Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Ivey Family London Room Tour - February 4, 2014

On Tuesday afternoon the SLA and few other students from the MLIS program at UWO took part in a tour of the Ivey Family London Room. The London Room is located in the Central Public Library and is a research facility for genealogy and local history. The library has a wealth of original and secondary source materials about the city of London, Middlesex County, and surrounding Counties.
Arthur McClelland, the head librarian of the London Room lead the tour and gave us a very exclusive look into the special collection and informed us of the rich history of the London Room. First opened in 1967, as a center for local history, the library wasn’t much more than a tiny room. Since then it has grown to a very valuable collection, consisting of: out-of-print and rare books by London authors, a huge microfilm collection that includes The London Advertiser (1864 -1936), The London Free Press (1849-present) and other local newspapers, city directories (1856-1980), building information, fire insurance plans and much, much more!

       The special collection holds the city directories and many other municipal documents. All of the directories exist in microfilm format for easy accessibility. The special collection also holds photographs of local buildings and people taken in the 19th and early 20th century. The photos have all been digitized and can be browsed online for free! The genealogy collection is of the biggest collections in the area, reaching beyond Middlesex County, including cemetery transcriptions for eight counties around London, Ontario censuses, Ontario marriage records and passenger ship lists. Use of the materials is unrestricted as condition will permit, some of the materials are very fragile, or incredibly rare, and could be destroyed by excessive handling. Materials are accessible to the public, free of charge, however some items must be handled by the library staff. The London Room is a magnificent resource for locals, or previous Londoners who want to learn more about property, local organizations, or family history.

The tour was an incredibly valuable learning experience for anyone interested in special libraries. This was a very unique special library that specializes in local history. The London Room doesn’t define itself as the local archives, yet it most certainty functions as the archives for the city, since London and Middlesex County does not have an archives where this information would be accessible otherwise.

Joshua Klar is from London, Ontario and is an MLIS student at Western University. He is the special events coordinator of the SLA student chapter at Western and is particularly interested in archives and special collections. 

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