Friday, August 1, 2008

The Scottish Libraries

While in Scotland, I officially (for research purposes) visited three public libraries, but unofficially I looked around two more. I will mainly write about the three I took notes in, but may include information I gleaned from personal observations in the other two.
As an irrelevant aside, all three of the official visits were to Carnegie libraries, not for any research reasons, but because I wanted to see the buildings.

Edinburgh Central Library
Carol Marr, Library Officer

Photosource: Flickr, by 'kaytethinks'

This is the main library in a 26 branch system. As such, it has the largest non-fiction collection in the city. There are approximately 60,000 books in the library's adult collection, but some are kept in reserves, available on request. In addition to standard non-fiction and fiction collections, the library has titles available in large print and a variety of European and Asian - both near and far eastern - languages, a low literacy collection, and A/V materials. Like the other UK libraries I visited, there is a charge for borrowing videos and music CDs, but not for audiobooks. We did learn from the librarian, Ms. Marr, that those patrons who are disabled do not pay this fee. I would like to find out if this is true in all UK libraries, as well as in Scotland. There are an art library and reference libraries on separate floors of the main building, and the library's children's and music collection are housed in a building across the street. Because the children's collection is in a different building, every area of the main library has a small batch of books for young children, so families can work and browse comfortably there. The YA collection is in the adult library; and though it is meant for ages 12+, due to the difference in the Scottish and English school structures, the collection is not any larger than any of the others I've seen. This is one area in which the UK libraries are definitely lacking compared with US libraries. Internet access is available throughout the library. Finally, the library features a very nice sized local studies department, the first in the country. People come from all over to research, especially family history.

Adjoining the main part of the library is the Learning Centre, where public computer classes are held, and where the Resource Centre for special needs services is located. This center is run by Jim McKenzie, Disabilities Services Officer, who is also a professional librarian. The Centre is staffed by Mr. McKenzie and one of several assistants each day. The main service provided here is computer accessibility for a wide variety of special needs.
Here people who are having difficulty with technology and information resources for any reason can come and have their needs informally assessed, so the staff can find the best way to help them. From what Mr. Mckenzie said, they will not turn anyone away who is having problems, even if they do not have an actual disability. For example, many elderly people come in who are simply too unfamiliar with computer technology to use it well, but need more help than they feel comfortable asking for in the main library. The Resource Centre will help them and allow them to use the facilities until they become comfortable. In other cases, they may simply need to use a special mouse that is easier to manipulate for someone with arthritis or loss of fine motor skills.
For those with more serious disabilities, there are a number of assistive technologies available, such as software that will read aloud texts which have been scanned into a computer. The Centre also serves the county by printing up county documents in Braille on a machine they have for that purpose.

Carnegie Library, Ayr
Aileen Cowen, Carnegie Librarian

The Carnegie Library in Ayr is part of the library system of the Dumfries & Galloway Council. Upon entering, I found myself in a beautiful, domed lobby, with doors leading off to the right and left, and a staircase in front of me. The stairway led to the local and Scottish history collections, while the two doors led to the children's and adults' collections. The reference department, Internet computers, and coffee shop are also on the main floor.
The lobby itself has been used for some very appealing book displays. Glass display cases contained items relating to Africa generally and Nelson Mandela in particular, since he has recently received a British knighthood. In addition to books, staff had decorated the spaces with artwork belonging to both the library and individual staff members. The lobby also contained a rack of brochures advertising local tours and sites of interest to visitors. This is something I had noticed in other public libraries we had visited, so I asked about it, and learned that the individual councils rent out the space to private travel/tourism organizations, and those organizations moniter and stock the racks.
The adult collection was typical of any library in the US or UK, except that they had chosen to create a section of items, both fiction and non-fiction, of Scottish-themed books, called the "Scottish Collection." Within the section, the books were arranged by Dewey classification like the rest of the library. One of the most interesting features was a rack of drugstore reading glasses for sale by the entrance to the adult section. This is a service we could definitely use in our library! The Reference room was unusual in that it shared its space with the coffe shop. The cafe area was separated only by a few dividers, and I wondered if noise was a problem. The cafe was closed while I was there, but the space was being used by a tutor with a group of ESL students. I would have asked the Reference librarian about the noise, but she seemed to be busy with phone reference, and besides that she looked a bit cranky. The Internet computers were in a separate room, and the computers were all very new looking, which is something I have noticed in all the UK libraries, including the less affluent ones that seem to need an infusion of new books.
This library, unlike the one in Edinburgh, attempts to serve youth up to age 16 in there children's room, but they didn't seem to have much in the way of services for teens, and, according to Ms. Cowen, they don't like to come into the library much in any case. It's no wonder, considering how miniscule the YA collection was, and how the children's room was quite obviously designed, decorated, and stocked for younger children. When I somewhat jokingly commented that they would probably be happy if the library let them decorate their own room in the basement, the librarian actually looked surprised and interested for a moment, as if it had never occured to her to create a space for teen patrons. I get the distinct impression that UK libraries are well behind the US in making a concerted effort to promote library use to this demographic, and I can't actually remember noticing any teens using any of the libraries I visited, either with the class or on my own.

