Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Walnut Whipple Musuem and Christ's Tour

Whipple Library
Yesterday was my last trainee trip and an insightful trip it was too.  We started off at the Whipple library and museum, which focus on the history and philosophy of science, serving predominantly Part B, MPhil and PhD students.  The new library was opened with a new home-grown classification system in 2008 (some impressive before and after pictures of the renovation can be viewed here) and is a pleasantly light split level building with access to the old library (not quite as old as you might think!).

Dotted around are components of Whipple's original donation including telescopes and mysterious looking scientific equipment, which makes a seamless link with the museum, which can even be viewed from the library.  Student volunteers have the opportunity to work closely with the rare books and special collections in order to put on small exhibitions each term in the library space, in the hope that it will encourage others to engage with these collections.  The library hosts online exhibitions which are well worth a look.

As with all of our tours, discussion fell to journals, funding and book budgets.  The Whipple is in constant communication with the UL concerning journal and e-resource subscription and it is this joint approach that will ensure affordability for libraries and accessibility for students.  Only the other day I was praising the Journal coordination scheme and expounding the journal subscriptions of the library of one of my Lindy friends...indeed in the middle of a dance, I think I might have put a tad of a dampner on the Charleston!  But this conversation made it clear that students are not aware of the price of these subscriptions and are not aware of what is being done for their benefit.  Library advocacy has a long way to go...starting on the Man on the Moon dance floor! 

Whipple Museum

We then moved on to the museum and had some time to wander round and take in the very varied exhibits, which encompassed optics, botanical teaching models, astrolabes, balances, embryo development and ivory sundials.  One of the exhibits resembled something out of a very early James Bond film, the type where Sean Connery is wearing a terri-towlen all-in-one (I am waiting on Daniel Craig's take on it).

Who knows what this is but it looks like it belongs on a ship

There really was something for everyone, even Charlotte, who was to be found in the children's hands-on section.  In her defence, I did join her and thoroughly enjoyed de-constructing (and at length reconstructing) the model of the human body.

Charlotte beautifully demonstrating the hands-on exhibit (above) and a video of one of  a vaguely Lindy related toy (below)

Man-eating calculators
'Little Professor'
My favourite exhibit was the one on the history of the calculator with many models displayed.  The Little Professor' one was a particular highlight.  My friends from home, Sunny and Douglas, would have appreciated the man-eating size of them!

Next stop was Christ's with a tour of the working library, soon to be replaced by a brand spanking new one.  Confusingly the floors are numbered backwards so the floor you enter on is floor 1, the one beneath is floor 2 and the lowest is floor 3 - they all have different coloured classmark labels though so I was appeased.

We had the chance to see Charlotte's wonderful WW1 at Christ's exhibition for which she has a blog AND a gramophone AND a hut!  It really is a great exhibition and you should all get along for a visit while it is up.  We also had a talk from the rare books cataloguer and, since I had a brief introduction to rare books at John's, it was interesting to get another college's take on what is important to record and why.

Christ's working library

After a brief trip to the annex to have a look at the stores and personal papers, which will all have to be cleared and sorted before the new library is built (a pretty huge task), we were finished and off for a well-earned ice-cream.  My traineeship is nearly at an end now and I am looking forward to moving on to a new challenge in America but I will miss the many opportunities we have had to take time off work to explore different kinds of information institutions and be able to ask questions of whoever we wish!

I will be blogging for Cam23 2.0 and CPD23 here so watch out for my first posts, which I will to get round to soon, I'm pretty busy rehearsing Lindy for Newnham Garden Party tomorrow and Darwin Ball Friday - busy busy but then, when is life not?!

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