Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The British Library Centre for Conservation

The last place we had the pleasure of visiting was the Centre for Conservation at the British Library.

While the various details of conservation and preservation techniques are interesting, the part of the tour that really interested me was the fact that it is part of the Centre's mission to spread the message of collection care to all parts of the UK, so that every facility will be able to properly maintain their individual pieces of history.

After having visited many institutions in London and seeing the importance of their collections, I can see that that is a very demanding job. The Centre provides Preservation Assessment Survey of institutions, determining what the collection needs and priorities should be.

They also provide several informative booklets on individual topics in preservation and conservation, such as pest control and water damage. In addition, they provide great online resources for research and learning.

Online, users can also find information about the Centre's events, displays, workshops, and seminars, as well as resources for professional training with other agencies. Instructional sheets and video offer education and training in the field of archives.

Conservation of the Sutra Ramayana

Conservation of the Sutra of the Ten Kings

Conservation of a Khotanese Animal Zodiac Manuscript

Using Gloves with Collection Items

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Royal Geographic Society

When Robert Scott arrived at the south pole in January of 1912, he found Amundsen and his party had arrive long before them. Scott and his party all perished on their return journey. Historians have argued over the causes of their deaths for a hundred years. One clue to this debate is a bag of provisions that the party was carrying, frozen in time, consisting of tea and curry, which is now kept at the Royal Geographic Society's archive.

George Mallory's boot at the Royal Geographic Society.
Other treasures include many of the possessions of George Mallory that were taken from his body by the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition in 1999, to prove they had found him.

The collection at the Royal Geographic Society consists of objects from around the world, collected by the Society's explorers, objects belonging to the explorers themselves, historical scientific data, and scientific instruments. This means most of their collection relates to some particular areas of interest, such as the African Nile, the Polar Regions, including the Northwest passage, and Mount Everest.

The archive is responsible for 2 million items, including 500,000 maps, globes, and pictures, and an expansive library. The Society's reading room was finished in 2004 and the institute tries to have a map specialist and librarian available at all times.

Hats of David Livingstone and Henry
Morton Stanley at the Royal
Geographic Society.
While all the map catalog cards are digitized, there are still 400,000 cards waiting to be digitized. Any person in education may use the archive for free, including librarians and students, and, incidentally, student librarians. If course the Society's members have access for no additional fee. All other users may access the archive at a very reasonable 10 pounds per day.

There are quite a few artifacts relating to Dr. David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, including an illustration of the two in their first meeting when Stanley found Livingstone in the heart of Africa, as well as the hats they were both purported to be wearing. Stanley's boots and additional cap are also archived here.

This visit was awe-inspiring, both the knowledge of our tour guide, Principle Librarian, Eugene Rae, and in the depth of the collection. A quick look around the picture library will convince anyone of the overwhelming value of the Royal Geographic Society's archive.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Trinity College

Trinity College exterior.
During our trip to Ireland, I had the chance to visit the beautiful Trinity College campus in Dublin. This is an amazing place to visit. Among its famous graduates are Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Smith, and Bram Stoker.

It was eye opening to hear about all the different traditions and educational culture that are so different from what I have gotten to experience at public schools in the United States.

One very important thing I learned is that Irish, a Gaelic dialect, is the official language of Ireland. All the students that enter the University there must be fluent, which is not too hard, since they study it throughout grade school.

Line for the Book of Kells.
Photo provided by
Since I was so intrigued by the college, I decided to visit both libraries, the modern academic library and the Old Library. The two libraries of very different architecture attract a very different kind of guest. Visitors from all over the world flock to Trinity's Old Library to visit the ancient illuminated texts, the Book of Kells, Book of Mulling, and Book of Dimma.

Admission to the Old Library is 9 Euro. Donations are also accepted for book preservation, and the library has a large gift shop that greets guests and sends them off.

The exhibition spaces are are very nicely designed and include a great deal of background information about the manuscripts.
There are short videos that also depict the process of making and preserving the manuscripts. One video shows the writing of Latin in ink on vellum in the way that monks would have done.

Modern university library at Trinity.
The long room was a dramatic scene with high ceilings and galleys on either side of the room. Historic displays are arranged in the middle of the room. There were lovely photos of the long room when it was still a reading room. There were signs posted indicating that the current reading room was directly upstairs.

Adjacent to the Old Library, the Berkley Library stands in stark contrast. The modern university library is much more similar to the ones most US students have used. Most of the books are available for browsing--80% of the collection. There are signs indicating where subject areas may be found in the library. The cataloging is done in house as a mix of the Dewey and in-house additions.