Ewart Library, Dumfries
Helen McArthur, Libraries Support Manager
(Photo from

The Ewart Library in Dumfries serves as the central library in a district of 24 lending libraries, if you include the three which are open for the minimum nine hours per week required to classify them as libraries in Scotland, which my guide, Ms. McArthur, chose to do. Since Dumfries & Galloway are mostly rural, only nine of the 24 are open more or less full-time. The library is also responsible for a separate Archive Centre in Dumfries that is open to the public, and they have four mobile libraries and a homebound delivery service (which is common in UK public libraries, according to Ms. McArthur). Those on the bookmobile routes can put in requests for specific items, as well as selecting from the stock in the van; however, they do not have access to A/V materials - except audiobooks - because they do not want to carry cash in the van.
Something I found very interesting was the way they manage stock in the branches. The Exchange Department in the Ewart Library is responsible for rotating the stock on a regular basis, and the items do not move in and out of the main collection, but belong separately to the branch collection, and are kept on storage shelves in the Exchange Department.
The Computer Centre occupies what was once the reading room where the periodicals were kept, but a decrease in demand for newspapers and magazines, along with the high cost of subscriptions, has meant a reduction in number to only a few very popular ones. The library offers computer classes in all general areas of Internet and MS Office, as well as classes for parents about Internet use and children.
The reference department is nicely tucked away in the back of the l-shaped main area of the library, at the opposite end from the children's area and circulation, making it a mostly quiet research area in what is a relatively small, open space. There are Internet computers there for reference and history research purposes, but they are sometimes used for overflow from the Computer Centre if they are not in use. As the main branch in the council, they have an extensive local history collection which includes cemetary indexes on microfiche, historical photographs, property tax records, and the Lockerbie Archives, which contain all documents relating to the Lockerbie air disaster.
Some other general services the library offers are a coffee machine, free scanning, fee-based fax service at all branches, and sales of local history publications through the various branches.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Library @ The Bridge, Glasgow


After the wonderful morning lecture, and treating us to a delicious lunch, Mr. McMenemy took us on a field trip to tour an innovative, joint-use public/community college library project in an economically disadvantaged area of the city called Easterhouse. The library is integrated into a multi-use community center called The Bridge, and has been open for only two years.

The Library @ The Bridge occupies an open space between the college and the community center, essentially making it the heart of the facility. It is laid out in terraces divided by shelving units, so each area has its own defined space. The day we were there, two of those spaces were being used for different organized activities, face-painting and some kind of art project/video activity. Because of the terraced design, there is a fixed amount of shelving space, but this has not been a problem so far, according to the librarian in charge, Stephen Finnie. Even though, theoretically, libraries with movable shelving could create more space by rearranging the stacks, all libraries have a finite amount of space, and it is always difficult to find more. If, in the future, this library needs more, there appeared to be space to work with.


Sloping ramps lead down into the library, as well as up to the terraces, making it accessible for wheelchairs, while an upper gallery provides seating overlooking the library. On the upper level is also a 'treehouse' room called the Den, which is available for community use and is wired for computers. A terraced, grassy area outside the library, and resembling a small amphitheater, is used for programming.
The library has approximately 30,000 items, for a service population of about 29,000, with a core staff of six full-time library assistants, and a currently in-flux number of other employees (the space is being renovated). Suggestions for new materials are submitted by staff on a weekly basis to Mr. Finnie, who serves on a committee of six professional librarians overseeing the whole area (this number does not include cataloguers and other "behind the scenes" librarians). Each one of them is in charge of multiple libraries, and they are in turn overseen by two senior librarians. Mr. Finnie feels that this more lateral management structure has put professional librarians more in charge of how the libraries are run than the former structure in which each branch had a degreed librarian working on-site.

