Hold Your Horses!

Posting has slowed down, I know.  Our move is on hiatus while the historic newspapers collection is inventoried and then wrapped in acid free paper for storage.  Meanwhile, I’m cataloging my way into our backlog.  I’m working mostly with our pamphlet volumes, which are primarily from the 19th century but include some late 18th and early 20th century materials.  It’s always surprising when I have to create a new bibliographic record in OCLC for one of these items. How could we possibly be the first library to record this item?

Another section of the backlog that I’m delving into are the legal treatises.  These also reveal a surprising breadth in age and topic (although in this case they are pretty much all legal topics).  And while much of the legal reading is tough going for a non-lawyer, sometimes I happen across things that I find fascinating.

For example . . . from the 1st American edition of “Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making; with Observations Deduced form [sic] Practice and Experience, with a View to a Revision of the Existing Law [etc., etc.] by John Loudon M’Adam, esq. (Baltimore: Printed by J. Robinson 1821) come these little facts about horses and the mail system in England:

in 1819 the ‘Select Committee on the Highways of the Kingdom’ took several days of evidence.  They asked William Waterhouse, the coachman at the Swan-with-two-Necks in Lad-lane, how many horses he kept to move his mail and stage coaches around. Answer: “About four-hundred.” (p.87)

They questioned William Horne, who kept the Golden Cross Inn, Charing Cross and also was “proprietor of many mail and stage coaches,” “Do you find that your horses that are employed in the stages near London, wear out sooner than those at a greater distance? — Much sooner, I should think. I employ about four hundred horses myself, and I am sure I buy one hundred and fifty a year [t]o support the number, and keep the stock in order. I consider that my stock wears out fully in three years.” (pp. 89-90).

Here in the automobile age, we simply have no idea what it took to move people and goods around by true horsepower.

Published in: on 23 April 2008 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Moving Hiatus and “Sunday at St. Louis”

We spent 3 weeks moving books and newspapers into one of the three renovated spaces, but have been in a kind of suspended animation since the beginning of March while the other areas go through their final preparations to receive collection materials.  This pause in trundling book trucks through hallways, into the freight elevator, into the various ‘air locks,’ and back again has given our other technical processing folks time to inventory and wrap more old newspapers so that they (the newspapers) will be ready when the moving starts up again.

 In the mean time, I came across the following item of interest while cataloging bound pamphlets today. 

‘Sunday at St. Louis’

“Sunday at St. Louis is a queer day.  Go to church and try to be as good as gold, but you can’t help being in the world of work and amusement.  The cars run the same as ever, many of the shops are doing a lively business, lager beer and dance houses and [sic] in full blast and the theatre getting double receipts; out towards the fields the Germans are having a high old time, and down at the levee steamers are arriving and departing mid all kinds of bustle, and astonishing your weak nerves by screeching Yankee Doodle, Oh Susanna, &c., out of their steam pipes, as if determined to leave no quiet on earth.  The effect of these horse power melodies is intensely ludicrous, and with the accompaniment of high jinks from a crowd of boys and men who vary the game of bluff, played in the open street, by casual firing at cats and old tiles, the general absence of sanctity is enough to drive a quiet, moral Philadelphian into fits.”

This is from page 17 of the: Philadelphia Board of Trade.  Narrative of the excursion to the West, made by the delegation of the Board of Trade of Philadelphia. Reprinted from the letters published in the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” from its special correspondent.  Philadelphia: Inquirer Printing Office, 1860.  It is a 24 page pamphlet describing a junket through Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati  from 16 October to 3 November 1860.  According to the OCLC WorldCat, this pamphlet is held only at the Library Company in Philadelphia, at the New York Public Library, and at the State Library of Pennsylvania.

I used to live in St. Louis and especially enjoy this word picture drawn by “a quiet, moral Philadelphian.”

Published in: on 18 March 2008 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Move Has Begun

We finally began moving the Rare Collections Library to the renovated space within our building on Monday.

No telling how long it will take us (we’re doing it ourselves, after several flip-flops between having an outside firm do it and having us do it), but so far things have gone very well. Notes are up on our website that include the sentence “We expect the collection will again become available sometime this Spring/Summer.”

Published in: on 15 February 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Didn’t Start Moving

Despite the hopeful last post about the imminent start of our move, we didn’t begin. Word came down later in the day that the genesis of our exodus would be on Monday the 18th.

But just now I’ve received word that there is some testing that will be happening on the 18th and we won’t start then.


Published in: on 14 June 2007 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Maybe Moving on the Morrow

There is a possibility that we will actually start moving books into our newly-renovated spaces tomorrow (13 June). At least that’s the date we’ve been sticking with since last Friday. I could try to list all of the move dates that have been announced, but there’s probably a limit to the file size I can upload to WordPress.

Published in: on 12 June 2007 at 8:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Moving Ahead with the Move

First a little revision on the post from last month (last year!) where I gave the shelf count in our current Rare Books Room. It’s actually 987 shelves from which material can come.

And there are 148 of those that are empty (or currently hold extra bookends or empty phase boxes. That gives me 839 physical micro-locations in that one room from which material can come. (not to mention the hundreds of bound pamphlet volumes stored in another location down the hall)

I haven’t done the arithmetic to calculate the number of shelves in the new space. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of space. For example, I have sketched out a ‘new shelf location layout’ and came up with an interesting datum: filling two aisles of shelves with our Pennsylvania Imprints collection — to the rate of 19 linear inches of books on each shelf — I could double the volume of of the collection and still have empty space in those two aisles.

And, get this, there are 13 (THIRTEEN!) aisles on just that side of that one vault! And I’ve got three separate vaults to use.

The space will all be put to good use. But if you’re a librarian in Pennsylvania, and have rare or special collections materials you would like to place in off-site storage at our facility, let us know.

Published in: on 25 January 2007 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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