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Library & Archives

24 Posts tagged with the behind_the_scenes_in_the_library tag
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by Lisa Di Tommaso (Special Collections Librarian)

 

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There’s no doubt many of you have enjoyed exhibitions of art or artefacts from around the world on a variety of topics. But have you ever considered just how the items brought together from across the globe actually made it to the gallery, and the activity involved? The Library at the Natural History Museum lends many items from its collections to exhibitions, be it to an institution just down the road, or to far-flung places overseas. The process of lending material starts many months in advance and involves a large number of people.

 

I was fortunate enough to travel to Australia recently, to oversee the delivery and installation of some unique artworks from our First Fleet Collection.

 

 

 

(Above and below) The cases containing the artwork are packed into the bespoke crate, before it is sealed.

 

The paintings were borrowed by the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, for their exhibition entitled Artist Colony, which brings together paintings by officers, convicts and other colonists who helped establish the first European settlement in Port Jackson in the early years from 1788.

 

In order for the State Library to be Packed crate.jpgable to borrow the items, a number of negotiations took place with the NHM, confirming the items they wished to borrow, the dates and length of time they would be lent for, the temperature and lighting conditions in which they would be displayed, and any security issues. This always involves a lot of paperwork and many emails back and forth across the globe. Temporary export licences are also arranged at this time. A specialist global shipping company was engaged to assist with the transport of items door to door by road and air.

 

As the time to send the items approached, the Museum’s Paper Conservator prepared the material for transport and for display, and wrote detailed reports on the condition of each item. Having a detailed record of the state of the material before it leaves the Library allows us to check the items again after their long journey to make sure no damage occurred en-route.  The art was then wrapped very carefully in layers of tissue and then packed securely into what look like large suitcases, lined with protective material to prevent any movement on the journey. The shipping company manufactured a bespoke wooden crate, in which the cases were again packed securely, allowing no room for movement and providing maximum shock absorption.

 

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My job as courier was to travel with that case to Sydney, as far as possible not allowing it out of my sight. The crate and I were collected from the Museum early one morning on a lorry and taken to the company depot where last minute checks and paperwork were completed. We were next driven to the airport, where I oversaw the loading of the crate into a pallet which would then be loaded on to the aircraft. As ‘civilians’ are not allowed on to the tarmac, a company representative oversaw the loading of the pallet onto the plane.

 

 

 

(Above) Checking the conditions of the artwork in Sydney and installiing one of our paintings.

 

After a quick petrol stop at Dubai and assurances that the crate hadn’t been off-loaded, the journey continued on to Sydney. The crates were collected from the freight cargo area, and we were back on the truck to the State Library.

 

 

 

The items were left for 48 hours to acclimatise to their new environmental conditions before the crate was opened. I worked with the Conservation staff at the State Library to check the condition of each item on arrival, and then to oversee the installation of the paintings on to walls in the display area, and books in to their special cases. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to stay for the official opening of the exhibition, but feedback from visitors so far suggests they are thrilled to be able to see artworks which have travelled all the way from London, to be displayed alongside local collections for the first time.

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(Above) Exhibition installation in progress and ensuring one of the NHM's volumes is correctly placed in its case.

 

It takes a huge team effort and plenty of logistics to bring together items for exhibitions – so spare a thought for all the people involved next time you admire an item on loan from another institution!

 

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The final installation!

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Migrating an old card catalogue from hard copy to digital form is a complex task. When we made the switch in 1998, tens of thousands of items made it across – but thanks to our recent stock audit, we’ve turned up a few treasures that didn’t. Although these items still exist in the card catalogue and on the shelf, they may not have been recorded electronically. With such a vast and rich collection, an extra copy or two might escape notice. For this reason, we close annually to audit our stock.

 

 

Due to the size of the Library collection, we choose a section each year to audit. Recently, we’ve been focused on ensuring our Special Collections are all present and correct. For most staff, this involves printing a list of what the catalogue says we have on the shelf, and manually comparing it to what is on the shelf. If books are on the shelf but not the catalogue, they need to be added – usually, from scratch.

 

 

The Cataloguing Team spent our recent audit (November 2013) rediscovering and cataloguing some pretty interesting stuff – so we thought we’d share them with you. We don’t always know a lot about them though, so the pictures may have to speak for themselves!

