Monday, 10 August 2009
We visited the Shakespeare Library in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was of course Shakespeare's birthplace. This library has materials surrounding the town of Stratford, Shakespeare's plays and poems, an the Royal Shakespeare Company. The library is not funded by the government, and is actually a charity. They receive money from donations and also from revenue created from the Shakespeare's birthplace which charges for admission. I found it a little curious that Shakespeare is considered by many to be the best writer ever in the English language, and yet the library seemed to be struggling for funding. It seemed there were a lot of projects they wanted to do and couldn't do because of lack of funding. They also relied a lot on volunteers. I find the question of volunteers interesting because they can really help a library, but are many times not professionally trained. Also, because they have no real motivating factor besides wanting to be there, there is no real way to improve their quality of work because its not like they can be fired or punished because they are giving their time like a gift instead of fulfilling a contract lie with paid employment. Obviously, many libraries rely on volunteers and they can really help, but it seems it should be more of an augmentation to trained professionals rather than seriously relied on to keep the library running.
It seemed an interesting relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It seemed they gave the library many materials to house, but I was unclear as to whether the Royal Shakespeare Company helped in the funding. And if the library acts as an archive for the organization, shouldn't they help them out especially if they are struggling? I found it curious.
It was a very valuable library with many important early works relating to Shakespeare and the town of Stratford. I was just feeling a little bad for their funding situation.