Before coming to the UK, I had found on the British Library website that tours of the conservation centre are organised on a weekly basis for the general public to visit this newly set-up centre at the library. Of course, I was immediately interested, but when I went to look for tickets when I arrived here I found everything booked up to November (which was the last tour appearing for booking)…I was disappointed, but decided to send off an email to the library asking to be booked onto the next free tour…they replied back saying all tours were available and if I just chose one of the dates I can get on, so I decided to get on the next one (which was today). Also when I checked back on the website, all appeared to have free places..hmmm…was it me not being able to see quite well or what?
Well, from UCL today I walked to the BL (a 20minute walk) in time for the tour…there was just me and another lady…hmmm…the guides said…this is the least we have ever had! Well…so maybe there had been a computer glitch where all tours appeared full, which meant that we were a very small group – Great! – the other lady is a masters student at the Camberwell school of arts doing an M.A. in Conservation, so that meant that both had a bit of background…and thus could get a better understanding.
Going through the place I was impressed at how it is set-up and organised. Everything is quite now, and the centre was purposely built, so it has just what they need there (as opposed to their previous location which was a veyr old house apparently). Also, the tour included us talking to specific people in the room and them explaining what they are doing (ever week it is different people explaining). Its a good idea as you get a practical understanding of the work, rather than just a brief overview of what goes on.
However, I was quite disappointed that when I asked if there were any scientists working there I was told that there are scientists working in the library, but there doesn’t appear to be any sort of communication between the conservators and the scientists. It’s a pity, because I was expecting that an institution such as the BL would have them working closer together to bring forward more and better research. Also, the tour doesn’t include visiting the scientist’s…that was a bit of a disappointed.
All in all a good tour…Glad I went there and hope to go back again. Maybe sometime I will also be able/willing to spare some money to ‘Adopt a Book‘, or maybe one of you would be up to doing it?