 

 

 

A labour of love this year involved unravelling our catalogue entries for Archetypa Studiaque Patris (Hoefnagel, 1592). We hold three copies, all with different plates bound in different orders, inside different bindings, with different histories. One copy of the three is coloured. In its coloured form, this title is exceptionally rare. We can’t be sure our copy was coloured at the time of publication, but we hope so – for artwork 420 years old, the colours are still fantastic.     Archetypa-Studiaque-Patris-(1592)-frog.jpg  

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Our audit is also a good chance to monitor our collections for items which may need some level of conservation -- this set is a prime example (image below). Chemicals used in the tanning process of this binding have become acidic over time, turning the leather flaky and brittle. Using the books n this state will damage them further, while leaving them on the shelf might lead to their neighbours (and librarians!) getting discoloured as well. So, off to the conservation studio...

 

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More unusual was finding “an old pin with the twisted wire head” taped into a page, and a retention request! Adhesive tape and rusty pins aren’t good for books, so they’re both being removed by our paper conservator. The pin will be kept, but in a small pocket or envelope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some other new favourites included…

 

The Dry Fly Man’s Handbook (Halford, 1897). We hold the original manuscript, but you’ll have to be the judge of whether the manuscript is more or less fascinating than Volume 2 – with real fishing flies!

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A Victorian tale of murder and mayhem unfolds in Nemesis among the beetles (Gould, Britton Jr., c.1875)…

 

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A 20th century scrapbook of the author’s (Richard T. Lewis) published and original artwork, mounted side by side:

 

And last but not least, 5 binders full of a stamp collection focused on butterflies and moths (complete with negatives). 

 

I wonder what we’ll rediscover next year? We shall keep you posted.

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Hellen Pethers: Reader Services Librarian

 

 

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How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

8 1/2 years, wow that went fast!

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

I graduated from Brighton University (Library and Information Studies BA Hons) in 2000 and began my professional career at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, by starting as a Library Assistant and progressing to Librarian. I joined the NHM in 2005, so now I've spent 13 years working in the Museum Library environment and love it! I've been fortunate enough to work in two fantastic large museums, in two incredible buildings and with internationally renowned collections. I count myself very lucky!

 

What does your average day look like?


I'm responsible for the day to day management of our Public Reading Room and my office is next to the main enquiry desk. With so many different people making appointments to visit us and contacting us via phone and email, no day is the same nor predictable. I love meeting new people, learning about their research and exchanging a shared love of the natural world.

 

 

 

 

 

We have collections in over 100 locations all over the Museum's South Kensington site and elsewhere, so fetching the material requested by visitors ready for their visit is a constant activity. I manage the Library & Archives blog and Twitter @NHM_Library, and encourage my colleagues to contribute to regular entries such as Item of the Month and behind the scenes project updates. I really enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for our collections and I get the chance to take part in Nature Live talks within the Museum. These have been on William Smith's geological map and on printed zoological ephemera relating to menageries and other oddities.

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

In 8 years I've become rather fond of numerous items in the collections, in particular printed ephemera relating to the weird and wonderful world of menageries and animal shows. But if I really had to pick one, it would be William Hamilton's Campi Phlegrei (1779), because it makes me chuckle thinking about the first time I learnt about it. When I started at the NHM I worked as Assistant Librarian in the Earth Sciences Library, I had just spent the previous 5 years being immersed in the world of Admiral Nelson. So I was almost relieved to start my new job, surrounded by fossils and minerals, seemingly a world away from Horatio! Only to find that in my first week, I was introduced to this wonderful book depicting the different stages of activity of Mount Vesuvius, and only to find that the author William Hamilton was the husband of Admiral Horatio Nelson's mistress Emma! Turns out I can run, but I can't hide!

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

On a beautiful sunny summer's day I love our Wildlife Garden, a little gem in central London. You can sit surrounded by nature, whilst still being aware of the hustle and bustle of London traffic around you. But nothing beats standing by the giant sequoia at the top of the museum, first thing in the morning, as the sun shines through the stained glass windows, across the empty floor of the central hall before the doors open and our visitors fill the building.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


Since working at the NHM I've fallen in love with many animals I didn't even know existed, but I think I would be a dolphin. Family means everything to me, as far as I can see dolphins always look like they are having fun and stick together as a unit, so that's good enough for me!

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Agarose is a rigid gel made of seaweed and it is a homogeneous polysaccharide. Rigid gel is water in solid form at room temperature and in this example we are using seaweed that is made up of over 95% of water. The advantages of using rigid gels in paper conservation is only a recent discovery.

 

The proceedure is as follows:

 

When the gel is placed over an object that is drier than itself, water travels through from the gel to the object. It is thanks to the process of osmosis that this takes place. 

