Tag Archives: how-to

Reading room and registration area

Special Collections re-opening

Over the summer we’ve been very busy moving to a new Special Collections reading room, with improved facilities for readers and teaching workshops using our collections. Our official re-opening is on Monday 9 October between 1 and 4pm to which everyone is very welcome.

Reading room and registration area

Our new reading room and registration area

Our re-opening is taking place during National Libraries Week, and you’ll have a chance to see some highlights from our collections out for you to discover. This is a great opportunity to drop in and see how Special Collections can support you.

Is there something from our collections that you’d particularly like to see on Monday? Then get in touch via email or Twitter and we’ll see what we can do!

We are still on level 3 of the Bannerman Centre, but now in BANN 328 (access via main stairs/lift). Please ask at the library welcome desk if you need directions.

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50 objects 40: the LibSmart Point

A post by Subject Liaison Librarian Joanne McPhie.

Some items in our blog series Brunel Library 50 Objects have long histories and fascinating pasts, but Brunel Library is also about looking forward as well as back. This week’s object, the LibSmart Point desk, is a relatively recent addition to the Library, but one that could play a part in many lives going forward.

LibSmart is a dedicated study skills package run by the Subject Liaison Librarians. It is designed to support students with academic practice, information literacy, and employability skills they need to get the best out of their time at university and beyond. The LibSmart Point plays a key role in the package.

libsmart

This is the place where users can come to speak to a librarian to get help in finding and using resources, referencing or just to have a chat about their studies. It is located in what is another new area of the Library, the Learning Commons on the first floor. This is a flexible space where users can come to study in groups, use the floor space for projects or attend small workshops run by the Academic Services team. Nestling in the corner of the room, the desk is staffed from Monday –Thursday 1-6pm and Friday 1-5pm during term time.

If furniture could talk the LibSmart Point would already be able to tell many stories. Narratives beginning with moments of confusion, anxiety and panic in student lives resolving in flashes of epiphany and revelation as users understand the resources and their own capabilities. Having had the privilege of working on there this year I value it as a point of connection with our users, where we can take the time to sit down and have an actual conversation. Knowing that the work that is done there may impact on a current grade then a future career and life is powerful stuff.

So, although the plywood and metal contraption that is the LibSmart Point may not have inherent value and a rich history, it is nonetheless one of the unique items in housed in the Library.

For further information about the LibSmart programme, either drop by the desk in Learning Commons or see our LibGuide.libsmartpointbright

libsmart2

How to use Special Collections

We get a lot of visitors who haven’t visited a special collections library before, so this updated guide is aimed at helping them. If you have any questions please get in touch with us. The guide features Bendy Brunel, whose Day in the Library you can also see on Pinterest.

ArchivesHub

Bendy Brunel checks the catalogue

You can decide what Special Collections manuscript/archive items you’d like to see by searching our archive catalogue. You can also search for printed books (not manuscript material) on our library catalogue. Further details about individual collections, and detailed finding aids, are available on our collection webpages.

Booking appt

Bendy composes an email to request an appointment

To make an appointment to view the items, or if you need help with searching please get in touch with us by emailing special.collections@brunel.ac.uk Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. You will find further details about access, including opening times, on our Special Collections guide.

Lockers

Bendy uses one of our lockers

When you arrive at Special Collections you will be asked to leave any bags, coats or umbrellas in a locker or in a locked area. New readers have to fill in a reader registration form on arrival. Before using Special Collections, you must have clean hands. We don’t wear gloves to handle items (you can read guidance from the British Library on why we don’t here). But don’t worry, there are toilet facilities (including an accessible toilet) adjacent to Special Collections.

Sink

Bendy washes his hands

3 items

Bendy views three manuscript items.

Once you are ready, Special Collections staff will bring out a maximum of three items at a time for you to look at. They will also show you how to handle the items correctly. Please ask them for help if you are unsure.

Using book

Bendy uses a “snake” weight whilst studying our facsimile of Shakespeare’s First Folio

If you have requested books you will be given some foam wedges to support the book whilst you look at it, and some “snakes” to hold the pages open. Again, Special Collections staff will show you how to use them.

Invigilation

Bendy is invigilated whilst studying a book

Whilst you are looking at Special Collections material a member of staff will be watching. Don’t worry about this, we invigilate all of our users and it is simply to ensure the security of our unique and rare Special Collections, and to make sure we are there to help you, should you need assistance.

Laptop

Bendy uses his laptop to take notes

There are some restrictions within Special Collections. Pens and Post-It notes aren’t allowed. Laptop computers are fine.

Pencils

Bendy takes notes with a pencil

Pencils and notepads are also OK. Photography (without flash) is allowed of items for personal study and research, but you will need to fill out a form before taking photographs, and specify what images you are taking.

Photographs

Bendy makes sure his camera has the flash turned off

Coffee

Bendy has a well-earned coffee break

Finally, food and drink are not allowed in Special Collections. However, there is a coffee shop on the ground floor of the library should you need to take a break. We hope this has answered most questions about how to use Special Collections, but please get in touch if there is anything else you would like to know.

