Monday, 27 February 2012

Folio shelves...

As you come in through the main door these are our folio shelves on the left... 

...and these are the folio shleves on the right.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Book Ins reading aloud event February 2012

I did another of the BookIns reading aloud events here at National Museum Cardiff on Saturday February 4th and once again thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was different this time; firstly I was on my own and for this reason I feel I missed out on things as having my head down reading [and not knowing anyone else there] I have had no-one else’s views on it. Also, and I think this was because I was alone, I was quite sure [and told everyone] that there were more readers this time but according to Leona’s report on the Book Ins website, there were in fact, fewer readers!  The first reading aloud event was held at Chapter Arts Centre back in December 2010 and the subject was the works of Shakespear, the second event held here at the Museum coincided with [and therefore used the subject of] International Women's Day in March 2011 and the third event again held here at the Museum [and the first one I did and which I wrote about here] covered the subject of travel.

This most recent event coincided with LGBT History Month and therefore I decided to read one  of my most favourite Oscar Wilde stories The Happy Prince but [me being me] I left it too late to dig out my copy and so in a mad rush on Saturday morning I grabbed my sister’s copy of  The Fry Chronicles and drove through the snow [it didn’t last] into Cardiff. As before, we were given the choice to either read in the Main Hall or in one of the art galleries and I opted the gallery; this time it was one of our brand new contemporary art galleries and the atmosphere was completely different from the Welsh Landscape Gallery last time.  Instead of being subdued and quiet these new galleries are big, light and airy with giant colourful canvases dotted about [artists include Laura Ford, Shani Rhys-James and Howard Hodgkin] and there were a lot of visitors walking through. And as if to match this atmosphere I was aware that my fellow readers were speaking more loudly. Last time I wrote about our “quiet cacophony” but this was much more like an excited and buzzing tangle of voices gamboling through words and at one point I was even a little concerned that the visitors might object to the noise! It was quite an experience.

My choice of book was good; I had not read Stephen Fry before but have always loved him on the television [my sister met him years ago at the Hay Festival and has had a thumping great crush ever since]. I read from the opening chapter which described in heart-breaking [and someties disturbing] detail his childhood addiction to sugar [especially sweet breakfast cereals and chocolate bars] and the trauma of starting his first term at boarding school where he was forced to eat more healthy food so had to scrimp and hoard pocket money for the tuck shop. I like the conversational tone of his writing and will try and finish it at some point.
Photographs of the event can be seen here J

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 2

Main Library door is top right
Managed to get in by 7.30 this morning [needed to boost flexi time] – and since I was first in I “did the rounds” which includes lights on; cabinets unlocked; heaters on; copier on and change date on all stamps. Then I got to work: checked emails for enquiries, stamped and displayed newspapers [we take the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Times and Independent], sent circulation journals down to Geology Dept [they get last week's Country Life and New Scientist to keep in their tea room for a week], processed journals for the Cardiff Naturalists' Society [we house and manage their library and do the same for the Cambrian Archaeological Association] and then I popped down to check on some accession numbers in the Botany Library. Then I did a bit of a tidying up and clearing away as we are taking part in the CLIC Cardiff Library Tours event tomorrow to celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday. CLIC requested that members open their doors to other Librarians as a kind of “show and tell” so we are having two group tours at 10.30 and 2 o’clock. My part will be to show half of the morning group a selection of our departmental libraries along the east wing of the building and my colleague Kristine will be taking the other half on a tour of our west wing libraries; more about that tomorrow!

Vintage botany library

Didn’t get to the post until after lunch and today’s journal offerings included BSBI [Botanical Society of the British Isles] News, Current Archaeology [March issue containing extensive article on our very own Origins exhibition], Quarry Management, Museum Management and Curatorship and Vormen uit Vuur [Netherlands journal on the history of ceramics and glass]. Later on my colleague and I took some of our newly printed leaflets [and an Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales poster and stand] over to the Welsh Government building so they can display them for us tomorrow when they too take part in the CLIC library tours. It was only a five minute walk but it was freezing outside! The rest of the afternoon was spent getting everything ready for tomorrow; we needed to print off our visitors' list for the Main Hall reception desk; send emails to museum staff warning them we'd be out and about tomorrow polluting the peace and quiet of their precious libraries [if only for 10/15 minutes!]; letting security know what's happening and [finally] deciding what treasures to lay out for our guests to see. We've decided on a few special bindings, some of our old cuttings albums, a selection of vintage photographs showing the library in the "olden days" and an album with photos of some royal museum visits.

Today was such fun but by the end of it I was exhausted! I got in early around 8 o'clock and spent the next hour going through emails, tidying up around my desk and reading through the notes I'd written up for my part of the tour later. However, at 9 o'clock we all trouped down to the Main Hall for coffee, sweet pastries and an informative talk from our Director General on our exciting new exhibition The Queen: Art and Image and then went for a walk through it and oh boy it's fantastic! Organised by the National Portrait Gallery it contains 60 portaits of the Queen to celebrate her 60 year reign and whereas it does have some brilliant contemporary portaits [Chris Levine's light box is quite incredible] my favourites by far are the stylishly beautiful photographs by Cecil Beaton and Dorothy Wilding.

