Thursday 18th January – The Athenaeum
Thursday 12th October – The Travellers Club
Talk: There’s something about Perthshire? The Library of Innerpeffray and the Leighton Library, Dunblane by Jill Dye
The Library at Innerpeffray (founded c.1680) and the Leighton Library, Dunblane (founded c.1684) both now serve as visitor attractions for those keen to explore old books in their historic settings. Despite their similar foundation dates, geographical proximity and shared trustees, no in-depth comparison has yet been made between the two. This talk will explore the relationship between these libraries, with a particular focus on their foundation, administration and historic use.
Jill Dye is a third-year PhD Student on a SGSAH-funded Applied Research Collaboration with the Universities of Stirling and Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray. Her PhD research focuses on books and their borrowers from the Library of Innerpeffray 1680-1854.
Thursday 13th July 10.30 – 12.00
Venue: Chatham House
Talk: History Day – given by Kate Wilcox of the Institute of Historical Research Library and Jordan Landes of Senate House Library.
Tuesday 27th June – Archives Sub-Group Meeting
Thursday 20th April 10.30 – 12.00
Venue: Geological Society
Talk: Beecroft Gallery Case Study: Digitising a collection and making it accessible on-line – given by Paul Mulvee (Asset Bank) and Vaughan Archer (Todd White Art Photography).
We also congratulated a founding member of the APML, Mary Duffy, on her upcoming retirement. Mary was presented with a card and a bouquet as a small token of our gratitude for everything she has done to keep the Association running since its beginnings in 2004. Mary will be missed, and we hope she will still join us occasionally for special events!
Wednesday 22nd February- Archives Sub-Group Meeting
Thursday 19th January
Talk: The History of Paper and How to Preserve Family Archives by Georgia Voussou
Tuesday 10th January – Training Sub-Group Meeting
Thursday 20th October – Archives Sub-Group Meeting
Thursday 13th October 10.30 – 12.00
Venue: Oxford and Cambridge Club
Talk: Exhibitions at the British Library by Tanya Kirk, British Library
Tanya gave a very interesting talk on her experiences of curating exhibitions at the BL, in particular their most recent ‘Shakespeare in ten acts’. She ran through the steps from inception to delivery, explaining the criteria which would be used by the panel to decide which exhibitions to mount. These would include broad appeal, relevance, and positive learning outcomes for the visitor.
Thursday 14th July 10.00 – 12.30
Venue: Royal Automobile Club
Talk: The cross over between local history collections and archival records
Thursday 14th April 10.30 – 12.00
The April meeting took place at the Garrick Club and was preceded by a tour of the fascinating building. Matthew Hale, Information Systems Development Manager at the King’s Fund gave a very useful and interesting talk on Open Source LMS Systems, which included a general overview and history of open source software plus more detailed information on why and how the King’s Fun selected and implemented the open source LMS Koha.
Thursday 21st January 10.30 – 12.00
The January meeting was held at Royal Astronomical Society and included a fascinating talk by John Sibbald entitled Book Bitch to the Rich – The Strife and Times of the Revd Dr Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847).
The Regency Period witnessed an extraordinary upsurge in book collecting, driven by a new enthusiasm for the antique and bibliographically distinctive. Vast sums of money were spent in assembling private libraries. Ubiquitous in the role of ‘Master of Ceremonies’, either directly acquiring books on behalf of his clients or indirectly through his publications setting out the ‘norms’ for collection, is the influence of The Revd Dr Thomas Frograll Dibdin. He has been described as “the chronicler of what was in retrospect, the golden age of book collecting.” He is the repository of a huge amount of information about the contemporary book trade, auctions, libraries and book collectors.
John Sibbald works for Pall Mall Art Advisors as a book valuer and as part of its business development team. His first involvement with the world of rare books was with Deighton Bell, Cambridge, then a branch of Dawsons of Pall Mall. He has also been Librarian of The Advocates Library, Edinburgh., and is an Hon. Vice President of the Scottish Society for Computers & Law. He is the founder of the Virtual Hamilton Palace Trust, an IT and arts research project, and of the Albertus Institute for Science, Knowledge and Religion.
The latest meeting of the APML was at the Army & Navy Club and included a presentation on how to search the Gazette and other publications operated by TSO (formerly HMSO), by Roger Selfe. You can see the slides here.
At this meeting the current APML Chair – Kath Posner (myself) stood down having served the usual two-year term and handed over to Anna Brynolf of Chatham House.
