The usefulness of books constantly changes over time. While library buildings remain fixed as permanent structures, the collection of books within them are always in a state of flux. Reorganising library collections is of absolute necessity to ensure that shelves are filled with volumes of the greatest utility and interest. This is where our new Timeline Project comes in.
Following the success of the Gladstone Foundation Project, the Timeline Project will re-organise the library along new chronological parameters: the ‘Long Nineteenth Century’ period (c.1789-1914), and the contemporary or ‘New Elizabethan’ era (1953-present). By the end of July, books published within these timescales will become the core of the collection, readily accessible to readers in the Theology Room and in the Annex. Books published outside of the parameters (between 1914 and 1953) will become available by request only (see below).
Three major book moves will realise this scheme. The first- the shift of the extensive collection of nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals from the Stephen Gladstone Hall-has already taken place. These volumes have been shelved in the Annex, where titles such as the Strand Magazine, the Illustrated London News, and the Graphic are now available for readers and researchers to browse at their leisure. (Look out for more blog posts in the coming weeks that will spotlight some of the many periodicals in this collection.) The second phase will see the move of books published outside of the Timeline into the Stephen Gladstone Hall. This will provide the space needed for the third and final major move, which will be the transfer of class-marks C to G from the Annex into the Theology room. This would unify in one space all of the library’s theological and religious books.
The aims of the project are threefold. The first is utility, making the library as useful as it can be to all of our readers and researchers. Concentrating on the library’s strengths in theology and religions, Nineteenth Century books, contemporary publications in Nineteenth Century studies and in some of the library’s core interests, such as current trends in liberal thought and the state of capitalism, realises this aim. It will also increase the legibility of the library’s holdings, helping to define and restate the shape of the collection, as well as the thematic, historical and disciplinary threads that underpin it. More than this, the Timeline Project will also maximise the capacity of the library space in line with the core interests that the Project will have brought into sharper focus.
It should be emphasised that every book taken over to Stephen Gladstone Hall will still be available to readers and can be easily and swiftly requested. Furthermore, we will try to keep any noise and disruption that this project may cause to an absolute minimum; our intention is to complete the principal task of moving books out of the Theology Room over a limited period, minimising potential disturbances.
Updates on the Project will appear here on the blog as it progresses. We hope you agree that the Timeline Project not only serves readers old and new, but also makes the best possible use of books old and new.
Gary is one of the Library Interns here at Gladstone's Library.