Reflective Log: Tuesday 7th May 2013

For some reason unbeknown to me, I keep writing the date as 2011 at the moment (I’m quite glad it’s not, because this time in 2011 I was manically studying for my final undergraduate exams). Because obviously you needed to know that. Anyway. Yes. Last week. I continued my work with Special Collections. A lot of the week was filled with more recording of peace pamphlets spanning various decades from 1930 onwards, which I talked about last week. The boxes I sorted through this last week were more focused on disarmament and nuclear weapons than the previous week, which is something I’ve never read about or taken a particular interest in (I’ve only really explored women’s and LGBT history and campaigning as opposed to all the other things going on around it), so it was interesting to look through the sorts of pamphlets that we had – a lot of them were published in the 1980s, which is a little later on than I had expected (although perhaps not if I actually stop and really think about it), as I never really tended to think of these issues and campaigns in terms of a time period that is so close to my lifetime, perhaps because it just never came up at school or in my family, perhaps I’m just very naive.

It was interesting to think about the pamphlets in terms of how they would sit in a collection – all too small to stand on a shelf, most not visual enough to put on display. There was a note that came with some donated pamphlets saying that ‘the Peace Museum don’t want them as they are not “visual” enough’, which I thought was quite sad, as it would be nice for all of these pieces to be looked at and appreciated as much as possible rather than being shut away in a box and only seen upon request, because whilst they will be appreciated by the requester, it means that general passers-by and library users won’t know about or see them. Someone like me, for example, who isn’t studying and isn’t a specialist in the area but can gain enjoyment just from flicking through these pamphlets, wouldn’t actively seek them out or just happen upon them as I have been lucky enough to do, so they are likely to go unnoticed but to a few people unless they are actively publicised and made the most of – a constant challenge for Special Collections librarians! Unsurprisingly, it was the pieces that were more visual that stood out to me the most as I sorted through them – pieces with photos or funny illustrations, a pamphlet with a cover made of wallpaper, some wall posters made by Oxfam, a 1986 peace calendar, a set of trump cards to provide ‘snappy arguments for doorstep debates and public speakers’.

As well as the pamphlet project, I had also spent some time cataloguing some books for Special Collections’ University collection – a collection made up of books linked to the University (generally either books written about it, notes and essays from lectures held at it, or pieces written by staff at the University). I was pretty pleased when I was told that I’d done a really good job of this, and I was then shown how to prepare it for the shelf – stamps, bookplates etc. It was nice to do something hands on with the books, especially as I had already been a part of their journey into the collection. We also talked a bit about preservation of the collections, and I’m borrowing a copy of ‘The Special Collections Handbook‘, which is written by our own librarian herself. I was also a little overly excited by the discovery that there is such a thing as archive-quality paper.

Other things that happened last week included my 6-month review. Yes, I’ve been in the job (and The North) for 6 months already! It went pretty smoothly and I was provided with luxury cookies by my line manager, which means I’ve been doing a good job. My contract is 12 months, ending 31st October, but I’m going to have to leave in September some time to go and start my masters at Loughborough, which means I am well and truly over halfway through my time here. The thought of leaving makes me a little sad because I’m having such a good time.

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