Monthly Archives: August 2014

Day 29: The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter. Oh how excited I was for this tour. I still get excited thinking about it. It was great. I loved every minute of it. I learned so much about the process of making the films and the transition from book to movie and the impact it has had all around the world and on the lives of everyone who has read the books or watched the movies.

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I can, however, pinpoint my least favorite things. One was the butterbeer. It was gross. Like drinking foamy butterscotch soda. Urgh. Awful. And the other was leaving. I wish I could have gone back through a second time. I feel like I missed so many things and just want to do it all over again. I had the audio guide and half the time I could not listen to it because Tom Felton’s voice was too distracting that I couldn’t focus on the awesome things around me! Well that and then I was too focused on his voice. I couldn’t decide. I wanted to listen to everything he had to say but then I couldn’t or I would miss things!

            Going in you go by the cupboard under the stairs from Privet Drive, and quotes from J.K. Rowling and then after a brief introduction we are released into the Great Hall. The house tables are there, uniforms from each house, the head table is lined with the costumes of the professors and behind it are the hourglasses with jewels for each house. It was great. As you go through the doorway to exit the hall and enter the rest of the experience if you look up the Golden Snitch is hanging above the door. This next room is huge, it holds the sets for the dormitories, the Gryffindor common room, the Burrow, Hagrid’s cabin, Dumbledore’s office, sets from the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge’s office, Snape’s dungeon, the wardrobe and make-up departments, the props cage, the interactive portion where you can learn to use a wand, get pictures of you on a broom playing quidditch and so many more things. You could spend hours and hours going through here. I went too fast. I’ll say it. I went way too fast. I had to have spent a good 2 hours or so in there but still; there was just so much to see. I was so excited to keep going and see more things and see more things that I was on overload and shaking with excitement. I couldn’t focus long enough to realize, you can’t go backwards once you leave a room you can’t go back in.

House tables

House tables

Dumbledore

Dumbledore

House Points- why is Ravenclaw so low?!

House Points- why is Ravenclaw so low?!

The Golden Snitch

The Golden Snitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But on we went. The courtyard outside had a station for butterbeer, the Hogwarts bridge from the movies, the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, the flying Ford Anglia, chess pieces, the house where Lily and James lived with Harry, and Tom Riddle’s grave.

Boys Gryffidor Dormitory

Boys Gryffidor Dormitory

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The Fat Lady

Gryffindor Common Room

Gryffindor Common Room

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Entrance to Dumbledore’s office

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Dumbledore’s office

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The Burrow

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Letters and Daily Prophets

The Knight Bus

The Knight Bus

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The Hagrid head on the actors body… weird.

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The Creature Shop

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Dobby… 😦

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Aragog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  After passing through the courtyard and deciding that if I never have butterbeer again I’ll be perfectly happy we enter the special effects areas, the areas that deal with making the magical creatures exist. Aragog is hanging from the ceiling, right next to a dementor. There are Inferi in cases as you enter, and there are mandrakes out of their pots (they’re gross little creatures). Buckbeak is just sitting off to the side. The magic for Hagrid is explained, an actor wore an animatronic head that was an exact replica of Robbie Coltrane’s just bigger. It was odd. And then there was Dobby in a case. Oh the feelings there. With all the things in this room it would have been easy to be a big room but it wasn’t, it was small and again with the flow of people it was gone too fast.

Gringotts

Gringotts

Welcome to Diagon Alley

Welcome to Diagon Alley

Ollivanders

Ollivanders

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Weasley's Wizard Wheezes

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes

Quality Quidditch Supplies

Quality Quidditch Supplies

Shenanigans for all

Shenanigans for all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Then comes the ever crowded, ever bustling Diagon Alley, with Gringotts, Olivander’s, Flourish and Blotts, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Just as described in the book Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes stands out in orange and purple against the standard building colors of all the rest. Some stores had more to look at than others, or perhaps I’m just too short to see half the things in the windows. Even when you can see in the windows there’s just so much to see you’d have to stand there for an hour studying each window display (and it seemed like some people tried). I wanted to go into the stores, but that just isn’t an option and I suppose that’s for good reason but still I feel as though Diagon Alley could have had more with it. Maybe there wasn’t as much because there is an entire Diagon Alley theme park in Florida. As impressive as Diagon Alley was, it was short and full of people, you got pushed through.

