My London Journal

My London Journal
View from Westminster Abbey

Monday, 30 July 2007

July 20: Research Day at the British Library

After doing my laundry and checking my email, I met up with Kathy W. and we set off for the
British Library. We were both planning to get reader's cards and do research on our authors.

The process for getting our card including providing identification and proof of residence, then waiting your turn for an "interview" with librarians about what you research plan would be at the library. The lovely young lady who called me over for my interview, however, had such a thick British accent that I barely understood a word she said! It was like something out of a comedy sketch, with me nodding dumbly to everything she said. Anyway, I was able to piece together the reading room I would need to use for my research about my author (Michael Rosen) and the procedure to follow when I got there. I wonder if she had a hard time understanding my South Dakota accent?

When Kathy and I were finished there, Kathy and I used their online system to order the books we wanted to see (I was very disappointed to find that most of Rosen's books were housed elsewhere and would have to be order days in advance for viewing.) Since it would take at least 70 minutes to get our materials, we decided to have lunch (they have a great cafe there) and to stop at the gift shop for pencils since pens are not allowed in the reading rooms. We saw that London was having a real downpour again today, so we also purchased umbrellas since we both left ours back at the dorm (when will I learn how changeable the weather is here???)

Before going into the Reading Rooms, patrons are required to put their belongings in a locker. The only things allowed to be carried into the reading rooms are notebooks and pencils, which are carried in plastic bags and are checked by security when you enter the reading room.

Once there, you choose a location to sit and pick up your ordered materials. It is necessary to choose your table beforehand, because you have to give your location to the circulation desk attendants when you pick up your items. I was amazed at how noisy the reading room was, though almost all of the noise came from the library workers at the circ. desk. It was more than a little annoying.

We stayed to read about our subjects for about an hour, but then it was getting close to their closing time. We turned our materials in, went back to the locker room for our things and started out the door, ready with our new British Library umbrellas! Of course, by then the rain had stopped and we didn't need the umbrellas at all.

Since I didn't find many of Rosen's books, I will plan on visiting other public libraries, and possibly book stores, to read his books in preparation for my paper.

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