LIS British Studies – British Library

The British Library in London was very interesting. It was founded in 1753 as part of the British Museum. The library separated from the museum in 1972. The British Library is often compared with the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The four founders of the library include Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Joseph Banks, Thomas Granvil, and Sir Hans Sloane.

The stacks measure eight stories below the ground. This library holds the largest collection of stamps. Our guide mentioned that there would not be a way to view them all in one visit. The building was built to resemble a ship, including round windows that look like portholes on large boats.  Only one phase was completed but more were planned. Money was a big issue in why more expansion was not possible.

The British Library sorts books by size, not by alphabet or collection. This makes sense because the system is automated and holding by size make the automation know where to put the items easier. They have a room with machines that read the bar code on a book and is sent to its respective section within the library.  There is an off-site collections building that is fully automated.

There is a portion of the library that holds King George’s personal collection of over 85,000 works. This is still sorted in the way he had it sorted when in his personal library collection. These shelves can be moved back when someone needs to retrieve something from the shelves. King George IV donated his father’s collection with two stipulations: 1. that all of them stay together; 2. the collection has to stay in the same cataloging system. These stipulations are still being kept in the present library.

The room of treasures was neat because it holds a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, Beowolf, and Jane Austen’s writing desk, glasses, and a handwritten copy of Persuasion.



LIS British Studies – Oxford

One of our first class visits was to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. It was interesting to be in a place with so much history associated to it. We took a tour through the Divinity School room as well as the Art’s End gallery. This library is called the Bodleian because Thomas Bodley revived it at his own expense in 1602.

There are 38 colleges at the University of Oxford and each college has its own library. The Bodleian is a read only reference library with an electronic card catalog. The library was first opened to students in 1602 and was first used solely by professors before scholars were allowed to use it. Women were not allowed in lectures at the university and were not admitted until the late 1800s.

The Divinity School room took 65 years to build. Its first purpose  was to be a lecture room. The ornate ceiling was carved by William Orchard, a stone mason. This room was also used to film some scenes in the Harry Potter movies. It was like two of my favorite things, libraries and Harry Potter, collided and I geeked out for a bit when I was there.

The Arts End gallery was upstairs right outside the library’s reading room and book shelves. This was built around 1610/1612. The gallery holds both smaller books and larger books, with the small ones above and the large ones below. These books were once chained to the shelves so as to keep people from taking them too far away and stealing them or damaging them. The librarians have an example of a chained book still on display. All around the ceiling, there were panels that include coats of arms. The space above the Divinity School room was designated to hold royally collected manuscripts.

Any book published in the country must be offered to be held at the Bodleian but not every book is accepted.


Day 9

Sorry I haven’t updated this week! I haven’t had much down time. But that’s been a good thing because I’ve been on tours of awesome places! This post will be to update my family and friends but my next few will go into more detail on some of my visits. They’ll be graded for my class but obviously y’all can read them too if you want to know more of what I’ve been doing.

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken more selfies here than I took back home. It’s fun though to try to get a landmark in the background. Update on getting sunburned, I got a little bit but it’s not as bad as I was expecting!

Monday, we toured the museum of London. It was fun because it showed how London has changed since prehistoric days but also how some things do not change. Then I got to hang out with some of the people in my group. It’s really nice to have time set aside so to get to know the people I’m here with! I picked up a fan though because I knew it was supposed to get super hot in the next few days. This fan has been the best!

Tuesday was really cool. We got to take a day trip to Oxford. The town itself is neat and then we got to visit the university. I got to see a room where they filmed the Harry Potter infirmary scenes. The ceiling is awesome but I’ll talk more about it when I post about Oxford for a grade.


The whole town was awesome and the weather made it even nicer. I got to eat at a pub called the Eagle and Child. It’s a pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would patron. Then we went to visit Christ Church. It’s very pretty and the history of it was neat to find out. Some of their exhibits (like the dining hall used for Harry Potter) were closed for renovations the day we went but we still got to tour the actual cathedral. The grounds were beautiful and I got to know some other friends in my group there!

Wednesday was the hottest day that London has had in forever. I think I read that it got up to 98 degrees Fahrenheit at Heathrow. Now, I’m used to heat and humidity but the fact that some places do not have air conditioning is tough. My own dorm room doesn’t have a/c so I was definitely glad I had my little fan. The British Library was amazing and really neat to see everything in there! Then we went to the London Library which was really cool. But not air conditioned so it was hard to focus. I still really appreciated our guides for taking their time in the heat to take us on a tour. That night I got to go eat the Old Bank of England pub. It’s a beautiful place with delicious food.

