June 30th- Oxford

My great enjoyment in getting to go to Oxford cannot be explained. The knowledge capital of the world contains one of the largest and most famous libraries, the Bodleian Library, along with many famous colleges. After a two-hour bus ride, we arrived in Oxford and I started my day with a mocha and Danish from a local restaurant. Following the breakfast, I meet up with my class to start the tour.

I was really excited to start the tour as my class walked through the Bodleian courtyards. The guided tour began in the hall, which acted as the room in the Harry Potter movies. A major theme throughout the tour was the relationship between the Bodleian and Harry Potter. The guide chose to point out other relatable areas or items to the franchise. Even the whole of Oxford seemed to make the connection as I toured the Balliol College, the school chose to point out that their great hall acted and inspired that in the movies. Besides the Harry Potter associates, the tour guide mostly gave the history of the library. She guided us through the beginning years of the library and then through the following centuries. Most of the tour did focus on Thomas Bodley, the man who helped create the library as it is today. Even though I would find the history entertaining and fascinating no matter how the stories were told, I enjoyed the tour ever more with the excitement and passion of the guide. She livened up the stories and the characters involved.

Bodleian Courtyard.

Bodleian Courtyard.

A brief summary of Thomas Bodley life begins with him becoming the first Greek professor at Oxford. Followed by his change in profession from professor to spy for Elizabeth the first. Bodley achieved great success as a spy and was appointed ambassador to the whole of Europe for England. He made a lot of money and by the time he retired Bodley wanted to use his money to restore the moldy, sad library at Oxford. Bodley’s money went to the restoration and remodel of the physical building while his appeals to friends and relations filled the shelves of the new library.

Now the library contains 13 million items along with the largest Hebrew collection outside of Israel. One million of those 13 million items have been digitalized. Their collection does and will continue to grow as the library obtains a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. This averages 2,000 books a WEEK. That is a crazy number of books being cataloged and sorted each week.  Below is a video from the University of Oxford telling of the Bodleian’s struggle to maintain the vast collections and their process of over coming the challenges as a 21st library:

Following the engaging tour at Bodlein Library, we were freed to explore Oxford on our own. After an hour and half lunch, a group of us decided to go see the Ashmolean Museum. The University of Oxford’s arts college operates the museum. Ashmolean includes a wide range of items including many time periods and events. One such gallery included ceramics of all sorts. The gallery presented the artifacts chronologically showing the development of ceramics in Europe. Additionally, the galleries included Roman and Greek sculptures, Medieval England and a secluded area for Italian art.

Balliol College courtyard.

Balliol College courtyard.

Balliol College hall.

Balliol College hall.

Both the Bodlein Library and Ashmolean Museum were spectacular visits, and to end the charming visit to Oxford, I toured Balliol College. The college of philosophy lies on beautiful grounds with a small garden courtyard followed through a gate by a larger courtyard with trees and a café. The street outside the college is busy and chaotic yet once I stepped through the college gates the atmosphere changed immediately. The tranquil quiet of the college concluded beautifully my day at Oxford.

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June 29th- Museum of London

For my first day in London, I visited the Museum of London. Excited for my first day with my feet on the ground, I looked forward to the new adventure of visiting museums, libraries and archives. The Museum of London did not let me down. Overall, the museum taught and entertained me throughout the multiple exhibits. Our self-guided tour began in the pre-historic England exhibit with pictures of stones and fossils. Next the movement of the museum changed to the Bronze then Roman eras. Many of the Bronze era items included shields and weapons ranging from 1200-900 b.c. By this time, it became obvious that the story of the museum moves chronologically starting from pre-historic London and ending presumably at modern times.

Outside view of the museum.

Outside view of the museum.

Model of Roman London.

Model of Roman London.

At this point in my visit, I had seen the fossils, the Bronze weapons, and the replicated Roman homes then I got to see the original wall of London. I found this piece of history fascinating since the wall remained after centuries. Interestingly, this piece was not under the roof of the museum, however, I viewed the wall from the second story of the museum. I wished the museum had placed a plaque of information about the wall from the viewing spot. I gained my knowledge about the wall from Dr. Welsh, one of my professors.

Viewing the wall from the second floor of the museum.

Viewing the wall from the second floor of the museum.

After viewing the wall, I moved onto the Medieval London displays. This area of the museum by far interested me more than any of the others. There contained a display on medieval knight armory, the Black Death and kingly items. The portion on the Black Death provided a 2-3 minute video on the epidemic. Finally, the self-tour ended with the 19th century through modern times. The more recent displays included clothes from Twiggy during the 1960s, a Beatles display and items from the 2010 London Olympic games.

Chain mail and swords.

Chain mail and swords.

In general, the museum achieved the goal of teaching me about the history of London while not boring me to death. Yet, the museum contained very little light at points and the text on many plaques should have been larger. No museum is perfect and many can do with updates and changes, however, I enjoyed my experience at the Museum of London and would recommend a visit to any person.

Hello world!

My name is Briana Martin. I am attending the University of Southern Mississippi to gain my Master’s of Library and Information Sciences. For the next month, I will be traveling throughout the United Kingdom mostly London to see different museums, archives and libraries. In this blog, I will be writing of my adventures and experiences at all the visited institution.