Posts Tagged ‘museums’


#libday8 – Plantin-Moretus Museum

February 3, 2012

Answering proof queries at the hotel

The conference visits were today. I had reason to be doubly glad that I went to the Miraeus Lecture on Tuesday, as I had to miss the visit to the Hendrik Conscience Library in favour of answering proof queries.

I did make the visit to the wonderful Plantin-Moretus Museum, which was magical. It began to snow while we were inside, and the views of the garden were rendered even prettier as a result. Of course, our real interest was in the books and printing presses.

Click through for a slideshow of images, as well as links to what the students have been up to back home:

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Ambassadors of the Book

September 30, 2011

I’m really looking forward to the RBMS Midterm in Antwerp next February. Entitled ‘Ambassadors of the Book: Competences for Heritage Librarians’ it will discuss the education of the next generation of rare books specialists.

From the IFLA RBMS website:

What are the competences needed for the heritage librarians of the future, and how can these competences be taught at different levels of library education? Those questions will be discussed during an international conference at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), on 1 and 2 February 2012. During two days, librarians and people in charge of library teaching programmes will be invited to confront their ideas. It is hoped that presentations of best practices during the conference will serve as inspiring models of new programmes in the future, and that at the end of the conference, some consensus may be reached about the range of competences needed.

The paper that’s been accepted is based on the research I did for my PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, which found that practical activities not only help build practical skills but also aid in conceptual learning.

I can’t wait to meet others who teach Historical Bibliography across Europe (and possibly the USA), and to hear from those still in practice exactly what they are looking for from new professionals.

It will also be fantastic to be back in Antwerp – a city I’ve not visited for around 15 years. It will be great to see first-hand the Museum Plantin-Moretus – I’m assuming that there will be a group excursion to this treasurehouse of early modern printing (and if not, I’ll be heading there on my own). By coincidence one of my students gave me a copy of the guidebook for the museum, which includes lots of lush pictures of printing presses and type. Roll on February 2012.

Image: Bust of Christopher Plantin by Jim Forest. Copyright commons, some rights reserved.

This blog entry was written and posted on 25 October 2011.


Expanding into Digital Space

January 12, 2010

Today my colleague Claire and I went through to Reading to conduct the first of the interviews for the Linksphere Project. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but it was the first time I’ve been to Reading, notwithstanding its renowned Department of Typography and Graphic Communication which is always advertising amazing exhibitions. I simply did not realise that the journey time was only half an hour … and the off-peak ticket only £15 return. Bargain!

Anyway, today we were visiting the Ure Museum of Classical Archaeology, one of the participants in Linksphere, and extremely interesting as it has a relatively small physical museum space, but a rather large online presence. Its database became available on the Internet in 2002, and it has literally thousands of images, available at different resolutions.

Conducting the interview was a really interesting way to encounter a collection for the first time. The museums taking part have completed an online questionnaire that we sent them, so the first clue to what the Ure would be like came from that. Then, of course, we looked at the website and database, and built up a further picture. Then we interviewed the curator.It wasn’t until after our interview that we ventured into the museum itself.

Walking into the physical space really hammered home the commonplace assertion that museums and galleries display roughly 10-30% of their holdings at any one time. The Ure’s physical space was large enough to accommodate a boisterous class of primary schoolchildren, accompanying adults and the Assistant Curator, activity tables and chairs, as well as us two lurkers post-interview. But it was nowhere near the size of the digital collection. Which just goes to show how important digital spaces are for specialist collections like the Ure. Researchers from all over the world regularly use its resources for research from school to post-doctoral level, and the Museum and the curation of the Museum are important parts of teaching.

And that teaching is not just targeted at academics. I really liked the trail for families with children under five, Sophie’s World of Pots. In the snapshot on the left you can see Sophie with one of the Ure’s pots. Claire tweeted the tag-line from the Ure’s outreach leaflet to schools “Where can you find a mummified cat’s head in Reading?” and we were impressed by how many people knew the answer. The leaflet goes on to suggest that young people can “Discover more about Greek mythology and life through images on our many vases. Find out how Odysseus escaped the Cyclops’ cave or study scenes of warriors going into battle.”

The whole Greek world on an urn … or its image on the web.

[Just to reiterate, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and do not reflect that of my department, colleagues and collaborators, or the final conclusions of any research in which I am taking part]


Pier 21

May 9, 2009

Pier 21The SALIS Conference dinner was held inside Pier 21, a museum about Canadian immigration. The tour of the research centre was a little disappointing – the work they do being quite standard for museum and genealogical libraries, and the highlight for me being hearing that they’ve got around 30,000 digital objects with sparse metadata that they need to go back and recatalogue with museum standard tags. Thirty thousand. Wow.

The museum tour was utterly fantastic,led by a charismatic guide called George, who himself had immigrated from the Netherlands in the fifties and entered the country through Pier 21. We could have listened to him all night – he really brought the history of the place alive and was so humorous and courteous that I didn’t want to leave him, even for the lovely lobster dinner they had laid out in the middle of the exhibition space. Complete with disposable lobster bibs, of course – the perfect mix of fine food and casual laid-back dining experience for SALIS …


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