Security outside library.
Much of the library's space is utilized for private and group study. Undergraduates may issue up to 4 items for 1-4 weeks. Graduate students may issue up to 10 items for up to 4 weeks. Subject librarian offices are labeled and include alternative contact  information, as well as a general work schedule. The offices are tucked within the stacks themselves.

Suggestion box for library.
Out front security is high, with a guard and there is a turnstile and metal detector. Apparently I look enough like a librarian to get a wave from the librarian out front. So yay! Unfortunately, the rare books collection was closed, but I loved the wooden suggestion box out front. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Central Library of Edinburgh

Reading Champion's sneakers.
Niall Walker, Reading Champion for the Central Library of Edinburgh, says that sometimes you need a conversation piece when you spend most of your time talking to teenagers. He spoke to us in his office wear that included baggy jeans and flashy kicks. Niall works to develop a love reading among the children and young people in residential care in Edinburgh. 

Niall says that one of his most challenging jobs is finding the right reading materials. Teenagers in residential care might not be reading at a teenage reading level, but that doesn't mean there interests aren't that of a teenager. The Reading Champion says you have to know where to look. Some publishers offer books for just this purpose.  

Cyberman cutout makes statement the Central Library in Edinburgh.
The most amazing thing about our visit to the Central Library of Edinburgh was that we saw this kind of passion and energy in every other person we spoke to. This library is a pleasure to visit. When budgets are being slashed all over the US and the UK, to see a library that is well funded, well organized, goal-oriented, and genuinely concerned with providing greater access, adapting their patrons to more online resources, and building a collection that useful and inspiring, is...well, useful and inspiring.

One of the most interesting aspects to me is the fact that there is actually have a web team. Employees dedicated to developing a digital direction and plan, who are also librarians. In fact, the Central Library was the first in the UK to develop a mobile app, which allows users to request and renew books. I'm excited by the passion and the progress of these efforts to educate user about e-resources, online community participation (local groups will soon be able to keep their own informational pages through the library), and user generated content (Our Town Stories will have an option for adding content, but is not functioning yet.)

The National Records of Scotland

Our tour guide discusses the merits of wooden ladders.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) is housed in an absolutely beautiful, historic, Neoclassical building, but the organization that is based inside is the real national treasure.

The NRS hold the records of the old Scottish government as far back as the 1140s. The collection includes Scottish court records, both civil and criminal, contracts, deeds, parliamentary proceedings, and selected church records. Research is free for academics and there is a small daily fee for genealogical research. Legal researchers pay the highest rate.

Some local archives are in possession of their local records, and the NRS offers information on preservation and conservation. Non-historic criminal records are accessible, but only with permission of the court.

The rotunda at the National
Records of Scotland.
I shamelessly take a photo of myself
with the pretty books.
The NRS has made great strides in the area of digitization with the help of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Because the process is so expensive, it is necessary to charge for access. The public doesn't seem to mind paying a small amount to access the records, and thanks to the work the NRS has put into digitization, the process is a good deal more convenient.

The NRS is also the maintainers of The Scottish Register of Tartan, where users can search for tartans by name, designer, keyword, color, and copyright status. They can also register and compare their designs to others.

The NRS facility is amazing and I greatly admire the energy and dedication that everyone we spoke to projected about the importance of user access. I hope that my genealogical research brings me here or somewhere equally well run.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The British Museum Archives

Door to the storage area of the central archives for the British Museum.
The British Museum suffered a great deal of damaged during the bombing raids of WWII. Much of the collection had already been moved offsite. However, the museum stayed open to those brave enough to visit. Employees corresponded between the museum and the offsite locations where they were sent to care for the objects.

These amazing details are recorded for posterity at the British Museum archive, where Stephanie Clarke works single-handedly to maintain the museum's important history. The archive holds the actual steel casting of a bomb that hit the museum. She showed our group photographs of the metals gallery that was reduced to rubble by the blast as well as the letters written from the different locations of the permanent collection.

Stephanie receives 30 outside requests per day for information from the archive, not counting requests from museums staff and associated institutions, such as the British Library and the Natural History Museum, which were both previously a part of the British Museum.

Old sign from when the British Library
was a part of the British Museum.
The Archive is rich with handwritten board minutes discussing everything from employee conduct to acquisitions. The minutes are vast, and I'm sure to everyone's relief, extensively indexed. The massive collection of original papers include letters from the building's architect as well as the current director's notes on the subject.

