The Thomas Nelson collection of books arrived at the Annexe on Tuesday 14th August 2012. We were very excited to be receiving this collection of books and materials forming the back catalogue of the publishing firm that began in Scotland in 1798. The books date back to the time when Nelson moved away from Scotland to become part of the Wolters Kluwer Group. Edinburgh University already acts as guardians to the Thomas Nelson business archives up to 1960, so it made perfect sense to keep the collection together.
We foolishly thought the packed boxes would come straight off the van and onto our shelves before lunch time. However, after only a couple of the 13 pallets were unloaded, we realised that this was unlikely to be the case. The collection is made up of a vast range of materials from cassette tapes to oversized picture books. Each pallet had to be unwrapped and unpacked individually, which involved fighting through layers of dust and dirt (most of which was many years old). The first task we had to undertake was the weeding of duplicates. At first glance there were many copies of the same item, but closer inspection revealed that each item bore tiny differences, which from a bibliographical perspective are potentially huge.
Many weeks later, the collection was finally in its new home at the Library Annexe. After the weeding of duplicates the collection still covered an impressive 275 meters.
Whilst unpacking, Library Annexe Assistant Stephanie (Charlie) Farley discovered a first edition of “When Wendy Grew Up” by J.M. Barrie, which is an epilogue to peter Pan (dating from 1957). What made this book stand out was a signature from Mr Sydney Blow, who was not only an actor in the original production of Peter Pan, but the author of the foreword. It was dedicated to Hilda Trevelyan, who played Wendy in the production and to whom the manuscript “When Wendy Grew Up” was dedicated to in 1908. Although not overly valuable, this item is certainly unique. It was the sheer mystery and excitement of not knowing what you might find that helped us get through 13 pallets of material.
Scott Docking, Library Assistant (Special Collections and Archives)