John Brooker, our Special Collections Assistant, leaves us on 11 October for pastures new. John has contributed hugely to the work of Special Collections and he will be much missed! John kindly wrote this post on his experiences:
“I started working in Special Collections in 2000, on secondment from the university library counter team. I had previously worked in public libraries in London, so had lots of experience of books, readers and library systems, but not of archives, rare books or other heritage materials.
Initially I worked on book cataloguing, which was fairly familiar. Soon I was working on archives, and wondering what ISAD(G)2 stood for. I began to discover the enchantment of archives while working on the J.B. Priestley Archive. Then it was back to cataloguing Arthur Raistrick’s maps, which meant finding the number of inches in a chain. Meanwhile I was also working on preservation of collections: making phase boxes for books, monitoring the temperature and humidity in our stores, and finding out how to avoid conditions that favour pests and mould. As a member of the library’s disaster team I learned how to salvage water-damaged books, then trained my colleagues. One of my odder tasks has been to carefully half-submerge books for use in salvage practice.
Supplying copies at first meant photocopying, but I moved on to scanning and then photography to supply images from books and archives, and also pictures of maps, paintings, colleagues, milk-bottles, and cakes. And recently we have moved on again, to digital video for our online exhibition.
There has been much to learn, in many different areas. I hope that my successor enjoys the learning process and the variety as much I have.”