 

Once the concentration of water is increased on the object, the water is pulled back into the gel, but this time it also drags any impurities from the object back with it into the gel. This allows us to clean an area locally without immersing the whole object in a bath.

 

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The water is released on the object slowly. I used Agarose gel (4.5%) to surface clean an area on a watercolour. The area was affected by the adhesive underneath, which created stains on the surface of the artwork that subsequently attracted dirt. I placed gels on top of the affected area and left them for a while. The only area subjected to any moisture was purely the area that the gel pieces were place on.

 

The yellow discolouration faded and the dirt was removed.

 

A successful technique, involving minimal distruption and handling to this type of item from our collections.

 

 

 

by Konstantina Konstantinidou (Paper Conservator)

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Caroline Catchpole: Archivist Wallace Collection

 

 

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How long have you worked at the NHM?


2 years

 

What were you doing before you came here?


I began my archive career at Kew Gardens where I worked for two years, the second year part time whilst I studied for my archival qualification at UCL. I then worked in the archives at Kings College London before coming here.

 

What does your average day look like?


I think one of the reasons I became an Archivist is that no two days are the same which keeps you on your toes! As Archivist for the Wallace Correspondence Project, one thing I can be sure of is that my day will include thinking about and talking about Wallace! My job includes cataloguing Wallace letters into our project’s database, answering enquiries about the project and Wallace. I research the letters and select which ones to tweet about on the NHM L&A Twitter page (@nhm_library )and also which ones to write about for my ‘Letter of the Month’ blog. (Wallace100 blog)

 

Our database of letters includes letters to and from Wallace from repositories around the world, so I’m responsible for talking to these repositories and arranging for their Wallace letters to be scanned and sent to me. I also manage a successful volunteering programme whereby volunteers assist the project by transcribing the letters. I then link the transcriptions to our database so people who use Wallace Letters Online are met most of the time (2,600 out of 4,700 letters are transcribed) with a user-friendly transcription instead of trying to decipher Victorian scrawl.

 

 

I also get to give talks to the public about Wallace and his archive we have here at the museum which is one of my favourite things to do.

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


A letter that Wallace wrote to Richard Spruce in September 1852 because the story contained in it is so dramatic and life-changing. Wallace left the Amazon in July 1852, but he was shipwrecked when the boat that was taking him back to England caught fire and sank not long into the voyage. He only had time to save a few personal possessions before abandoning ship. The survivors were rescued 10 days later and it was aboard this rescue boat that Wallace composed his 8 page letter to Spruce. In it he details the sinking and the loss of two years’ worth of Amazonian specimens. You can really feel the desolation at having lost his collections – he wrote that his collections would have been the finest in Europe had they survived. Towards the end of the letter you can feel his utter joy at arriving back in the UK after the nightmare voyage home. This letter always makes me wonder as well would his life have taken a different course if he hadn’t lost his collections and diaries and notes from the Amazon?

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


My favourite public place in the museum is the balcony where the Huxley and Owen statues are and looking back at Central Hall over Dippy, to the Darwin Statue and Wallace portrait. I still get awestruck every time I’m up there. My favourite objects on display are the Blaschka glass models in the Treasures gallery; they are so beautiful and unique. I think it speaks volumes that with all the technology we have today, no-one has been able to reproduce them since they were first made in the nineteenth century.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


A bumblebee. They do such a vital job for our eco-system and are having a bit of a hard time of it at the moment. So at least if I became one, it’d boost the numbers slightly.

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James Hodgkin: Library Services Manager

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How long have you worked at the NHM?


8 years


What were you doing before you came here?


My first library job was at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) which was a fascinating mix of nationalities and subjects. That persuaded me to be a librarian so I got a qualification from Loughborough University. My job before NHM was at Oxford University, English Faculty Library. Oxford was a wonderful place to work and live, but I don’t remember getting paid very much. I guess you were privileged to work there and competition for jobs was huge.


What does your average day look like?


I don’t have average days anymore. Since I became a “manager”, anything can be thrown at me and the day job will be working on various projects. This is really interesting and pushes me to keep learning. It is not the usual museum library because of the quantity and quality of the NHM’s scientific research. We are undoubtedly playing catch up but the areas we are developing have far more in common with the university sector. I look after customer services and this also means our external users. We have been getting busier over the last 5 years which is great and it is fascinating to see the variety of visitors from all over the world coming to use our unique collections. We are regarded as a national collection as well as a local library supporting NHM research – this can be a tricky balance to maintain!

