Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cambridge Library innovation and enterprise Centre

It's come to light today that Cambridgeshire Council has Big Plans for Cambridge Central Library. These plans were agreed at Tuesday's meeting of the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee.

The report presented to the committee and the summary of decisions are both available online. I've had a very quick read through, and these are some of what I think are the salient points:
  • '1.4 The Council was approached by Kora to create a Cambridge Library innovation and enterprise Centre (CLEC)'
Kora are these folks, I think.
  • '1.5 Services are aimed at students, young people and adult career changers, those returning to work or growing their business, entrepreneurs, start-ups, corporations, individuals and groups.'
  • '1.6 The creation of CLEC is envisaged as an enhanced offer for customers, creating an opportunity to re-position the Adult Learning and Skills, Careers and Youth Support Services to more prominence' 
OK, so services for people who might want services from a library, and making those services visible...
  • '2.3 Kora would manage a large proportion of this floor, charging for the use of the entrepreneurs lounge, co-working and individual workspaces, and some events.'
Mmm-hmm. Private company managing part of the library space, and charging for it's use? Not so fond of that.
  • '2.4 ... current café would be replaced with a small, high quality coffee-bar style refreshment service' and in 2.9 'tailored to the needs of business users'
Current café is cheap, friendly, welcoming, sort of place parents can take squalling children, or older people can sit all morning, or people without anywhere much else to go can stretch out a cuppa.
  • '2.10 ... it would take 8 weeks to install the enterprise centre on the third floor and require at least one week closure of the whole library (three weeks maximum).'
Unless they find more structural problems like with the major refurb, I guess...
  • '5.1    Resource Implications
  • The Business Plan assumes returns from CLEC or a similar venture.  If it is not developed, further savings in the business plan will be required to make up the shortfall.'
The council's relying on the money from this, so if it doesn't bring in returns that's not good. But private collaborations like this always turn out fine, eh?

Anyway, I'm not perfectly sure what I think, but it seems to have sprung from nowhere rather quickly, which isn't great. And I don't like the idea of private running of library spaces, or of serious charging for space use.

There's a protest organised by the local MP and a  petition.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Handy hand-out: fold an octavo sheet

I took a handful of books to a medical museum object handling session on Monday 17 November, and made a fancy handout to go with them.

I wanted visitors to be able to take away the details of the books on show, but thought it might be fun if the handout was also a practical demonstration of one element book construction, namely of imposition and sheet folding.

So the fold-your-own-octavo-sheet handout template was born.

There are two main parts, which I'm happy for you to use and reuse as you wish. CC By 4.0 - you can do whatever you like, but please attribute the original to me:
  1. The template for creating your own handout.  This is put together in Powerpoint, and set up for an A4 page. You'll probably need to adjust the position(s) of the grid of boxes on one or both pages to allow for the peculiarities of your local printer: it might not print the pages exactly lined up on each other without a bit of fiddling.
  2. A how-to illustration showing how to fold the sheet into a booklet.
    1. As a Powerpoint file that you can fiddle with and substitute the 'FIRST PAGE' text with the actual first page/image of your handout, or add page numbers into the corners, or signatures into the other corners, if you want to.
    2. As a .png image file (use this link for full size file) ready to insert into any document.

There's also a bonus third part:
  1. The pdf of the handout I used for the event itself as an example and a prompt for you to create something better. It's set in house-style Calibri font, which doesn't give the most rare books vibe, it has to be said. 

Someone will doubtless point out that Powerpoint is a ludicrous choice of programme to do this in, but it worked for me when I was in quite a rush to get this done, and I'm pretty happy with the result.

And there's a non-zero chance that I've actually got something technically wrong with the layout and imposition, in which case, do please yell! It took an embarrassing number of attempts to get watermarks right. (The elephant is Briquet 5948, by the way.)

I'm going to write up further thoughts on museum-style handling sessions using rare books in due course, and I'll be hoping for contributions and thoughts from other people who are doing this already or who would like to. So get your thinking caps on!

Preserved flowers in books

We made an exciting discovery in one of our rare books this week, when a visitor at a handling session found a pressed flower between the pages of John Gerard's Herball or generall historie of plantes (1597).
It's not such a surprise to find a forgotten plant specimen in a book all about plants, but it's not something I'd much come across before, and I'd certainly never known what any institutional approach or policy would be to dealing with such a find. So I asked the LIS-RAREBOOKS mailing list for information about what other people do when they find similar things in their books. This is a summary of the responses, which I've also posted to the list.

Firstly, I can report that the specimen has been identified as a legume, most likely most likely to be bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

Most libraries are keeping specimens. Two replies mentioned that they might dispose of them if they were disintegrating, or if they were of no apparent relevance to the book in which they were found.

Most replies mentioned documenting the specimens in the catalogue record. One specifically said that they don’t document. Those who gave details specified the 561 field or, in once case, a 590 field. For archives records, the description field was mentioned in one reply.

The great majority of respondent indicated that they would keep the specimen inside the book in the location in which it was found inside an appropriate enclosure, if the added thickness would not cause strain to the binding.

Another common alternative was to place the specimen in an enclosure at the back or front of the book, or to place it in the box of a boxed item.

Some libraries with specialised collections containing a lot of material of this kind have enclosure made by a conservator that are then either mounted on guards in the book, or kept with the book in another suitable manner.

The library that didn’t document specimens found also noted that it doesn’t enclose them, either.

At least one respondent suggested labelling the enclosure to indicate where it belongs – a sensible idea!

Melinex and acid free tissue were both used in roughly equal numbers of replies. Melinex has the benefit of allowing you to see the specimen, and to see through the enclosure to the page beneath. Acid free tissue is rather thinner.

Two more involved enclosures were suggested by one conservation officer:
But this same conservator also notes that leaving plants between the pages of a book, has been done successfully for centuries, and you can tell if the specimen has been causing damage.

Several responders noted that they would store the specimen separately from the book if it was harming the paper or binding, or if there are too many specimens in one volume to be kept in place in the book.

Separately stored specimens are stored with the book in a folder or envelop shelved next to the book.

Louise Roberston, a conservator at the University of Glasgow, made individual pockets to store plant material found in Fuchs’ De Historia Stirpium, as documented in this blog post:

There’s also guidance available on making herbarium samples:
This is a lovely blog post about a specimen found in a war memoir in Surrey:

And Kew Gardens managed to germinate some 200-year-old seeds found in the High Court of Admiralty Prize Papers at the National Archives.(This was missed out of my message to the list. Links via @Frieda_M and @rjc_archives.)