Today, I did some personal research for my Shakespeare paper at the best possible location in London: the Globe Library!
My paper will deal with the sources Shakespeare most likely used for his history plays and the means by which he obtained them. While searching for places to research, I decided to check out the Globe and see if they had any sources, only to discover gleefully they have their own library and research center.
To access the Globe Library, one has to request permission and prove he or she is a bona fide researcher, which is very much in keeping with the other research libraries we visited. A few days before the visit, I emailed the librarians there and explained my project. The Globe is very, very particular about when scholars can come in, only opening their doors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and in two short shifts: 10 am – 1 pm and 2 – 5pm. I set off for the Globe at 2:00 (leaving the Caird library), had an adventure on the Tube, and then got to the library at 3:00, giving me two hours to research.
The Globe Library is small, but they have a bunch of material to work with. Finding their location, however, is quite difficult. I first entered the Globe Theatre and was told to “go around to the side.” I did as I was told, only to have these same instructions at least three more times. When I finally found the correct door, I had to wait for the librarian to take me to the library itself. She told me to remain quiet as we walked to the library; a production was taking place. The library is located past a long, winding office with no cubicles, just rows and rows of desks smothered in stacks of books and papers. Indeed, it was difficult to navigate through this field of paper. To be honest, the complete disarray in which I found the library’s surrounding offices made me nervous.
The library is located in a small, confined room that also feels very messy. As we passed stacks of cardboard boxes full of papers, much of which was scattered on the floor, the librarian told me they have a good bit of stuff there.
Despite appearances, the visit was rewarding. I found some good books there, including a dissertation from 1904 about my topic, and got a good bit of work done. Many of the books are hard to find elsewhere, so I am very grateful to have researched at the Globe. I also learned a lot, including the fact that Shakespeare would have learned to read with a hornbook, which was a wooden paddle upon which his teacher would have attached a sheet of paper with his ABC’s, vowels, a poem or two, and the Lord’s Prayer.
Although off to a rocky start, the visit was productive, and I found sources that will definitely help me in my coming research.