Legal records; Government records; Business records; and Railway records.

How do Patrons Access Records? Striving for Enhanced Service:

Patrons can access records through NAS “finding aids” such as: electronic; paper; and Website Catalogues. The NAS website as an online service to the public offers SCAN, Scottish Wills, and a self help guide to reading documents. The main website offers many relevant and helpful websites and links to additionally serve patrons. The online public access computer (OPAC) is searchable by person, place or catalogue. The OPAC was explained to be a bit confusing and extremely broad, so they are trying to better the system through an evaluation process by the offer of feedback from the public.

The NAS is also very compelled to increase public palaeography skills (handwriting). In creating an original, there are available programs taught in schools by NAS to enhance handwriting skills. The offer of a variety of resources, workshops, video conferencing, and publications is seen to be a value added service provided by NAS in the community.

Search Rooms: Historical Search Room & the West Search Room

We were told that once in the search rooms, one has to obtain a “reader ticket” and it is then that the patron can key in information into the electronic catalogues. The Historical Search Room opened in 1847, and has been offering patrons access to research materials. Only paper, pencils and laptops are allowed in these rooms. A patron can chat with a curator to see if they can help them with their research needs. It is a requirement that patrons present a driver’s licence and passport when needed in order to access materials. Interestingly, a reader ticket dually serves as a security pass once in the reading rooms at NAS!

The West Room offers patron searching of government documents. It was good to learn that there are no charges for any historical research! As I imagined, the legal and commercial searches are for a fee.

General Information:

For general information given to learn, Mrs. McBryde told our class that a “Keeper” is an Archivist or Librarian of good standing in the profession. We also learned that a fee for information services depended upon the search needs and purpose of the interview. Patrons are given two hour free access rights on the computer/Internet. It is a cost of 10 pounds per day thereafter. The library is presently offering a “Soft Launch” test which measures/evaluates the usage of the computer/Internet over a six week period to see how the system is handling its use. There is an Image Library being developed by NAS of all archival records that is currently being developed. It is an enormous project with the offer of a commercial web library for patrons.

More Developments at NAS:

The National Archives of Scotland is developing enhanced access to Scottish Wills from the time period 1500 to 1901. The Church of Scotland’s records are also being digitized currently. There is a new electronic ordering system in the search rooms in place presently and is being evaluated at this time. Another important development at NAS is the Registers Archive Conservation Project. Additionally, a “Virtual Volumes” is being offered if patrons need to know for example a reference number to order a copy of an item. The costs of the service ranges from 5 pence (p) to 2 pounds (lb). The electronic ordering system for patrons is a nice service for ordering a digitized copy of an item. There is the availability of features such as cropping. Patrons can also search the system by parish and volume. An issue with this electronic system is that it is virtually impossible currently to index all records because the collection is so large, and other issues are the time and labor involved in such an extensive project.

Adam Dome:

The last room to visit was a beautiful circular dome structure that is a new area that will soon offer broadened access to another reading room for patrons. It will offer an accessible collection there of a variety of books, registers and deeds. Currently, it is only open once per year to the public.

Websites of Relevance and Interest:

National Library of Scotland

National Archives of Scotland

Scottish Archive Network

The Official Goverment Source of Geneological Data for Scotland

Scottish Handwriting for Schools

Scotland Images Gateway

National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Interpreting the John Murray Archive: Manuscripts & Accessibility

Introduction to Emma Farigher

Upon coming to the National Library of Scotland after our first evening in a historic district of Dalkeith, located just outside of Edinburgh, we were greeted by our tour guide, Emma Farigher, the Education and Outreach Officer. We viewed a slideshow that offered a background description of the library, collection and the staff prior to a tour of the exhibition room of objects, art, and manuscripts.