Thursday was neat because we got to visit the British Museum’s archives. The British Museum is definitely somewhere I need to revisit so I can actually see more of the exhibits. The archives were neat because there seems to be a lot of interesting items down there. Then I got to go to the Royal Geographic Society and we were shown items from explorer’s travels. That night I got to go eat with some friends at a surprisingly fun Mexican restaurant.

Friday was my independent research day so I used it for planning out what I need to do while I’m here and for settling some research questions. I also did laundry and that was an adventure on its own. The machines here are quite complicated to finally get them to start. It was weird. I had a fun Friday night as well!

Well, today is the 4th of July. Happy Birthday, America!! I kind of feel weird to not actually be in the USA today. But hopefully I’ll be able to find something patriotic to do that won’t annoy the locals.

Side note, this city has a lot of smells. I never know what’s going on. But I did get caught in a London rain last night so that was fun!

Day 3

Today was pretty uneventful. For that, I’m thankful because I desperately needed to rest. I just needed some time to myself to calm down from the anxiety of being in a new place.

Except that the fire alarm went off this morning around 3:30. Apparently someone was smoking in their room and that is a big  no-no. The only good thing about that was that I could snap chat and message with people back home and they were actually awake!

I did leave my dorm though. I needed to go to the pharmacy to get some things and one of my friends invited me to join her. It’s really neat because Boot’s (the pharmacy) is in the Waterloo Station. It’s a huge train station with lots of shops and restaurants (plus it’s where the Starbucks is, I found out my first day here. #priorities) Also, side note for Mandi: I still say boots the same way. 🙂

While we were at the station, I saw a dog walking through. At first I was sad because he wasn’t with anyone but truthfully, he looked like he knew where he was going.

-Mary Rodgers Beal

Day 2

I’m actually surprised that I was able to sleep so well last night! I figure I was extra tired though. To be honest, I don’t remember much of yesterday. haha

Today was filled with a lot of fun! First, we had a class meeting. It was about our schedule and a formal introduction to our professors. The schedule just made me even more excited about where we’ll be visiting this month!

Then we got to tour Parliament! It was very interesting. There are so many details in the architecture and inner decorations. It’s amazing how much history has happened there. We had an audio tour so we could go as fast or as slow as we wanted.

Of course, I saw Big Ben!


After we left Parliament, I went with a group of other LIS students to find a cafe under a church that Dr. Welsh told us about. Sadly, we couldn’t find the cafe! We’ll have to search another time. Trafalgar Square was crazy busy though preparing for the Pride parade so we couldn’t search for it as easily as a less crowded day. Although, I figure that area is pretty busy most of the time. We found a place closer to our dorm and it was pretty good.

In the afternoon, we got to go on our London Alive tours. I signed up for the Sovereign, spies, and suffragettes walking tour. It was pretty interesting! There are a lot of amazing women in England’s history. Apparently there’s a movie coming out soon about Emmeline Pankhurst (played by Meryl Streep) called Suffragette. Her story sounds fascinating so I will definitely be going to see it.

That whole tour was pretty long so I was a little cranky after it. But then I got to go get fish and chips with one of my new friends!


Such a good choice and it was definitely something I had been looking forward to when I knew I was coming to London!

I went to get more groceries but realized I don’t have a knife to spread my peanut butter so I guess I’ll have to get some tomorrow!

Don’t worry, I’ve been using sunscreen on the daily so I haven’t gotten any sunburn!

-Mary Rodgers Beal

Day 1

Well, I’m in London!!! As excited as I am to be here, I am exhausted. It’s after 10:00 here and it’s already later than I planned to go to bed.

It’s been an eventful day to say the least. The plane ride from Houston to London was long and I wasn’t able to sleep. Then, the line to customs was windy. Then we took a bus to our residence hall and on our way, we saw a lot of London. I slept off and on then but I was awake in time to see the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. I had a few hours of down time before our orientation so I showered and slept a little more. That was nice! But then I went to orientation and it was fun to see everyone in our program together.

After orientation, we broke into groups of our classes to do a neighborhood tour. There are so many neat things around our residence hall! We’re so close to the river. We walked down the Queen’s Walk and that was lovely. Then we stopped to eat at a pizza place with delicious pizza! I hadn’t eaten in a long while so that was very welcome. It was also nice to socialize with my class before we actually start doing more class activities.

I’ll have more updates soon! And just so you know, some of these posts will be to recount activities for my class grade but I will have those tagged somehow.

-Mary Rodgers Beal

Hello world!

This blog will be to show my activities on my study abroad trip to England for the University of Southern Mississippi’s British Studies Program. I am working on my master’s in Library and Information Science. I cannot wait to see the sights around England with my class!

The meaning of my title uses my thirst for adventure as well as my initials. The rad is emphasized because I thought it was cute and because I am very excited for adventure.

-Mary Rodgers Beal