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            The next room was full of drawings, designs, and plans for what Hogwarts should look like how things should work and move. There were Styrofoam board scale models of things like the Burrow, and before you can even process it all, as though everyone knows what lies ahead in the very last room, it’s all gone. You enter the final room and there it is. Hogwarts. Always there to welcome you home. And that’s exactly what it feels like. When you drive up your street after a long trip and finally see your house again, you walk into this room and there it is. As splendid and magnificent as you could ever imagine and yet more so. The lights change to show how it looks at different times of day. The ramp leading you around winds around the room so you can see every angle of the castle that’s been living in your imagination for years. It’s such a beautiful sight you think you might cry; I may have even shed a tear. It’s the best way to end, after seeing all the secrets behind the story that has been part of your life for so long, you enter this room and you’re home.

Hogwarts will always be my home

Hogwarts will always be my home

One last look

One last look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you finish circling the castle, there it is. The exit. And after making sure you have pictures from every conceivable angle and pictures of you and Hogwarts, you slowly drag yourself out the door. Back to the real world. But don’t fret, there’s a little treat before you leave. The room is full of wand boxes, stacked all the way to the ceiling. Each one has a name. The name of someone who worked in or on the films, so go scavenger hunting for your favorites. Just remember you’re not looking for Hermione or George, you’re looking for Emma Watson and Oliver Phelps. Contrary to what I think Oliver and James Phelps are not next to each other, how rude. In case you get frustrated there are employees there to help find the most important to you, like good ol’ J.K herself. And then once again you have to leave but this time it’s to buy things. Lots of things. All the things. It was a constant struggle to tell myself no I don’t actually need a Ravenclaw pillow, yes it’s soft, but that’s not going to fit in my suitcase. Instead I bought Luna Lovegood’s wand. It chose me. That’s the trick, when you can’t decide which one you want play with the ones out on display, pick the one that feels the best. The one that feels right. Because just as Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home, the wand chooses the wizard.

Fred and George's wands. Which rightfully only come as a set.

Fred and George’s wands. Which rightfully only come as a set.

Good ol' JK

Good ol’ JK

A wall of wands

A wall of wands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Warner Bros Studio Tour

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Day 28: Royal Geographical Society

As our last class visit the Royal Geographical Society was one that I was worried about being super boring. Here I am thinking, I like maps but I do not know if I can listen to someone talk about maps for two hours. Well, I was wrong. It was not all about maps. And it was really interesting. Our guide did not take us back in the storeroom because it is always cramped in those and he knew that it just would not work for a group of our size or as a good way to discuss and showcase the artifacts he wanted to show us.

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The society was founded in 1830 and has two million items in the collection. Half of these are maps and four thousand are atlases. Their picture library has half a million images in it. The artifact collection has fifteen hundred objects, they are divided into three different types scientific instruments, personal affects of explorers, and cultural objects from around the world. The objects we were shown were from a ‘Hot and Cold’ showcase. Meaning it shows items from hot parts of the world and from cold parts of the world. Some of the most interesting artifacts were those that actually belonged to explorers, a boot or a hat. I think the boot was one that really made some people uncomfortable. It was recovered from an expedition to Mount Everest, and belonged to a man that died while trying to make it to the top. I find that to be interesting, a man went out there with all sorts of gear and other people and somehow it is his boot that makes it back. It is sad absolutely, but interesting. It seemed to unnerve some people that the boot had once been on a dead mans foot. Maybe I just do not get as freaked out by that idea since it did not seem to be a big deal to me. I was more impressed by the places these items had been. How far they had traveled with and without their owners.

It was a great last visit and one that I especially appreciated because it was not just taking us and showing us the rolling shelves where these artifacts were stored. Shelves are shelves. Skipping that and instead talking about and showing us the artifacts was a much better visit. And I am so glad that I was wrong about it just being a discussion on maps. Maps are cool but this was better.