Who are the Patrons? Collection Highlights:

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) offers its very broad range of “customers” the research tools needed in order to conduct research. It is a world renowned reference library and one of six legal deposit libraries in the British Isles that houses materials such as books, manuscripts, music and maps numbering in the millions. Primarily known worldwide for the collections of books and manuscripts, the NLS maintains a collection of other items such as sheet music, business directories, market research reports, government publications, photographs, posters, pamphlets, magazines, postcards, sporting programs, CDs and electronic materials such as maps, databases, e-journals, websites and microfilms. Nearly every subject is covered in this vast collection, with collection strengths in humanities and social sciences, in addition to extensive holdings of technical, scientific and business materials that have gained international importance. The NLS offers a historical collection that focuses on Scotland and the Scottish people, while charting their influence globally. It was learned that the library welcomes anyone interested in the services and collections. Mrs. Farigher further added that academic credentials are not necessary to conduct research there, so the collection is for everyone’s enjoyment and research needs. So therefore, it is of value for me to learn that this library generously offered something for everyone, with collections for past and present generations that represent world class collections and services comprising: printed collections; modern collections; serials; music collections; foreign collections; rare books; official publications; science information services; Scottish business information service; manuscripts and maps. Of additional importance to this collection is the late John Murray Archive. He was a world renowned British publisher, whose list of famous authors shaped many fields, offering an archive of historical papers, original manuscripts and correspondence.

Mrs. Farigher informed the class that the staff as experts are very attentive to the customer’s research needs and offer help from the “Inquiry Desk” with using electronic resources, catalogues, or locating specific items in the varied areas of the collection.

Background of the Library and Accessibility Issues on the Forefront:

Mrs. Farigher started the discussion by giving background information of the library and the collection and John Murray Archive. We learned that the John Murray Archive is a very important part of the collection. The collection in its entirety was funded with 32.5 million pounds from the ground floor and that there is a special “Lottery Fund” that supports community schools and offered the library a very supportive grand sum of 17.5 million pounds. The John Murray Archives channels profits from this support into development of the collection. The heritage funding is designed to ensure accessibility to the collection by patrons. Accessibility is deemed very important and making the collection very searchable is just as important an element in the design of the collection. An important focus is on catering to the special needs groups in order to offer a collection in a way that speaks to everyone through design and display in the galleries. The collection is put together in a way that all age groups can access it and gain something unique from it. The collection is portrayed in a way so that through access, all may be able to conduct research and gain confidence in their skills.

The Staff:

Some of the main goals of the library staff is to educate and teach patrons how to conduct independent research through a collection that is portrayed in a manner that offers quality educational tools for everyone in a variety of outlets. The numbers of staff and other joint team members from the outside who collaboratively work together to make this exhibition all possible is a very large number of very committed individuals to include: the curatorial staff; external exhibitionists; specialists, consultants and artists.

Special Concerns and Design Elements of the Exhibition:

Mrs. Farigher informed us that one issue of a practical nature is in bringing in more bright lights to illuminate the displays in the exhibition galleries. A concern is also in ensuring that the rooms offer ample spacing and flow for patrons to roam the collections comfortably without any obstructions or barriers in access. Height was also a very important element to obtain with the exhibition. Bringing in these elements helps patrons to freely float through the collection with an open mind of interpretation of the collection.

Of the main special design elements of the exhibition are: Objects; Art; and Manuscripts. The objects of the exhibition must be easy to understand. The labels must be indicative of age and purpose. The purpose is for patrons to use the experience to understand the object. The Art is supposed to emote an emotional response from patrons. The art was discussed as being a gateway to understanding and gaining insight into the meaning of the collection. The aesthetics of the art serves an important purpose in touching upon the senses and opening one up to the meaning of its portrayal in the exhibition. The manuscripts offer ideas held within the content and are offered to provide one an understanding of the object’s value. An example would be why it was written and to offer the context in which it was written. Oftentimes the manuscripts can be difficult for some “visitors” to use, so there are some risks involved with the offer of manuscripts. If the textual information is too heavy with large amounts of text, then some groups are not reached.

What makes an Archival Exhibition Engaging?

Mrs. Emma Farigher explained that the John Murray Archive Exhibition at the National Library of Scotland is displayed in a very theatrical way, with creative and emotive displays. The thematic objects that tell part of a story in a unified and orderly way, enrich the exhibition of each display with label poor content. Information is gathered from the objects and how they are displayed physically within the display and electronically through related objects, tell more of a story than the display labelling. This type of interactive and theatrical display is very engaging and involves the use of light and shadow to create an appropriate atmosphere. According to Emma, the displays are very robust and durable for many visitors to handle and manipulate over time. The stories of each display are told through various means of the communication processes. She explained that the collection strives for all of the engaging elements in the archive exhibition discussed in terms of “accessibility,” which is the key!

