Artifact 2 | Scholarly ePublishing Travel Blog and Daily Notes
Project Description: The purpose of this assignment was to record my experiences and perspectives on daily activities during my study abroad experience in London, England. While in London I created an online blog of daily events and included several photos to help describe each day’s events.
My experience studying abroad was memorable to say the least. One of the scheduled tours in London was the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum and National Library, pictured left. At the V&A, we met with one of the librarians and the director of information services. I was surprised at what a magnificent collection of rare books they had, not to mention all but three of the original Charles Dickens manuscripts! The physical structure of the library was spectacular. The downside of having such a unique structure was its lack of air conditioning, humidity control, and controlled storage rooms or vaults for fragile manuscripts. This left precious documents out in the open exposed to fluctuating temperatures, humidity, and more. The library had no current plans to digitize their collection, nor to make changes to preserve or protect one-of-a-kind documents in their possession like the Charles Dickens manuscripts. The director of information services discussed challenges the National Art Library was currently facing particularly dealing with the library’s budget. He confessed to our class that the library’s operation budget was practically nonexistent. Expectations of library patrons, however, were continually increasing and operations, such as digitization, are extremely labor intensive, require staff training and time, and additional space. I asked the director about his sense of urgency for digitizing the library’s one-of-a-kind materials, like the Dickens manuscripts, especially given the uncontrolled environment of the library. His response was,” the books would be better outside in the garden than inside the library, however, with their extremely small budget, there were no plans for change in the near future.” After the tour concluded, I was stunned that such a beautiful library with a one-of-a-kind collection could be so mismanaged.
Several days later we visited ProQuest and learned the techniques and practices of their company. They told us how they go about finding new projects, which is that they talk with librarians, users of their products, and historians to find out what the need is. After the presentation, I mentioned the V&A Library and their one-of-a-kind collection, specifically the Charles Dickens manuscripts. The executive told me that projects such as the V&A Library were right up their alley. Several weeks later after returning to the United States, I received a message from the same executive I met at ProQuest on LinkedIn further inquiring about who we met with at the V&A and asking for their contact information. Though I know it’s only the first steps, I do feel it is moving in the right direction to digitally preserving a piece of literary history.