The Lists of Establishment is an annual record of every employee of the museum, start date, and salary. This has been of special interest to those doing family histories. The archive holds about 6,000-7,000 photographs including stereoscopic images and a viewer, to give an excellent idea of the gallery space from 150 years ago in thrilling detail.

The archive also houses many drawings and documentation on the mid-19th century construction, projections which are amazingly accurate. Deeds for the various plots of land held and sold by the museum in its history, some very old and written in elaborate calligraphy with no punctuation and wax seals at the bottom. Others were typed on typewriters.

The British Museum building.
In short the archive contains an amazing record of the institutional history which is well used by the museum and academics. Aside from the numerous online requests, Stephanie addresses, between four and five readers per week, which is a lot for the size of the collection and more than she has previously seen. The British Museum is an excellent example of a small archive with a rich collection and careful steward documenting an institution that is so important and so beloved.

Bodleian Library of Oxford

Bodleian Library Oath, in Latin, on tote bag
available in gift shop
Photo from the Bodleian Library Shop

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.
--Bodleian Library Oath
Above is the oath that every reader of the Bodleian Library must take before that are allowed access to the precious materials available at the 400 year old library. This is for good reason, as the shelf materials alone can date back to the 17th century.

The collection contains over 11 million bibliographic works. Of the 17 existing copies of the Magna Carta, four are held by the Bodleian Library. The special collections contain over 250,000 books which are older that 1500. The collections grows are 3,000 books per week. Books are digitized as they can be. Our tour guide said that they were about halfway through the collection, working with Google and a 6,000,000 pound budget, employing 500 people. Many of the works cannot be parsed by a computer, however, and remain unsearchable. Most of the libraries books are kept 25 miles off site, waiting for the renovation of a new facility across the street from the Bodleian that will hols 3,000,000 volumes. The renovation is expected to be completed in 2015.

Statue of Bodleian outside of library.
The Bodleian is not a lending library. Students and academics alike must study the works in one of the available reading rooms. We were shown one of the older rooms that still had books chained to the desks, and numbers written on the edges of the book. It is difficult to process how much history happened in these halls. As an example, during the protestant reformation, at least seven works of religious importance were smuggled from the library in 1550, to save them from destruction on the orders of King Edward VI. Read more about the history of the library here.

The Lower Reading room is for medieval script and includes ready reference and source books that are unique. Some Sanscript writings are available there as well. These works must be kept under high security and in a controlled environment. Our tour guide showed us a copy of the original printed catalog printed in Latin. At the end of the room is the location where the Harry Potter library scenes were filmed. The inscription on the ceiling says "The Lord is My Light". 
Inscription above door to library.

Without a doubt the Bodleian library is awe inspiring in its appearance, its depth, its history, and its pride. The students and researchers who study here cannot help but realize they have access to one of the most interesting collections in the world.

Barbican Library

In the heart of the Barbican complex, the Barbican Library serves Londoners and suburban commuters alike, with the city's largest public lending library. Membership requires only a name and address, as well as a reasonable expectation of use.

One of their core values is to support the business community, especially small and medium-sized businesses, with materials on business, finance, and online resources. The library serves mostly men, unlike most public libraries, between the ages of 18 and 40, as they commute to and from work. This means that reading materials should be very accessible and ease of checkout is paramount, so that time is not wasted.

Short business hours are a problem for the library, as more staff is not an option. However, one computer (filtered) is available in the hall outside the library, as well as a book return, and the busiest time for the library is between noon and two. The library tries to employ 5 library school interns, with pay, who can offer different expertise to their operation. Another branch is planned for the east of the city.

The library has income targets that include late fees and fees for DVD and CD rentals. Mostly supported by the city, these charges are necessary to make up for the cost of buying the materials. Music albums are only available three weeks after the release date.

RFID Book Return Machine outside
Barbican Library.
 RFID technology is key to library operations. The tag is used to check books in and out, both with scanners, and with special machines that can read the tags in proximity. Patrons have only to rest their pile of books on the machine, and the screen registers all the books. Sometimes the technology does not work perfectly, but saves much time when it does.

The Score Section of the Music Library
at the Barbican Library.
The Barbican is a shining example of a public library, offering tons of programing and community engagement, from children's programs to reading circles. The genealogy section is very popular and the music database is one of the best. It also deals with the same problems as many public libraries--leaky roofs, noise from events on the first floor, occasional theft, and patrons who need home delivery. It deals with these problems by being well organized and maintaining a dedicated staff who obviously value their place in the community and uphold the libraries core values.