The Importance of Market Research:

The visitors are continually asked for feedback on the exhibition as evidence that the collection is reaching the public in an appropriate and efficient manner in order to test accessibility issues. Of some of the feedback given that has offered understanding of barriers to access for some are the varied political issues and struggles of some cultures that may impinge upon their interpretation and use of the exhibition. With global visitors, the objects in the collection need to be narrated in some manner in which the message crosses all cultural barriers. Of importance in learning was that every item in the exhibition has an audio format for enhanced accessibility to the collection!

Learning Outcomes of the John Murray Archives:

It was explained that the collection offers certain very specific learning outcomes which are: Knowledge and Understanding; Skills; Attitudes and values; Enjoyment, Inspiration and Creativity; and Activity, Behavior and Progression. Emma explained that these elements are important because visitors can become readers, encouraging literacy, and actually utilize/use the collection for research and recreational needs today and into the future.

To explain learning outcomes, a circular diagram was displayed to explain it further. The manuscript (ie. Archives) was explained and illustrated as the core of the collection, with known additional layers of interpretation. The context of the collection is the world or background. The process was the sales and how the objects/displays of the exhibition were produced. It is important that people are represented in the archives and that it is developed in such a manner that understanding is obtained so that visitors are lead through the archives in an organized and meaningful way. The exhibition is intended to tweak the interests of many so that they will come back again “to develop a relationship with the archives.”

Meet David McClay: Second Exhibition Presenter:

The second presenter of the exhibition offered insight into the archives. Mr. David McClay stated that the collection covers eleven authors of seven generations, including scientists, poets, and novelists. I was amazed to learn that this collection is the most expensive and important archive in the world! Valued at 45,000pounds originally, it is now more closely valued at over 200 million pounds today. It was explained that it is very expensive to preserve, conserve and catalogue each item as well as employ sufficient numbers of experienced staff to tend to an archive of this magnitude and importance/value. Of the main challenges David understood to exist, above and beyond the cataloguing, preservation/conservation and staffing issues, is in making sure that the collection is ‘brought to the public.”

At present, there are over 30,000 items in the collection. Of importance to this collection are over 50,000 images in the collection of “Charles Babbage” alone. I wish I had more time to preview this specific collection, as I have read so much about the famous Mr. Babbage in my library coursework and felt privileged to have an opportunity to view such items, bringing his life and works into perspective beyond the library textbooks!

Outreach: A Traveling Exhibition

Mr. McClay said that the staff is looking to new, interesting and innovative ways to present the collection and that digitization is one option. A “Traveling Exhibition” was discussed by both presenters, Emma and David, as a means to bring the exhibition to the community to expand upon the visitor “audience.” Not all people can come in to view the collection at the National Library of Scotland, so this was another avenue to touch upon other sectors of the community and broaden accessibility, which is the mission of the library. A challenging goal was in providing similar thoughts and thinking in this type of exhibition as in the main collection. With outreach exhibitions, they have discovered new ways to introduce the objects and art. The library is seeking new partnerships to expound upon this type of visual and artistic outreach venue, with goals of offering half books and half manuscripts. All items/objects will be well linked as in the main collection.

Other Educational Programs:

The exhibition offers many objects with other exhibitions, such as found with Charles Darwin, Britannic’s, and the 19th century Archaeologists. To encourage more access to all of the exhibitions found in the collection, educational programs and workshops are offered in addition to the travelling exhibition. This helps to build a relationship of the people with the objects to ignite interests! The Website is another very important and valuable avenue of access to the digitized collection and offers statistics on the number of visitors viewing the collections. Analyzing or evaluating the number of hits or visits to the collection from all streams of access is very important to the library because so much money is put into the collection.

Cataloging the Collection:

It is important that the library catalogues the collection well for future interests in the collection. Archiving the collection in this digital format is fairly new and began approximately three years ago. Since this time, the usage statistics has risen!

