Tuesday, August 31


" What is now known as Glastonbury was, in ancient times, called the Isle of Avalon. It is virtually an island, for it is completely surrounded by marshlands. In Welsh it is called 'Ynys Afallach', which means the Island of Apples and this fruit once grew in great abundance. After the Battle of Camlann, a noblewoman called Morgan, later the ruler and patroness of these parts as well as being a close blood-relation of King Arthur, carried him off to the island, now known as Glastonbury, so that his wounds could be cared for. Years ago the district had also been called 'Ynys Gutrin' in Welsh, that is the Island of Glass, and from these words the invading Saxons later coined the place-name 'Glastingebury" - Gerald of Wales

In 1186 the monastery was destroyed by a fire and during the reconstruction monks from the abbey claimed to have found the graves of Arthur and Guinevere in 1191. Some say this was a hoax to draw Pilgrims to the abbey and therefore boost funds coming into the abbey for the reconstruction. Glastonbury is also rumored to have been the site that Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail to after the death of Christ.

"Site of King Arthur's Tomb.
In the year 1191, the bodies of
King Arthur and his Queen were
said to have been found on the
south side of the Lady Chapel.
On 19th April 1278 their remains were
removed in the presence of
King Edward I and Queen Eleanor
to a black marble tomb of this site.
This tomb survived until the
dissolution of the abbey in 1539"
Just down the Road from the abbey you will find Glastonbury Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens. Glastonbury Tor is mentioned in an early Welsh poem discussing the confrontation of Arthur and Melwas. At the bottom of the hill leading up to the tor you will find a beautiful garden surrounding the Chalice Well. The Chalice Well is the site where King Arthur was brought after the final battle, the Battle of Camlynn, to heal his wounds. The well is supposedly the location that the Holy Grail was brought to by Joseph of Arimathea, giving the well its mystical healing properties and red tint to the water.
The website for Glastonbury is www.glastonbury.co.uk/pages/ .

Monday, August 30

Maughan Library, Kings College

The Maughan Library, founded in 1929 and named after Sir Deryck Maughan, is the only Kings College library located north of the river Thames. Originally located in four separate buildings, the library came together as one in the 1990’s when the new building became available; the former Public Record Office, designed by Sir James Pennethorne, located in the heart of the London legal district built in 1851. The building was leased for an extended period of time but with many restrictions due to the structure being on Royal land. This new building brought the four libraries, each with its own disciplines, together into one large library and was opened in 2001.

The library houses over 750,000 volumes, 1000 reader stations and 330 computer seats. Altogether, the library assists over 20,000 students, King's College wide, including the 11,000 students of the Strand campus. The library is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day during exams and is developing more social meeting areas and possible flexible teaching areas. This summer the library is adding self service throughout the library and is looking into a roving service.

In the special collections department, there are many rare items from 15th century to the present. This collection includes:

The photo to the right is from: Charles Estienne. La dissection des parties du corps humain. Paris: Simon de Colines, 1546 [St. Thomas's Historical Collection FOL. QM21.E87] as found in Foyle Special Collections Library The year in review 2008-9.

To the right is the title page and endpaper from La Sacra Bibla, Scoui: Jacob Dorta, 1679 [Marsden Collection Add. G6] as found in
Foyle Special Collections Library The year in review 2007-08.

Visit the Mauhan library at www.kcl.ac.uk/iss/visitors/library/maughan.html.

Tuesday, July 27

Morley Library, Winchester Cathedral

The Morley Library, a private library at the Winchester Cathedral, is located in two rooms added onto the cathedral between 1093 and 1107.

The date is agreed upon, due to mural behind the bookcases depicting the removal of relics in the room and a picture of the high alter in the cathedral that hold the bones of St. Swithun, painted in 1200. (Picture is from a brochure from the library)

Behind the bookcases, grooves can still be found where secret compartments are present, possibly where the communion vessels or relics were stored.

George Morley, from whom the library gets its name, was the bishop of Winchester Cathedral in 1662. His collection makes up 2000 of the volumes in the present library. He was the person who proposed to have the room fitted as a library and to add his collection added upon his death. In 1668, the floor was refurbished and the bookcases from Morley’s residence were installed.
The library contains some very rare items and some are housed in the Williams room across the hall.

Among these is the famous Winchester Bible, which has only been removed from the cathedral only twice, once when the collection was being offered for sale and the other during WW II. (Image from the Winchester Cathedral Wesite - www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/visiting/3/.)

Also, the Williams room contains the Anglo-Saxon Charter (957), the oldest document in the building, and the Winchester Cathedral Archives. The library also contains two globes, one terrestrial and one celestial, bought with money left by Morley. (As seen in the picture at the top from a postcard)

The cathedral also houses the Triforium Gallery full of items from the cathedral's history, one of which is a bowl that is rumored to have held the heart of King Canute. Canute died in Shaftsbury around 1035. His heart was removed and buried there, while his body was brought back to Winchester for burial.

