Day 4: LAARC and Museum of London

Monday, June 29, 2015
We visited the London Archaeological Archive Research Center (LAARC) in the morning. Pictures weren’t allowed behind the scenes, but boy did we see some great items!

London Archaeological Archive Research Center sign (via K. Emmons)
London Archaeological Archive Research Center sign (via K. Emmons)

It’s the world’s largest archaeological archive containing 8.5 thousand different site information. Our tour guide Cat was totally engaging! She took us to see the rows and rows of stacked cardboard boxes containing materials dug up in and around London. Interestingly to us librarians, the materials are organized and classified according to archaeology; they’re in contexts of which they arrive and not necessarily in chronologic order.

London’s history goes back quite a ways. The Romans conquered the city for trade in 43AD; it’s a prime spot because of the Thames River. They have information and materials that date back even farther, if you can believe it. The end of the last Ice Age was about 250,000 years ago around 10,000BC. We got to hold a handaxe (see a picture below from Museum of London exhibit) from that time. *faints* She also allowed us to touch a brick from the Great Fire of London in September of 1666. I had soot on my finger from 1666! *stands up, faints again* That’s the time of Isaac Newton, FYI. Shakespeare had died, but close enough! Right?!

The LAARC is an active depository, but they’re on a bit of a time delay. A 15 year gap to be exact. They currently have archaeological materials stored through the year 2000, but the space in the building where they’re located has room for sites up to 2005. That’s obviously a problem, and one they’re aware of. It’s a moment of crossover between archives, museums, and libraries. Space is not infinite and a line has to be drawn. At what point do you decide “that’s enough?” To what do you say “that’s not important enough to be kept?” For business men and women those questions may be easier to answer than for the archivist and librarian.

In the afternoon we visited the Museum of London where the registered, “cool” archaeological finds are exhibited.

outside of museum of london
Museum of London (via K. Emmons)

There was a general chronology to the exhibits, but some areas were themed: suffragettes or World War II, for examples. It started in prehistory and worked it’s way to the modern day.

Here’s the handaxe from prehistory…

Handaxe (via Museum of London catalog)

Other exhibits were called “Roman London,” “Medieval London,” “War, Plague, and Fire,” and on… It was an extremely interactive library. There were things to touch, videos to watch, buttons to push, displays to choose from, sounds in the environment, records to listen to, texts to read, creative inlaid displays, and mounted video screens. My next post will discuss this further.

Museum of London interactive exhibits post

Day 5 in Oxford!


Day 3: St. Paul’s Cathedral

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Some of you may know – I’m not only a book person, I’m a music person too.
St. Paul’s Cathedral service on Sunday embodied all that was holy for me.

St. Paul's Cathedral (via K. Emmons)
St. Paul’s Cathedral (via K. Emmons)

This was the view I saw during service…

St. Paul's dome (via

How amazing?

The City of London Festival began on June 22nd and participated in the service on the 28th. I was honored to hear the London Sinfonia accompany the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir. They performed Missa in C by Mozart, O salutaris hostia by Rossini, and Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J. S. Bach. The sermon was about how music enriches and nourishes the soul. I couldn’t help but lift my voice in praise at a place like that.

I. Was. In. Awe.

Thankfully we get to go back next week and visit the library and archives!

Later that day I went on another LondonAlive. This time it was vintage shopping near Brick Lane. I got a few things, saw a few things, walked a few miles. Nothing special. Of course, leave it to the librarians to find the book shops.

books and three people
Second-hand bookshop near Brick Lane; featuring Andrea, Jenny, and me (via K. Emmons)

I also had my first taste of Indian food. I’ll save you the photo and probably post a blog devoted to the food photos sometime later… be on the lookout!

On to Day 4!

Day 2: Parliament and Literary London Tour

Saturday, June 27, 2015
Class orientation was Saturday morning, which was a lot of administrative stuff that you probably don’t want to hear about. Our final class schedule was announced and we’re going to many amazing places! I can’t wait to share!

Anywho. After orientation we visited Parliament. It’s a little over a mile from where we’re staying and the walk along the Thames was beautiful. I really can’t believe I’m experiencing this. Is it actually real life?!

Parliament of London
Parliament from the South Bank (via: K. Emmons)

Close up, Parliament and Big Ben are breathtaking. I mean, honestly, they’re breathtaking from far away too… but standing next to the giant clock and craning your neck up is an experience.

Big Ben
Big Ben even closer (via: K. Emmons)

The tour was of the audio variety; we were given headsets and little players to enter the corresponding numbers.

ticket to enter
Audio Tour ticket (via: K. Emmons)

A lovely British woman spoke to me about Westminster Hall where you first enter. It was built in 1097. Now for those of you who don’t like math, THAT’S 918 YEAR AGO. Where I’m from… we don’t have anything like that. The hammer-beam oak roof was constructed in the 14th century and commissioned by Richard II. (Yeah. Shakespeare wrote a play about him. The roof is before Shakespeare.)

