It’s back to normal again today, as I don’t manage to make it in before 8.30 so I try and power through the basement corridors to get up to the library on time. It’s funny to think how easily I used to get lost walking about the museum basement. For the first few weeks I used to have to be escorted to and from the library otherwise I would have got lost en route, the basement can be a bit of a maze when you’re new.
I head over first thing to do some shelving in one of the department libraries, I prefer doing things like that early as it means I can trundle through the galleries with my trolley and not have to worry about the noise being a disturbance. I also do a bit of tidying while I’m there departmental libraries rely on the ‘trust’ system for loans, staff fill in a loan card and place it on the shelves in the spaces occupied by the books or journals, and sign them back in afterwards, removing the loan card. Because it’s a ‘self-service’ arrangement the shelves can get a little messy, so every now and again we go out and put them in order, although to be honest it’s not something that has to be done too often, staff are pretty good at keeping the place neat. There is no limit on how many books a member of staff can borrow at one time, nor how long they can keep them for, I’ve seen loan cards for books signed out from back in the 1980s. As we are primarily a reference library it’s not really a problem if someone else wants a book already on loan, as you just check the name on the card and pop over to their office to ask if they’ve finished with it.
We are a great deal quieter today than yesterday; we have no external visitors, only staff members in, and one of the Museum Friends doing research for the art tours they do around the art galleries. It’s not surprising to find staff up here simply using the library as a quiet place to work, plus if they need to spread their work out then we often have more space for that than in their offices.
Because we were so quiet after lunch I was able to get on with some accessioning. Every book, complete journal volume and annual report that we hold has its own unique identifying number – an accession number. These are generated manually; we have a list and mark off each number, in order as it is assigned. These are then inputted into the corresponding catalogue record, and written into the front of the book, they act in exactly the same way as barcodes. On a regular basis these numbers and the records attached to them are printed out in a list which is stored for future reference, should we ever need them. We have accession register books dating back to the founding of the museum library; although those ones were all hand written (usually in beautiful copperplate handwriting). They do still provide a useful point of reference if we are having problems finding an item.
Before heading home I have a look through some old photos of the museum we have in our photographic archive. There are some lovely ones of the library from the early 1950s, and apart from the fact that there is more clutter and we all have computers, the library hasn’t really changed all that much.