Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Response to My Response

I received a reply to my previous post from Todd Gilman, author of the Chronicle piece on special collections curators, and I thought it was only fair to post it.

"Dear Laura,

Thanks for your comments.

FYI here is a transcription of the ad:


The Gerald Coke Handel Collection at

THE foundling MUSEUM

40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ

Near Russell Square Underground Station.

Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Sunday 11am-5pm

The largest private collection of Handel memorabilia, housed alongside the Foundling Hospital collections.

020 7841 3600




And FYI I went there on a Friday morning.

The collection is fully processed and arrayed on open shelves visible behind glass panels, not in a restricted area.

There is no computer workstation set up for researchers to use as far as I could tell, or I would have asked to search on my own.

I did not see any indication that I was expected to do anything other than turn up—nor would (or should) anyone else who saw that ad.

My position is best characterized by commentator #25:

‘Someone took out an ad to publicize the collection and invite the public (or at least those who bought the concert program) to view the collection. If that was done without the collection's knowledge, then shame on whoever approved the ad. Like Mr. Gilman, I take that as an extraordinary invitation and if that was my area of interest I too would make a special, impromptu visit. Had the curator said "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that this opportunity was offered," Mr. Gilman might have been more sympathetic.’

Hope this helps clarify my position.


Todd Gilman"


Laura said...

And my reply to him, in the interest of fairness:

"Thank you, Todd. I posted that on my blog since a number of people were interested in seeing the wording of the ad. It is certainly misleading since it doesn't give the unique hours of the Coke collection.

I appreciate your taking the time to respond!


ryan said...

still. still! he's a fracking librarian at yale; a former researcher at the huntington! why would he be so shocked, so outraged by this encounter, that he would need to write some underinformed slag piece for the chronicle? i'm kind of embarrassed for him that this is out there.

Laura said...

Ryan, I agree with you that Dr. Gilman's surprise (at least as expressed in his article) was over-the-top.

Another reader put it this way:

"I read his article this morning thinking he'd definitely not have enjoyed himself so much if he were writing about one of his pleasant experiences. There's a way to characterize a poor experience without demonizing the person or smearing the entire profession, which is essentially what he took great glee in doing."