This was one of the most inspiring libraries we visited because, like in the US, libraries, especially public libraries are being hit hard by the economy. Short staffs and closing branches are hard on moral for any library, but Jonathan Gibbs, Geraldine Pote, Richard Jones, and Natalie Laccohee, who spoke with our group, demonstrated a devotion to needs of the community as well as a problem solving attitude toward challenges that is truly admirable.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Me in front of Shakespeare's birthplace.
For some reason, I had expected Stratford-upon-Avon to be akin to a giant Renaissance fair, with Ye Old Funnel Cake and feathered hats and people preforming monologues in the streets. I was quite relieved, as you might imagine, to find a small peaceful town with quite tourists who waited patiently for their turn to take a photo in front of Shakespeare's birthplace, as well as reasonably priced food and drink and, surprisingly, real character.
People waiting their turn to take
photos is so civilized.
 It is easy to picture living in such a picturesque place with cobblestone roads, large parks, and friendly people. To imagine spending your nights alternating between socializing at one of the local pubs, eating delicious food, and seeing quality theater. Stratford-upon-Avon is probably one of the few small towns in the world where this is possible.
Shakespeare's grave in Trinity Church.

I hope to learn much more about Shakespeare before I return so that I can really appreciate the various museums in the area. The fees for these places did seem steep, but I do not blame them, since it must be incredibly expensive to maintain such old buildings for so many guests.

One of my favorite things was a series of public art pieces referencing several of Shakespeare's plays. Here are a couple of photos of these works. Overall, a wonderful trip!

Installation art at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Installation art at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Installation art at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The London Library

It is often said of the London Library that it is bigger on the inside. The St James Square entrance is hardly noticeable for the idle passersby, and only the small gold letters above the door indicate that it is anything other than a townhouse. Once inside, however, the library unfolds and expands, like a popup book into a labyrinth of stairs and corridors lined with books idiosyncratically shelved by subject and alphabetically by name.

Considered a lost art in most libraries, the knowledge of printed catalogs is not optional for the London Library, as only two thirds of the books are listed on the online catalog. The library's ethos is that books aren't just vessels of information which become redundant. Each edition is valuable in its own right. Therefore, there is a no-weed policy, which means that the collection is extremely deep and broad, but also that it grows by 8,000 books per year without concession. Almost all the books are kept on site. About 97% of the collection is available to members for browsing or issue.

Stacks at the London Library.
Strongest in Art and Humanities, there is an impressive selection of religion, travel, historic science, and miscellaneous--a section that the library is very proud of, which encompasses everything that does not fit in the other categories.

 The library keeps an excellent archive which documents the evolution of the library's facilities, as well as information about members. This includes membership applications, documenting many famous individual members from the areas of politics and literature, sometimes before they were famous. Because of the number of notable authors who studied here, many great works have been written in the library or from its collection.

Many of the library's books are rare and valuable, which means that book preservation is extremely important. Stella Worthington, Head of Stack Management, iterated the importance of a regular schedule for cleaning, controlling the different chemicals used within the library, and controlling the amount of organic matter which accumulates on the books. Additionally, the books are often shifted to accommodate building works and new books, which is a huge undertaking, considering the size of the collection.

Shelving arrangement at the London Library.
The library was founded before the public library act, in response to the prevailing non-lending nature of libraries of the day. A subscription library, it was the first lending library, and is now the largest lending library in the nation.

When it was founded in 1841, Thomas Carlyle had envisioned a way for people to study books in the comfort of their own homes. Now with the five reading rooms and counting, it would seem readers often prefer to study in the comfort of the London Library. This is not surprising, as for many people, home has become an increasing chaotic environment, and the library's endless shelves and quiet are both calm and exciting--soothing and inspiring.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The National Art Library

Photo from the National Art Library website.
The National Art Library is nestled in the popular Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. The beautiful reading and computer spaces at the entry are almost entirely original to the 1857 library installation.

The library works closely with the museum to support the work of staff members, especially of curators. Though readers normally consist of academics and students, library services are open to anyone with a name and address. Numerous reference books are available in the reading rooms as well as computer access and wifi.

Sally Williams, librarian, was our tour guide. She explained that with over 1,000,000 books, the library is one of the top three reference libraries in the world, on par with the Getty Museum. The libraries massive periodical collection contains 11,000 titles, 2,000 of which are current.

