Documents in the Legacy Collection

By Chloe Dobson

The largest part of the Legacy Collection will be the 20237 documents we have accumulated since the opening of the University.

Official Publications used to have its own dedicated area in the University Library, with a counter service to help users retrieve and discover new items and dedicated staff to develop and manage the collections.

The Documents Librarian, who had a responsibility for the Social Sciences and Parliamentary materials was keen to fill the shelves with pamphlets, reports, ephemora and papers relating to current issues at the time as well as reflecting the research interests of the new University. The  building had no space limits and a healthy budget for acquisitions, so many donations were accepted, standing orders established and staff would even travel around collecting new materials.

“I wanted our Library collections to reflect the mood of the times, and this directed me to the ephemeral publications of the interest groups and pressure groups that were active in those decades. We aimed to collect together the output of such organisations,  that represented the current  social and political views of the decades. Some publications were standing orders from “regular” sources, political parties, research organisations, etc.  Many of the pamphlets we collected were the result of scanning the press and being alert to media reports. Those four little words, “a report out today” were sufficient to raise an order for that report.  We also went on regular foraging trips to “known” venues in London, such as 9 Poland Street, where pressure group publications were available for sale.”

David Kennelly, former Assistant Librarian.

There was a focus on events such as general elections, strikes, changes to infrastructure and following political and social movements locally and across the UK.

The Documents collection was a strong feature of the Library at the time. Monthly acquisition lists would be sent out to academics and researchers to ensure that all parts of the University used the collections. The then Librarian Adrian Peasgood recalls an external examiner commenting  very favourably on the quality and quantity of the material to which candidates had clearly been exposed.

As the section had its own area and was shelved away from the other collections, much of it was uncatalogued, as staff knew the contents very well and could help students directly, often using lists and indexes rather than a card catalogue.

The Collection Development Librarians and the Special Collections Archivist are now working through the extensive spreadsheet that our teams have produced, detailing all of these items of which 40% are uncatalogued.

We have identified the following themes running through the collection and have been examining each item to give it a category:

Gender Studies and Feminism

Popular and Counter Cultures

Post WW2 World Order

Political Movements and Parties

Trade Unions

Social Movements

Social Welfare

War

We hope that this will help with discoverability, as one or more themes will be added to the MARC record when it is recatalogued. Researchers using the collections should be able to easily identify items of interest to them and this will help us with promotion and use in teaching if we can easily identify items by topic.

As the cataloguing will be an extensive part of the project, having smaller collections within collections can help us to break it down into manageable chunks.

We have just completed the review of all items and can reveal that the sections will look like this

Political Parties and Movements  10658
To be decided  2677
Social Movements 1887
Social Welfare 1717
Trade Unions 1342
War 943
Popular and Counter Cultures 402
Post WW2 Order 393
Gender Studies and Feminism 218

Here are some examples of our documents:

This is an example from the War category. It is a pamphlet called The War Resisters' International in War-Time

This is an example from the War category. It is a pamphlet called The War Resisters’ International in War-Time

This is an example from the Trade Unions category. It is a booklet by the National Union of Teachers called Race, Education, Intelligence.

This is an example from the Trade Unions category. It is a booklet by the National Union of Teachers called Race, Education, Intelligence.

This is an example from the Social Movements category. It is a pamphlet called British-Soviet Friendship

This is an example from the Social Movements category. It is a pamphlet called British-Soviet Friendship

This is an example from the Post World War 2 World Order category. It is a pamphlet called Co-operation in industry, the next ten years by Herbert Dove

This is an example from the Post World War 2 World Order category. It is a pamphlet called Co-operation in industry, the next ten years by Herbert Dove

This is an example from the Popular and Counter Culture category. It is two pages of a leaflet called Black Flame

This is an example from the Popular and Counter Culture category. It is two pages of a leaflet called Black Flame

This is an example from the Political movements and parties category. It is an example of the Magazine of International Labour

This is an example from the Political movements and parties category. It is an example of the Magazine of International Labour

An example from the Gender Studies and Feminism category. This is a journal called Women and Education

An example from the Gender Studies and Feminism category. This is a journal called Women and Education

This task has had tricky moments as we grapple with crossover publications covering Socialism in wartime or areas such as airport expansion and the market economy which we struggled to fit into our categories. We now feel the next step is to add Infrastructure and Trade to our list to cover these gaps satisfactorily.

We are almost ready to start cataloguing and the War section is looking good to start with, as the items in there are without any doubt in their right place.

Please do drop us a line if you would like to know more or be involved in the creation of Legacy:

Library.collectiondevelopment@sussex.ac.uk

 

 

 

Book Sandwiches

by Clare Playforth

bookshelves

 

Classification is a big part of my job and certainly the part that I find most enjoyable and challenging. The other day I was looking in vain for a resource that would provide me with a table of ‘date letters’ that are sometimes used when classifying collected works. After a couple of discussions about this it became clear to me that there are many practices in cataloguing and classification that might seem like they are needlessly complicated and opaque. I want to explain that there is a reason for things to be done this way.

Every time we make a decision about how to classify something we are doing it with the collection and ultimately the user in mind. When someone has looked up a book on the catalogue we want them to be able to find it easily on the shelf, but when they get to that shelf we also want them to find a load of other books that are relevant on either side i.e. we want to enable browsing. We want them to arrive at the shelf and first find the general books about a topic and then to be able to walk down that stack seeing how the subject narrows and becomes more specific as the classifications are expanded. In an ideal world we would want each classmark to represent only one book – this is part of the reason for doing the reclassification projects which you can read about here.

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