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A Grand Day Out - Behind the Scenes at the British Library

On Thursday 16th August fifteen staff from library and information services across the East Midlands took part in a special visit to the British Library at St Pancras.


Bursary day participants



The day offered a fantastic opportunity to have a tour of the library, to meet several of the library’s specialist curators, visit the Sacred exhibition and have a tour of the Treasures Gallery with Michelle Brown, the Library’s Outreach Officer and former curator of Illuminated Manuscripts.


Competition for the places was fierce with almost three times as many applicants as places available. The successful applicants came from a wide range of library backgrounds and sectors including public and higher education libraries and the health sector and many are currently working towards Chartership or Certification. All were delighted to be offered places and here are some of their comments on the day.


"It was both quite awesomely inspiring and rather scarily humbling; 'treat upon treat' . I enjoyed it 100%, only wished I could have stayed for more!!

"It was so informative and with such wonderful interesting speakers who obviously love their job! We saw delights such as the Magna Carta and Captain Scott's Diary, amazing religious manuscripts such as Lindisfarne Gospels and Dead sea scrolls and music scores from David Bowie to a personally annotated Haydn score!”

"Can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed yesterday. It was so good I felt like crying for most of the day!”

"This was my first "behind the scenes” experience at the St Pancras site and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The programme was well structured and informative and left me wanting more, but maximised the use of limited time. It gave a good introduction to the range of services the BL offers, and an idea of the size of the operation. The highlights for me were the two tours, of the building and of the Treasures. All the BL staff we met were friendly, approachable and very knowledgeable”.


Feedback from British Library staff has been equally positive; the curators appreciated the opportunity to meet staff working in local libraries who can spread the word about the range of resources available, the specialist support and the British Library’s very genuine commitment to enabling access to their collections.


So thanks to Michelle Brown and curators Steve Cork (Music collection), Jeremy John (Digital Manuscripts) and Paul Allchin (Science collection) and to Loraine Evans and Stephanie Kenna for their welcome and facilitation of the day. This really was a grand day out!


The visit was funded by the British Library, Libraries and Information East Midlands and the East Midlands Branch of CILIP and one of the aims was to raise awareness of the British Library Travel and Research Bursary Scheme. The scheme is now closed.