Monday, 13 July 2009

St. Paul's Cathedral

Today we visited the St. Paul's Cathedral and library. The cathedral was a real architectural gem. The library preserves many volumes relating to the history of the cathedral, the church, individuals related to the church, people buried under the foundation, theology, history, and other subjects related to the mission of the church. The library is staffed by one professional librarian with the help of church volunteers. It has books in such languages at French, Russian, and one book in Icelandic. It has approximately 20,000 volumes in total. Actually it seemed a large task for a single person. It seems like it could be good for the scholarly community to have many of these volumes digitized, but in the real world issues such as time, staffing, and funding come into play. Instead, the librarian seems to respond to information requests on a per case basis as they come in. It seemed with more money he could do more conservation, cataloging, and digitization projects. It seemed like a very difficult job which included the need for knowledge about history, theology, architecture, and most likely the understanding of multiple languages. The librarian is not attempting to reinvent the wheel, however. He uses cataloging records that have previously been done by other librarians and tweaks them a little for his uses. He does not manually enter the text of the documents he has scanned. Instead, he uses optical recognition software.

Overall it was a very interesting tour. It reminded me of places I have worked where projects could be done, but without the funding to do them they do not get completed. It was still a beautiful library, however, and it seemed he was keeping up very effectively with supporting researchers and the church community.

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