Two Special Collections/Archives and Gallery Digitized Displays:

The John Murray Archives and Printing Collection are two distinct special archival collections, that have been integrated along with the regular collection. The digital displays in the galleries of novelists is a specialized collection in a user friendly format that is engaging and fun to use. The Jane Austin display offers information on her life, her books, the sale of her books, and the women of her time for examples. The digital objects were displayed on a touch computer screen and offered an organized and thematic object keys that linked to the display, textual and audio content. Other displays of novelists and inventors/scientists were of May Sommerville, Charles Darwin and Lord Byron for some examples. Charles Darwin’s display was very interactive and fun, offering information in varied access modes of his scientific works that were based on close observation of the natural world. The perk was the audio content and zooming features on the digital screen that enhanced the experience for me. I discovered through this specific display that the Origin of Species has never been out of print to this day!

Publishing Made Easy! Creative Educational and Tactile Displays

Like a child, I found myself playing with as many of the engaging displays that taught one about the publishing processes, breaking down each step in an organized manner. The digital table where visitors could design and publish a book was a popular display and once I reached it for my turn after a little wait, I designed three different books. Of the interactive features in this display were in choosing: Subjects; Keywords; Creating Titles; Creating Covers; Choosing Colors and Fonts; Marketing/Choosing Audience; and Choosing the Style of Book.

The hands on displays were offered for all age groups, with some of them clearly geared for the youth, yet still fun for the adults with an interest in learning about the publishing process. There was a good balance of popularity and practicality in the displays that catered to all audiences. The design systems of the digital displays allowed for updating of the systems systematically, with basic HTML programming open to interpretation of the Information Technology staff to offering basic design work features.

Feedback from Visitors:

Mr. David McClay stressed the importance of feedback in the form of focus groups, discussion sessions, survey and mail outs as sources of how the collection is serving the public’s needs and in measuring impact and accessibility. It was also very important to measure if the exhibitions are successfully made handicapped accessible. We were told that the very exhibition were walked through on this tour has only been open to visitors for approximately one year, so we felt grateful to have been able to view it!

Websites of Relevance and Interest:

National Library of Scotland

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shakespeare Centre Library & Archives, Stratford-Upon-Avon

To Shakespeare’s Birthplace We Go! Stratford-Upon Avon

A bus ride to Stratford-Upon-Avon was the best mode of transportation from London Central that brought the class to our places of interest for the day: Shakespeare Library and Archives & the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Our tour guide was Clare Maffioli and her colleague Joane Wilding. The quaint town offered many beautiful houses and gardens. To list some of the historic, Tudor homes and buildings that I either visited later in the day or passed by as I strolled down the streets of town or travelled past was the family cottage of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, Nash’s House which is Shakespeare’s final home and also owned by his granddaughter Elizabeth, and the Harvard House museum of British Pewter, the Elizabethan home to Katherine Rogers who is the mother of John Harvard of which Harvard University is named. All of the houses and gardens come together beautifully in this town to tell a story of Shakespeare, as you try to imagine, see and hear his works come to life!

The Tour of Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive:

Putting Shakespeare into context, what better way to study the history of his works than by visiting the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive, as our first stop for the day. The end of the day treat for our class will be to see the Shakespeare play, Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, in the evening prior to coming back home to London Central.
The Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive offers an array of Shakespearean resources, to include original materials that offer historical insight into 16th century Stratford. With official records dating back from the 12th century and papers that relay information about families in the local area, insight is given of the period in which Shakespeare lived. Of importance to this library is the offer of the United Kingdom’s rich source of Shakespeare plays, biographical information on his plays and historical accounts from the stage for examples. Also included in the collection are many books that patrons can preview from the reading room. Of value to this collection and to the patrons are video and sound recordings of all the plays. To access these recordings, patrons may set up an appointment for viewing. In addition to reviewing plays, poems, books, videos and sound recordings, patrons can do some genealogical research for the Stratford and surrounding regions at the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive through access to original parish records, copy registers of Warwickshire villages, directories, electoral rolls and census returns. With a collection of thousands of images of Stratford to date, the collection offers patrons the ability to not only conduct research using important items, but to capture an image that helps to bring history to life. Shakespeare’s global reputation is well represented through the library collection and reveals the growth and development of the small town of Stratford-Upon-Avon into a international tourist dive. The full range of Shakespeare’s life and complete works are represented in the collection and the library services are free of charge. The Shakespeare and local collections includes the museum and educational department that offers services such as special educational programs for universities and schools. It was clear to me that this library offers a primary source of research information on the world renown cultural figure of Shakespeare.

