Thursday, 29 December 2011

'Tis the see libraries in everything

This holiday I am doing a bit of travelling and thought that I would add a brief summary of things that I have noted of interest along my way.  I have liberally sprinkled the concoction with photos so feel free to dip in to whatever tickled your tastebuds (I'll start with an artsy one).

Outside MIT, 'other' Cambridge

Boston Public Library - One of the two BPLs I have visited, this was a wonderful find on our first day of exploring.  I was not prepared for the beauty of the courtyard and the painted murals on the staircases.  This is advertised as the ideal wedding location and I would have to agree.  The library even boasts a shiny corporate events catalogue...something that is a far cry from my local library back home.  But it is not all quaint, the modern section of the library has more computers, customers and classes than you can shake a stick at.  A nice touch was the library exhibition which had its base in the main McKim building with related cases throughout the Johnson building.

Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge - Paige M. Gutenborg is the Harvard printing press and he is responsible for the in store book printing.  It was fascinating to watch the workings of this big machine and chat to the member of staff in charge of running the printing.  I would also like to add that the website for the bookstore is great with an opportunity to 'shop our windows from home' with an interactive image of their shop front and the chance to read more about featured items - a great example of a book shop embracing the digital age (they also had QR codes on all of their 'recommended reading' labels).

Paige M. Gutenborg
JFK Library and Museum - We managed to wangle our way into the archives here since we are a) library students and b) foreign.  We had a most insightful discussion with one of the reference archivists about presidential libraries and how the JFK archives collaborate with the museum.  The collection development discussion was very interesting in that they don't really have a plan, which would explain some of the more random parts of their collection (such as the papers of Ernest Hemingway).  The museum was fascinating for people who both know little and much about JFK and Jackie O.

It's nice to know that JFK liked books - good to know

(above are photographs of the museum (left) and the massive forum with archives on the first floor of the concave section (right))

New England Aquarium - I really liked the central tank which runs from the ground floor all the way up to the 3rd with windows onto the central ramp.  As a centre piece it was an excellent way of drawing attention and pulling all the other parts of the space together.  I am not suggesting that libraries install a massive fish tank featuring sharks and giant turtles but a central focal point does draw people together and give the space some cohesion.

Museum of Fine Arts, Huntington Avenue - My favourite piece was 'The Clock' by Christian Marclay, which is a 24 hour film made up of clips from TV and film from all over the world, which feature time, whether that be clocks, watches, rushing, waiting etc.  It was incredibly addictive viewing and I would have happily sat there all day.  On a more relevant note, something that struck me from the excellent captions (I am quite picky about these but the ones at the MFA were just right) was the importance of provenance in cataloguing the pieces of art - something shared with rare books!

Gifted, Tremont Street - while in a cute wee shop on our street I saw and stealthily photographed this phrase and thought that it perfectly encapsulated what it will be like when we leave library school:

New York

Barnes and Noble, 5th Avenue - I am not sure if this is normal in Barnes and Noble (I have, in fact, only been in this one) but there were coloured lines on the ground leading to various parts of the store.  My Dad drew my attention to it since he had asked where the toilet was and had been directed to follow the blue line by a member of staff.  It was reminiscent of the subway system and I thought that it was a great, simple idea for libraries to segment their space and provide direction to users without complicated signage.  Sometimes people are embarrassed to ask for directions and this is a great visual method which can be mirrored in the colours of each section.  Also, if we want to be cheesy about it, the lines facilitate the 'journey' through the library to the ultimate goal of knowledge (apologies, I cringe as I write).

These are all of my interesting insights thus brain is slowing down over the festive season!  I'll be back in the New Year with a post all about our day in Harvard!

1 comment:

  1. Good pics! :) Also, MSU's main library has colored tape like that. Very useful!