 

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


I don’t really have much to do with the collections anymore which is a shame so all my favourites will come from my time as an Earth Sciences Librarian. I have a soft spot for William Buckland: a fascinating and slightly bonkers contradiction of a man whose work supported the theory of a biblical flood but was also quite ground breaking in hinting at modern developments in geology and palaeontology. Check out the background image on our twitter page – a beautiful fold-out from Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology (1836).


Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


Place = Top of the main staircase next to the Giant Sequoia. Object = I love some of the retro galleries like Human Biology. It was a totally different way of designing museum galleries (no specimens!). I think we are moving towards more science and collections on public display which is great. The Polar Bear is my favourite object – huge paws.


If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


A duck. I love being on or around rivers and canals, they can walk, swim and fly plus they are smart enough to be tame and get fed by humans. Am I also allowed to say they taste good?

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Our version of a British institution with a natural history twist - what would you pick?

 

Edd Bagenal: Internet Archive Digitisation Technician

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You are marooned on a desert island and are allowed to take 8 flora and fauna with you. Which ones would you select and why?

 

Fauna

 

Chickens- for roasting and egg laying.

Humming birds- they are probably the best animal.

Seahorses- because they are so relaxed.

Bees- to sweeten my time there.

 

Flora

 

Tobacco- because what else are you gonna put in your pipe whilst contemplating your existence?

Jasmine- to go with the bees.

Spinach- to keep me strong.

Bamboo- nature's gift to human ingenuity.

 

You are rescued, but can only take one back with you. Which one would it be and why?

 

Humming birds. They have a lot to offer aesthetically.

 

You can take one item from the L&A collections with you, what would it be and why?

 

Audubon's The Birds of America. I don't think I could ever get bored of them.

 

You can have one luxury with you on the island what would it be?

 

A pencil and endless paper. I would never be bored with those.

 

Anthracothorax nigricollis, black-throated mango Plate 184 from John James Audubon's Birds of America, original double elephant folio (1831-34), hand-coloured aquatint. Engraved, printed and coloured by R. Havell (& Son), London. NHM Image Ref: 003184

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Tina Konstantinidou in her studio.JPG

 

 

 

 

Konstantina (Tina) Konstantinidou joined us as Paper Conservator on 5th August and has well and truly hit the ground running.

 

 

 

As well as getting to grips with all the projects that are in the pipeline for her, she has been working hard to become familar with some of the collections that she will be working with and meeting her colleagues in the Library & Archives team.

 

 

Tina joins us from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) where she worked on various short projects covering a period of three years. Previous to this she worked at a facinating variety of other organisations such as The National Trust, All Souls College, Oxford and Regent's Park College, Oxford.

 

 

When I caught up with her she was working on a enchanting volume of 19th Century chinese watercolours from our Reeve's collection, that had become weakened and fragile. Using japanese tissue Tina is repairing each individual piece in a non invasive way, ensuring that any work done can be reversed at a later date, if required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally Tina studied English Literature and Humanities at Birkbeck, during which time she used the collections at the British Library a great deal. It was during this time that she became fascinated by their special collections and particularly old books. Here began her interest in, and subsequently her career in Paper Conservation, where she has found her interest in art, science and her craft skills, to be the perfect receipe for success!

 

Like many, prior to joining our team, Tina admits to not realising the extent of the art collections held by the NHM Library & Archives. Now that she has had a chance to see for herself the full extent of what we do hold, she is keen to get involved!

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Our version of a British institution with a natural history twist - what would you pick?

 

Chris Booth: Digitiser, L&A Collection

 

You are marooned on a desert island and are allowed to take 8 flora and fauna with you. Which ones would you select and why?

 

Assuming I knew I was going to be marooned for a very long time I’d bring a very focussed selection of: hops, barley, sugar cane, banana, butternut squash, bamboo, aloe, and a dog.

 

Beer creation being the objective of the first three choices but hops can also alleviate inflammation, and sugar would be a good chewy mood-lifter. Bananas for their deliciousness and the leaves making excellent crockery. Butternut squash (or any gourd) left to dry out would make a superb container for the aforementioned beer and they taste good if I absolutely had to do something besides drinking my despair away. Bamboo because it’s a wonderful construction material and I would need to craft a shelter quickly otherwise my fair skin would be burned all the time. Hence the aloe until my shelter is up and running… I suppose I could also wile away the long weeks and months by becoming adept at basketry as well? The dog is for company and amusement. I don’t have a dog at the moment but I know my cats would disappear as soon as they noticed that they could. A dog probably wouldn’t. I’d hope.

