University archives and manuscript collections are still governed by quaint medieval rules retained out of respect for tradition; hence patrons are expected to bring to the reading rooms their own ink-pots and a small knife for sharpening their pens. Observing these customs will signal the librarians that you are ‘in the know’—one of the inner circle, as it were, for the rules are unwritten and not posted anywhere in the library. Likewise, it is customary to kiss the librarian on both cheeks when he brings a manuscript you’ve requested, a practice dating back to the reign of Henry VI.
From the Blog
For those pondering the relative merits of an iPod or a fruitcake as a Christmas present. Never forget, ‘Walk around wearing an iPod and everyone yawns. Walk around wearing a fruitcake and you’re a trendsetter.’