Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Caird Library at the Greenwich Maritime Museum - July 12

On Monday, July 12th we visited the Caird Library at the Greenwich Maritime Museum. We were greeted by Hannah Dunmow, Manager of Archives and Manuscripts.

The current library consists of an e-library in the lobby and the Caird Library. In preparation for their move to a new state-of-the-art facility for the Library is currently operating with restricted hours. Instead of their usual 6 days a week, they are only open 3 days a week.

The Library has been open since its founding in 1937 by Sir James Caird. The initial collection was comprised of manuscripts, archives, charts, journals, and ephemera. The subjects ranged from emigration, navigation, piracy, astronomy, voyages and exploration, naval architecture, Merchant and Royal Navies, and geological sources.

The patron demographics vary from academic scholars to yacht builders to people interested in genealogy. Prior to the relocation project, the Library received 3,000 to 4,000 visitors each year. However, the shortened hours have curtailed this number while written inquiries have increased. Unfortunately, the Library has had to redirect many of these inquiries to the National Archives.

The staff here were so gracious and after providing some background information, Hannah and her colleague Martin showed us some of the treasures from the collection. Among these items were a book from the H.M.S. Bounty (famous for the mutiny), a copy of the Aurora Australis, an atlas from 1686, and two letters between Horatio Nelson and his wife.

After the Library tour, Kelly and I browsed around the Museum until we were unceremoniously booted out by a fire alarm. We toured the Queen's House next and then made our way up the ridiculously steep hill to see the Prime Meridian and one of the best views of London. Below is proof that I made it! (Cue the theme song from Rocky...)

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