Tue 8 Jan 2008
Very nice place, Oxford, I should think, for people that like that sort of place.
George Bernard Shaw
I serve on several publishers’ library advisory boards, and I attended the fall meeting of a major publisher in Oxford, England this November. Other than spending several hours at Heathrow Airport, this was my first visit to England. While half of my time was spent in a windowless room discussing publishing trends, library budgets, and Open Access, Carolyn and I did get two days to explore the city.
After the meeting ended Friday afternoon, we had dinner with Dr. Sarah Thomas, previously the director of Cornell University Libraries in Ithaca, and now the Bodley’s Librarian at Oxford University. Dr. Thomas is the 24th Bodley’s Librarian, the first woman to hold the title, and the first non-British Bodley’s Librarian. Yes, she’s that impressive. The Bodley’s Librarian position goes back to 1600.
And while I live in New York City, which started as a Dutch fur trading settlement in 1625, Oxford makes New York seem, well, new. There is almost nothing still standing in New York City that pre-dates the Revolutionary War. Some of the buildings at Oxford University were built in the 13th century, and they’re still being used today.
The weather was cool, and it was mostly overcast with occasional showers, but I was able to take lots of photos. Over the days I was editing my photos and processing them in Photoshop, I was also reading P.D. James’ “The Children of Men.” I had recently caught the movie on cable, and wanted to read the original. The loose film adaption adds a lot of chase and war scenes that are not in the book, which is far more moody and melancholy. Also, most of the book takes place in Oxford. It was fascinating to read descriptions (and James writes excellent descriptions) of streets and places I had just seen.
James calls Oxford “…this grey city, where even the stones bear witness to the transience of youth, of learning, of love.” I tried to capture some of this feeling in some Photoshop manipulations. Hope you like them.
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