Disaster Response and Salvage Training

Disaster Response and Salvage Training

Recently I attended a British Library training day on ‘Disaster Response and Salvage Training’ (for libraries, that is). It was a fascinating day which kicked off with some rather compelling case studies of damage experienced across the UK. This not only emphasised the importance of the subject matter, but was an interesting exercise in learning not only from other people’s mistakes but from their preparedness.

The course was led by Emma Dadson from Harwell Document Restoration Services, whose breadth of knowledge on the topic was extremely impressive. Emma has been in the industry for 12 years and has been involved in some very high profile salvage operations, including those at the National Library of Wales and after the recent fire at the Glasgow School of Art. I cannot speak highly enough of Emma’s professionalism, public speaking skills and industry knowledge – you could not ask for a better trainer on this subject.

As well as working through a number of case studies and general information about salvage and disaster response for both paper and non-paper items, the day also included an adult version of what children’s librarians refer to as wet play. We were divided into groups and given a box of books and other resources that had been water damaged (i.e. Emma had tipped water into the boxes). We then went through the items and set them out for salvage as best we could, following what we had learnt throughout the day. It was a great way to put our learning into practice and also see how working in teams could affect a salvage operation. Part of the training room floor was covered in plastic for this section of the course!

Also on that note, the British Library has lovely training facilities and equally lovely training packages featuring none other than Sherlock Holmes. The packages themselves are extensive and also contained Template Emergency Plan provided by Harwell. Although a number of the attendees were from large libraries, some were from consultancies or smaller organisations, for whom such a template could be incredibly valuable.

BL blog photo

As well as learning a lot, the day was also a great opportunity to meet other librarians and conservators and – as always – to network. I even met one librarian I had already ‘spoken’ to on Twitter. The day was highly interesting and informative and I would strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about what is actually a fascinating – and crucial – topic.

Contributed by: Anne-Marie Nankivell

Rare – and very well done!

Rare - and very well done!

Contributed by: Chris

With time always at a premium, training courses can sometimes feel like a luxury and self-indulgence.  I have recently been on two short courses on rare books.  One was a day course arranged by the Historic Libraries Forum and held at Cambridge University Library; the other just a half day organised by the Association of Pall Mall Libraries at Middle Temple Library.  The trainers at each – Will Hale and Renae Satterley  – were excellent: richly informative but with a light touch. And in each case, the cost of the course was inconsequential. Remarkable that when training in most areas is so expensive, in the area of rare books the attitude is so generous.

The Cambridge course gave a truly expert overview of the topic. The first session covered the history of book-making: from the making of the paper (until the 1820s, linen rags were used to create a pulp, which was then spread like porridge over the surface of a kind of sieve) through the process of type and different forms of illustration (type ornaments, woodcuts, engravings), explaining with great clarity how the printing process related to the final structure and order of the book, and finally to the binding process.

The second session built on this by explaining about bibliographic format.  This involved much folding of paper and closely resembled a childhood origami session – good fun, and much laughter. It then moved on to an effective explanation of Format signatures – the method of expressing the structure of a particular book.  For example, a simple one might be A – P4; a more complex one π’a2 A-04, P4 (-P4).

The success of the course was in revealing how what often today seems esoteric and slightly mysterious to many of us is actually based on simple and practical considerations in the manufacture of the books.  This was reinforced at the end when we visited a workshop in the basement, where we could examine many of the traditional tools of print-making.

The half-day session at Middle Temple Library focussed on provenance specifically ie. the history of a specific copy of a book and the interpretation of the book-plates, signatures, mottoes and jottings of all kinds that appear on books.

Renae gave an amusing summary of the different kinds of evidence (from simply-interpreted through to very difficult and impossible); an informative explanation of the kinds of resources available to help; and useful tips on approaches to cataloguing.

The session ended with informal discussion of actual examples from the Middle Temple and Athenaeum Club Libraries.

Far from being a waste of time (and certainly far from being a waste of money), these training seminars have provided instruction and inspiration.  Should I have gone?  Definitely.

Practicum placement at The City of London Libraries

As a requirement of my Bachelor of Arts-Librarianship in Perth, I chose to spend my three weeks with the City of London Libraries Information Services Section (ISS).

What a great choice this was! Suddenly all the theory from previous units of the degree have come together with much more speed and clarity than I thought they would. From cataloguing, classification and authority reports to purchasing, retrieval and information services. It’s all about how your library items get to the shelf and how you are able to access your library resources.

My special interest in all things historical and especially in the historical information that may be gathered through the books that have survived from the past, brought me to select the City of London Libraries for my practicum placement. The Guildhall Library has an extensive number of books, items and manuscripts that chronicle the history of London and other exciting things such as Shakespeare’s First Folio printed in 1623. During my placement I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Guildhall Library Incunabula project, an amazing thrill to examine these books from the 1500’s. This project adds more information to the provenance evidence of the books, building up a record of the books historical journey of ownership to the documented information of the contents and historical information about the book itself. Guildhall Library’s trade directories were also a great cataloguing experience.

During this practicum placement I have been able to visit each of the City of London Libraries. I have worked at the enquiry and loans desks of Shoe Lane Library,Barbican Children’s Library, Barbican library,and the wonderful Barbican Music Library.I also have spent time in the Guildhall Library and the City Business Library and a lovely afternoon at the Artizan Street library and Community Centre,which provides a community centre and services to the local residents and city workers. These visits to the branch libraries have provided a great insight and a wealth of practical knowledge about working in a library as well as showing the links between the City of London Libraries Information Services Section and the branch libraries.

