Yesterday, the class went on a trip to Bletchley Park. This is the place where the British housed their code breaking and MI6 departments during the first half of the twentieth century.
Along with the areas dedicated to the code breakers, the National Museum of Computing is also located there.
While we did not see any libraries or archives, our group was given tours of the different areas. These guides explained the different ways that computers have changed and how computers helped in the process to break codes.
We also were shown how memory in computers has changed.
To think, every computer can trace its history back to this place.
After the wonderful tours my class went on, it got me thinking about the differences between how the public is handled in the United Kingdoms versus in the United States. In the United States, the American Library Association has a code of conduct which librarians are suppose to follow along with the different ways that librarians should help those who are having trouble accessing information. In the United Kingdoms, the libraries do not have any national organization. Libraries form communities in areas with rules of how a patron should be helped, but while these rules and regulations tend to be similar, there are variations throughout the country. What makes the situation even more precarious for an individual doing research or simply wishing to access information are the many private libraries and private institutions. Rarely do private institutions in the United States extremely limit access to there collections to patrons who are not members. Most organizations try to provide access and clearly explain their limits and have staff who try and provide any help they can. Unfortunately, I have run across a few institutions here in England which are not as welcoming as I would has expected from a library or archive.
In the end, this is about the different ways that libraries have some to deal with public patrons. While in the United States, libraries and archives seem to have realized there is a need to be open and forthcoming when dealing with the public, some institutions in England do not seem to have reached that same conclusion.