In the latest blog installment from our Graduate Trainees, Rosie describes the unexpected pleasure of communing in Biography with the likes of Thatcher, Pepys and Rousseau.
Xavier and Alice have already written about some of the tasks expected of us as graduate trainees, and I’m sure London Library regulars have become used to having us around the place on a day-to-day basis. A crucial part of our daily routine involves managing our own section of the shelves – in fact, each member of staff takes care of a particular section of the library to ensure the books are always in the right place. However, this is not merely a case of haphazardly putting books on shelves! As well as making sure the books are in the correct places for library members to find, we’re in charge of sending any damaged books to be repaired, ensuring that there is enough space on the shelves for returned books and generally making sure that the library is neat and tidy.
I’m in charge of part of third floor Biography, from Nei to T to be exact, and I have discovered that a daily shelving session can prove to be rather therapeutic. The London Library boasts an impressive Biography collection and one thing I love about my shelving section is the sheer amount of knowledge and the experiences that are held on the shelves. George Orwell’s diaries sit in the same aisle as Florence Nightingale’s Suggestions for thought, there are over fifty different editions of Samuel Pepys’ letters and diaries and Sir Walter Scott has a number of shelves all to himself. The list of well-known names includes the likes of Thomas Paine, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dylan Thomas, Margaret Thatcher, Wilfred Owen; the list could go on and on. The volumes housed in the Biography section consist of works by the people themselves such as memoirs and journals, letters and correspondence and are often accompanied by biographies written by others.
The excellent thing about this section of the library is the very personal nature of the sources housed there. Could Pepys have predicted that people would still be reading his diaries over 300 years after they were written? Many of the decisions and actions taken by the people in Biography shaped the world we live in today, so I am pleased that the London Library takes great care to ensure that these books are preserved and the experiences of others continue to be documented and remembered.