Westminster Hall
Westminster Hall (via UK Parliament)

At the end of the room (imagine it’s behind you if you were taking the picture above) is a stunning stained glass window.

stained glass
Stained glass in Westminster Hall… *sigh* (via K. Emmons)

The next room was St. Stephen’s Hall featuring several mosaics, paintings, and statues.

painting of Queen Elizabeth
“Queen Elizabeth the Faerie Queen… commissions Sir Walter Raleigh to sail for America… 1584” (via K. Emmons)

The following rooms, including the House of Commons and House of Lords, were unable to be photographed. They seem to be a theatrical bunch, though! The traditions they still carry out today, including the slamming of the House of Commons’ door toward the Black Rod, are symbolic. They hold meaning and therefore “re-present” the past.

After Parliament my group walked towards Trafalgar Square to find St Martin-in-the-Fields where there’s a café in the crypt. To our surprise a pride festival was going on! This was very timely since the US just legalized same-sex marriage. We continued our walk back to the South Bank, ate lunch, and returned to the dorms for the LondonAlive tours starting at 3pm.

I ventured on the Literary London tour (surprise, surprise). We visited where Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens worked near the Strand…

Bram Stoker worked at the Lyceum (via K. Emmons)
Bram Stoker worked at the Lyceum (via K. Emmons)
Charles Dickens worked here (via K. Emmons)
Charles Dickens worked here… not the coffee house, silly, above where the blue dot is located (via K. Emmons)

…saw Covent Garden where George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion finds Eliza Doolittle. My Fair Lady is based on Shaw’s play..

Covent Garden Market, think Pygmalion (via: K. Emmons)
Covent Garden Market, think Pygmalion (via: K. Emmons)

 …and where Virginia Woolf lived with the Bloomsbury Group.

Virginia Woolf lived here (via K. Emmons)
Virginia Woolf lived here… another dot! (via K. Emmons)

I feel like if you turn any corner in London you’ll find something with some sort of historical significance!

After venturing north to the British Library for a few minutes (they were closing, otherwise I would have stayed for hours in their Treasure Room) I took my first Underground trip from Euston to Waterloo!

Waterloo Station (via K. Emmons)
Waterloo Station. Home station. (via K. Emmons)

On to Day 3!

Let’s Play: Catch Up!

Day 0 and Day 1

Hello again! I’ve finally gotten access to the computer lab at King’s College in London. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of flying with a laptop, and thus have waited for UK computers. (Side note: The keyboards are slightly different…) Here’s where I’m staying:

Waterloo campus of King’s College (via King’s College)

Let’s recap a little, shall we?

Day 0: Thursday, June 25, 2015
I left for Chicago O’Hare, travelled around the airport for a bit trying to find where I was supposed to go, passed through security, and arrived at my terminal three hours before the flight. Great! I got to read. Unfortunately, I chose a book called What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund.

Book cover
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund (via Amazon)

It’s 419 pages, but full of wonderful images and varying styles of text. It’s just not the novel that I was expecting me to last the entirety of the trip. The flight ended up leaving two hours late due to maintenance and I began to worry if the British Studies Program bus would leave before I had a chance to arrive. Thankfully they didn’t!

Day 1: Friday, June 26, 2015
That evening after arriving at the dorms picture above we had group orientation. The Library Information Science class is the only class of graduate students participating in the BSP program! We up the average age a little. 😉 Our class professors, Dr. Teresa Welsh and Dr. Matthew Griffis, toured us around the neighborhood in order to get us acclimated. We walked along the South Bank of the Thames and took a group photo.

group photo
LIS class photo on the Thames (via T. Welsh)

Yay, jetlag! Our professors even treated us to dinner at Gourmet Pizza. It was wonderful after such a long day.

I purchased my Oyster card that night too. It was a little expensive, but I got the unlimited 1-month deal. It allows me to move about Zones 1 and 2 (downtown London) via the Underground or buses without having to worry about if I have enough money loaded on my card. Fares change depending on the time of day and the length of distance covered. It was easier for me to have peace of mind and not worry about it! Now I can cruise through the city without hassle!

On to Day 2!

Posting soon!

I’m here! Days 1 and 2 have been a success so far.

I won’t post a super long blog post today, mainly because I’m borrowing a friend’s laptop and haven’t received access to the King’s College computer lab yet. But it’s coming! That’s when I’ll be able to put up pictures and other fun stuff.

We’ve done several walking tours as a class and program… which I’ll expound upon soon in other posts. Think Parliament and Literary London. I mainly wanted to let family and friends know that I’m in London, tired and a little sore from walking (11 miles today according to my iPhone!), but having fun and meeting friends.

Talk to you again soon!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Day 0

Technically, I’m leaving for the United Kingdom today.
As in, I’m getting on a plane in 18 hours.

airplane in the sky
Airplane! (Source)

I’ve spent the last 48 hours packing and writing, prepping for this month long trip to England and Scotland. It’s a program through the University of Southern Mississippi that’s in it’s 40th year. I’ll be with the Library Science class and will join twenty other students from across the United States and Canada in exploring the ins and outs of libraries, archives, and some museums. I’m extremely excited! *cough* NERD.

I’ve probably packed more than I should, but better to be prepared that caught without, right?! Right. The writing should have probably been earlier, but I’m happy with the outcome. The book reviews and research topic proposal are officially submitted!

Now comes the time for rest… yeah… riiight.

Talk to you from London!