Visit to the Centre for Research Collections

On Day 2 of KEW, we welcomed the participants to the Centre for Research Collections (CRC). The CRC is the main point of access for the University’s heritage and cultural collections. The afternoon was designed to give an overview of the work we do, and explore some of the specialisms that go in to providing access to both physical visitors and remote enquirers.

We started the visit with a chat about how we provide access to the collections and what this involves for the CRC User Services team, including the workflows and processes we use. The diagram below illustrates the workflow from point of request for rare books, manuscripts and archives:

CRC workflow

The group then had an opportunity to see some recent acquisitions as Joe Marshall, Head of Special Collections and the CRC, talked them through the decision-making process when considering what purchases to make. A particularly intriguing item is this Batik divination manuscript on bark from Sumatra:

CleLIBGXIAEhQj-Now we just need to find someone who can read it!

We had a quick break mid-afternoon to watch a 1968 documentary film about the Main Library. The film was directed by Eric C. A. Lucey and provided students with useful information about how to navigate the building just after it opened. We used this as a starting point for a discussion about how the building has developed over the decades. You can watch the video on the University’s Media Hopper website. It’s amazing how much online discovery has improved students’ access to library resources but interesting to see how some things don’t change!

The rest of the afternoon was spent at conservation and the Digital Imaging Unit, looking at how we balance the preservation of the collections with user access, and the exciting experiments with new technology that the DIU photographers have been doing.

Fran Baseby

CRC Services Manager

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