On Saturday Guildhall Library will hold its first open day. As a public library, open to all six days a week the irony of closing our usual services to offer an ‘open’ day is not lost on us! So why are we doing it? We hope to take this chance to show you the breadth and depth of our collections.
Perhaps the most challenging question the staff are asked is “what does Guildhall library hold?” since it is not a question that can be answered concisely! We are the library of London history; in fact it is the largest collection on the history of a single city anywhere in the world. But our collections cover subjects wider than London alone: historic recipes dating back to 1531, the journeys and losses of merchant vessels, annual reports of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, 18th and 19th century travel books, books on archery, clocks and gardening can all be found in our collections.
However, as a closed access library most of this varied, fascinating and sometimes unique material is held in our book stores. This allows us to hold many times more material than we could fit on the open shelves in the Library. However, the downside is that all you can initially see is a list of catalogue records and, however good the catalogue, it can sometimes be difficult to get a sense of the item or collection.
As staff we are privileged to work with and have access to this remarkable material, but our collections are available to all and you are able to search our holdings and order and consult any item. Our bookstores hold a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. But sometimes it’s knowing where to start…
So our Open Day is an opportunity for us to tell you about some of the collections that we hold (we can’t manage to fit ALL of them in one day!). You can view a range of items from the collection and we will be on hand to tell you more. Through talks, workshops and drop in sessions we will also show you how you can access everything – from 15th century publications to the latest e-resources.
With collection displays, talks, films, tours and workshops there will be much to see and do along with London walks, provided by the City Guides (for which charge applies), that may encourage you to find more about the city. And next week normal service will resume, and we hope you will be inspired to visit and enjoy conducting your research in this impressive Library.
Our Open Day will be held this Saturday, 20th July, from 10am to 5pm. The full program can be found online here.