In addition to the library, The Bridge includes a swimming pool, a dance/theater studio, a costume shop, and a cafe, among other things. The wall between the cafe and studio can be opened up for large events. Most events at The Bridge are free, with a few exceptions. Mr. Finnie said the costume studio rents out costumes to the public, and will sometimes even make costumes upon request, at no extra charge, if they feel it is something that others will want to rent in the future. There is a section of slat wall in an area between the library space and some of the arts spaces that can be used for special displays, including end-of-year displays of student artwork from the college.

In the short time it has been open, The Bridge and its library have had a powerful impact on the local community, based on the handout prepared for us by Mr. Finnie. The neighborhood statistics are rather appalling, but the services now available at The Bridge have been increasing in use, and the library is proving to be as well-used as some in more affluent areas of town. It seems to me that The Bridge has accomplished what the Idea Store model was aiming for, but has missed. Clearly their biggest mistake was to get rid of librarians, because if they had someone with the knowledge, expertise, experience, and passion of Mr. Finnie, they would surely be succeeding like the Library @ The Bridge.

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

This visit provided the most extraordinary resource for my research, as the library lecturer who spoke to us, David McMenemy, has focused his career on public libraries. His expertise and research into the history and current state of public libraries in Britain were impressive, and while our previous site visits have been amazing, this one made a refreshing chang from the historical nature of those, providing us with topics more in line with what those of working in front line public service face every day on the job.

There are 4,515 public libraries and 846 academic libraries in the UK. The class was shocked to learn that there are no statistics on school libraries, because there is no requirement for public schools in the UK to have libraries. It made our struggle in the US to require all schools to have a certified library media specialist seem a little less desperate (although I'm still hopeful we don't give that fight up). In the face of continuing evidence of the positive effects of certified librarians on student achievement, this really was a surprise.
Libraries in Scotland and Wales are funded through their local governments, along with other public services, since devolution created separate parliamentary systems for the two countries in the late 1990s.
According to Mr. McMenemy, ther is currently a "crisis of confidence" among library professionals in the UK. The professional organization for librarians in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has been trying to find a way to deal with the problem, but there is little involvement in the organization by the majority of UK librarians. Mr. McMenemy has attended ALA as well as CILIP conferences, and has found them to be completely unalike in terms of attendance, involvement, and enthusiasm. He did not go into great detail about the possible reasons for this feeling amongst librarians, nor did he discuss exactly what CILIP is trying to do about it. I wish now I had asked, but we were running behind anyway. I may email him about it later. It would have been very interesting to do comparative research on public librarians themselves, and the profession, rather than (or in addition to) services. That is the biggest problem with hearing about other people's areas of research: it makes me wish I could research several topics. In any case, whatever the reasons, I find it very sad that librarians here are feeling discouraged, or apathetic, or however it is they are feeling. I know there are a lot of problems in a large number of US libraries, too, that are making librarians feel disheartened; but it seems that the frustration, mainly directed at non-MLIS administrators, brings librarians together to fight for themselves, rather than giving up. I hope the profession in the US never reaches such a state.
So, Mr. McMenemy summed up the key professional issues facing public libraries in the UK today:
  • Significant drops in circulation
  • How to attract non-users
  • Coping with the digital divide
  • Deprofessionalization of libraries
  • How to measure library services effectively
This last point lead directly into the presentation by graduate student Christine Rooney-Browne, who is conducting research on exactly this issue. She treated us to a wonderful PowerPoint presentation outlining her project, called Measuring Social Value of Public Libraries. I did not take extensive notes on the presentation, because right from the beginning, I knew it was something I would be interested in having a copy of, which she readily agreed to provide for the whole class. Her main thesis was that the social value libraries provide can not be measured using traditional, market-based performance indicators; and, in fact, that applying such measures to public library services will lead in a dangerous direction, since this serves to overlook or devalue such outcomes as self-esteem and impact on community. Finally, she stressed the need to create a relevant model, so that these things can be measured.