Tuesday, July 20

National Archives of Scotland

Headed by the Keeper of Records of Scotland, the Archives of Scotland manages approximately 72 km of records, dating back to the 12th century. The Archives are a government agency with the mission to preserve, protect and promote the nation of Scotland's records.

The archives consist of 160 staff divided into two divisions: Records services (government records and court/legal records) and Cooperate services (Finance/Administration, Information and Communication Technology, Conservation Services and Reader Services).

A repository for the public records of Scotland was first proposed in 1722, but it was not until 1789 that the General Register House was completed and opened. Following the construction of the General Register House two other buildings were opened to help house the massive collection: The West Register House(1971) and the Thomas Thomson House(1994).

The archives offer a public research room on the 1st floor open to the public and is highly utilized for historical research. The archives also offers all of the genealogical records online for those unable to come visit in person. Although some records can be retrieved for a small fee, for some, this is worth it. These records include:
  • Access to Scottish Wills - 1500-1901
  • Digitized records of the Church of Scotland
  • Birth, Death and Marriage records

The Collection contains many archival treasures dating back to the Charter of King David I(1127). Also among these treasures include: the Great Seal Records(1315-present), the Declaration of Arbroath(1320), the Articles of Union(1706) and the marriage certificate of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Archives also offer many websites to the community for their research:

Dunfermline Carnegie Library

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library is the first Carnegie Library, also a public library, built in 1883. On opening day the entire collection was checked out to the patrons. In 1922, the building was extended and remodeled keeping only the front entrance and hallway from the original Carnegie design. In 1992, a new section was purchased and now contains a music library and children's section.

The library staffs 28 people in a variety of departments. Among these is a local history room, containing books, maps, slides and pictures pertaining to local and family history, and the Abbey Room, which is presently waiting for the set-up of an Egyptian exhibit. The library is in the process of incorporating a museum into the library and the fundraising has already begun for the project.

One other facinating room houses the Burns Collection. The Burns Collection, bought and donated by Sir Alexander Gibb, belonged to John Murison, an Burns collector for 40 years. The collection consists of books and memorabilia pretaining to anything of or about the poet, Robert Burns.

The Dunfermline Library is a public library affiliated with the Fife Council Community Services and 51 other community libraries, 3 mobile libraries and a housebound service. The Fife's website for the library is www.fifedirect.org.uk/libraries .

Monday, July 19

Central Library, Edinburgh

The Central Library in Edinburgh was opened in 1890 after a donation from Andrew Carnegie started a movement to open a free library to the public. The library originally had three departments coordinated by, Hew Morrison, the Principal Librarian at the time. The departments are as follows: the Reference Library, the Lending Library and a News Room from which the public had to request items. Later Ernest Savage developed other departments in the 1930's such as a local History Department, a Music Library and an Art Library. Recently the Children's Department has expanded and moved into the building next door.
The library used the Library of Congress classification except for the Children's Library which uses the Dewey Decimal System. The library also offers an index card catalog for those who prefer and if you are looking for large print. With over 850,000 items that can be borrowed the libraries collection has books for all ages and taste. The library also offers free internet, free study space and also community meeting spaces.
The Central Library also indulges those who fancy local history and heritage. The Edinburgh Room contains a very comprehensive collection on Edinbugh, and was the first local studies department in the country. The collection has over 100,000 items including books, photos, maps, census reports and more.
The library has many programs for their patrons as well. Such as:
Author Events - these events are held once a month and highlight Scottish Authors.
Book Groups - Currently there are 38 book groups running in the Edinburgh Libraries.
Monthly reading themes - March's theme was Crime in the City.
Online Training Programs - This program is for the staff but it helps the staff to communicate to the public about their reading habits, so they can better assist them.
Visit the Central Library, Edinburgh at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/leisure/libraries.

National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland grew out of the Advocates Library, belonging to the Faculty of Advocates, founded in 1689. At this time it was granted, by the 1710 Copyright Act, the right to own one copy of everything published in Great Britain. In 1925, Parliament passed the National Library of Scotland Act, creating the National Library. Work began on the George IV Bridge Building, in 1938, started with a donation by Sir Alexander Grant and was completed in 1956, and the new library building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. Since then two other expansions have been opened: The Causeway building in 1989 and 1995, two phases of construction and the Visitor Center in 2009.
The National Library contains over 14 million books and manuscripts, 2 million maps and atlases and 300,000 music scores. Also in the collection they house, 32,000 films and videos, 25,000 newspapers and magazine titles and add 6000 items to the collection each week. The library is funded by Scottish Parliament and is governed by a Board of Trustees.
The National Library of Scotland contains many valuable treasures including: Timothy Pont’s manuscript maps of Scotland (1583-1614), Ancient Family Manuscripts such as those of the Clan Sinclair and the last letter from Mary Queen of Scots. The Visitor's Center includes many displays of outfits and items of famous people in Scottish history. One other display that was included was a large walkthrough display on the history of golf.

Visit the National Library of Scotland at http://www.nls.uk/ .