Royal Geographical Society

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Day 27: Middle Temple Law Library

The Middle Temple Law Library is the second law library we got the chance to visit and was very interesting. The library is located next to a Knights Templar Church (can you say Da Vinci Code?). It was really interesting to see a bit of how the legal system in the United Kingdom works by visiting this library. It was a little difficult to understand and grasp some of the terms that were used, such as the exact difference between a barrister and a solicitor. I know that a barrister is the one that actually represents people in court, but then I do not know what solicitor does, just that they are both important for the legal process.

The Knights Templar Church

The Knights Templar Church

            All lawyers in the UK must belong to one of the four Inns of Court. Two Inns are in the same location just with different buildings, and each Inn has it’s own library and focus. For example, the Inner Temple focuses on American and International law. Both the Inner and Middle Temple are at the same location and both date back to the Knights Templar (prior to the 1500s) but do not have exact dates.

The Library

The Library

The Prince's room

The Prince’s room

           The Inns are the ones that are responsible for calling barristers to court to represent people, and the most senior members of the court are called benchers. There are usually two honorary royal members/benchers, Prince William recently became one and the second is supposed to be named soon, it used to be the Queen Mother and Princess Diana if I am not mistaken. The Middle Temple has a dining hall where the first performance of Twelfth Night was performed and was said to have had both Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare in attendance.

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The signatures with stars denoting who was a member of Middle Temple

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The declaration from the 13 colonies

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The biggest stand out from the Middle Temple Law Library, other than the cool connection with the Knights Templar was the Declaration it has hanging on the wall. The Declaration from the former thirteen colonies, with signatures, was a really cool thing to see. Even more so because little red stars had been fixed next to certain men’s signatures. Those men were members of the Middle Temple. It was a trend in both America and England to send the sons away to be educated in England and then to practice in America, some of those sons were members of Middle Temple and signed that document. It was almost like seeing the Declaration of Independence in Washington DC, except somehow more interesting because you were standing in the Inn that some of those men had been members of.

Middle Temple Law Library

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Day 21: Belfast Game of Thrones tour

While I know now what my topic will be for my research paper throughout most of my trip I was in search of a topic. Something that would keep me interested and something that I would want to research. The Game of Thrones tour we did in Belfast, Northern Ireland held potential for that. Assessing the sites, the way the tour worked, and the publicity for it could provide an interesting research paper. I think because I took this tour I can compare Game of Thrones and Harry Potter with the way their sites are accepted or shown in the area. For example as we saw when a site had something to do with Harry Potter, you almost always knew. But with Game of Thrones it was different, yes there are tours and the tour guides can point them out but only one filming location actually “sold out” and had a sign about it. As the tour begins we get on a minibus for our Stones and Thrones tour and leave Belfast behind, our destinations are all along the coast. Our tour guide Shavon is awesome; it’s clear from the beginning. The very first place she takes us is The Wall. She’s constantly explaining how the guards and people who work on set and on the show won’t answer her calls anymore because they know she wants to get a tour in to actually see these places up close. And The Wall has been blocked from view of the main road. It’s about to be a big season for Castle Black and The Wall so they don’t want to give anything away. But if you go around the corner there is a section that can’t quite cover it… and there you are a glimpse at the immense structure from the show. Except it’s not. It’s a big stone wall of course, it’s in a quarry, but it’s not white. Only part of it is, they digitally copy and paste that bit over and over to make the whole wall look white. The location also has Castle Black, the Pit where Brienne fought the bear, and the Lift. The Lift was a particularly exciting find for the set people because it meant they didn’t have to build one, and this one already worked. Alas, filming hasn’t started so no sightings of Jon Snow.

THE WALL. Winter is coming.

THE WALL. Winter is coming.

