Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oxford Day 10

(Photo of the sign posted outside my flat, "No fouling", such a polite way to say no flaming piles of sh*t)

Another day in the classrooms, first with Caroline Taylor who works in Social and Community Services in Oxfordshire County Library who talked about the public library systems in the UK. Since 1964 the local government must provide "comprehensive and efficient" library services to the people. With 149 authorities in England, that is a lot of local government involvement. 58% of the population have a library card and 48.5% of the population have visited a library at least once in the last 12 months. The UK has an amazing program for families called Book Start where new babies are given a selection of books at 9 months, 18 months and 3 years to encourage a lifelong love of reading and learning. This program is open to EVERY baby in the UK. Check out the highly entertaining website at: http://www.bookstart.org.uk/Home
After tea we went to the New Bodleian Library to a conservation workshop and saw how a 14th century illuminated French manuscript was restored. We were also given a tour of some of the stacks and the book boxes that are made to preserve rare manuscripts. Later in the afternoon we met with Peter Burnett from INASP(International Network for the availability of Scientific Publications) about how they are helping researchers and academics in developing countries with access to information delivery, publishing, library development and internet management.
Towards the end of the day we were back in the New Bodleian Library to see a selection of rare books and manuscripts including one of only 8 surviving copies of the Red Manifesto and a 14th century copy of Dante's Inferno. Before dinner I had a chance to visit the upper reading room in the Bodleian Library to view the books I had requested last week. Since the library is not a lending library books must be requested and are delivered to a reading room for handling. I requested Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland volumes 1, 2 and 3 from 1825 and 1828 and a copy of The Feminist Controversy in England by Mary Wollstonecraft. Just handling the books was a treat, the Fairy book was crumbling around the binding and was flaking into my hands but was still in good condition considering its age.

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