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Moving The Natural History Society Library

In 2005 when the project to develop the Hancock Museum was agreed it meant that everything in the building would have to be removed.

For the NHSN library the move was directed by the Library committee, formed by society members nominated by each section of the Society.  The architects needed to know exactly the length and type of shelving that our collection would require, so each old shelf was measured and the number of volumes, sizes and titles recorded.

It was also necessary to indicated which books should be in the various parts of the new library e.g. public access, controlled access and rare book room and also which should be available to members during closure to form a temporary library.

The books were then separated on each shelf according to destination before packing commenced.

The packing was recorded in a separate Cardbox database.

Books were taken from the shelves to a central table and packed in Dewey order.  A list of the contents of each crate was printed from the database including the destination area in the new library.  A copy of the list was put inside the crate and another stuck on the outside.

The journals, which had previously been shelved by their source or country, were reviewed by David Gardner-Medwin and classified by Dewey.  Again these were brought to the table in Dewey order and the publication and volume numbers recorded with lists included in the crates.

Many volumes were wrapped in acid free tissue paper and bubble wrap for their protection.

In all there were over 700 crates packed and sent to the temporary store.  Those destined to form the temporary library were moved to the house in Claremont Terrace to join our office and the temporary library established.

The result of this work was that a complete audit of the NHSN library had been carried out; missing items were known as was the location of all the rest.

To establish the library in its new home there had to be lengthy discussions with the other parties involved.  The allocation of shelving had to be determined and agreed between SANT, the Cowen collection and NHSN to balance with the design figures used by the architect.  They were satisfactorily resolved (without bloodshed).

Although the crates were numbered and left the old library in order they returned to the new library having been shuffled.  Using the shelf measurements made of the material before packing it was possible to estimate where each journal should start.  This was particularly important when working in the roller stacking in controlled access.  David Gardner-Medwin spent many weeks marooned between the stacks.

As the new library is open to the public each and every volume was security tagged requiring the labour of many Society members.

Once the content of the library was shelved it was important to be able to find any item quickly. The books are in Dewey order and public or controlled access was recorded on the database when the book was shelved.  However for the journals a shelf list was made from which an alphabetical list could be made.  The remaining task is that each of over 12,000 records on the database has the correct new shelf mark.  Eventually the index cards will be altered as well.