Listing and learning

Across our different collections we have a variety of children’s annuals which date from the late nineteenth century. Their colourful covers, adventure stories and arts and craft sections bring back memories of my own childhood and the excitement I felt receiving a copy of the Beano or Disney’s Year Book each Christmas. I have gladly taken on the task of listing these annuals as a small collection of their own. This grouping is on a virtual basis as I did not want to remove them from their original collections. These annuals provide an insight to the mentality of children at the turn of the twentieth century; their interests, hobbies and understanding of the world. They teach us so much about how authors manipulate their language for a younger audience and it is interesting to compare the contents with a more modern example.

Ideal Book for Girls, c.1956, Annual

Ideal Book for Girls, c.1956

Ideal Book for Boys, 1934, Annual

Ideal Book for Boys, 1934

These annuals have been added to an online catalogue so that other book enthusiasts can appreciate them in their fullest glory. This is not a quick process as many of these contain over thirty contributors and recording each of these can be time-consuming but it means that our collection is accessible to a wider audience and that we have a more accurate index for our own records too. This process has been a first step in learning how to use and make the most out of basic cataloguing software. I’m using this small project to see if I can extend the audience of the Research Collections further. This is in the hope that researchers realise what great information we hold and come and see the selection.

I was lucky enough to take time out of this project to experience what it would be like to work in a Historic Library. I spent the day with the librarian, David Morrison, and my fellow trainee, Tom, at the Cathedral to learn a little more about how they manage their vast collection. David showed me their database for managing the archives and gave me a tour of where they are stored; it is interesting to see how each place varies in their approach to collections management. I was also very grateful for the palaeography lessons he provided to teach the methods of reading seventeenth through to nineteenth-century texts. I was quite impressed with how quickly I picked it up.

Let’s see if I can put any of this new knowledge to use back at the Research Collections.

Danielle Joyce