Clare Moffioli introduced the group to the library, starting off in the reading room. We were then given an introduction to the cataloguing and research room. She told the class that the collection is segmented into two unique collections: (1) Local collection; and (2) Shakespeare collection. The local collection relates to Shakespeare’s local history and all about the places, people and events that tell many stories about where he lived. The Shakespeare collection offers insight into his time and works. An example of some of the items found in the local collection consist primarily of books and maps concerning Shakespeare. The Shakespeare collection offers the Royal Shakespearean Company (RSC) Archives of Shakespeare’s works and additional Shakespearean works. Included are critics and commentators of the plays themselves. The history of the performances, texts about lighting and props used every day, as well as programs, video and musicals copies are all represented in this collection that give patrons an insight into the daily Shakespearean performances. Clare let us know that this collection is of national and international interest.

WYKTKA-A What You Need To Know About the Archives:

From the reading room, the discussion lead to the archival books. Clare informed our class that most of the archives rest downstairs for conservational purposes and is considered the “strong room.” The temperature and humidity levels are very controlled for preservation purposes. Controls alert the staff to water levels. Archival materials are stored in archival quality. She also told us that copies of materials could be found upstairs (ie. Prop books) and that patrons are allowed to look at what the collection offers.

Miscellaneous Information and Library Statistics:

During a question and answer session of our class members and Clare, she let us know in relation to the availability of an electronic collection, that this library is so small a library that there are not any electronic catalogs made available at the time. Of interest, there are approximately 3,000 readers that use the collection each year. There are many people that access needed resources in the collection by email and phone reference requests to cap off at around 5,000 patrons per year.

Who are the Library Patrons? Popular Items Requested & Digital Image Archives too!

Interestingly, the majority of library patrons are the school children locally, which gives insight into the usage of the library collection and the local community in which Shakespeare lived and worked. Of popular interest to the patrons locally, nearby or at a distance for research, are directories of houses/residences and buildings, local genealogical records of birth and death (ie. where someone is buried) and the history of houses and their uses over time. Of very popular interest in the collection is obtaining information on Shakespeare performers, producers and histories, reviews, illustrations, portraits and videos to view how the performances were portrayed for some examples. Clare stated that in order to provide photos and prints, funding had to be generated to offer this service. While the library does not offer a digital collection of primary sources (ie. Books), Clare did inform us/show us the Archives Catalog. It is an image database that is user friendly and very searchable by projects of RSC performances. One can search by a title, character, date or other key words examples. In order for the library to offer such a service, the Librarians must obtain permission and request it from the publishers, actors or others. They are charged a product fee, but if they have the book then it is of course free!

Special Collections and the Online Catalogue:

In the past, Clare informed my class that local artwork offered distinctive and unique art work to include herbal paintings and oddities such as four-footed beasts and other creatures for just a few examples. The items are lumped into the special collections the library maintains. Items such as these can be located in the card catalogue that the library updates. There is an enormous index catalogue that offers the bibliographic information on each item up through the year 2000. It is clear to me that the online catalogue database available from the library website is fairly new. This tells me that possibly lack of funding, staffing or a large collection may be roadblocks to providing more access via the online catalogue, yet I was tremendously impressed with the amount of work that had been done, with the help of volunteers as well! All items in the collection after year 2000 can be accessed through the online catalogue. Help in this area is oftentimes charity run, with profits coming from the local historical houses and private grants to help with this major project.

Collection Development, General Library Services, Staff & Interlibrary Loans (ILL):

It was on this day that I learned the library seeks to continue developing the collection in the offer of foreign language texts, with a storehouse of some pre 17th century books on up to modern day items. The library employs twelve library staff members to include library assistants, library specialists and library volunteers who help out tremendously with the database/image catalogue and conservation each week. I was very surprised to hear that the volunteers were doing a bit of real library work, so I understand them to be extremely valued. There are some interlibrary loan services offered, where borrowing is agreed among similar libraries, institutions and colleges. When asked if there were any consortia agreements with other libraries to share collections, Clare mentioned COPACT.

