Friday, 10 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 3

It seems like Friday has come around very quickly!  Today will be a very busy day, to celebrate National Libraries Day, CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) have organised a series of tours of Cardiff libraries for library staff.  We have two planned for today, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, plus both myself and the other library assistant will be heading off to attend tours of our own.

The day starts with an all staff briefing first thing in the morning to introduce the new exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image, opening to the public on Saturday.  These briefings are a really great opportunity to hear about what went into the planning of an exhibition and to get a chance to look around it before the building opens.

After the briefing we race back up to the library to start getting everything ready before the first tour arrives at 10.30am.  We put out on display a number of items from our locked cases that the visitors will be able to handle, including a 15th century incunabula, a copy of Pliny's Natural History!

Museum scrapbooks from the early 20th century

I'm a little nervous about the first tour, as I will be leading it for the first time.  Normally the head librarian is responsible for all the tours, but he decided to give me and the other library assistant the chance to do the morning one.  I think everything goes ok, I don't forget anything too important or get too tongue-tied, and everyone seems to enjoy it.  They weren't however, quite prepared for just how much walking was involved as we showed them around all the many departmental libraries we have scattered throughout the building.  Thankfully, no-one got lost in the labyrinth maze of the basement corridors!

Doing the introduction to my tour

There's time for a quick break for lunch, and a trip across to the art department to drop off some new books and see if they have anything for me to collect.  The art staff are often sent free copies of books and exhibition catalogues, or they pick them up on their travels, and they usually donate them to the library.  We have a shelf in their department where they leave books for us to collect and catalogue, today there is only one, a V&A publication on Jingdezhen porcelain.

The second tour of the day is conducted by the head librarian, but I have to duck out early in order to make it up to Cardiff University's SCOLAR (special collections and archives) department for my guided tour.  When I arrive at SCOLAR, I get the opportunity to check out the latest exhibition they have put on in the foyer.  A selection of students were each given a display case to exhibit items from the special collections that illustrate their chosen theme.  It was a wonderful example of how you could showcase your 'treasures' in different ways, and the various ways books could be interpreted depending on how they were grouped together. 

Also out in the foyer is Cardiff University's Turning the Pages kiosk, a massive thing which must be incredibly difficult to move, on it students can view ten items from the collections that have been digitised.  Going through to the main area, I see a few researchers hard at work in the reading room, before we duck in to the closed stacks to see shelf upon shelf of books and archival material that staff are working through. 

Items from the Cardiff Rare Books collection at SCOLAR, Cardiff University

The largest project that the SCOLAR team are working on is the collection of over 14,000 items that make up the Cardiff Rare Books collection.  The collection was acquired back in 2010, and although work began on cataloguing it immediately, only a fraction of it's potential as a research tool has been explored yet.  The collection includes many rare and unique items, including 175 incunabula (pre-1501 printed books), Shakespearean material and a wide selection of private press material.  I spent most of my visit oohing and aahing at all the amazing books, and feeling very jealous of what an amazing experience cataloguing that collection must be!

No comments:

Post a Comment