Accessing the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

Sixth Class Blog Post:

We ended our Tuesday with a tour of the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  We were not allowed to take photographs inside, so I do not have any great photos to share, but it was exciting to tour the areas that aren’t normally open to the public (not even those with paid tickets).

On a Harry Potter-related note, we got to look down at the Winding Staircase/Geometric Staircase where they filmed the Divinity staircase scenes in Harry Potter.  The librarian leading our tour did not specifically point out that it was the Winding Staircase (maybe he isn’t as interested in Harry Potter as we are), but we knew.  It is a pleasant surprise to encounter Harry Potter filming locations around town because I am not looking for them and yet, there they are.

I think that the general air of the St. Paul’s may make a person feel as if he or she is intruding.  To enter the physical space, one must buy a ticket or attend a service.  The idea of buying a ticket to visit a cathedral seems contrary to the purposes of a holy space, but then again, it is rather unfathomable for the cathedral to accommodate such a large number of tourists who are there to look at the place, rather than use it as a holy space.  The modes of entry are quite limited and can deter one from visiting.  Since the cathedral does not appear to be accessible beyond service and admission, why should the library?

In fact, the library is actually more accessible than one might initially think – a person just needs to demonstrate need and proof of identification.  This seems to be the basic requirement for most libraries – definitely at the British Library where I got my reader’s card.  In fact, at the British Library, one needed to provide two forms of identification, so they might require more than the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral does.  The security around St. Paul’s always makes me think that the library is not open to the public, but the basic tenets of libraries are to provide open access and share information (thanks Ranganathan!), so I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that anyone with a need may have reasonable access to their library.

I get the general feeling that anyone with reasonable needs to use materials within a library, no matter how restricted that library may seem, should just inquire because the chances are that the librarians will work to accommodate or point you in another direction.  The point of libraries are to share information and pass on knowledge.  I can imagine that some institutions cannot or will not share their resources, but one cannot force the hand of a private institutions, just merely make your case and hope for the best.

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Tuesday at the Barbican Library

The Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre

Fifth Class Blog Post:

We got up fairly early to head over to the Barbican Library, which is a public library within the City of London.  I was quite confused about the whole City of London vs London concept, but as far as I understand (or quickly Googled), the City of London is basically a city within London.

I was very thrown off when our librarian tour guide informed us that only 50 babies are born each year in the City of London.  That definitely made me pause and think about that.  The City of London has a different government structure, known as the City of London Corporation.  The area is filled with businesses and the financial district, so that might explain why only 50 babies are born within the City of London each year.

Within the Barbican Library, there is the Children’s Library, the Music Library, and the General Library.  I can see the advantages of having a space completely devoted to kids because they have the opportunities to host programming events in the same space, close the door, and play music/games without disturbing the rest of the patrons.  I also noticed that different libraries call their patrons/users different names as we do back home.  At the Bodleian and the British library, they are readers and at the Barbican, I recall the Children’s Librarian referring to them as customers.  Perhaps, they are customers because they are in the financial district and have a very commercial-oriented mindset.  I would not be surprised.  Every institution must cater to different clientele.

I do not know a great deal about children/youth services, but I did notice that they do a lot of the same programming such as reading mentorship, reading challenges, and story/play time as back home.  One of the very novel ideas we learned about was about the project loan service, which the Barbican does for the schools around the area.  If I recollect properly, schools have to pay for project loan services to supplement their teaching (i.e. they might order 60 copies of a book on the human body).  I found some useful information on the City of Westminster School Library Service’s website, in case anyone is interested in learning more.

We went to the Music Library next.  I have never seen a dedicated music library in a public library before, so it was great to see the set up.  One of the most important things the music librarian mentioned was that they need a dedicated staff because their material is so specific.  They had everything from CDs to music reference books to scores, with areas to listen to sound recordings and two keyboards for people to use for practice.  The keyboards have headphones, so as not to disturb the rest of the library.  The music library is great in its ability to provide services I don’t normally associate with libraries: somewhere to listen to music and work, practice on the keyboard, and borrow sheet music.

We did discuss some interesting aspects of librarianship during various points of the tour.  I asked about digital licensing of ebooks  and I learned that the Barbican seems to have more flexible arrangements than we do in the US.  They actually buy the electronic copy of the ebook instead of licensing packages, which expire and/or have limitations.

In terms of patron privacy in regards to check out records and hold shelf names, the UK has the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act to ensure that sensitive patron information does not make it to the public.  I wonder if we are more weary of protecting (i.e. shredding/deleting) patron records in the US because of the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act and how it allows the government to obtain sensitive patron records.