I would like to take this opportunity of saying how much fun I have had as Chair and wishing my successor the very best for 2016-2017.
Kay Walters of the Athenaeum, Renae Satterley of Middle Temple and Sian Prosser of the RAS presented on behalf of the APML at the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference on Collections Revealed. the talk was entitled ‘it’s not what you know’ and centred around a survey of our members carried out this summer. Although I helped prepare the presentation, I was absent without leave owing to a holiday in Mexico!
You can see the presentation slides here.
The latest meeting of the APML was held at the Travellers Club and included a really interesting and useful talk on Genealogy from Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists.
Top tips included:
- Using collaborative social Networking sites such as Genes Reunited
- When collaborating she recommended using GEDCOM files in order to be able to share material, such as are found in Family Tree maker
The most important sources for genealogists include:
- Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths – via the GRO
- Parish Records
- The British Newspaper Archive (free via the Society of Genealogists)
- Occupational Registers
- The National Archives
Hidden collections: Revealed – CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group study conference 2015
This conference takes place in September and will include a presentation by members of the APML. Details here.
At the latest meeting of the APML at the Royal Astronomical Society, we were delighted to have a talk from Dr Cordelia Rogerson, head of Conservation at the British Library.
Her top tips on included:
- assessing your organisation’s priorities and
- assessing the risks to your collection
She reminded us that the Benchmarks in Collection Care are now available online.
Also that those worried about any impending Digital Black Holes in the march towards digitizing collections, should keep an eye on the Digital Preservation Coalition.
Huw at the Oxford & Cambridge Club also put in a plea for assistance with Book Cleaning – a topic which had come up on the talk. If you – or anyone you know – has expertise in this area and have some free time, get in touch with us via the contact tab.
Also – don’t forget that you can keep in touch with us and share tips and/or questions on professional matters, via our JISCMail group. Apply to join here.
11th January 2015
Following last week’s fascinating visit to the secret world of Fortnum & Mason’s archives, this week we were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the Londn Metropolitan Archives by their Senior Archivist, Richard Wiltshire.
He told us about the history of the place and the types of records held there as well as the various temporary exhibitions – currently featuring London’s Gothic underbelly ranging from Witchcraft trials in the Seventeenth Century to New Romantic/Goth night-clubs in the 1980s (and there is one archivist who was seriously concerned she might feature in the latter, but least said….)
The visit also included a tour of the Conservation Studio where conservator Caroline De Stefani told us of another Gothic Horror, known as Red Rot and were recommended to check the services of the Leather Conservation Centre in Northampton.
The latest meeting of the APML was held at the Athenaeum and was preceded by a tour of their rather spectacular libraries, as a result of which some of us may be suffering from ‘Library Envy’.
The meeting featured a talk from William Stockting, Head of Content and Metadata Processing South at The British Library, on Discovering Hybrid Resources.
The British Library’s Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts – SoCAM
This allows users to browse items in context by enabling access to the hierarchical structure of the collection.
Authority records are also available enabling users to navigate easily around the collection and to make links that can often be hidden on other websites.
The project under development in America funded by the Mellon Foundation – Social Networks and Archival Context – SNAC
This resource links to collections around the world. Data contributors include the British Library and WorldCat. Authority records are also available, as is a link to Wikipedia.
And the National Library of Australia’s Resource Discovery Tool – TROVE
This website contains links to online books, archives, images, music etc. It can be accessed in a variety of ways, including via people.
All three sites are designed around allowing the user to discover resources in a variety of formats and link objects in a way that allows searchers to navigate easily from one site/resource to another.
We celebrated our Tenth Anniversary on Thursday 20th November with a presentation from Dr James Campbell – author of The Library a World History. The talk was hosted by the Army & Navy Club and was followed by drinks and snacks. Campbell of course held us in thrall. For more details on his talk see the ‘blog’ tab!
Although the talk was very much a celebration of the History of Libraries, we as an organisation are intending to move forward and continue to invite collaboration from other Solo/Special Librarians. If you want to engage with us, why not check out our discussion group at: https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=APMLIBRARIES-DISCUSSION
New training session announced
APML Training Day – Introduction to Project Management for Librarians and Archivists
Tuesday 17th March 2015, at the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2ET. Price to be confirmed, depending on numbers, but probably between £55-£75 per person – not including lunch.
Trainer: Elizabeth Oxbarrow-Cowan.
