Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The British Library

I tripped on over to the British Library yesterday, excited to wander 'mongst the stack of historical books, gaily trailing my fingers over the dusty tomes as I searched high and low for that final book that would put the pin in my essay. But, alas, the British Library does not trust me (me!) to touch their preciouses. In order to even look at a book, you have to fill out a request form on the computer and then wait an hour until a lackey brings you your required material. And you can only bring pencils into the reading rooms. It seemed a very fascist way to keep track of books, until I realised that they had an original 1866 copy of a penny dreadful "the Conspiracy!" and I could look at it as long as I didn't get too excited. (and not yesterday. Yesterday I was on a mission.) So maybe there is something to be said for protecting a collection. Not that I would have broken the spines or anything...

Anyway. I also went to the University of London's library, Senate House, which was a lot farther than it looked on the map. And I did something weird to my foot. It feels like I sprained a bone right on top, so I can't really bend it. Going down stairs is a hellish experience. This can only work in my favour, as I'm planning on locking myself in my room tonight and working on my paper until it's finished. But, damn, it really hurts.

I also accidentally missed the first day of class yesterday. Here is my train of thought: "I have not yet handed in my paper for New Contemporary Theatre-->therefore, we still have this class. I show up to the class, no one is there-->the teacher must have cancelled the class so we can work on our papers. Excellent, I will go to the library." Not so. Turns out we have started our new classes, which means my first email to my new prof is, "sorry I missed your class." And it's the musical theatre class too! I got the syllabus from a roommate--here I was all excited about buying more shows to add to my collection and it turns out! I already have most of them. :)

1 comment:

A W Eglinton said...

Interesting, my reaction to the BL was pretty similar to yours: see it here.

Although the collection of books is mind-boggling, you're right in saying that it's completely user unfriendly and almost defeats the object of sharing knowledge. But as with most institutions that just don't seem to work that well here in good old Blighty, people (me included) just grin and bear it. Sad really, when it actually wouldn't take that much to change the way it's run.