Two other members of the department, Alan Poulter and Alan Dawson, spoke about two different areas of IT affecting libraries. Mr. Poulter discussed Forensic Informatics - simply put, tracing what people have been doing on a computer - and its use in public libraries an alternative to filtering as a way to prevent misuse of Internet computers. Mr. Dawson gave us an overview of some of the current technology-based projects and initiatives the university is involved in, including the Glasgow Digital Library. This project has published ebooks (in HTML) with linked indexing, and links to publications about digital libraries. One of the most interesting points he stressed was how little technology is required to accomplish this: "The key is not expensive equipment, the key is knowing what you're doing" (A. Dawson).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

National Archives of Scotland

The National Archives of Scotland is a government agency charged with preserving, protecting, and promoting Scottish national heritage; and providing an accessible archive of records to the public. It is overseen by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, a government appointed position usually held by an archivist or librarian of some standing in the field. It is housed in three buildings, employs 160 staff, and maintains five websites.
The first building - the General Register House (the one we visited) - was built in the 1780s for the purpose of housing public records. The second, the West Register House, was purchased for the archives in 1971, and the third, Thomas Thompson House was purpose-built in 1995, and is therefore used for all conservation work, as well as storage, since it is the only one with the proper facilities for high-level conservation. Unlike the first two, the last has no public access.
The NAS is divided into two sections, the Records Services Division and the Corporate Services Division.
The Records Services Division is responsible for:
  • Government records;
  • Court/Legal records;
  • Private records; and
  • Outreach services;
while the Corporate Services handles:
  • Accomodation services
  • Finance and Administration
  • Information Technology
  • Conservation
  • Reader services
The main functions of the NAS are to select published records and other historical records, including deciding what should be done with items deemed unsuitable for the archives; preserving records in keeping with current standards of conservation; and promoting public access to records. Margaret McBride, our librarian guide, made an interesting statement regarding the role of digitization within an archive, that the most important reason for it is to try to create a balance between preservation and access. Based on the public survey results conducted by the National Library of Scotland, in which people stated that it was important for them to see original source documents, she is absolutely correct. People want and should have access to the documents, not transcripts, so digital copies are an excellent way to provide that while ensuring that they are physically available in the future. One very surprising fact I learned was that sometimes the covers of books are removed for digitization, and put back on afterwards, so that the copies are clear. I did not think to ask at the time, but I assume this is only the case if the item in question is a book with its original cover, which has not previously undergone any kind of repair (and doesn't need it).
Some of the other functions of the NAS are to offer any needed advice to owners and custodians of archival documents; be a leader in the development of archive and records management practice; and deploy resources effectively and efficiently.

The National Archives of Scotland holdings consist of more than 70km of records, dating from the 12th century, and including Parliamentary papers, register of deeds, church records, wills, taxation records, family and estate papers, court and legal documents, railway records, and photos. Access to these is provided through the OPAC, a paper catalogue, and the five websites:
  • NAS
  • SCAN
  • Scotland's People
Access to these records is free to the public, unless the research has a commercial or financial purpose, such as a lawyer researching records for a client, or accessing property values for the sale of a house.

Some of the interesting new developments in the works are the launch of a site called, where people can order copies of images from the database, and the digitization of the records of the Church of Scotland.

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

This library visit was very different from others we have been to, in that the main presentation focused on the public display of an archival collection. It much more closely resembled our visit to the Museum of London, offering a very clear example of how relevant the creation of a good exhibition can be to librarianship, beyond jazzing up a simple book display.

The NLS acquired the entire collection of manuscripts, 1768-1920, from the John Murray publishing company in 2005, and is in the process of sorting through it. In the time the company was in business, it published works by 20,000 authors, including such notables as Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, Lord Byron, and Isabella Bird. According to David McClay, the collection's curator, it is comprised of approximately 150,000-200,000 items, although that can only be a rough estimate since they have not finished cataloguing it yet. The collection includes manuscripts of books, correspondence between authors and the publisher, and other publishing documents, such as sales ledgers.
The cost of acquiring the collection was £31 million, making it the most expensive archive in the world to purchase, which has brought the NLS a large amount of publicity. One of the results has been that the John Murray Archives now accounts for 1/4 to 1/3 of all manuscript uses in the library, even though it is only a very small part of the archival collections overall. Another result has been that others have have come forward to donate items related to those in the collection. Mr. McClay also believes that when so much money is spent for such an important collection, the public also expects more to be done with it than simply cataloguing it and storing it. Also, since a large portion of the funding to acquire the collection came from lottery funds, all lottery ticket purchasers have a right to access the collection. In practice, of course, this means that every member of the public has access to it.
Outreach Manager Emma Farigher is responsible for bringing people into the library, as well as helping them feel comfortable using the archives. She and Mr. McClay worked very hard to come up with a way to publicize and exhibit the manuscripts in a way that visitors would be able to relate to them beyond just reading them. Ms. Farigher discussed some of the difficulties inherent in displaying manuscripts, central among them being how to recreate a context for the viewer. They decided this could not be accomplished by traditional, text-heavy display techniques, and instead decided that it needed to be theatrical (to create an emotional response), "object rich, label poor" (Emma), and information should be accesssed interactively. In addition, creative use of light and shadow could help to create atmosphere while protecting the documents from light.
As part of their market research, the public was also surveyed to find out how they would like to experience the collection. The results showed that people wanted to see real documents, not just hear about the content; they wanted the feeling of being in the time; they wanted to know how things might relate to their personal experience or knowledge; and they wanted some kind of narration they could listen to instead of always reading.