Contact APML for details.
We are now on JISCMail!
APML now has its own JISCMail discussion group, so if you want to be able to participate in discussions without becoming a member of the group, apply to join the Listserv at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=APMLIBRARIES-DISCUSSION.
Latest meeting of the APML was at Middle Temple in late October. We had a presentation from Jane Harrison of the Royal Institution centred around her research on Audio Archives. We will be putting her slides on here soon, so watch this space.
A couple of Exciting things to check out this month:
- New journal launched in August: British Journal for Military History, is free online and has contributions from top military historians. The BJMH prides itself on being a pioneering Open Access, peer-reviewed journal that aims to bring high quality scholarship in military history to an audience beyond academia.
Our quarterly meeting was hosted by the East India Club who generously provided lunch. We were lucky enough to have a presentation from Julian Wilson, Associate Director and Antiquarian Books specialist at Christie’s. His talk – among other things – showed us why he believes the term Antiquarian rather than Rare, should be applied to the world of book dealing and how the challenges to the market thrown up by the Internet, provide an opportunity to organizations like ours.
He compared recent trends in the Book Market to the performance of teams in the recent World Cup, highlighting the performances of teams like Germany and Brazil and identified six main trends affecting the Market.
He also drew our attention to Bruce McKinley’s excellent website American Exchange.
You can view the slides from his presentation here.
At our latest meeting we heard feedback from the Training Sub-group. They have held successful training events on Copyright and Rare Book Cataloguing. They are planning courses on Managing Historic Non-library Collections, Introduction to Book Provenance Research and Making Book Enclosures & Basic Paper Repair.
We also heard from the Archives Sub-group who talked about the importance of keeping paper/print original documents as a well as digital versions.
We were lucky enough to have a talk given by Gary Green from the Surrey Public Library Service on the Basics of E-book lending.
Following on from Gary’s talk on e-book lending – You can see a report on some of the pilot schemes set up after the Sieghart review here.
Archives sub-group meeting
We had an excellent meeting during which Donna Marshall, Assistant Archivist at the Mercers’ Company reminded us of the importance of keeping Print-to-paper records even (or especially?) in the age of Digitization.
She also told us to look out for the next Digitization Open Days at the Wellcome Library – a wonderful free resource, if you can book yourself in.
We are now on Twitter! Please follow us @apmlibraries.
Our first meeting of the year began with a talk from Sarah Day of The Geological Society on Using Social Media as a Promotional Tool. It also included a report back from the Training Sub-Committee, who are planning several sessions including Copyright, Conservation and Marketing.
At this meeting Kay Walters of the Ahenaeum handed over the Chairmanship of the Group to Kath Posner of the East India/In & Out Clubs. The APML would like to thank Kay for all her hard work over the past two years.
The next APML meeting will be at the Army & Navy Club in April and will include a talk from Gary Green of Surrey Libraries on e-book lending.
2013 was a busy year featuring some excellent talks from guest speakers including:
Simon Bell, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Licensing at the British Library, on The Future of the Book; and
Charles Hill, a former detective with Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Unit, enlightened us about the links between antiquities thefts and Organised Crime.
In addition, the Training Sub-committee organised sessions on a range of topics ranging from Cataloguing of Rare Books to Copyright and Marketing, and continued to organize sessions in conjunction with the Historic Libraries Forum.
Association of Pall Mall Libraries Training Sub-group Meeting, Royal College of Physicians
26 October 2011 – A New Vision for RUSI’s Library of Military History
A Library of Military History has been an integral part of the Royal United Services Institute since 1831. It houses a unique collection of historic and rare books and makes an important contribution to the preservation of military history. Under its new Librarian Laura Dimmock-Jones, the Library is about to undertake a major strategy to preserve its collection and highlight its importance to the wider community, as she explains in this short film.
You can read more about this at the Institute’s website:
3 October 2011 – website
The web-master would like to announce that the first major over-haul of the website is under-way and there are already some new features. Check out the new Miscellanies pages. It is hoped that the new format will make it simpler in future to keep the news and archive sections up to date, but also allow for more features.
A New Chair
1st July 2010
Following today’s meeting we are pleased to announce that the Chair of the APML has moved to Catherine Hume of the Commonwealth Secretariat. We wish her all the best in the new position. The outgoing chair will take up the new position of webmaster on his return from the Andes. We wish you all a very happy summer.
