London and Stratford-upon-Avon
It is coming around to essay time again and this term we can't just rely on books so I've spent some time recently exploring the archives at the V&A in London and those at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Both days have been really interesting, I work in a library that is connected to the local Record Office and that holds some rare books, images and ephemera but to visit some archives as a customer/student was really nice.
In both places the staff were incredibly helpful both before and during my visit and were endlessly patient with my queries about the catalogues as I tried to locate items relevant to my investigations and I think I have got some useful information.
The nice thing about both archives was the mix of people in them, there were some people doing very serious research, students and others who were almost there on a whim. It made the rooms feel very relaxed and open.
The only sad thing in some ways for me was that the theatre archive for the V&A is housed out at Olympia (in the building above) and not at the museum itself so I didn't get to study in the fabulous on site reading room:
I did spend an hour or so in the Theatre Galleries at the V&A before catching my train home and they were also wonderful - so varied. Everything from a poster advertising a Queen concert to a First Folio Shakespeare. The galleries are free and there is a daily tour which I shall endeavour to take at some point soon.