I want to thank all those in the City of London Libraries ISS who have helped and hosted me for this practicum placement and especially all the staff at the branch libraries who have let me hover and shadow them and who have pass on valuable information.

- Sam Bowen

Innovation, inspiration, creativity : i2c2 in Manchester

i2c2logowithdateRecently, two of our basement dwellers went roving up to Manchester to attend a conference on innovation, inspiration and creativity: the i2C2 Conference. This was a conference aiming to encourage out of the box thinking to achieve practical solutions (which seems timely because apparently libraries don’t just offer access to information, we also offer solutions to problems).

In one of the two keynote speeches, Brendan Dawes talked about his approach to data visualisation. Data can be artistically presented. It can be made interesting and it can be made to interact with people. It does not have to be static or boring. Information as art can still be informative whilst being engaging. Raw data is interesting, but a graphical representation might be more memorable, not to mention enjoyable (even if some of us do enjoy numbers and lists without pictures).

Penny Anderson talked about LibraryBox, an open source, portable digital file distribution tool. Inexpensive and easy to operate, LibraryBox is inspired by PirateBox, a mobile, anonymous file-sharing device. Penny Anderson talked about using LibraryBox to create spaces for the sharing of fanworks and creating open libraries. Though some couldn’t see the advantages of such a device in academic libraries, perhaps even public libraries, LibraryBox certainly seemed to show a lot of promise for use as an advocacy or maker-space tool.

David Parkes took us on a psychogeographic library exploration, or a dérive, an unplanned journey around a small block. He suggested finding new approaches for looking at our surroundings, reflecting on the changes in history that must have taken place in the last hundreds of years. Parkes said he used this approach in campus inductions for university students, to make a place imprint on their minds, by going beyond the usual signs and directions.

Sam Helmick (read her post on the conference here) and Mallorie Graham talked about tapping into Generation Y’s tolerance and openness while also trying to find a way around GY’s digital proficiency, which makes them a small library user group. They both talked about making public libraries attractive to this group by offering alternative services, by luring them into the libraries through fun and inventive methods. We liked their ideas so much we invited them down to London for some library chatter.

Other sessions at i2C2 covered topics such as ways to promote library services in a more personalised and less traditional fashion, libraries collaborating with each other in order to complete projects, guerrilla ethos in the libraries and the employment of tactical urbanism, innovation through discussion, using typologies to create informal learning spaces, and library maker spaces that can take library users on creative journeys.

There was also a short presentation on Cityread London, which is of course of interest to us, and begins on April 1st. Andy Ryan’s talk was on how to generate big bucks through partnerships and collaboration. Working with 33 London library services (and booksellers, publishers, schools, museums), each library involved in this project contributed £500, expecting a return of over £15,000 per service.

Overall, the insights we took from the conference were to seek out opportunities for collaboration, to consider any and all ideas, even if only for a second (before asking yourself, really?), and to be open to change and innovation. If/when this conference takes place again, it really is worth attending.

Contributed by: Harpreet

E-books at City of London Libraries : our new video

Chris Newman, who devised it, introduces a new video on our Youtube channel, intended to introduce our users to our e-book collection (make the most of it while it’s available as it will soon be superseded as our collection and catalogues develop) …

It is scarcely Alfred Hitchcock: it lacks the suspense somehow. In fact, the new video we have created sets out to avoid suspense: it is deliberately carefully paced and instructional in tone. The subject of the video is e-books and it is simply an explanation of how to get started in enjoying the varied e-book service provided by the City of London Libraries.

Our hope is that people less familiar with these kinds of resources will be encouraged to put a toe in the water and try out the service. We feel that the real challenge is to try to engage with those who might be less likely to experiment with newer formats and in that way promote a much-improved take-up of the service.

Have a look at the video and let us have your feedback.

 

ISS away day visit to the Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham

ISS had an away day earlier this month, leaving behind the City and venturing northwards to the Library of Birmingham. This was a novel experience as there has never been an outing which has involved the entire section before! The purpose of the visit was to not only check out the new £200 million library but also to discuss the results of the ISS survey 2013 and to generally have a think about the work we do as a section.

The Shakespeare Memorial Room at the top of the library seemed to be a favourite feature, as was the intriguingly named Secret Garden (an outdoor green space on level 7 which offers fantastic views of the surrounding area and will be a very popular spot in the warm summer months but was unsurprisingly pretty empty of people on a freezing January afternoon!)

Secret Garden

After lunch we reconvened in our meeting room and undertook SWOT analysis sessions. These sessions enabled everyone to think about the good bits and the ‘could do better’ bits of what we do and how we do it. They also helped us to consider what the future could hold for us (both positive and negative) and the services we provide. The thoughts, ideas and suggestions that were generated by these discussions were duly noted and will go towards improving and developing the work we do both as individuals and as a section.

So our first ever away day was a success; an opportunity to get out of our office en masse, take in the splendour of Europe’s largest public library (it really is huge!), reflect on all the good work we’ve been doing and plan ahead for all the work still to do!

Contributed by : Lynn

(Photographs courtesy of Carol Boswarthack)

What kind of people would work in an office like this …? #deskspace

46da8511305b4e4039cf9a0ffab0f2a4Since it’s Friday, as a bit of fun we’ve decided to share our desk spaces, which you can see here on Pinterest.

We’ve also included this Christmas tree which was so offensive to the senses it was taken down immediately after its poor construction.

Please don’t be sad – we have a proper one now, put together by people who understand the concept of ‘tree’.