LIS British Studies – National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Our visit to the National Maritime Museum Caird Library and Archive was interesting. The collection is used to research families who could have been involved in maritime activities, maritime historical exploration, and texts related to the Royal Navy.

The library and archive are named after Sir James Caird. He spent his wealth building a museum collection.

The library is free to use but registration is required. They have over 6,000 open access books and 2,600 in their storage. They hold prints, chart material, atlases, drawings, and other texts that would be useful for maritime adventure. These range from the administration of the Navy to food and clothes for Navy members. The collection holds rare books that date to the pre-1800s. There are officer and sailor’s papers including some from survivors of the Lusitania.

Their cataloging system is the Universal Decimal Classification. These are broken down into piracy, shipping, slavery, biographies, admiralty administration, naval history, navigation, astronomy, journals, architecture, and social classes. The sections that are open access for patrons are quite easy to find within the shelves. Items that have to be retrieved by staff have to be ordered by a certain time so that a user can get their materials as soon as possible.

The archive is made of three different parts. Manuscripts are bound, boxes are laid horizontally flat, and folios sorted. There are maps in the archive that date back to the 15th century. Also, this collection holds pirate maps.

The library and archive within the National Maritime Museum is necessary because if something is not on display within the museum, there needs to be trained workers to keep the materials safe and preserved. This means that the artifacts and manuscripts will be able to be used for years to come. This repository will continue to serve those that are doing familial research as well as those with a great interest in maritime activities.

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