Some of our treasures

We were back up in the library by 9.45 laying everything out and before we knew it, it was 10.20 and we were in the Main Hall meeting our 12 guests! Among others there were quite a number from the various Cardiff University libraries, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Library, Welsh Government Library and Rhiwbina Library. We took them up to the Main Library where Kristine gave them a brief talk on the history and general running of the Library and then they were free to wander about and ask questions. After they'd had a good look around we split the group into two and I took one lot on a tour of our east wing libraries [Art, Geology and Botany] and Kristine took the others on a tour of our west wing [Zoology, Archaeology and Lodge Store]. I'm not used to talking to visitors en masse and was quite nervous to begin with but they were such an appreciative group I was soon enjoying myself and before I knew it, it was all over! After we said our goodbuys I went on a quick lunch and then popped along to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Library for a great tour of their facility which I throroughly enjoyed; and at this point the Librarian was looking after our second afternoon group. 

I've only written the briefest synopsis of today for this Library day in the life entry but I'm planning to write a fuller post later.

Thank you and goodnight :-)

Library Day in the Life #8, part 1

This is my first contribution to the Library Day in the Life project so here goes... My main job is managing the journals collections in the Library at Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd - National Museum Cardiff. This entails managing subscriptions; checking in issues, distributing them to the relevant departments [Archaeology, Art, Botany, Zoology, Geology]; accessioning annuals; display, circulation, shelving and claiming missing issues. I also accession all books [assigning them with a 6 figure identification number] and maintain an accessions register which comprises of print outs of all numbers used along with corresponding book details, deal with enquires, manage an online journals list, sort all post and generally run about the place. Now, whereas my work can hardly be described as full on it is none the less relentless – there is always that list of jobs that I am forever trying to get to and sometimes during one of those rare quiet times that occur in amongst the mayhem [the silence in the eye of the storm if you like] I am able to feverishly pluck a random entry and fly through it and oh the joy of striking a line through that task that has been squatting like a black toad on the list for ever such a long time J

The Main Library [my desk is on the right]

One other thing you should know about my job is the geographical layout of our Library. I work in [what we call] the Main Library  that houses general reference material; conservation and museology books and journals; Welsh society transactions; rare topographical books and special bindings. However the Museum's departmental libraries [which we also manage] are dotted around the building so we are invariably dashing about between them [which is a rather nice aspect to this job]. And because of these multiple locations, we operate on a trust system whereby staff can go into any library and take whatever they need but they must always leave a loan card so we can tell at a glance where the item is. The obvious draw back to this system is that not all staff complete loan cards and I can’t tell you the hours of fun we have when that happens.

Okay, to business and here’s my week…

Spent the morning working through a large pile of post, there’s always loads on a Monday and sometimes it can take all day to sort through. I open everything and then separate it all out, enter journals and art sales onto our LMS [we use ADLIB] and then stamp and circulate them to the departments. At this point, if we have missed an issue I will chase it up with the supplier. I then process any renewal forms and correspondence and pass them to the Librarian or any other library staff they might concern [there are 5 of us]. This morning however, the pile wasn’t too big and everything was done by lunch time. Monday is an odd day as the Museum isn’t open to the public and apart from an eerie quiet around the building I also can’t meet up with colleagues for a mid morning coffee in the main hall restaurant downstairs L

Morning coffee in the Main Hall

I started off this afternoon by working through my emails and like everyone else I get so many these days! Working in a big organisation you get bombarded with messages about everything that’s going on and hardly any of it concerns you. So after deleting A LOT – I got down to the business of answering a few enquiries. My pace has been a little slow this afternoon as I went out for lunch with two colleagues and I had lasagne and chips and then had the dreaded carb lethargy L

In nice and early this morning! I do like a Tuesday because [after Monday’s assault] there’s hardly any post and from 10 o’clock onwards I hear the lovely quiet hum of visitors in the Mail Hall below. I got to work early on accessioning a small pile of books left over from Friday, processed four renewal invoices and sorted trhough my emails. Went for coffee at 10.30 and the post was waiting for me when I got back at 11 - just managed to get through it before I left at 1 o’clock [half day today].

Managed to get in fairly early again [8.15] and got to work immediately on the new pile of books ready for accessioning. The Assistant Librarian does all cataloguing and then leaves the items for me to accession and she’d been working on this pile most of Monday and Tuesday. Sometimes it’s very tempting to down tools for a bit and browse the more interesting books such as this one […but not this one!] however, time is short so I nobly plough on.

Have also noticed two alarmingly large boxes filled with back issues of an old geology journal [someone’s been accepting gifts again!]; therefore at some point I will need to decant, check contents, create a record on the LMS, stamp/emboss and then find a home for them in our increasingly cramped Geology library. Post all done between break and lunch and this morning’s journal offerings included Museums Journal, Art History and Country Life [anti browsing will power stretched to the max with Country Life!]. This afternoon was spent processing renewals invoices; December and January is a busy time for these so there are quite a few. We also had an offer of some Scott memorabilia which I passed on the relevant curator; timely indeed since we are currently hosting our very own Scott exhibition Captain Scott: South for Science.