After that we make our way along the coast we go into the hills a bit to see the plateau where Ned Stark beheads the kid from the Night’s Watch in the first episode, and then we see the big valley/field where the scenes of the Dothraki hordes were filmed. Fun fact, if any of the Dothraki’s look unnaturally tan it’s because they are. They’re Irish; our tan is still pale to normal people. So they might look a little funny. Our next stop for the show is the cave where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby. It’s a cave that has bumpy textured walls that almost resemble dragons eggs, and a green hue from the ocean air and spray. It was chosen because the set designers didn’t have to do anything to the walls, they were perfect as they were.

Plateau where Ned Stark beheaded the kid from the Night's Watch

Plateau where Ned Stark beheaded the kid from the Night’s Watch

The cave where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow baby.

The cave where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow baby.

The entrance to the cave from the water, where Melisandre and Davros entered

The entrance to the cave from the water, where Melisandre and Davros entered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we travel Shavon tells us other stories and interesting things about some of the castles we see and local legends, such as one about a vanishing lake. And when we go through Ballycastle she tells us Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) and Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) are from that area. Out off the coast you can see islands, the Aryn islands. Coincidence? I think not, well actually I have no idea, but it is funny.

Our last two stops for the show are the Iron Islands and the King’s Road. The Iron Islands comes after we’ve stopped at Carrick-a-Rede and before we go on to Giant’s Causeway. It is also the only location that has a board out noting that it was used for Game of Thrones. In fact it has Theon Greyjoy on it showing him standing exactly where you’re standing, as if he were right in front of you. You can see the steps he climbed to get out of his boat, it’s just movie magic is gone and everything is in Technicolor instead of grey and dreary. The King’s Road is Shadow Hedge, a road that is lined on each side with curvy trees that almost connect above your head. Shavon pointed out to us that when we entered the road if we were to keep going that way on the show we would eventually reach King’s Landing. And that was that. The end of the tour, but it took us all day all along the gorgeous coastline of Northern Ireland and we still didn’t see all of the sites possible. My favorite is still The Wall and the King’s Road. They’re iconic and even if the pictures of the wall aren’t that great I still was there. And for readers and viewers, that’s the thing, you were there. You got to be where things happen.

Theon Greyjoy

Theon Greyjoy

Port at the Iron Islands

Port at the Iron Islands

The King's Road looking towards King's Landing

The King’s Road looking towards King’s Landing

Two of my favorite stops that had nothing to do with Game of Thrones were the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and Giant’s Causeway. I’d been dying to cross the rope bridge since before I even knew it was in Ireland, I saw the picture online one day and that was it. I had to cross it; it was a major bucket list item. And it did not disappoint. The water was beautiful, all greens and blues in hues that looked like they belonged in the Mediterranean or Caribbean not Northern Ireland. The bridge bounced. It was awesome. As you walked across you could look down and see crevice between the stone island you were going to and the mainland behind you, it dropped down into almost clear water. The worst part was the line; waiting and waiting to not only cross the bridge to the island but back again. And we were on a schedule we still had to get to the Iron Islands and Giant’s Causeway. But we made it and I took a ton of pictures. Everyone else seemed to think Giant’s Causeway was a let down. But I wish we could have spent more time exploring the rocks. They’re shaped so weird, and they make great steps and seats. It really is a wonder, I enjoyed it. To them it was just a pile of weird rocks. Oh well, can’t impress everyone. Carrick-a-Rede just you wait, I’ll be back again.

Crossing the Rope Bridge!!!!!

Crossing the Rope Bridge!!!!!

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

The gorgeous water at Carrick-a-Rede

The gorgeous water at Carrick-a-Rede

Game of Thrones tour

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Day 19: Central Library, Edinburgh

The Central Library in Edinburgh is the public library that we got a chance to see. We did not see many public libraries so the ones we did were always particularly interesting to me.

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Central lending library

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Central Lending library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was opened in 1890 and is a Carnegie Library. George Washington Brown who won a competition for the design designed the building. Within the library there is a Reference Library, Fine Arts Library, Children’s Library, Music Library, the Central Lending Collection, and a Teen Area. These different specialized libraries were created in the 1930s before that all the subjects were in the Reference Library. In the reference library the information contained there can be located in two ways depending on its date. If the information is pre-1980 it is in the card catalog but post 1980 it is online. Each of the different libraries within the Central Library have their own areas and rooms within the same building and they have changed over the years. However, the Fine Arts library has always been located in the same room for its entire existence.

