Destination: London: The University of Southern Mississippi’s British Studies Program Prepares for Summer 2015

How would you like to spend a month in beautiful London, England, while earning graduate course credits? How would you like to earn those credits by touring some of the UK’s most important and historic libraries, archives, and special collections?

If yes, then you may wish to enroll in British Studies 2015, a month-long study abroad program hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) that takes students on guided, behind-the-scenes tours of libraries and archives in London, Oxford, Greenwich, and Edinburgh. The program is offered June 25 to July 29, 2015, and carries six hour's of credit from The University of Southern Mississippi, a fully accredited institution of higher learning.

Out of the Classroom and Into the Field

Big Ben as seen from the Queen’s Walk, just a five minute stroll from program headquarters on Stamford Street.

Big Ben as seen from the Queen’s Walk, just a five minute stroll from program headquarters on Stamford Street.

The program’s purpose is to enhance understanding of the LIS field in the global community by taking students out of the classroom and directly into libraries and archives. Students learn on-site about historic and modern British repositories and collections from distinguished British librarians, archivists, and curators. Last year students visited the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon (where they also saw a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of Henry IV), the Westminster Abbey library, the British Museum Archives, the British Library, the Museum of London’s Archives, Stowe House School Library, St. Paul’s Cathedral Library, the London Archaeological Archive and Records Center, the Barbican Centre Library, the National Maritime Museum Library and Archives in Greenwich, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Art Library and Archives, the Maughan Library at King’s College, the National Library and Archives of Scotland, the University of Edinburgh’s New College Library Rare Book Collection, the Royal Geographic Society, the Middle Temple Law Library, Edinburgh’s Central Library, and history’s earliest Carnegie library in Dunfermline, Scotland. There were also optional day trips to Stonehenge, Winchester, Dover, the Houses of Parliament, and across the English Channel to Paris. Harry Potter fans were especially delighted to visit the Elephant House coffee shop in Edinburgh and Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

Student Ashley Zengerski of Indiana University examines a map from the Maughan Library’s special collections.

Student Ashley Zengerski of Indiana University examines a map from the Maughan Library’s special collections.

Living in the Heart of the City

One of the program's greatest assets is its location. Headquartered in central London at the King's College dormitory on Stamford Street, students are only about a hundred yards from Waterloo Station and within just a few minutes’ walk from Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, the theater district, and the Queen’s Walk on the south bank of the Thames. A historic recreation of the Globe Theatre, the world-famous Old Vic Theatre, and the modern National Theatre are all only a short distance away. In their free time students often visit the National and National Portrait Galleries at Trafalgar Square; shop at Camden Market, Piccadilly Circus, Portobello Road, and Oxford Street; browse rare book shops on Charing Cross Road; attend world-class stage productions in London’s West End; walk the famous crossing at Abbey Road; ride the London Eye; and tour the famous Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio in Watford. Students demonstrate their learning through several course assignments tailored to their experiences abroad, among them a reflective blog and a research paper on an approved topic related to British libraries, archives, special collections, or services. The 2014 class’s blog and photo album may be viewed here: http://usmbritishstudies14.blogspot.com/. More information about course requirements and assignments, including the tentative 2015 schedule and syllabus, is available at: http://www.usm.edu/library-information-science/british-studies.

The Radcliffe Camera, just one of the Bodleian Library’s many splendors at Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera, just one of the Bodleian Library’s many splendors at Oxford.

Reserve Your Place for 2015

The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Library and Information Science is a fully ALA-accredited MLIS program and, over the last eight years, dozens of students from LIS and IS programs from across the US have joined its British Studies class. The 2014 class included 24 graduate students from LIS programs at Rutgers, the University of South Carolina, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Wisconsin, SUNY Buffalo, the University of Texas, the University of Tennessee, and Indiana University, among others.

Registration is now open, but space is limited. The cost for this year’s program is $7,200 (lower than last year’s cost) and includes tuition, round-trip air travel, housing, and academic travel, including a 3-day trip to Edinburgh and day trips to Greenwich and Oxford. The deposit deadline is February. Qualified students can normally get financial aid, and should apply through their local financial aid office. However, the University of Southern Mississippi’s International Programs Office is more than happy to provide information and assistance regarding financial aid and credit transfer; please call 601-266-4344 or visit http://www.britishstudiesprogram.org.

For more program details and to apply online, visit: http://www.usm.edu/british-studies. For information about the course content, assignments, or schedule, feel free to contact the LIS organizers Teresa S. Welsh (teresa.welsh@usm.edu, 601.296.0528) or Matthew Griffis (matthew.griffis@usm.edu, 601.266.4228). Hope to see you in London!

Article written by Matthew Griffis and Teresa S. Welsh, School of Library and Information Science, University of Southern Mississippi