Happy Libraries Week!
From 7th to 11th October, libraries of all kinds across the country will be celebrating the valuable work we do and the valuable spaces and collections (and readers!) we look after.
The theme of this year is ‘celebrating libraries in a digital world’. Historic libraries and collections like ours have long embraced the possibilities of the digital in bringing us closer to people locally and globally.
Celebrate the online catalogue!
The first thing we would like to celebrate is something easy to overlook in the age of the search engine, and that is our online catalogue. As many of you will undoubtedly know through experience, finding what you are looking for in a library using a card index is a very different experience to that of an online catalogue. The ease with which the book, pamphlet, journal, or dictionary you need can be found using a library catalogue (at least, most of the time) can be very easy to overlook. So, three cheers from us for MainCAT, our online catalogue!
You can find MainCAT here.
We also have a guide to making the most of MainCAT that might be useful if you haven’t used it before.
Look out for some cosmetic changes to MainCAT that we are working on over the coming week or so that we hope you will like!
Gladstone’s Library looks after, as many of you will know, the original library of our founder, W.E. Gladstone. In 2010, as part of the outcome of a major AHRC-funded project, all c.28,000 volumes (or c.11,000 titles) were catalogued and made public on a fully searchable catalogue of their own – GladCAT.
Not only does GladCAT contain catalogue records for all of Gladstone’s own books and pamphlets, but it also contains transcriptions of the annotations and marginal marks he made in them. Around 6,000 items contain annotations of various kinds, from the smallest of ‘notice lines’ to questions and comments on the texts. Want to see which printed items Gladstone annotated the most heavily? With GladCAT, you can! Start an ‘advanced search’, then type in search bar ‘extensive’, and GladCAT will give you the titles with the most marginalia. Amazing!
Celebrating online information!
Another digital initiative we are currently undertaking is to enhance and enrich the information we have online about our archive and print special collections. Our Graduate Work Experience students have been working hard recently under the direction of our archivist on making descriptive ‘finding aids’ of our liberal theology archives. These will be available soon – but to give you an example of what to expect, take a look at the extensive finding aids to the British Crime Writing Archive that the library currently holds.
We have also recently added to our website more information about our hand-press era printed collections – this is our collection of items printed between the mid-15th and late 18th centuries.
We hope to make available very soon digital copies of our typescript bibliographies of all our hand-press titles – keep an eye on social media for when these go online (yet another way the digital can bring our collections closer to you).
Finally, we are very fortunate to be currently undertaking a large digitisation project of our own – Digital Gladstone. Begun in January 2018, the library is currently digitising not only all of Gladstone’s annotated printed items, but the vast majority of what is known as the Glynne-Gladstone archive. This contains papers, notes, correspondence, and more besides in the hand of W.E. Gladstone and those closest to him personally and politically (the counterpart archive collection is with the British Library).
This project, generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation, will allow Gladstone scholars, historians of the book, and researchers in all fields across the humanities to access high-quality digital images and metadata from wherever you are in the world.
Look out for more exciting developments on this project early next year.
By Gary Butler, Assistant Librarian
Find out about how other libraries across the country are celebrating the digital this week through the Libraries Week website. Follow @LibrariesWeek for the latest news and updates and Tweet using #LibrariesWeek to join the conversation.