Friday, July 16, 2010

Day Trip: Stratford-Upon-Avon

On Wednesday, we visited Stratford-Upon-Avon. After our arrival, we had several hours to explore the town. With two other students, I visited three of the houses that were of significance to Shakespeare's life. The tour began with the Shakespeare Birthplace, which contained a visitor's center that extrapolated beyond the hard and fast evidence that surrounds Shakespeare's life to an extent that I would never be comfortable with, myself, if I were presenting my own research. However, all of the houses had period furnishings and exploring them was a good opportunity to explore Stratford-Upon-Avon as it was in the past as well as how it is in the present.

Nearby Shakespeare's Birthplace, we found a Carnegie library--the Stratford-Upon-Avon Public Library. This library was small, but has several features that make it very user friendly. As do the Barbican and Bath libraries, the Stratford-Upon-Avon library uses Dewey Decimal classification but label the shelves with the subjects the numbers stand for rather than just putting the numbers on the signage. Also, the newspapers, microfiche, and family history materials are all housed in the same room, a very practical instance of grouping materials according to how they will likely be used. Finally, the main floor houses only fiction, media, and the information desk on the main floor--reference was upstairs. This arrangement shocked me initially, but after poking around the building, I could see how this arrangement could be very sensible: patrons who only wanted to stop in to grab a novel or a movie, or to pay fees, could do so with maximum ease, while those who wanted serious research help would be able to access reference, nonfiction, and the family research room all in close proximity.

After a lot of walking, a play was just the thing to finish the day.

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