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Reference Library

The Fine Arts library has books about more than just paintings and sculptures, they include fashion and photography and all sorts of artistic mediums. They like to have a focus on Scottish artists and have less electronic sources. The books in this library are a mix of reference and lending because art books can be so expensive. If the books cost a certain amount or more they become reference books.

After our tour around the library we sat down in a conference room for a presentation by one of the library managers, Jim Thompson. His presentation told us all about the strategies that the library has had for modernizing and updating. Especially for keeping in mind what the patrons need from their library and even more what they can do to make the building and the websites more user friendly. I have to admit in presentations like that I usually zone out, Mr. Thompson held my attention the whole time. It was interesting and funny and informative. I learned so much about how they worked to understand their patrons and their library.

Reading nook in the Children's Library

Reading nook in the Children’s Library

            The thing that stood out the most for me was the Children’s Library. I love the children’s area in libraries, it is always so much fun and so colorful and the Central Library’s area was no different. The Children’s Library has different rooms for different ages and has nooks in the walls with cushions for reading and beanbags and fun lights in the walls and colors. It was so cute, and had recently been redone. There is also a craft room. They do activities for kids and the craft room gets a lot of action and is open at all times for use. The activities that the library does range from Book Bug, story and song hour to encourage parents to sing with their kids, to Mythical Maze the summer reading program. It was a fantastic children’s library.

The Central Library

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Day 14 cont’d: Weiner Library

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The Weiner Library is the worlds oldest Holocaust Collection and was started in the 1920s by Dr. Alfred Weiner. Dr.Weiner was born into a German Jewish family and became an academic but in 1914 he was drafted and served in Palestine. He was awarded the Iron Crescent for his bravery and service on the eastern front. In the 1920s he began collecting information about the National Socialists, when Hitler came to power he was devastated and in 1933 he decided to emigrate to Amsterdam. He managed to bring about half of his collection and work with him. This is where many date the library to, 1933, when others began to be able to access it for information. From Amsterdam he worked to warn the rest of the world about what was happening in Germany. The office he ran was called the Jewish Central Information office.

The collection includes many first hand accounts, even ones from kristallnacht. Some of the collection never made it out of Amsterdam when Dr.Weiner fled in 1940, but what did make it out was used to supply information for the Nuremburg trials and to aid those still looking for family and friends. The collection is still adding material today, and has expanded to look at other genocides as well. While the bulk of the information available is about the Jewish population there is some on the other groups that were persecuted at the time, but it is more fragmented. The collection also has a digital component that can be accessed online. It also contains 17,000 photographs. The storage for this collection is underground beneath the library and also in off site storage out in Surrey.

Hitler Youth cut out and coloring book

Hitler Youth cut out and coloring book

Of all the interesting things this collection contains there are a few that caught my eye. There is a German Youth (aka Hitler Youth) cut out and coloring book, and a game like monopoly called Yuden Rouse (“Jews Out”) in which the kids collect Jews to get rid of them and the one with the most at the end of the game is the winner. The collection has quite a lot of Nazi propaganda aimed towards children like this. They also have some artifacts that were used to get information around secretly, such as tea packets that instead of containing tea contained leaflets with information about what was really going on in Germany. This way even if homes were searched the information would not be found and the people would not be punished.

It is an impressive collection, made even more so by the fact that much of what is there are first hand accounts and things that were smuggled and shipped out before the Nazi’s could get a hold of it.

Weiner Library

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Day 14: British Museum

The British Museum

The British Museum

Can you tell I'm excited?

Can you tell I’m excited?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting the British Museum was different than expected because I expected it to be more like visiting the Archaeological Archives and instead we visited the central archives where they keep the records of the items they have and those that use the reading room. There are very few artifacts in the archive other than papers and photographs and items like that, most papers have to do with administration aspects of the museum. Such as the Book of Presents, the book that details the gifts that have been given to the museum, the artifacts and such that they did not have to pay for. However, there is one artifact in particular that was interesting. The museum still has the bomb that hit the museum during World War II, and because of that bomb many artifacts were damaged but many were also moved out to Wales in an effort to keep them safe. The archives are located within the air raid tunnels that run beneath the museum. The administrative archives stretch all the way back to 1738 with the Sloan and Cottonian collections.

