Sunday, 4 August 2013

Class 7: Royal Geographical Society Library and Archive (11/07/2013) 

Mr. Rae showing a map of the Nile River
Founded in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society and Library ( has over 2 million items in its collection. 1/2 million maps, 2,000 atlases, and 1/2 million images are just a few items that can be found in this building. Our class had the pleasure, and honor, to get an up close and personal look at this amazing archive.

Eugene Rae, the principle librarian of the Royal Geographical Society, was kind enough to tell us a little bit about the history of the society and how its run. Because this society is founded on the belief and ideals of its members, it is a library that relies heavily on donations and efforts from outside contributors. And while most of the items which can be found here are donated, the society does have to be selective in what they can accept. Space is limited and only objects which have a strong connection to the society, or one of its most famous members, are accepted. 

For items already in the collection, there is no classification scheme in place. Materials are given a shelf marker. There is an on-line database available, and the staff is working hard to digitize many items. At the moment, there is not enough funding to keep up with the digitization efforts, so things are added as they are requested/needed. 

Hot and Cold
A small sampling of items we got to see 
What really stood out about this tour was how Mr. Rae had various materials spread out around the table for us to look at. From a compass used by Charles Darwin to an Arabian coffee pot to a Burberry Helmet to a fox collar used in the arctic, this table was like taking a historical trip around the world. From hot to cold climates, he took us on an adventure from what it was like to try to explore the Nile River to the top of Mount Everest. His knowledge and passion for all the stories he told and all the items he held was truly amazing. Looking back, this was my favorite tour of the trip. It was just that fantastic. 
An Arabian Coffee Pot 

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