 

You are rescued, but can only take one back with you. Which one would it be and why?

 

Well it would be very cruel if I decided to rescue my collection of dried gourds so I suppose I would have to rescue my hops. Only kidding, the dog would come home with me and we could bore bus stop strangers to death with our tales of sand getting stuck to the aloe and teeth rotting away from excessive sugar consumption.

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You can take one item from the L&A collections with you, what would it be and why?

 

Alfred Russel Wallace’s ‘The Malay Archipelago’ would be my choice. It sounds like an excellent read but I’ve not tried it yet, despite having wanted to for a number of years. If I was lucky enough to be marooned in the Malay Archipelago I could at least hope to identify something familiar in the book. Hopefully it describes some poisonous endemic beasties for me to avoid too.

 

'Ejecting an intruder' taken fron The Malay Archipleago by Alfred Russel Wallace (1874) NHM image: 033800

 

 

You can have one luxury with you on the island what would it be?

 

My Kindle. It’s got so many books on it already that I believe I would be supplied for about a year as it is, without re-reading. I could also cheat the system by quickly loading pictures of my loved ones onto it before I go - sneaky, eh! Though that would suggest I had prior knowledge of my marooning, so why would I put myself in that situation in the first place?

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Sharon Touzel: Bibliographic Librarian

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How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

I began in 2007, so 6 years.

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

I was studying, and volunteering as an Assistant Archivist at LAARC (the archaeological archives of the Museum of London). The volunteering was great – in one box, a Roman shoe; in the next, a medieval horse skull.

 

What does your average day look like?

 

I might spend time buying books for the Entomology Library, or working on projects with external academic visitors.

Mainly though, I spend a lot of time cataloguing our collections. It’s not a dull job here - today I’ve catalogued an 1870s Austrian sales catalogue, advertising plaster heads & preserved frogs; 1930s newspaper cuttings on a secret journey through Forbidden Arabia; and 1970s reports on the Loch Morar monster. Finding items like these means I always have something to put on our Twitter feed!


If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

The flea etching from Robert Hooke’s Microscopy, or some of our relatively unknown 17th century Dutch art.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

I love the piece of the moon in the Earth Galleries. Walking past it every morning gives me a real kick.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

As an Entomology librarian, it’s tempting to say I’d like to be one of those brain eating parasites which make zombies out of ants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis) . However, I’d probably go for something much more boring, like a domestic cat!

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Daoud Jackson has joined us for a week of work experience during his summer holiday.

 

He has just completed his first year of A levels where he is taking; Maths, Japanese, History and Theology.

 

During his time with us he is helping to index volumes of artwork from the Hodgson collection. Learn more about this project.

 

In just over two days Daoud has already worked his way through 102 images, including quails and storks.

 

We have also been using his Japanese language skills to assist with the translation

of recent acquisitions.

 

For more information about volunteering opportunities throughout the Museum take a look at our website.

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Hannah Rausa: Serials Librarian (Technical Services)

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How long have you worked at the NHM?


I started at the NHM Library 10 years ago in May 2003, as an Information Assistant.  I left for a short period to pursue my academic studies, but returned in August 2005.  I have been Serials Librarian for the past four years.

 

What were you doing before you came here?


I was studying for my BSc Geography Degree at University and I also worked as an office secretary in London.  Working at the NHM Library was my first full time job since leaving University. It is such an interesting and unique place to work in, I have continued to work here.

 

What does your average day look like?


An average day for me involves a variety of tasks.  They range from corresponding with our subscription agent and publishers, about our annual subscription orders and newly available content. Reviewing our expenditure forecasts against our budget, investigating alternative ways to access content which may benefit our users and our budget. I also assist staff with serial queries such as finding material on the shelves, tracking down missing issues, and advising on the best way to manage our serial records.  In addition I provide enquiry support on our service desk on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


There are so many amazing items to choose from! A personal favourite is Williams Smith’s Geological Map from 1815.  It was the first treasure I unearthed when I started working here. I had the opportunity to handle it and was involved in some public outreach events associated with it, so really got a flavour of the excitement and amazement which it draws from people.