Report from the Historic Libraries Forum 2009 Conference “You’re Nicked” – Security in the Special Library
1. Judith Barnes, Collection Security Co-ordinator, British Library, spoke on COLLECTION SECURITY
They have a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ – they will always prosecute theft, however embarrassing.
What are the risks that you need to be aware of?
a) Poor housekeeping – items mis-shelved etc
b) Flawed processes
c) Poor compliance
d) Delayed discovery – BL have lost plates, illustrations etc from within books, not entire books – that is the main challenge they face.
e) Reputational damage – they feel it is best to be as open as possible about thefts that have occurred, even if it is embarrassing.
There is the suggestion that if you are a victim of theft then you are likely to be a victim again e.g. Dulwich Picture Gallery was targeted several times. Sometimes criminals can consider you a ‘soft touch’ if they have been successful once.
Who does this?
If they have the means and opportunity
Sometimes they try to win the trust of staff
A thief will go to the British Library to look at a particular book, then steal pages from the best BL copy in order to make their own copy more valuable. They will ‘case the joint’ – look at where CCTV cameras are, which security guards are vigilant or lax etc. One thief handed some cash in to staff – said he had found it on the floor – just to get their trust.
Three convicted thieves who have stolen plates/maps from books:
All three were esteemed academics and they stole mainly loose leaves, not whole books. Fallon had his jacket specially adapted to hold papers inside.
How to mitigate the risks?
Get senior management commitment
Accept and manage risk
Make continuous improvements to processes
Build and maintain good relationships with the police and the CPS
A process review was undertaken – all processes were grouped under 3 headings:
Exhibitions and loans
And the question was posed – can any of those processes be tightened up?
In terms of access, each person is required to have a valid pass with their name and address, a digital photograph, and provide 2 proofs of identity (original documents only & bills must be less than 3 months old).
Each user must sign to say that they agree to the Conditions of Use; these specify that damage or removal is forbidden, and inform the reader of the consequences of non-compliance. All data is kept permanently and is admissible as court evidence.
Anything taken into the Reading Room must be in a clear plastic bag. No coats or large bags are allowed in the Reading Room. CCTV is kept for 12 months. All bags are searched on leaving the BL, also laptops (readers have been known to hide documents inside a laptop). They also do random bag searches of staff.
In the Reading Room invigilation is by plain-clothes staff and in certain rooms there is controlled access. Staff are encouraged to take short cuts through the Reading Room and check for problems. They also ask readers to report problems – and that was how they found that plates were missing from one volume. One thief mentioned during police questioning that glass topped tables would have been a deterrent to him.
The British Library funded a project to digitise maps in early books. They identified and selected vulnerable maps in early books and put an ownership stamp plus a watermark on each map; this information also enhanced the catalogue record for those books.
Investigation Once they have identified that a plate/map is missing from a book, the next task is to find out who has referred to that book. And what else have they read? Are any other items damaged or missing? Does a subject or format pattern emerge?
Contact the police. Remember that any emails/documents on the subject will have to be disclosed to the defence. Also remember that the aim of the CPS is to get a clear conviction with the minimum of expense whereas the library’s main aim is to obtain the return of all items.
The British Library received a lot of co-operation in its investigations from book restorers and the book trade.
In one case, circumstantial evidence (a warning from a library on the continent) was enough to allow them to suspend a reader.
2. Bob Johnson, Technical Survey Manager and Clare Pardy, Fine Art Underwriting Manager, Ecclesiastical Insurance spoke about THE INSURER’S PERSPECTIVE.
Re Out of Hours security – recommends putting as many obstacles in the way of thieves as possible. Remember that electronic locks may cause a problem if there is a power failure – the doors will automatically stay open because of fire regulations. CCTV is a deterrent if the system is monitored, and always record in a secure area. You must check that the CCTV is actually recording – in several cases companies have thought that they had CCTV of an incident only to find that tapes for the previous six months were clear.
Fire safes are, as their name implies, designed to protect against fire – they are relatively easy to break into. In general, the older the safe and the more brass in the framework, the less safe it will be.
Valuations. What have you got, and when was it last valued? It is very important to get a reputable book dealer or auctioneer to value your library.
The valuation of Bishop Philpott’s Library in Truro was a disaster – the dealer, John Thornton, bought the entire library for £38000 and sold it for £500,000.
