Sunday, August 15, 2010

Zoological Society of London Library: Optional Visit

The Zoological Society of London Library tour was given by John Edwards, the Zoo historian. The building,built in 1910, currently houses the library, offices, and meeting rooms. To fully understand the library, Edwards first gave us background information about the London Zoo. The London Zoo opened in 1828 and in 1836, the Zoological Society was founded. In the 1850's, the Zoological Society's Museum collection was donated to the British Museum. At the end of the tour, we were shown pictures of some of the animals that were kept throughout the history of the London Zoo. We saw photos of the first hippo that came to the Zoo in 1850, a baby orangutan named Lady Jane, a sable antelope (the only one outside of Africa), the only photo of a living Quagga (a less striped Zebra), and photos of the first African Elephant, Jumbo, that came to the London Zoo. By 1912, there were a recorded 1 million visitors that came to the Zoo that year.

The Library was founded in 1826 and is now the largest privately owned zoological collection in the world. We spoke with Emma, the book cataloger, about her project that she has started. She is working on turning the card catalog to OPAC. So far, books published after 1993 and before 1860 have been cataloged to the OPAC. The card catalog was made in the 1960's. Ruth Jones spoke more about the collection. Their entire collection is housed in the same room. The library's collection holds conference proceedings, annual reports, zoo guides from all zoos, books about animals, animal breeding, husbandry material, and other zoo related material. Most of the items this library holds are hard to find items. Ann Sylph from archives showed us a few of the rare materials the library holds. We saw the ZSL's first charter, written by George IV in 1829. We saw letters by Darwin requesting help with specific bird names. We also saw the new charter, written by Elizabeth II in 1995. Popular inquiries made by patrons today are about family history. They are looking for past relatives who have worked in the London Zoo.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stratford-upon-Avon Library: Optional Visit

The Stratford-upon-Avon Public Library was a wonderful find. It is situated on the same street where Shakespeare was born. Stratford-upon-Avon library is a Carnegie library and is also part of the Warwickshire library system. Like most public libraries, their collections holds items like large print and regular print books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals, and also microfilm readers in the periodical room. The library's focus, once again, appeared centered on family history. After visiting Scotland's libraries, the trend of family history continued. Some of the material used for family history included parish registers, census returns, electoral registers, local newspapers, maps, trade directories, monumental inscriptions, CD-ROMs, books, and also internet resources for local studies and family history websites. Another helpful resource is the family history group that meets in the library on the first Friday of every month. The library staff includes local history librarians, who can provide assistance for patron's questions about family history.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The American Library in Paris: Optional Visit

The American Library in Paris was an amazing find! Before entering the library, we had to check out the cart of free books the library had placed outside. No one could resist free books! What I thought was most interesting about the American Library in Paris is that it is the largest English-language lending library on the European continent. In 1917, the Library War Service, a product of the ALA, ships 1.5 million books to U.S. service personnel. The American Library in Paris was founded by the ALA in 1920. The core collection of books were donated by American libraries for US armed forces personnel serving their allies in WWI. In 1923, the library launches Ex Libris, a monthly review, with contributions from Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. In the 1940s, French libraries began to close under Nazi occupation- but not the American Library in Paris. Their doors stayed open throughout WWII. The library even provided an underground lending service to Jewish patrons. In the 50s, investigators sent to filter out Communist inspired literature from the library were turned away. In 1955, the library launches The English Language Library for the Blind, which was the first collection of Braille books in English on the European continent. Marlene Dietrich's personal library was donated in 1995.

Now, the library serves as a non-profit cultural association in France. The collection includes 120,000 books, 300 periodicals, DVD, VHS, and other audio visual materials, and online and paper reference and research resource materials. The library is open to all, with annual and short-term membership options for families, students, and seniors. There are 2,300 members ranging over 60 different countries. The library has a staff of 12 members, speaking 8 different languages, and over 50 volunteers that participate in all aspects of the library.