We had a tour of the National Maritime Museum Archives and the Caird Library. The guides split us into two groups, and while one went on a tour of the actual library and archive, the other stayed behind and got to view some of the treasures they pulled out of the archives to show us; then we switched places.
The library was a really neat space to see. They had technology available for researchers to view ship plans that had been digitized. Our guide pulled up a couple ship plans for us to see how it worked, and it was really neat to see how digitization and touch screen technology can be utilized in all types of libraries and archives.
I took a picture of the library stats that they had displayed on the wall; firstly because I found it interesting to see what they highlight as important parts of their collection (and these parts definitely are important), and secondly because I found it fascinating and wonderful that they share this information with the public.
The library's reading and ordering system is very similar to the British Library, in that you need a readers ticket so you can pre-order items to view when you visit. The Caird Library offers a one day ticket and a three year ticket, depending on what users need to access.
One thing I have continually been amazed by when visiting libraries and archives in London is the fact that most of these libraries have been completely modernized and forward-thinking in their technology, while still holding on to the history of the building and the location they are in. The Maritime Museum library and archive was no different. I was very impressed by the technology they had in the way of security, digitization, and access for researchers.
Next, we switched places with the second group and sat down to look at some of the specific archival pieces they pulled. Many of these were very interesting to look at, but I found myself most fascinated by the signal book of the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake from 1813. We were told that these signal books typically had a weighted spine so that if attacked, these books could be thrown overboard to protect the secrets. This one was taken instead of destroyed, and the entire fleet had to change their signals. Here is the catalog record of this book, if you want to see more information!
I almost forgot! If you were curious about the title of this post, here's a picture of a quote on the wall in the National Maritime Museum. I thought it was just so moving! If you have time, you should definitely look up the whole poem.
|"Sea Fever" by John Masefield, 1902|