One of the librarians present pointed out that one of the problems with valuations is that librarians and insurance companies have completely different views on the ‘value’ of a book. If a valuable book goes missing, the Library would not necessarily want to replace it but recover and repair it – because the book is central to the whole collection and a replacement will not have the same intrinsic value. It is the provenance of the book that is important. However, in many cases the insurance company is interested only in the cost of a replacement.
3. Historic Libraries Forum AGM
A visit by a member of the Friends of Hartlebury Castle to the HLF AGM three years ago was a turning point in saving the Hurd Library. Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester built the Library in 1782, for his fine collection of books.
4. Peter Hoare of the National Trust spoke about Security Marking
Useful information is found on the following website
5. Sheila Hingley, Head of Heritage Collections, Durham University Library, spoke about ‘Lessons learnt from the theft of the First Folio’
Durham University Library owned a copy of the First Folio that was stolen from an exhibition at the library in 1998; this copy had the longest provenance of all the copies in existence.
An arrest has been made and the book has been recovered – but with no covers or binding, no title page and no end page.
Sheila spoke about the improvements to their exhibition space and cabinets since that time.
6. Kathy Lazenbatt, Librarian at the Royal Asiatic Society, spoke about their experiences of theft.
Oliver Fallon, one of their members, targeted the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society in February 2007. He was a teacher and Sanskrit scholar. He visited the RAS Library and asked to view particular books and documents. Another RAS member alerted the Library some days later to the fact that plates were missing from a book. Mr Fallon was subsequently arrested; he returned the material as he had not had time to dispose of it.
a. On the days that he visited, the librarian was off sick and the assistant librarian was also ill so other staff had stepped in. In hindsight, the Library should have been closed. But this idea that ‘the show must go on’ now comes second to security concerns. On two occasions since then the Library has been closed due to staff shortages.
b. He targeted items that were not fully catalogued because it would be difficult for RAS to prove ownership.
c. Warning Signs:
i. he edited and updated lists of material that were included with the documents that he viewed – this was to make himself helpful to staff and encourage them to trust him
ii. he asked for a lot of photocopying in order to divert a member of staff
iii. he asked for material that was outside his subject area – researchers are normally very focused on their subject area
iv. He looked through pages and pages of material very quickly – obviously just checking what was worth stealing.
d. You are just as vulnerable from scholars as from ordinary citizens.
7. Panel Discussion
Christine Penney, the Hurd Librarian at Hartlebury Castle also spoke about the need to check contractors who come to do maintenance work in the library. In one instance a contractor was given the keys of the cupboard containing rare books so that he could do electrical work – he was working at the weekend and it was felt that this would be less disruptive. However, he stole some books and this was not initially noticed. Later on he was arrested on a motoring charge – a search of his house revealed the books that he was going to sell to feed his drug habit.
Renae Satterley, Rare Books Librarian at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, spoke about tracing stolen books. They have 9000 early printed books in the library. In 2003 they hired a conservator who was subsequently sacked. After he had left they found that he had stolen many books or razored out maps or plates. Having searched online for ‘Middle Temple’ together with relevant dates and price ranges, they found that many items were coming up for sale on ebay etc. In this way they have found many of the stolen items.
Another solution that is used in some libraries to identify an individual document stolen from a pile of papers is to weigh the entire pile of papers before and after. However, thieves can replace valuable items with ordinary sheets of paper. In the case of coins, some libraries have just done a visual check – only to find out later that the valuable coins have been replaced with worthless ones (this happened to a library that allowed an ex-member of staff to view them).
Over 600 books were stolen over a period of 13 months by a member of staff at Manchester Central Library, so there is also the ‘threat within’ to be considered.
Mary Duffy [Librarian Army & Navy Club 2009]
Visit to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
On Thursday 18th June eight members of the APML visited the Library and Archives at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. They were accompanied by Major P N Skelton-Stroud and Brigadier A K Dixon (respectively Chairman and member of the Army & Navy Club Library Committee) who sponsored the tour and who both attended Sandhurst in the 1950s.
The visit began with the Archives in the Old College building. The Archivist, Dr Anthony Morton, explained that many documents had been destroyed during the Second World War when the building was occupied by, among others, the Home Guard. However, Cadet Registers cover much of the period from 1741-1946 and are a great source of information. We were able to see Winston Churchill’s entry in the Cadet Register (he joined in 1894), including his exam results.
