Friday, 1 August 2008

Caird Library, National Maritime Museum: July 16th 2008

(photo taken from:

Anchors away.

Quite appropriately, we took a boat to the Caird Library located in Greenwich. We were kindly greeted by Hannah Dunnow, the archives and manuscript librarian at the National Maritime Museum. The museum origins date back to 1934 although it was not made accessible to the public until 1937. The National Maritime Museum is one of the largest libraries of its kind and the collection holds approximately 2.5 million items which are loaned to museums across Britain. Items included in the collection are charts, maps, atlases, personal diaries, and naval logs.

The mission of the museum is to,"illustrate the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people." The latter idea is reflected in some initiatives the museum is implementing such as access to a Climatological Database which provides resources on the environmental impact of industrialization on the world's oceans.

We started our tour of the library with a brief overview, after which we were led to a room filled with rare books. Here, Hannah introduced us to Rene and Mike, two conservationists who gave us a broadstroke view of some of the items available at the library.

Buried Treasures: The items we viewed pertained to life at sea. One item I found particularly interesting was a "how to" guide of becoming a sailor as well as a book that was bound by gun pellets and meant to sink should a ship come under siege. All in all, it is amazing to see the primary sources hidden within library walls.

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