Monday, 20 December 2010

A flock/swarm/plethora/______* of libraries! (*Insert favourite collective noun here.)

In the past week  or so I've barely been in the office, being out and about touring around some very different kinds of libraries with the other trainees.

The Friday before last, we went to the Parker library at Corpus Christi College, followed by a visit to the Conservation Consortium which is based at Corpus. It's a shame that Corpus don't have a trainee this year, because it would be an pretty cool place to work! The Parker library houses the College's historic collections, while the shiny new Taylor library for undergraduates was just across the courtyard. One of the first things we were shown in the Parker library was their fireproof vault. (There's just something about a fireproof vault that's very cool, no?) Upstairs we saw the main part of the collection. There were a mixture of manuscripts and early printed books, everything from maps to bibles to cookbooks. Next up was the Conservation Consortium. We were shown various ways of binding and repairing books and manuscripts. Although I doubt I'll be specialising in rare books it was still very interesting to see!

I had a couple of days back at Newnham before our trip to Norwich. As most of us had never been to the city before, luckily we had Charlotte there to be our tour guide! First stop was Norwich Cathedral Library,  one of the largest theological libraries in East Anglia. The library has a modern theological collection of around 20,000 items, and a historic collection of around 8,000 items, as well as ephemera such as service sheets and parish newsletters. I was surprised the wide range of material available, as there were volumes on poetry, medicine and mythology (to name but a few of the subjects covered) in addition to the works on theology. And the other thing I have to mention is their Christmas decorations!

Knitted tree!

 After lunch we made our way to the Millennium Library. The Millennium Library is in a vast glass building called the Forum, which is also home to BBC East, a restaurant, a cafe and a shop. This building was opened 6 years after the original library building was destroyed in a fire in 1994. Catherine Wymer, the locality mangager, showed us around the library, which for the last 4 years has been the busiest public library in the UK for both the number of visitors and the number of issues. Although our visit was on a "quiet" day, the library was being well used! Catherine gave us an example timetable of the events that are held at the library, which ranged from sessions on researching family history, to a Yu-Gi-Oh duelling club! It was impressive to see activities and facilities to suit all ages. No knitting was in evidence at the library though...

The Forum

View from the top floor of the library.

And then, on Thursday we went across town to Addenbrookes, to see the Laboratory of Molecular Biology's library and the Medical Library at the Clinical School. The LMB library was quite different from most other libraries in that there were very few books, but a lot of journals and access to many online resources. We also saw their archives, which holds collections of photographs, video recordings, and newspaper clippings about the scientists who work at the lab, along with a real live Nobel prize medal! Over at the Medical Library Isla Kuhn gave us a quick tour then we sat down and had a cup of tea and a chat about library stuff. As all of us trainees are humanities and arts graduates it was nice to get a different perspective. (As well as music I did biology, maths and chemistry in sixth form, I wonder if I'd have ended up being a librarian if I went down the science route? I suspect I'd probably have got a better paying job! :P)

That's the last of the library visits until February sometime, so a fairly quiet few days left at Newnham until I'm on holiday. We had our Christmas lunch on Friday, vehr nice! (Didn't win anything on the raffle though, *sniff*!) This is probably my last post until after Christmas, so hope you all have a fantastic holiday :)


  1. Ephemera <3

    Loving the knitted tree too.

    Happy Christmas! Love you!

  2. Who knew, all the old concert programmes I have shoved away in drawers aren't rubbish, they're ephemera!

    Love you too! Are you back in Coventry now?

  3. Brilliant photo of the tree - tried to take of photo of it on my phone when I was there a couple of weeks back, but your's is much better.

  4. You lucky thing, getting to poke around lots of different types of libraries!
    As a Born Again Librarian who was previously a scientist I can confirm that if money is really important, you shouldn't choose either route :-)

  5. I am. My packages haven't been delivered :/

  6. Rubbish :< Bake everyone cupcakes instead?