I also learned that the UK does not implement a bright line percentage in terms of copyright, but they do use 5% as a guideline (I believe we use 10% in the US, though it is not a set bright line either).  The librarian at the British Library did inform us that the copyright laws are more relaxed in the UK than the US.  I am definitely interested in copyright issues, especially in regards to access and digitization, but reading about copyright law can definitely be tiresome.

Partying with 50,000 people at Hyde Park

A view of St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge

A view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge

We started the day off at St. Paul’s Cathedral for an Orchestral Eucharist.  St. Paul’s is a beautiful building with extremely lavish decor, as one can imagine.  The service was unlike any I ever attended.  I was amazed that the service was so structured.  The program had almost every spoken word provided for us to follow along.  At some points, I kept itching for something organic, which might explain why I quite enjoyed the deacon’s message.  Her sermon was very personable and felt relevant.  Sometimes the Latin can make one feel a bit displaced.

After the service, Jade and I grabbed lunch and then headed over the Millenium Bridge.  We ran into three book benches today alone!  It was a great day for a book bench hunt.

I took a picture of Jade taking a picture of the Shakespeare Book Bench

I took a picture of Jade taking a picture of the Shakespeare Book Bench outside the Globe

Our plan was to visit the Globe, but it was inexplicably closed for a special event.  We headed over to the Tate Modern where we saw lots of great and lots of weird art.  We spent a few hours roaming around looking at works by Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Henry Wessel, and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Jade had a great time looking at the photographs and I had a good time absorbing it all in.  I love London and its vast array of cultural attractions.

We walked back to the dorms along the Thames, so I could change my footwear.   My feet were feeling sore from walking around in my flats.  While we are on the topic of feet, here is an ankle update: my sprained ankle has resulted in a very fat and swollen foot that can only be described as “cankle.”  My cankle has actually developed some type of rash, probably from the wrap I wore for a few days.  I blame the London pollution.  Sorry if that was too much information.  Moral of the story: be smart and don’t sprain your ankle.

Jade and I headed over to Oxford Street next, partly to browse and partly in search of a floral crown for my evening venture.  We found one at Primark and I love it.  After our shopping, we parted ways.  I had tickets for the British Summer Time, a concert series at Hyde Park.  I entered the park from the North side, but I needed to pick up my tickets on the South Side.  When I received my tickets, I learned that I needed to make my way back to the North side.  My feet were screaming again because that the small stretch of Hyde park I trekked back and forth was not a very small stretch of land.

When I finally made it into the venue, the Backstreet Boys started playing.  I missed a few of their songs because I had to do some necessary thing such as visit the toilets and queue for fish and chips (obviously).  Surprisingly these fish and chips were way better than the ones I had at the pub.  They were delicious!  They had these little wooden forks to spear the food.  I loved it.

I joined the crowd to watch the Backstreet Boys on the main stage.  I had a great time singing along to some of their hits of yesteryear.  Memories!  They played a few songs from their latest album.  I did not even realize that they had a new album.  News to me!  Also, did anyone else realize that they have been around for twenty years?  I thought that was interesting.  I just had the best time singing along to Backstreet’s Back. It was a good time.

Backstreet Boys breaking it down

Backstreet Boys still breaking it down

After that set, there was an hour break while they set up the stage for McBusted.  I slowly wormed my way closer to the stage.  I didn’t make it very far, as it was extremely crowded.  I came to a standstill multiple times.

McBusted had a fabulous entrance and show.  They dropped onto the stage in the DeLorean.  They started playing a lot of Busted songs.  I’m not familiar with those, so it took a while for me to get into the groove.

The DeLorean

The DeLorean

The concert was so fun.  McBusted are such great performers.  At one point they went off stage and appeared on a UFO stage to play Star Girl.  I think that they invest a decent amount of time and effort into showmanship.

McBusted performing on a UFO

McBusted performing on a UFO

At other points there were fireworks, confetti, tshirt guns, fire, and inflatable triple breasts (I’m not sure what that was about).  They started to show an edited version of Tom’s wedding speech.  I will link the wedding speech because it’s actually quite good and worth a watch (over 13 million views), even if you are not a McFly/McBusted fan.  After that video clip, the band showed up wearing wedding dresses.  Dougie apparently could not get his off, so he spent the rest of the show wearing it.

Also during the show, I witnessed a fight between a middle aged woman and a young man.  There were a surprising number of young men at that concert – more than I thought there would be!  I do not know what they were fighting about, but it definitely got physical.  They were kicking each other.  I also saw the woman try to stub her cigarette in the back of her neck.  Not the classiest of scenes, but it broke up before it got too bad.  The guy walked away.

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to watch McFly in concert, so all in all, it was a great day!  Until next time, stay cool friends!