#DayInTheLife

As part of Explore Your Archive week, today we’re looking at a Day in the Life of Special Collections here at Brunel University.

Enquiries
Answering enquiries

 

Most days start with checking for any new enquiries about our collections, answering them, making appointments for readers to visit and checking that reader-related admin is up-to-date. We keep statistics on the number of readers who have come to use the collections, and how many items they have looked at. Most enquiries come in via email, by phone or in person, but we still get an occasional letter in the post. All of our enquiries are logged in LibAnswers, which makes it easy to keep track of statistics, and which also provides a FAQ function for users, to help answer questions we are asked regularly.
Once a week we check our environmental monitoring equipment.

The thermo-hygrograph continuously charts the temperature and relative humidity in our storage area. We have to change the chart paper on this once a week, and, at the same time, we check if there have been any fluctuations in storage conditions over the previous week. We keep the charts to provide us with a record of storage conditions throughout the years.

We use sticky traps to detect insects that might be loitering in Special Collections, as these can indicate further problems that would damage our collections, such as infestations or damp conditions. Fortunately, all we’ve caught so far is one very small spider!

You can find further information about environmental monitoring and pest management on the British Library’s Collection Care webpages.

Environment

The thermo-hygrograph

Pest

A pest monitoring trap

We welcome two of our volunteers in, who are cataloguing part of our Transport History Collection. They have specialist railway knowledge, and their help is vital, as this is a really big collection.

When we have readers in to use our collection we register them and check their ID, get out the items they want to look at, and, if necessary, show them how to handle items correctly. We also invigilate all our readers to ensure that our collections remain secure. In the picture below there is one reader looking at items from our Transport History Collection, as well as our two volunteers. You can find out more about what to expect when you visit Special Collections as a reader on our How to use Special Collections blog post.

readers

Readers and volunteers using the collections

We hold workshops for particular subjects for groups from within Brunel and also outside. You can find out more about them on this blog.

 

 

 

Our collection include both printed books and archival material, both of which need cataloguing, so that users can find the items that they are interested in seeing. You can find items by searching our library catalogue for our printed collections, whilst the archive collections appear on Archives Hub. We fit cataloguing in around everything else that we do and have some help from other library staff members too. Our most recently catalogued collection is the Bill Griffiths Archive, which you can find out more about on this blog post.
Boxes Book shelves

Apart from monitoring the environment, other preservation steps we take, and which, again, are fitted in around other activities, are housing the collections appropriately. For books, this means measures such as having similarly sized books on the same shelf so they are properly supported, and training staff and users in how to shelf them correctly. For archival material we repackage items in Melinex (inert polyester) sleeves and store them in acid-free boxes. We also remove staples, paperclips etc, and replace them with brass paperclips, which won’t rust.

Melinex

Blount Archive packaged in Melinex sleeves, and in an acid-free box

And, once any readers have finished for the day, we reshelve the items they have looked at. Readers are asked to complete a feedback form, and any issues (good or bad!) arising from this are noted so that action can be taken. Two months after a visit, readers who have given permission are contacted with an online survey to complete about whether they have published or will publish work based on their research in Special Collections.

Feedback

Throughout the day we keep an eye on the Special Collections’ social media accounts, this blog, Flickr and Twitter (@BrunelSpecColl), promoting the collections. We design posters to publicise events in Special Collections, and put on displays for these too.

If you’ve got any questions about #DayInTheLife please leave a comment on the blog and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Explore Your Archive week

Picture of a letter from the Blount archive

Letter from the Blount Archive

Explore Your Archive week is an exciting national event in which archives all over the country are showcased and promoted; and we at Brunel Library are getting involved.

Here in Brunel’s Special Collections we have an interesting and diverse range of archival collections and we’re inviting you to come along to one of our drop in sessions and find out more about the archival treasures at your fingertips, and how you can access and use them for your essays and assignments.

You’ll find us on Level 3 of the library, accessed by the green staircase/lift.

Drop in sessions:

Monday 10th November 2 – 4 pm English/Creative writing Come and find out more about our literature collections and the different ways in which they have been used in creative writing. We will have items from the collections out for you to see, and then at 2.00, 3.00 and 3.30 pm brief talks will be given from people who have used Special Collections in their research and teaching. These will be interspersed with readings from creative writing inspired by the collections. There will be plenty of opportunities to find out more and ask questions.

Check out these blog posts to find out more about the collections that have been used for English and creative writing: Writing back and Teaching from the archives.

You can also get a flavour of the collections on our Special Collections guide for English.

Tuesday 11th November 10 am – 12 noon Any subject Maybe you can’t make it to one of the subject-specific sessions, or maybe you’re interested in a different subject to English or History? Then why not join us to find out more about what our collections offer for both English and History/Politics, but also other subjects?

There will be collection items out on display for you to see and handle, plus plenty of opportunity to ask questions and find out more.

Wednesday 12th November 2 – 4 pm History/Politics Drop in to discover which Special Collections you might find interesting for your assignments or dissertation. There will be collection items out on display for you to see and handle, plus plenty of opportunity to ask questions and find out more.  There is more information on our Special Collections guide for History and Women’s history.