The Shy Knitter

Friday, February 02, 2007

School is Cool.....

Warning: no knitting content in this post.

As many of you know, in my 'other life' I am a library technician. What you may not know is that I have gone back to school part time (George Brown College) to get the Archival and Records Management Practices Certificate. Anyway, we all know that the best part of school has always been field trips, and last night our class went to the University of Toronto's Archives for an after hours tour.

Now, this was a great field trip for a number of reasons. First of all, U of T's Archives are located within the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library which is adjacent to Robart's Library. Now I am not usually a fan of concrete and glass type buildings, but the affect of this library was breath taking (the outside doesn't even hint at what is in the inside). An atrium looks up four stories and down one at walls that are covered in rare books. Railings on each floor have glass on the sides so you can see the books on each level. We were taken to the fourth floor, to have a look from above. I forgot that I have a bit of vertigo, and the fact that the aisles were probably no more than 3 feet across didn't add to my lack of ease. We didn't see individual pieces in the library, but they have a medical collection that includes such as Banting's personal papers and an original folio of William Shakespeare. Very cool!!

We then went to the top floor to see the archives which visually didn't have the same impact, but was interesting none the less. Items of note were U of T's original charter (which went missing for 5 years when someone threw it in the garbage, and a history student found it), Paul Martin's year book, an essay written by Mackenzie King (received a satisfactory grade) and the yearbook for Norman Bethune (it hinted he was headed for great things). We also had a look at photographs, maps and student publications that dated back to the early 20th century. Included in the archival holdings is a map worked on by a Canadian general seconded by the British army of Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. It was to mark out the area that was affected by the blast, and had an accompanying report. The man who worked on this (I forget his name) was plagued by cancer after this time, and died of cancer in his 70s.

A fascinating field trip over all, and I can see why our teacher considers herself an archivist tourist. Visiting these places could be as interesting as going to various museums.


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