Before visiting the Library, Brigadier Dixon and Major Skelton-Stroud regaled us with fascinating anecdotes about their cadet days. Outside the Old College building there are several cannons, including French guns captured at the Battle of Waterloo. Although these are now fixed in place this was not so in the 1950s; one story relates that cadets wheeled a cannon down to the nearest main road, loaded it with grapefruit and fired them at the passing traffic!
The tradition of the Adjutant riding a white horse up the steps of the Old College at the end of the Sovereign’s Parade dates from 1926 when Major F A M ‘Boy’ Browning accomplished this feat – although there is no explanation for why he did this!
The visit continued with a look around the Library. The Central Library occupies what was once the gymnasium but became a library in 1931. The library contains over 180,000 books and journals and is used by the officer cadets and permanent staff.
The visit ended with a picnic lunch by the lake. Everyone who attended felt that it was a fascinating visit, and that the input by Brigadier Dixon and Major Skelton-Stroud made it a really memorable event.
Mary Duffy [Librarian Army & Navy Club 2009]
“Poverty is no Excuse: Disaster Preparedness for the Small Library”
20 November 2008
This conference was extremely interesting and informative, and attended by about 50 people. The morning sessions consisted of two talks, one by Alison Walker, Head of the National Preservation Office, on Creating a Disaster Management Plan and the second by Professor Graham Mathews on Safeguarding Heritage at Risk.
1) Creating a Disaster Management Plan
Many sources are available, including the National Preservation Office, Emergency Planning College, UK Resislience and teh M25 Disaster Managament Group websites. A template from one of these sources can be adapted to meet individual needs.
http://www.bl.uk/npo/ NPO (part of the British Library) provides an independent focus for the preservation of and continuing accessibility to cultural heritage materials held in libraries, archives and museums in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
http://www.epcollege.gov.uk/ Government’s centre for running short seminars, workshops and courses on an inter–agency basis in the field of crisis management and emergency planning.
http://www.ukresilience.gov.uk/ Provided by the Cabinet Office. Provides a resource for civil protection practitioners, supporting the work that goes on across the UK to improve emergency preparedness.
http://www.m25lib.ac.uk/ M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries, which has a disaster control plan template in its members’ area.
http://www.ifla.org/blueshield.htm Another useful source is Blue Shield (the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross) that deals with cultural heritage preservation.
The main components of a plan are manpower, supplies and procedures. Once a plan is written it needs to be constantly updated and evaluated.
2. Safeguarding Heritage at Risk
Small Libraries tend to share common problems:
- Low staffing levels
- Lack of expertise in DP
- Lack of funding
- Lack of time
- Senior Management do not consider that DP is a priority
- Lack of space
Why bother about Disaster Planning?
- There is an unprecedented scale of threat from Terrorism, Natural Disasters and Vandalism
- We have a duty of care
- Valuable / irreplaceable items
- Service continuity – impact on our users
Examples of disasters that have had a major impact on cultural sites include the Windsor Castle fire, Cutty Sark fire, the floods of 2007 and 9/11. And there is the new threat of climate change.
The afternoon sessions consisted of three case studies:
a. Norwich Library fire of 1994
b. The development of Rapid Response, a regional heritage disaster network for Yorkshire’s libraries and museums, following the disastrous floods of 2007
c. The Belfor Rapid Response Scheme – used by the Royal Academy of Music Library
The Norwich Library fire took 2 days to put out and destroyed most of the books and other items held in the building. It was started by an electrical fault and the building was completely gutted. In this particular case the items in the basement were the ‘safest’.
The Yorkshire Rapid Response network was set up with Heritage Lottery funds (£56K) following the floods of 2007. The floods had affected 25 heritage organisations. Training will be provided on all aspects of disaster response, including practical and management issues.
The Belfor Rapid Response Scheme http://www.uk.belfor.com/index.php?id=92
The flood at the Royal Academy of Music was due to a combination of factors: flat roof, high winds, heavy rain and seeds from nearby plane trees accumulating in the gutters. The RAM pays £395 each year to Belfor Rapid Response and therefore was able to call on their expertise to repair the damaged books.
The staff at Norwich Library borrowed shopping trolleys from a nearby Marks & Spencers – these were used to transport ‘rescued’ material to awaiting vans. They used a nearby RAF aircraft hangar as a temporary store for damaged material.
Don’t just keep your Disaster Plan on the computer! It may be damaged by fire or flood. Have colour coded laminated sheets on display throughout the building.
Keep a torch in your Disaster Planning boxes – the electricity may fail.
