Getting Lost at the British Library

Well, not so much “getting lost” as “buying tickets for the wrong day because in a hurry”. And rushing there (and spending £5 on a taxi) and really just feeling kind of stupid, but it was okay. Partially because they let you do self-guided tours and because that was the only real “bad” thing to happen on my trip. Not to mention I now have a story to tell that I think is hilarious.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually visited The Library of Congress here, but it’s totally on my bucket list but I think that’s the closest we here in America have as far as a national library. It was really interesting to see and compare two different National Libraries (The National Library of Scotland and the British Library). Both are non-lending libraries so you’d think that they’d have similar issues with patronage, but when I was at the British Library it was PACKED. The café and common rooms were full, people were using laptops, looking at materials in the reading room. Granted I was at the British Library on a Thursday in the late afternoon as opposed to early on a Monday morning so I think that likely had a lot to do with the difference. Plus it’s literally right down the street from the King’s Cross Station so I think the proximity to everything helped.

The British Library has a strict no-photos allowed rule so I wasn’t able to take photographs but the collection is breathtaking. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as I was with the National Library of Scotland because I showed myself around but I did read their 2013 – 2014 Annual Report which lists their major goals for 2014 – 2015 and the one I found most interesting is Number 3: Support research communities in key areas for social and economic benefit.

They focused on inspiring and enabling entrepreneurs by focusing on an Entrepreneurship week and holding an Inspiring Entrepreneurs series of events. I think this is extremely important and a great way for libraries that don’t offer lending services to still be involved in the community as a whole.


British Library. (2015). British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14. London: British Library.

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Day 3: The Glasgow Adventure

Scotland – Day Three: The Glasgow Adventure

I’d just like to point out that both Alex and Iain made fun of me for watching a bunch of Scottish movies but this was the day it would come in common the most. I took the bus (all by myself) from Edinburgh to Glasgow (about 40 minutes) and then walked from downtown Glasgow to the University of Strathclyde. I’d heard of the University in passing but it wasn’t until ALA Midwinter that I met with Dr. Cottington and Julie, a current PhD student that were promoting the university at a booth there. I like school, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t. I’m also not going to pretend that I’ve always thought about getting my PhD in something and this project has opened my eyes to the aspect of research for libraries. I decided to ask about their PhD program because they were there and because the idea of living and studying abroad (even before my trip) appealed to me.

Since I was already planning on going to Scotland and wanted to spend a day in Glasgow, I decided I should email Dr. Cottington to arrange a tour of the school. She was extremely accommodating, putting me in touch with David McMenemy, Lecturer and Course Director for Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about David McMenemy, he showed me around the absolutely amazing offices, answering my questions, being hilariously funny, engaging and honestly one of the nicest people I met on my entire trip and made me leave really wondering if it would be feasible for me to get a PhD from there.

I do have to admit that the fact that it snowed (though only for about 15 minutes) while I was there a bit disturbing. By the time I was done meeting with David (who was amazing and introduced me to several current PhD students) it had turned to rain, the clear snow in late March was a little off putting. But at least it was pretty, and David made sure to point out some cool facts, like that Glasgow pretended to be downtown Philadephia when World War Z was filmed there made me want to set up camp.

Luckily (or unluckily) for me I have at least a year left in my Masters’ and Certification Program so I couldn’t apply as soon as I got home. On David’s recommendation I visited the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It’s actually Carnegie library in the United Kingdom. The Mitchell Library is the largest municipal reference library in Western Europe and has the beautiful architecture that I think I’ve associated with how libraries should look. It was only supposed to be about a 15 minute walk from the University but the GPS on the phone I was using hated me and it took me quite a while, but I got to see the Buchannan Galleries (a collection of shops) were I was able to grab some great souvenirs but finally I found Mitchell Library and it was SO WORTH IT. I’ve lived and worked through library construction, reconstruction and redesigning but I was awed by this library and the number of people using it. When I was leaving I looked at the time at it as 14:00 (3:00pm) and the library had a good number of people using computers, looking at books and even using the microfilm at the library.

Is it wrong that I grabbed a burrito before heading back to the bus station? I was starving and it seemed like an easy vegetarian option that involved guacamole.