Many of the library's holdings are old and vaulable, even on the open shelf. The staff make an effort to educate readers of the proper handling of books. Many books in poor condition are transfered to book boxes.

Exhibit from the National Art Library -
Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950
Readers have access to the digital catalog, advanced order, e-resource journals, periodicals, and electric versions of printed books which are linked from the electronic record for the printed material. Print requests can take up to an hour, as the librarians must consult the guides and maps, and travel a great distance to get to the materials.

The library also serves as the curatorial department for the design of the book, so some portion of the books in the collection are collected for their value as an object of book design. Some of these books are specifically designed as art, while others are appreciated as such. Two hundred and fifty of the libraries book arts collection are available to view on their website.

Title page of original Bleak House manuscript.
Our group was given a glimpse at, and even allowed to handle, some of the special collections material. Francis Willis showed us a selection which included an original copy of Dicken's Bleak House manuscript. She explained how it was previously bound, and why this arrangement was better. She showed our group two examples of the book art collection and discussed how special arrangements were necessary for some of the works.

Overall, the National Art Library is a magical place and open to the public, as any national library in Britian. The library holds exhibitions every six months which helps to raise its profile. I think a visit to this library is necessary for anyone interested in the visual arts. It is a special collection. Additionally, there are resources and reading guides for scholars posted on the library's website.

Monday, July 9, 2012

National Maritime Museum

Image from the Royal River exhibit page.
While I do love the tube, I think ferries are definitely the stylish way to travel around London. The day we went to the National Maritime Museum, we took a very pleasant ferry ride west down the Thames river towards the Royal Borough of Greenwich, which is a charming area.

Since the library was closed for the Olympics, we visited the The Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames exhibit instead. The exhibit highlights the great importance of the Thames in the history and life of London and Londoners. The exhibit features sections on the importance of the Thames in trading, the use of the Thames in pageantry, from royal entrances to the famous livery company parades, the 18th century revolution in city life as the importance of recreation and outdoor space came to be recognized.

The Royal Barge being rowed down the
Thames the day before opening ceremonies.
Amazingly, the river was still the dumping ground for the city's refuse until the mid-19th century, when the city began building a massive new sewer system to transport the waste from the city, bypassing the Thames all together.

On a personal note, some of my classmates and I went to watch the Olympic torch row down the Thames on the Royal Barge the day before the opening ceremonies, which hundreds of people gathered on the shore line to watch it pass. Maybe this event will be featured in a future Thames exhibit. It's awesome to think that you are witnessing history.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Biritsh Library

Image retrieved from
In 1997 the British Library(BL) finally achieved an idea that was 20 years in the making. They broke off from the British Museum and set off to store their massive collection, now 35 million items, 75ft below the streets of London.

In parts of the enormous London repository employees can hear the tube trains pass on the other side of the concrete wall when they make their rounds to retrieve books for readers from the closed stacks. The building is outfitted with a water collection mechanism to pump water away from the basement. The 15 year old building was one of the first national libraries built with preservation in mind, since part of the idea of the Copyright Act of 1911 was to maintain those works for future generations.

To access the library's materials, the user need only offer a name and address, and give some idea as to their research interests. Membership is not restricted to British citizens. Membership takes about thirty minutes to obtain. Check here for more information on obtaining a Reader's Pass.

Requests are then made at a terminal (or online) and the library's staff will retrieve the book within one hour and ten minutes. The materials are accessed through one of the libraries many subject specific reading rooms. You can also order books in advance of your visit.
Photo provided by Wikipedia user Fæ.

The book tracking and transportation system is quite advanced, using barcodes to id books, the baskets they travel in, the location they are, and the location to which they are traveling. The ABRS (Automated Book Retrieval System) has an excellent track record, as they have never lost a book inside.

For the record, I had several wonderful photos of this system of my own that were tragically lost in a photo transfer. I'm glad I found these from the Wikipedia archives.

Photograph by Mike Peel (
One of the biggest threats to the library's collection is paper acidity. Though some of their works have undergone deacidification, the collection is constantly behind by about six million on preservation. Our tour guide, Kevin Mehmet, Welcome Team Officer for the BL, explained that it would take about 200 years to catch up.

The collection is not subject indexed and there is no subject browsing. Readers must present a list of the items needed. Below, book locators decide where books are stored, primariliy in high and low usage categories. Books are cataloged with the Anglo American Cataloging Rules, but they are often ordered by size and date of reception.