Mary Duffy [Librarian Army & Navy Club 2008]
“A Visit to Eton”
A small group of APML members were guests of Eton College Library on a bitterly cold late Autumn morning. Arriving a little early we took the advice of a remarkably opportune chance meeting with the headmaster to dive into the beautiful and well heated 15th century Henry VI chapel, prior to our appointment with Rachel Bond (College Librarian) and Katie Lord (Deputy College Librarian).
Following a warm welcome and an introduction to the history of the College, its remarkable Library and its collections, we were provided with the opportunity to view a choice selection of its holdings. These included an example of early Caxton printing, a remarkable Copernicus edition, a selection of drawings after the antique from the collection of Richard Topham, and a copy of the earliest, though perhaps not the funniest, “comedy” in the English language. Entitled “Ralph Roister Doister” it had been written by the College’s own Headmaster Nicholas Udall back in the 1530’s. Udall would later be jailed for homosexual offenses, but cleared on charges of theft, ending his career ultimately at that other school of early theatrical tradition, Westminster.
Of the items on display the highlight was certainly the Eton choir-book, a richly illuminated manuscript collection of sacred music composed during the late fifteenth century, one of very few collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the Reformation and one of only three large choir-books surviving from early-Tudor England. A joy to look at, it also brought back memories of singing plainsong as a youthful choirboy myself.
An opportunity for discussion of librarian-ship issues then arose, on such matters as cataloging and software. Our visit concluded with Eton College’s Library of World War One Books, and the pupil’s own working library, an intriguingly converted miniature Radcliffe camera.
A particularly worthwhile visit, I would like to extend my thanks on behalf of the APML to Rachel Bond and Katie Lord for giving up so much of their time. Our thanks also to Stephen Massil for making the arrangements for the visit.
Marcus Risdell (APML Chairman 2008)
Page from the Eton choir-book reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College
“The Man Who Loved China”
Royal College of Physicians
The Inaugural lecture of the APML was given by Simon Winchester OBE at the Royal College of Physicians in London on the 24th September 2008. Entitled The Man Who Loved China it introduced the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, best remembered for his massive achievement embodied in the continuing Science and Civilisation in China series, the successive parts of which have been published by Cambridge University Press since 1954. This great work was planned as a history of science, technology and medicine in China, seen in its fullest social and intellectual context, and illuminated by a deep and sympathetic understanding of the cultures of both East and West. However the speaker has had unique access to diaries and personal papers and was able to introduce the audience to Needham, the man. We learnt of his love for naturism and Morris Dancing, the joy he experienced learning to use the Chinese script, and much much more.
The evening was chaired by Professor Lisa Jardine CBE and was preceeded with a reception.
Marcus Risdell (APML Chairman 2008)
Treasures from the Libraries & Collections of Gentlemen’s Clubs & Learned Societies in London
London has a long history of gentlemen’s clubs, and there are more of them than in any other city in the world. And yet this was the first exhibition to bring together under one roof some of their many treasures, normally hidden from public view.
The Association of Pall Mall Libraries was founded in December 2004 by the librarians of the Army & Navy, the Athenaeum, the Naval and Military, the Oxford and Cambridge, the Reform, the Royal Automobile Club and the Travellers Club. The Association rapidly expanded beyond the traditional confines of clubland, and includes members from all over central London.
The inaugural exhibition of the APML offered a unique opportunity for the general public to see books and artefacts from the collections of the Alpine Club, the Army & Navy, the Athenaeum, the East India, the Garrick, the Naval & Military, the Oriental, the Reform, the Royal Automobile Club, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Society of Medicine, the Royal United Services Institute, and the Travellers Club. The exhibits on display included items not only of intrinsic interest, but also of relevance to their respective institutions. The Garrick, for example, displayed Alec Guinness’s copy of a limited edition of Hamlet, illustrated by Henry Moore and dedicated to John Gielgud. The Royal Automobile Club exhibited the pressure gauge meter from the ‘Bluebird’ in which Donald Campbell achieved the record speed of 403.1 mph on 17 July 1964; and the Royal Society of Medicine, which hosted the exhibition in its newly opened Heritage Centre, displayed Rudyard Kipling’s copy of Culpeper’s book on herbs, and we must not forget the Army and Navy Club’s Emperor penguin, a survivor from the first of Scott’s Antarctic expeditions.
Sheila Markham (APML Chairman 2006-08)