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Department of Information Studies


#libday8 – Wednesday

By Ellen Allardice, on 1 February 2012

This blog entry is part of a series of posts by DIS students for the Library Day in the Life Project.

I’m a third year modular student on the MA Library and Information Studies course at UCL. This year I am working on my dissertation, having completed the taught part of the course over the past two years.  For the dissertation, I have chosen a topic area that I found particularly interesting – Bibliography.  My choice of the Historical Bibliography module as an option was unexpected, as I had intended to focus on IT related topics.  However a visit to the National Art Library at the V&A (recommended by a librarian at work) inspired me to change at the start of my second year.    I remember being enthralled by the display of the early manuscripts and various editions of Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

For my dissertation, I am exploring the history and development of bibliography as a field of study, and will be looking at its major achievements, for example the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC).  Also, I want to investigate if and how the discipline has influenced contemporary digital age projects, to see if bibliography is still relevant today.  This involves a lot of reading!


I start the morning by listening to a podcast of  ‘The Scientific Method’, a programme in the In Our Time series broadcasted on Radio 4 last Thursday (recommended by Lyn Robinson from City University via twitter).  This interested me as it was in the early 20th century that bibliography was first promoted as a distinct scholarly field focusing on a rigorous, scientific approach.   I found the broadcast useful as it was apparent that there are parallels between the evolution of ‘the scientific method’ and changes to approaches in bibliography.  When this has finished, I continue reading up on the history of bibliography until it is time for lunch and then work.

I work part-time for Hertfordshire Public Library Service, and today is my late shift at Hatfield library.  On Wednesday, we hold a Story and Rhyme Session for the under-fives, so the early afternoon is always very busy but rewarding!  Today I also spend time with a colleague that I am supervising for the Frontline online course by Opening the Book Ltd.  The course is designed to “embed the reader-centred approach in the everyday thinking of staff who work directly with books and readers in public libraries”. Today we discuss how best to recommend and promote books that we do not like reading ourselves!

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