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The archives have records of each phase of the building, when it was built, how it was paid for, etc. The archives also contain records of excavations they have been part of, for example the excavation of Ur done with the University of Pennsylvania. This is where the logs from the reading room are archived as well. These can be interesting because visitors to the reading room are made to sign in and there are many famous signatures in these logs. Signatures from G.K. Chesterton, Bram Stoker, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, and Beatrix Potter to name a few. In the case of Bram Stoker the museum also retains his application to use to reading room, which consists not just of the application but also of letters of recommendation and a letter explaining why he would like to use the reading room. Users now do not have to go through quite that extensive of a process to use the reading room but back then it was more difficult to gain access.

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I think the thing that was of greatest interest to me was that there are still legal processes going on for Nazi looting claims. Our guide explained that these are lengthy and massive legal processes that are still constantly happening and there is even one going on right now. It is interesting to find that people and museums can still tell what items went missing then and can manage to locate them today. It is an interesting conflict and situation and I think it would be really interesting to know the details and how these items are found and what the actual conflict is over them.

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British Museum

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Day 12 Cont’d: St. Paul’s Cathedral

 

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ST. PAUL’S Underground station sign

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my three favorite buildings in London. After attending mass there on the first Sunday of the trip getting the chance to see the library upstairs in the attic of the cathedral was an incredible experience, because it is not normally open to the public. The librarian there, Mr. Wisdom, was fantastic. I do not think that I could pick out what was my favorite thing about this excursion or what stood out the most the entire thing was awesome.

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St.Paul's at night. This is also where you enter the Cathedral

St.Paul’s at night. This is also where you enter the Cathedral

To get to the library you have to climb about one hundred and thirty steps that are a circular staircase. At the top you do not just enter the library, there are several different areas that we got the opportunity to see, the gallery, the library, and a scale model of the cathedral in a room that mirrors the library. The library is on the east end of the cathedral and the room with the scale model is on the west, the gallery runs between them. The gallery contains many different artifacts from throughout the life and history of the cathedral. There are stones from when it has been restored, a cross that was damaged in World War II, several different pulpits that are no longer in use, and various books and other unique artifacts.

Love St. Paul's Cathedral

Love St. Paul’s Cathedral

Mr. Wisdom took us into the library and showed us the gallery up top that runs around and the engraving that are carved in stone down the walls above the gallery, the engravings contain books. The room was always meant to be a library. And even today it is still a working library, however, they prefer to have notice of when a visitor is coming and what they are looking for to make sure they can prepare for the visitor appropriately.

What an amazing view at night!

What an amazing view at night!

I lied I think the thing that stood out the most, other than actually getting to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral was Mr. Wisdom teaching us all the proper way to take a book off a shelf and quoting Herodotus, “A big book is a big evil”. The proper way to take a book off a shelf is to always pull it out by its spine using thumb on one side and fingers on the other, never by the top. Those top head blocks are to help protect the book not to use to pull it off the shelf. When the books are too tight on a shelf and you cannot get your fingers between two books, push the books on either side back to get access to the book you want and pull it out according to the proper procedure. Always be sure to support the book in case it is heavier than you expect.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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Day 12: The Barbican Library

Welcome to the Barbican Library

Welcome to the Barbican Library

The Barbican Library is the first public library that we have gotten to see and this was a great one. The library was built in 1982 on an area that got completely flattened in World War II. The library was purposely built as a library but the building itself also holds a concert hall. The whole building is concrete and is considered the ugliest building in the city. Despite this, as a city library the Barbican does a great business and has a lot of services and resources to offer their patrons. The library has four different sections the Main Library, the Children’s Library, the Music Library, and the Arts Library.