This is the first national library I have had the pleasure to visit. It is obvious that the operations and goals of the library are ambitious, given the volume of works and the need to preserve the materials with all due care. However, I'm sure I will not be surprised to find that the BL is among the top national libraries in the world, while providing excellent item level preservation and really dedicated user access.

Monday, July 2, 2012

St Paul's Library

Photo of St Paul's Library from the World Monuments Fund.
 Above the main entrance to St Paul`s Cathedral, is a stone relief of a book which represents the word of God, and is indicative of the Sola scriptura of protestant values, which maintains that the scripture is the highest authority for Christian faith. But the church does not speak with one voice, of one era, or of one opinion.

There has been a church standing in this spot since the 600s. The church archive is a testament to the previous lives that have passed here. Norman, Gothic, and Roman stones are placed in the archive as they are recovered. The pulpits that have gone in and out of fashion after so many years of service are saved as the archive is able. We passed two consecutive pulpits, one of which was an ornate wooden, rounded stand, and the other a massive marble, ostentatious work which replaced it. We were part of a tour lead by the librarian, Joseph Wisdom, who shared so much wonderful information about the archive and the library.

Photo of Christopher Wren's Model for
the Cathedral from the World Monuments Fund.
One of the original library chambers now houses the enormous model for Sir Christopher Wren`s third design for the Cathedral, which was rejected. Wren produced a large volume of drawings during his design process because he wanted to maintain minute control over his designs. This means that the church archive is in possession of a great deal of his drawings, which must be properly maintained and exhibited, for the benefit of the church and community, sometimes at great expense. The walls are decorated with beautiful reliefs which depict books, inkwells, and flowers.

The library contains around 23,000 bibliographic items, some of which are bound together. Unique items in the collection are in the process of being digitized and some are digitized on demand. The influx of books that took place in the 19th century, when printing truly took hold in Britain, meant that many libraries began to have issues with space. Often libraries send their duplicate copies to St Paul`s.

Photo of St Paul's Library
 bookshelves from the World Monuments Fund.
In many libraries, particularly those that contain so many artifacts of value, there is strain between the use of books as artifacts and books as information. St Paul's organization and policies denote a great awareness of these conflicts. The library and archives are represented on three fronts: Museums, Libraries, and Archives. Most of the archival materials are kept at another location, and there is an entirely separate architectural archive. Any researcher may use the library by appointment.

The history of this institution in truly amazing in length and depth. One cannot help but be in awe of both the importance of the collection amassed here and the care with which it is safeguarded. I can only hope that my studies will bring me here one day.

Duck Crossing

Day 1: After landing in London at 10am local time, it was a very long day of fighting jet lag. I only vaguely remember that we at pizza, rode the tube, walked to the theatre district, and had ice cream on the south bank.

Day 2: In a daze the night before, I had walked to the ATM and the grocery, but I was very happy to have breakfast that morning, since I woke up ravenous at 6am. We met with our professor, walked all over to buy phone cards, had very average Japanese at Itsu, and went on one of the most unpleasant tours. I'm sure I was just too tired to appreciate the two and a half hour walk. It was extremely fast paced and very warm. We stopped on the bridge to trace the steps of the doctor on the first episode of new doctor who, and what do you know, we saw a blue box almost where the Tardis should have been parked. Of course we went to see it. It was an work of art, not quite the right shade of blue, but definitely put us in a better mood. I went to go buy nail clippers and hair gel at Boots. That night was my love's birthday, so I stayed in to get skype working so I could call, since my phone card wasn't working yet. Christen and I decided to walk to the Fishcotheque (that's really what it`s called) to get some fish and chips so we could people watch. Unfortunately, most of the people were scared away by some very adamant missionaries.

Day 3: This was my favorite day so far. We walked to another cell phone place and found an adorable tea shop. (Location) I bought a mug so I could drink things at the dorm. I later found coffee cups had been added in the kitchen. It's a great diamond jubilee mug with Corgies. We walked to the National Gallery and saw the 18, 19, and early 20th century collection. It was amazing. I was pushing through the crowd to see van Gogh's sunflowers, when an employee of the museum walked up and gave an impromptu talk about the painting and van Gogh. Additionally, we saw Monet, Manet, Turner, Cezanne, Degas, and many more. We walked through the theatre district again and back over to St Martin`s Cafe in the Crypt where I had bread pudding with custard, which is not as good as apple crisp with custard. Then we headed to the south bank and found a used book, open air market, had ice cream, and saw some other awesome things. I'll have the photos up soon. 

Day 4: Today we are going to the St Paul`s Cathedral Library. I will post about this soon.