Let me tell you, was I ever impressed! The librarian, Eugene, was absolutely brimming with geographical knowledge and it was apparent that he is deeply passionate about his field. Not only did he give us the background of the society and the collection they maintain, but he also presented us with some intriguing stories about early exploration, as well as some of the COOLEST things I have seen during this trip.
Here are some highlights:
- The Royal Geographical Society, originally the Geographical Society of London was founded in 1830 and was granted its Royal Charter in 1859.
- The society is housed in Lowther Lodge, which was built in the 1870s, and to which the society moved in 1912/13. Originally, all the collections were spread about the house, but are now in one central location in the Foyle Reading Room, which was added just a few years ago.
- The group was formed in order to 'promote the advancement of geographical science' by collecting geographical knowledge and disseminating it to a wider audience. This was done mainly through the encouragement of traveling (particularly to Africa, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and central Asia) and collecting data and it was through this data collection that the library was started.
- The library contains:
- personal effects
- scientific instruments
- The collection is around 2 million items, including 1 million maps, 1/2 million images, 250,000 bound volumes, 1,000 metres of archive materials, and 1,500 objects in special collections.
- 1/2 of the card catalogue is digitized.
- Access to the collection is free for students, educators (including library professionals), and members of the society.