Follow us on Twitter? #nowcataloguing

Do you follow us on Twitter?  If you don’t already, you can follow us via the link to the side of this page.  As well as keeping you up to date with new posts on the blog, we use it to retweet news about events taking place in our libraries and elsewhere in the City of London.  We also sometimes tweet images from some of the more interesting collections that pass through our hands in ISS.  Recently, we’ve been cataloguing a new collection of books relating to food and drink for Guildhall Library.  Some of these images are historically interesting, such these two approaches to cooking in times of austerity:  Charles Francatelli’s “Plain cookery book for the working classes” (1852)

Plain cookery book

and “Tempting dishes for small incomes” by Mrs. de Salis (1892)

Tempting Dishes

Some are more visually attractive, such as this design by Barney Bubbles for a limited edition recipe book published in 1974 for Justin de Blank Provisions (“Feasts”)

Barney Bubbles

and these illustrations, by the ballet designer William Chappell, for June and Doris Langley Moore’s “The pleasure of your company” from 1936:

The Pleasure of your Company

 

Pleasure of Your Company

or even these two designs (perhaps not to everyone’s taste) that make use of the “nature morte” tradition: Comtesse Guy de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Les recettes de Mapie” (1956)

Recettes de Mapie

and Pierre Koffmann’s “Memories of Gascony” (1990):

Memories of Gascony

Not everything we catalogue is quite as visually attractive as these, of course, but if you follow us on Twitter (look out for the hashtag #nowcataloguing) you might come across something that is of interest to you!

 

 

A world turned upside down

IMG_1466

You are probably thinking to yourselves “these people are so incompetent that they can’t work out how to post an image the right way up. LOL” – or words to that effect.

But no.  The image is the right way up, even if its unfortunate subject is not.  To discover the full story, investigate one of the latest boards to be added to our Guildhall Library’s Pinterest …

https://www.pinterest.com/guildhalllib/broadsides-another-appalling-catastrophe-suicides-/

First-time view : National Acquisitions Group Conference 2014

First-time view

by Sara Pink (Head of Guildhall and City Business Libraries, City of London)

This was an event of many first-time experiences for me: attending a NAG conference; visiting the beautiful York (to which I had never previously ventured) and winning an award for Guildhall Library.

And first-time experiences didn’t stop there!

I submitted an entry to NAG for the 2014 award for excellence in innovation and original thought for the Guildhall Library Incunabula project. It’s a project which really does embrace the omnipresent themes of increasing access to collections; digitising collections to make them accessible via online platforms and to utilise existing and emerging technologies to engage new audiences. It also encouraged us to look at books differently, not for the content of their text, but for all the other things they could tell us about the value of the book as an object such as who owned the book, what do the annotations mean, whether there is evidence of the readership of the book passing down through generations within the same family, how it is bound together and who and why did someone draw all those lovely pictures in the margins! It really was a fascinating way to get to grips with pre-15th century books and to challenge our perception of the ‘important’ things about a book.

And so it was wonderful when I got the call to say that the Guildhall Library entry had won and I would need to go to York to collect the plaque! From photo-shoots to presentation speeches, we were made to feel like royalty and it was lovely to have the opportunity to share our aims and objectives of the project with so many interested and enthusiastic attendees we were meeting for the first time.

Ann Martin and Sara Pink receiving the award from Corina Petcu of Nielsen Discovery Services

Ann Martin and Sara Pink receiving the award from Corina Petcu of Nielsen Discovery Services

I knew this was the conference for me when we were quickly introduced to the idea of libraries as ‘pleasantly mad places’ and when the themes of the conference got into full-swing we looked at everything from the provision of free hard-copy textbooks for students at Coventry University to the National E-book Pilot Scheme and, my personal favourite, ‘Future libraries and the technological singularity’ presented by Dave Parkes.

This session included the opportunity to try out the revolutionary new Google Glass and to see the Tuttuki Bako in action (Google that and you’ll find out what everyone in my family is getting for Christmas!) and we even ended up signing up to two new services as a result – the Internet Archive of 17th and 18th century material and Easy Proxy authentication.

Technology and its future explored means that we next ‘met’ the fascinating book-fetching robots at the University of Chicago – an ambitious project to use drones for book retrieval which is really paying off there.

Finally, it was time to make new friends over a fantastic Conference dinner and try our luck at the Casino table. If only it were real money I would have made enough to catch the next flight out to Las Vegas, complete with my newly acquired Conference Cat bag! (thanks to YBP)

I was a sponsored guest of the NAG Committee and my thanks go to them for successfully organising so many first-time experiences in so few days!

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