We began our tour in the Children’s Library; it is comprised of a small room that can be completely closed off from the rest of the library. This way if it ever gets too noisy in either on the doors can be closed. The Children’s Library caters to kids from babies through to fourteen. The kids can take out a maximum of twelve items and there are no late fees or fines when things are returned late. The library closes at two on Fridays. Strange to me when the library is kind of a big stop for families on Friday evening for books and movies for the weekend, but then the librarian explained that there are actually very few primary schools in the city and over the weekend there are not actually very many kids around that would come to the library so the hours are shortened to accommodate and deal with the traffic or lack thereof.

The Main Library apparently decided that the Dewey decimal system was too easy to follow and took sections out of order and moved them to other areas. It’s quite comical. They also store about 50,000 books under the library because there just isn’t enough space in the main levels of the library. A really cool feature that they have is an automatic self check out, where the patrons can scan their cards and then set the books or items within the scanning area and the machine just knows what items are there and will print out a receipt of the items and their due dates. The Music Library is huge and contains so many different kinds of sheet music and musical scores, they also have two electric pianos that patrons can rent for a time there and plug headphones in and play right there in the library. You can watch someone playing the piano, hands going and going and have no idea what they are playing.

The self check out machine

The self check out machine

Of all the things that stood out at the Barbican there are three that stood out the most. One is how small the Children’s Library ended up being, as a public library I always end up thinking that there are going to be tons of children running around and the Barbican made me realize that in the city this is not always the case. The second thing that stood out was a particular dictionary our guide talked about in the Music Library, a musical dictionary that you can use when you know the notes for a song but not the name. It is completely baffling to me as to how that works and something I have never heard of before. The third thing that stood out was actually a quote from our guide, “Libraries attract lunatics, and they’re not all the staff.” I know I’m not the only one from our group that thoroughly enjoyed that.

The Barbican Library

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Day 11: London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre

Artifacts before cleaning

Artifacts before cleaning

The London Archaeological Archive Research Centre is not generally open to the public but tour groups are sometimes accepted, such as in our case. The centre opened in 2002 and employs about 200 people on staff, most are in the field excavating and gathering artifacts, LAARC also employ 35 specialists. The historical collections they have are mostly donations, and the Corporation of London funds the research centre. The goals of the research centre are curating, research, leadership, and learning within their field and within the community. New artifacts are constantly being brought in and sometimes, rarely though, the archaeologists have no idea what the artifacts are. Such as one in particular that consists of six layers of leather dating back 2,000 years (used relative dating techniques). It is believed that at one time the leather was connected to wood. There are small holes all over the leather that suggest stitching was on there and they create a pattern of gladiators or warriors and animals. They freeze dry some artifacts to aid in conservation efforts. They also have a mosaic piece that is from a 2,000-year-old roman floor. Both of these artifacts are from a site in the middle of the city of London. The exact location is classified for security reasons.

Cow metacarpal = ice skate

Cow metacarpal = ice skate

Boot from The Globe

Boot from The Globe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The research centre holds the Guinness world record for the largest archaeological archive storeroom. It has ten kilometers of shelves if they were laid out next to each other. They have hundreds of thousands of items that are sorted and stored by the year that they were dug up not the year or time period they are dated as from. They are in the process and are actually continually in the process of recataloging items, redoing their storage containers and labels, and even determining whether or not all the items need to be kept. There were time periods in archaeology, such as the 1980s that archaeologists kept everything that they found rather than determining whether or not some artifacts are truly as worthwhile and valuable as others.

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This visit was especially interesting and fun for me because I’m also an anthropologist and seeing the archives of all of these artifacts is just incredible. As the tour goes we get to see the artifacts in each stage, from when they arrive at the center still encrusted in dirt and mud to their final storage places within the archives. We got to see a cow metacarpal that was used as a early ice skate, from 1200 AD, and what is left of a boot taken from the Globe Theater, before it was rebuilt, that can be dated back to the times of Shakespeare. These types of artifacts are just incredible, that they have survived and that we know what some of them are is just amazing to me and I love it. I loved getting to see in action how these artifacts are stored and taken care of.

LAARC

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