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


The Mineral Gallery is a fascinating space and I always discover new things each time I visit there – it is amazing to see what our natural world produces.  The Blue Whale also holds a place in my heart.  Along with the Central Hall it forms a strong memory of my first visit to the NHM when I was a child.  I remember being completely in awe of the size and beauty of the Museum and the Blue Whale.  I purchased a Blue Whale book from the museum shop, which was treasured for many years.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

Based on my love of the countryside and my belief in the value of family, I think it would have to be a dog, with its pack mentality and outdoor lifestyle.  I would of course need to be homed with a loving and caring human family. 

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Cicely Proctor has joined us for a summer internship working with the Centre for Arts and Humanities Research (CAHR).

 

She is in her second year of a degree at Southampton Solent University, studying 'Writing, Fashion and Culture'.

 

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In her first 2 weeks she has already participated in behind the scenes tours for potential collaborators with CAHR, giving her an insight into the daily work of museum staff.

 

This has included watching the preservation of palaeontological specimens in our Conservation studio, the pressing of dried plant specimens by a herbarium technician and learning about curation of moth speciemsn undertaken by entomologist Martin Honey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicely has been given the task of studying the recent Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) consultation relating to 'Classifying and measuring the creative industries'. Next month Cicely will be meeting with individual staff members from the Library & Archives team to learn more about the types of researchers who use our collections and how many could be classed as coming from the 'creative industries'. Information collected by Cicely will go towards a longer term plan of how the museum can encourage more researchers such as fashion designers or artists to use the collections.

 

When you speak to Cicely, it is clear how struck she is by the size of the collections that she has already witnessed behind the scenes, and how she never realised this as a regular visitor to the Museum.

 

We are looking forward to her working with us over the summer and hope that she really enjoys learning more about the museum, its collections and how researchers from all different walks of life could be interested in our collections.

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In March 2013 a short term funded project was started to catalogue miscellaneous Alfred Russel Wallace manuscripts. These items were recently added to the Library's larger Wallace collection, and consist of items such as printed ephemera, photographs, cuttings, maps (including constellation), notebooks and other miscellaneous items (for example, a lock of hair belonging to his friend Richard Spruce). These items are generally those collected by A. R. Wallace, rather than written or made by him

 

 

 

Diane Tough is the cataloguer employed to undertake this interesting project, which is funded until November 2013.

 

 

 

 

Information relating to each individual item is recorded into CALM, the Archives online catalogue, and is available immediately via our website for the use of researchers. Each item is given a individual reference number, described, measured and specific information is recorded; such as a physical description, any markings or notes that it contains etc. On average approximately 25 items are processed per day.

 

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As a result of the work she has already completed for this project, Diane has learnt new information about Wallace, his personal life and family. This includes;

 

 

      • His artistic talent
      • William, his brother, was also a talented artist
      • Wallace was interested in phrenology

 

Diane is thoroughly enjoying the variety of items that she is handling and the stories they tell. The following are examples of some of her favourites:

 

 

 

Address presented to the Reverend W. P. Stephens

St Savour's, Johannesburg - dated 1899 (hand coloured and on vellum) (WP18/77)

[Pictured with Diane above]

 

Results of a Phrenological study taken of A. R. Wallace by James Quilter Rumball - dated 1845. It includes the development chart and handwritten character analysis WP18/39 [Pictured above]

 

Wallace is scored on a scale of 6 (very small) to 10 (very large). Some examples include:

 

Locality - sense of place, of space - love of travelling = Score 9

Destructiveness - impluse to destroy, by word or deed = score 8

 

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Proofs of woodcut illustrations for Wallace's publication 'The Malay Archipelago', these are by multiple artists (WP6/1/7 1-34) [Pictured above]

 

Photograph of 369 Channel Street, Stockton, California (WP2/1/25) This is believed to be the house of Wallace's brother John, who Wallace visited during his tour of America and taken circa 1887. What is particularly interesting is that it depicts two youngsters in the foreground sitting on what look to be very early bicycles. [Pictured above]

 

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Eleven Harvard students arrived from America this week to begin two weeks of work the NHM Library & Archives. The students are here as part of a eight week summer school, the first two weeks in London and then the rest of the time in Oxford.

 

During their time with us in the museum, they will work on transcribing Wallace letters from the collections as part of the Wallace Correspondence Project

 

The students are in the UK for a total of eight weeks and are funded by the David Rockefeller International Experience Grants Program (DRIEG). After they finish at the NHM next week they are attending the Harvard Summer School Programme course called "An exploration of evolutionary biology" at Oxford University.

 

For many of them this is their first experience of London and the UK, so thankfully the weather has finally turned summery for them!

 

We thank them for their hard work over the next two weeks and wish them luck for the rest of their trip.

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