Friday, 20 February 2009


So...I was going to tell you about my trip to the House of Commons on Wednesday wasn't I?

This was actually a visit to the Commons library as they have an open day every year, and this was an opportunity for any library staff to hear about the library services provided to our MPs and see what the library looked like and stuff like that.

Although London is actually all that far away, due to the rush hour it was decided that we had a early start which meant setting the alarm for 5:30am. Let's just say that I am very glad that I don't get up at that time every day. Anyway, we got to London in plenty of time and was dropped off outside Westminster Palace (for those that don't know - this is where the British parliament resides) and then walked to Portcullis House.

Portcullis House is a modern building and has some serious security too - we all had our photos taken and printed out to wear as our visitors passes. We were walked up to the conference room where the presentations were taking place and on the way we saw that the halls were filled with paintings of various MPs, my favourite one was of Tony Benn (a long serving Labour MP) - it was just full of detail; there's a mars bar in the corner, a broken button on Benn's cardigan, and his shoelaces don't match! I could have stood there all day getting all the details of the painting.

But, I had to go and listen to a few people (some interesting and some not so!) tell us about the library services of the House of Commons before getting a tour of the libraries and the Commons Chambers in the afternoon. I wont bore you with the details of the presentations, but the main library was just how you might picture a gentlemans club - all green chairs, and table lamps with stacks of paper for writing notes on. Of course, there were shelves stretching from floor to ceiling all laden with books on all sorts of subjects, I would have loved to browse amongst the shelves but we had no time at all and I am sure that we wouldn't have been left alone in the library to wander at our leisure.

There was a bit of a surprise at the end of the day - before we left, we were asked to complete an evaluation form and in return we were given bags of loot...

*post it notes
*ID Lanyard
*memory stick (all with library logo and details on them)

All of which was very nice to receive, but I can't help wondering just how much public money gets spent on promotional items like this!


Mrs. Spit said...

When I went to the UK 10 or so years ago, I told everyone, nothing newer than 1800. I spent an entire day at the HofP, another at Westminster. Didn't get to go to the Tower. Next time.

Thanks for the description. sounds like my kind of place!

Carolyn said...

Great post! Really enjoyed hearing about this library. Very cool they opened it up that way.

(Good on you for getting up at 5:30am, too!)

Alice Teh said...

I wonder, too, but then I guess since they've handed out the goodies, might as well enjoy them. :)