Image from the NLS website at

After hearing the presentation by these two amazing people, it was hard to imagine what we were about to see. It is probably impossible to describe the exhibit in a way that someone else can understand if they haven't seen it, but I will try. One of the most striking things about each display is the way the replicated clothing of the authors is diplayed, hung in life-sized display cases surrounded by their personal objects - including the relevant documents from the archive collection - visible from all sides, and arranged as if an invisible person is wearing them. In front of each case, a touch-screen, interactive computer monitor is mounted at an angle, and low enough for a child or a person in a wheelchair to reach. The computers are extremely easy to use, and a fun way to learn about the various objects in the case and how they relate to the author or the time in which they lived. The interactive 'publish your own book' computer was also fun, but needs to be expanded if it is really going to capture people's imaginations. Possibly my favorite part of the display, however, were the 'windows' around the perimiter of the room, that were part of the stage set, so to speak. Behind each wooden window frame was a simply animated (think Monty Python) old-fashioned street scene, featuring scenes relevant to the collection. In one case, Charles Darwin appeared and spoke to someone on the street, and in another, a newspaper salesman waves a newspaper sporting a headline about the burning of Lord Byron's memoir.

This really was the most ingenious exhibit I have ever seen as a way to bring a collection of documents to life. As the featured authors are changed out, the public will continue to find interesting things to see and do there, all the while learning more about authors they may or may not know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive

This gem in Stratford-Upon-Avon was an incredible place to visit, but even more incredible is the fact that, what should be treated as a national treasure is a private, non-profit entity receiving no public funding. Clara Moffioli, Deputy Head of the library, gave us some general background information on the library and its collections before turning us over to User Services Librarian Jo Wilding to discuss some examples of the library's holdings in-depth.

Recently renovated, the library holds two main collections: the local collection and the Shakespeare collection. The first relates to Shakespeare as a person living in a particular time and place, and so contains materials relating to the history of Stratford-Upon-Avon during his time. The second collection deals with materials relating to Shakespeare the playwrite and his works. Patrons come to the reading rooms in search of information from both collections. School children doing projects relating to local history come looking for such things as old city maps and directories to compare with modern-day Stratford. The library has books similar to our city directories, but they include each person's profession as well. These are useful to people researching family history, as are the local cemetary plot indexes. A-level students also come in, but to study Shakespeare's works and histories of performances - including videos - as the study of Shakespeare is a required part of the national curriculum, and is included in exams. Fans of various actors come looking for performance photos, which can be searched from inside the library in their image database. An actors performance history is also accessible through the performance database, which can be used remotely through the library's website. Cast lists for specific plays can also be found here.
In addition to the materials in the reading room collections, the library has substantial archives of such things as early examples of Shakespeare's works, source materials which may have influenced his writing, criticisms and commentaries, and items relating to the history of performances. The library keeps copies of all prompt books, programs, photos, videos, music, costume and set designs, etc from all performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The library's collection development policy is essentially to attempt to collect a representative range of materials relating to Shakespeare's life, times, and works, especially any items that may be unique, in addition to archiving all RSC performance documents. They currently hold approximately 50,000 books, pamphlets, and manuscripts; but many items comprise only single sheets of paper, so it is difficult for them to know exactly how many items they own.

