Repository Bingo, Part 1
Pushed for time this week, so here’s a reblog of an early post that drew quite a big response – my ‘top ten’ repositories in the UK. There have been a few changes since I originally posted this: the British Library has recently permitted photography (hurrah!); the National Library of Scotland has a shiny new manuscript reading room; the Pepys Library has finally liberalised its opening hours; and, less positively, the Imperial War Museum is considering charging researchers ridiculously high daily fees for access. The Bodleian has also just opened a huge new reading room which I haven’t had the chance to visit yet, but no doubt I’ll report back when I do.
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the start of my research into the seventeenth century navy – or at least, the formal, funded, full-time student start, as I’d been tentatively examining the subject during the previous couple of years, when I was still teaching in Cornwall. Apart from the fact that realising it’s been thirty years is making me feel really, really old, one of the great pleasures of spending all that time on research has been that it’s enabled me to work in some of Britain’s (and the world’s) greatest repositories and libraries. So I thought one of the things I’d do to celebrate my ‘thirtieth’ is to share my experiences of those institutions – their good points, their quirks, and their sheer infuriating inanities. I’ve also visited very many of the local archives and record offices in Britain, from Perth to Truro and from Haverfordwest to Norwich…
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