Movers and Shakers by Madeleine Leisk CC BY-NC
Summer is the time when our day-to-day service at the University Collections Facility is at its quietest. The undergraduate cohort has flown the nest and are busy celebrating their well-earned graduations, so book requests are limited to the few postgraduates and external researchers enjoying the comparative tranquility of the library. However, this doesn’t mean we sit in idleness enjoying the view of the rolling stacks, since it is also the perfect time to undertake any re-distribution of collections and re-configuring of spaces. The opening of our shiny new Unit 3 facility housing the art and musical instrument collections has emptied out areas in the other two units. Subsequently, the last few weeks has seen a surge of staff presence at the UCF as we tackle several large collections moves.
First was the shifting of the Research Support Collection from Unit 1 to Unit 2. This was the least geographically challenging of all the moves since it remained within the same building, but still involved much re-arranging and re-labeling of shelves. It also allowed the opportunity of handling one of our most diverse collections – a run of bibliographies caught my eye in particular, including catalogues of Persian Manuscripts, Greek Papyri and the collections of the Bibliotheca Vaticana. One volume, intriguingly titled A Bibliography of Unfinished Books (RSC Ref. Z 1025 Cor.) was published in 1915 and declares in its preface: “No book of importance is considered complete now-a-days unless valuable aid is given to the student by the addition of a list of books closely connected with the subject he is studying. He is thus able to pursue his course of reading by reference to these authorities.” Such is succinctly summarised the importance of the Research Support Collection!
Next up was the temporary transfer of collections from the Art and Architecture library to the UCF to allow for renovation works happening to that building, which involved the coordination of teams on both ends as books were moved between sites. This move will be mirrored before the beginning of the autumn semester as the books head back to their rightful place in readiness for the next wave of art and architecture students.
The last and largest of the moves was that of the Semple collection. Originally homed at New College, it has spent several months in external storage before arriving at the UCF last week and is primarily made up of religious texts from the school of divinity. Comprising approximately 20,000 bound volumes or 800 linear metres of books it was a huge job to move in. Many of the items were in fragile condition with friable covers and so required extremely gentle handling. Supervisors were on hand to provide a first-line check of each box of books in order to identify any immediate conservation hazards. This is now being followed up by three project collections assistants who are undertaking a more thorough survey of individual volumes and assigning each a conservation priority level. As they work through the collection they will be bestowing the accolade of ‘Find of the Week’ to their most interesting discoveries – so watch this space!
Now that this hectic burst of activity has dissipated somewhat we are returning to ‘normal’ levels of activity out here at the UCF. Each move was meticulously planned and involved members of staff from all over information services travelling out to the Gyle to chip in and do their bit. It once again firmly impressed upon me the inherently collaborative nature of collections work and the dedication of this particular library team.
Daisy Stafford, UCF Library Assistant