For more information about the collection, Clare stated that the library offers approximately 50,000 books. Outreach is pretty extensive as the library is always seeking new opportunities to bring the collection and services to the people for educational and recreational purposes. Outreach is typically for school and university groups with literature programs coordinating with library.

Preview and Aim of the Broad Spectrum of Collections: The Folio’s

The Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive offers an expansive display of Shakespearean and local collections. Our Librarian tour guide let us know that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was formed in 1847 with aims to collect around Shakespeare. Items are saved for the nation by the trust and seek to further develop a relevant collection of Shakespeare’s lifeworks during his lifetime, along with his contemporaries. The collection offers a boastful collection of over 50,000 books and pamphlets, with many coming from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Memorial Theatre. Two of the collections the library offers are built around folios. The First Folio was published in 1623 by two of Shakespeare’s colleagues (“Kingsmen”) as a memorial to him after his death. This folio is very valuable as it is the closest to his original work/plays and had been printed upon a single sheet. Clare said that a Folio is printed on paper and placed into a folder of related works. A Quattro is similar and less expensive to compile. The first Folio was sold two years ago for a large sum of 2.1 million dollars. She also informed us that 750,000 copies have been printed. The number of copies that are known to have survived are 228 in number and have been bought by very wealthy individuals for the library. An interesting story on the side was told about Durham’s Folio, a wealthy individual who had bought one of these precious folios, and how it was famously stolen and showed up in Washington and appeared in many tabloids. The library currently houses 30 of Shakespeare’s folios and they are very valuable! One of the folios is on display near the birthplace/visitor center. Two of these folios have been purchased for the library by trusts. One of them is in good condition and others of theatres are facsimiles.

Royal Shakespeare Library: Other Special Items in the Collection

The Royal Shakespeare library has been in Stratford since 1964. The Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive has taken over the collection of administrative type records there, such as records, reviews, posters and photographs for example. Black and White as well as colorized photographs and slides of productions have been acquired, as well as video records that go back to the turn of the century.

I was not surprised to learn that local schools must study Shakespeare and perform drama, so they frequent the library to do a bit of research in preparation for their roles and the performances and to learn all about Shakespearean history.

Clare told us about the Play Bills, which are early posters of major Shakespeare productions. The library has an extensive collection of these posters from productions!

There is a special collection of approximately 800 books from around the year 1700 of minutes and herbalites. Clare said that there is a gap in what they understand about Shakespeare’s life during the time following the plays. They are not sure exactly which book sources he may have used himself. An example of an item/book in this special collection that the class was given a special opportunity to view is the play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream from 1619. Another is Herbals, an early medical book of Shakespeare that was published in 1597. According to Clare, Shakespeare was quite a naturalist and talked much about nature and health. There were some interesting spells and concoctions for ailments found in this book. One example is the use of thyme, yet he spelled it “time”. Shakespeare’s medical interests and influence in writing about medicine may have come from his son-in-law who was a physician.

The special collection also included three adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the years 1661, 1692 and 1716. Another item from Shakespeare’s personal collection is a pocket atlas with original binding. A map with handcolors communicated the theatres and things such as the dress of the day and of the characters. There was an amazing black and white photograph of Richard Burton who starred in a Shakespeare play! I also previewed a poster from 1874 of the first production of the play, Much to do About Nothing. Of importance and value to me on this day, a special viewing of the first page of Shakespeare’s highly valued folio took place! We were told that there were most probably actual drawings of Shakespeare’s within and that the folio offered plays and not poetry. It was interesting to see that even though there were 36 title plays in the table of contents, only 35 were within and one was left out!?

The end of the tour was a visit to the book stacks with the oldest book being the folios dating back to 1579 and containing prints and pictures. Downstairs were more of the oversized items that had its own classification scheme. There were many boxes that held each item in the stacks, with some coming from the Victorian Theatre. We were told that items from current plays are kept in plastic boxes and house such things as Henry VI props. Lastly, the class viewed the numbered room with the video collections and red boxes for programs.

Helpful Websites:

Shakespeare Birthplace trust: Library and Archive