Ms. Wilding organized a wonderful display of items from the library's archives for us, basing her choices on two themes: A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Histories, as well as showing us one of the library's copies of the First Folio. Her presentation included some general historical information on the the Shakespeare Trust and the items in the collection.
Before turning to the display, Ms. Wilding discussed the history of the First Folio, of which the library owns three. She explained that the term 'folio' is a publishing term, which refers to the fact that the printed pages are folded only once to create the pages of the book. This results in a much larger and more expensive edition than a 'quarto', which is folded twice. Over 200 copies of Shakespeare's First Folio were published in 1623, seven years after his death, by two of his good friends and colleagues. It is assumed that many of Shakespeare's plays would have been lost had his friends not undertaken this task, as 18 of the plays included in this volume had not previously been published elsewhere. The copy we were shown was the theater's copy, and, by Ms. Wilding's account, the most interesting because of various notations.

Highlights from the display:

A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • 1690 quarto of the play
  • Playbill from 1816
  • Handcolored herbal guide, 1597 (unfortunately, I did not write down the name, because I have a photograph of it, which has not been developed yet)
  • A copy of Purcell's opera the Fairy Queen
The herbal guide is one that was in publication at the time Shakespeare was thought to have written A Micsummer Night's Dream, so it is possible that he referred to it in writing the play, which is rich in botanical imagery. Two particularly interesting items mentioned by Ms. Wilding were the reference in the play to 'loving idleness', which was a local name used for pansy; and the spelling of thyme as 'time' by both Shakespeare and the author of the herbal - was it a common spelling at the time, or did Shakespeare get the spelling from this text?

The Histories
  • A history of Lancaster and York, 1550 (extremely long title; I have an undeveloped photo of it)
  • A 1603 pocket atlas, in its original binding; the sort of thing Shakespeare would have seen around
  • Full-color map of London made in 1572
  • History of Four-Footed Beasts, 1658 - originally published in 1600, so it would have been available to Shakespeare
  • Costume design (color sketch) for the 1951 production of Henry V starring Richard Burton
  • 1889 prompt book for Henry V - the oldest prompt book in the collection
We also saw an 1879 poster for Much Ado About Nothing, the first production to play when the RSC theater opened.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oxford University's Bodleian Library

According to John Cross, volunteer docent for Oxford's Bodleian Library, it is the main research library for the university. The university is comprised of many independently administered colleges, but the facilities are owned by the university. The library's collection is distributed amongst several rooms, in multiple buildings.
The first space we saw was the Duke Humfrey's Library, named after the younger brother of Henry V, who donated his own collection of almost 300 manuscripts to the university. The donation was too large to house in the space previously used as the library, so a new building was built to house the library.

In the mid-16th century, however, the library's collection was decimated by a local dean, in response to the king's desire to eliminate vestiges of the Roman church. The university being tied to the church from its inception, and the main subject taught being divinity, the library collection naturally included religious texts, as well as books written in Latin - all naturally suspect. The library was not replaced until almost 50 years later, when Sir Thomas Bodley offered money, expertise, and some of his own books to rebuild it. He designed the new library's furniture and shelving, created the first catalogue, solicited donations countrywide, and designed the first extension of the building that surrounds the quadrangle. Mr. Cross pointed out that Bodley's solicitations came at a time when the public was tired of the chaos and violence that occurred following the Reformation, and many with means were therefore very willing to donate to the establishment of something which would contribute to the rebuilding of stability and culture.
In the early days, books were not allowed to circulate, and were kept spine-in on the shelves to accomodate the metal plates and long chains which held them there, but still allowed for their use. A number was stamped on the page edges as a location mark. A section of shelf near the entrance is set up that way for visitors to see.
The first extension became necessary as a result of an agreement Bodley negotiated with the printing guilds, that they would send a free copy of everything they published to the library. This agreement established the Bodleian as the first official national repository, of which there are now five. Mr. Cross told us the story of how, upon receipt of Shakespeare's Third Folio (1663), the library sold their copy of the First (1623) for £24, it being less attractive. It took them over 200 years to get their hands on another copy, for quite a bit more money. Mr. Cross asked a critical question that can plague librarians, that of identifying which authors will become a Shakespeare in the future. Whose books should be kept, and whose weeded, especially in the face of limited space?

The library continued to expand over the centuries. A second building, the round, domed 'Camera' was built in the 1700s, and houses, among other things, the main undergraduate reading room. The upper rooms surrounding the Quadrangle became reading rooms, and space for book storage was created by digging down under the buildings. The New Bodleian Library was built in the 20th century, and is linked to the other buildings through tunnels connecting the book stores. One fascinating feature of these is the pneumatic tubes formerly used for sending book requests down to the basement for retrieval. Requests are, naturally, now sent electronically, but library staff still work in the basement to retrieve items, box them, and send them to the desired locations by way of conveyer belts.