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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beaglehole Library and Nobel Prizes

Beaglehole Library shifts to 4th floor of Victoria University Library

On Thursday I had the privilege of attending the opening of the new Beaglehole Library.  For its collection of books on early New Zealand history, it is one of the best research libraries in the world, in my humble opinion, and it is fitting that it should be in the same city as the amazing Alexander Turnbull Library, which has an astounding collection of manuscripts and images.

I have spent many happy hours at the Beaglehole over the years, and was perfectly accustomed to heading down to floor 1 -- the orlop deck, as it were, of the library building.  Now the research library is on the fourth floor, sharing great views over the city and harbor, though the focus is inwards, of course.

Well, there were lively speeches, and Tim Beaglehole cut the ribbon, and then I joined a quick tour of the back rooms, usually forbidden territory.  Absolutely fascinating. 

What intrigued me most of all was a display of Alan MacDiarmid memorabilia, including his baby booties (truly!), his typewriter, and his Nobel Prize certificate.  It was the first Nobel Prize I had ever seen, a very grand affair, with cursive calligraphy (hand done) on the righthand side, and an original work of art on the left.

Alan Macdiarmid (1927-2007, pictured on the left) was a Kiwi who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000, jointly with Hideki Shirakawa and Alan Heeger (center and right, respectively), their accomplishment being the discovery that plastics can be made electrically conductive.

The artist, Nils G. Stenqvist, created the other two certificates, too.  You can view them on the Nobel Prize website.

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