Friday, 22 July 2011

Last Week in Cambridge Cramming

My time in Cambridge is drawing rapidly to a close and, as it does so, I am realising that I only have a few days left to do all the things I have been intending to do all year!
Learning to teach

So, first up was a tour of the Cambridge University Press by my landlady, who is high up in the Corpus.  One of the main points of interest (other than the fantastic lunch) was the English Language Teaching department in which materials are produced for the teaching of English as a foreign language.  What was great though was that each set of material is specifically developed to suit those learning the language.  People who speak different languages will learn a language very differently depending on their native grammar use.  The Corpus conducts rigorous testing of students in each country and analyses the errors in order to tailor the teaching materials to suit those students specifically.  Native Spanish speakers in South America, for instance, will have made different errors to Spanish speakers from Spain and so their teaching materials will differ. 

Not much printing is carried out on site with it being much more economical to print abroad, where many of the materials will end up anyway.  Everything is contained on the site in South Cambridge and some 800 staff work there.  The facilities are excellent and CUP was similar to OUP, which I visited last year under the guide of their head archivist.  CUP did not have archives and I am still unsure as to what happens to all of the drafts, criticism and proof-reading once a book has been published.  Something to investigate further!

Ward Library
Next up was the Perne at Peterhouse.  My colleague, Allen, works 3 days a week at St John's and 2 days at Peterhouse as a rare books cataloguer.  Firstly he gave me a quick tour of the college, which is the oldest and smallest in Cambridge and is beautiful with its own deer park in the heart of the city.  The Ward Library is the undergraduate library and was, in a word, stunning.  It resembled a lawyer's office with shiny wood, plush carpets and emerald leather chairs.  There is one full time member of staff and one who works school terms.  What is surprising about the Ward is that the stock is not on Newton.  This appears to be due to the college's outlook and may change in the near future.  Undergradautes get used to this set-up quite quickly but informing graduate students of the fact that Peterhosue does in fact have books can be somewhat more of a challenge!

The Perne Library contains c.5,000 rare books, many of which are from Perne's own collection.  Allen is making his way through them cataloguing on SirsiDynix and publishing them online.  Readers to the library are rare and there is no outreach as there is at St John's.  This college had a very different feel to it and it emphasised the fact that Cambridge colleges are by no means similar and when I come to choose courses for my Masters I will need to consider carefully what sort of librarianship I wish to go into.

Great St Mary's
I can't write this post without mentioning my wonderful last Speakeasy at the Man on the Moon with the Cambridge Lindy Hoppers - they had a jam for me and I got squished senseless at the end in a massive Lindy hug - I will definitely miss it!  I have also managed to climb Great St Mary's, tea in hand, and get marvellous views out over Cambridge.  I will add to this by climbing John's Chapel tomorrow, bouncy castle bouncing, unlimited candy floss and free punting at my leaving party (thinly disguised by college as the Quincentenary Staff Garden Party).  Charlotte and I have also visited Benet's for the last time in a wee while.  Never fear, people of Cambridge, I will be back, probably with a new found love of waffles and hopefully wielding an MS in Library and Information Science in my sweaty mit!


  1. All the best - hope you have a fab time at Syracuse. The CUP archives are held at the University Library so they do exist but maybe not for proofs etc.