Planning the Move

Sometime in February, or after, we’ll be moving our collections from the west end of the second floor to the east end of the ground and basement floors. That takes planning. Even the simplest move takes planning.

So yesterday I counted and numbered shelves in our current room. There are only 979 for me to deal with. That’s including the 21 book trucks with two or three shelves each (and don’t anyone go telling our public services folks that we have that many of their book trucks up here!)

On the one hand this isn’t as complicated as a move to a new building with weather and trucks and open exterior doors to contend with. On the other hand it is going to be complicated in its own right.

For example, we have a number of separate collections that will need to be shelved separately in the new space. And at present some of them are not shelved contiguously. Some of it (especially the oversized materials) is not shelved in call number order. And even our prized “Assembly Collection” (the core of which was purchased for Pennsylvania’s General Assembly in 1745 by Benjamin Franklin) is not on the shelves in call number order.

And did I mention that the new space requires that the rare collections be divided into three different secure areas on two separate floors?

At the moment I’m just sighing with relief that a good number of the 979 shelves in the current room are empty. That makes me feel better about the shelves of uncataloged materials I also have to deal with.

Published in: on 12 December 2006 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  

“Rare Books for Dummies” workshop

So, on Monday (yesterday) I went to Baltimore for the unfortunately-titled “Rare Books for Dummies” workshop sponsored by PALINET at the Peabody Library (part of the Johns Hopkins system). It was a good introductory workshop for someone who hadn’t read or studied anything on the history of the book before.

I already had. Years ago, at University of Illinois. And, having worked with and read about rare books in the intervening years, there wasn’t actually much in the way of brand new information for me to glean. But I did get to see some nice books. For example, there was a Hypnerotomachia Poliplili (we have a nice facsimile edition here at the State Library, but this was an original, of course).

That said, I was struck with the realization while we were being told about book illustration technologies that when we refer to a “plate” we’re taking the term from the actual printing plate that produced the illustration. “Duh,” as the kids say today. I just don’t remember having made that obvious connection before.

I was also struck by some similarities (I thought) between the Peabody and the State Library’s rare books collections. Things like the breadth of collection, that we aren’t actively seeking out tons of new acquisitions, that we’re both Dewey Decimal collections, that we both have some fine old high spots, that we have small staffs, that we don’t attract lots of readers. On the other hand, our new facility is, well, light years ahead of their beautiful cast iron reading-room-and-stacks.

Or it will be, once the construction is finally completed.

Published in: on 5 December 2006 at 7:41 am  Leave a Comment