Arts Emergency

Lesley Ruthven

Librarian and Academic

Lesley Ruthven

I work in a university library, which makes me an information superhero. For part of my job I’m in charge of the archive of a major 20th century Russian composer (Sergei Prokofiev – you may know him from his great work on The Apprentice theme song). My educational background is in Classics (Greek and Roman history, language, etc.), Classical Archaeology and Historic Bibliography (old/rare books and what they tell us about people and society).
I’m volunteering because we need a wide variety of people, including many who have studied the arts and humanities, to make our society work. I particularly want to help people use all the excellent information resources that are out there, but that they may not know they’re entitled to.
I love rare books and special collections. I know about quite a few excellent collections around London and you don’t need to be a high-flying researcher to use them. If you’re inspired by handling real historic artefacts I can probably find you something that will make you happy. Maybe you want to look at a few medieval manuscripts to inform your art or design project. Or maybe you’re into theatre history and want to know what was on the costume inventory of an Elizabethan theatre producer. Want to read Darwin’s Origin of Species? Why not read the first chapter out of a first edition at the Royal Society? Bring along your library copy and bookmark where you left off. You have access to a lot of cool stuff, and you don’t need to be ‘researching’ it in a traditional way.

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