The history of female jurors in Scotland

When was the first woman juror in Scotland, and what did people think about them?

I volunteered at my workplace last year for Doors Open Day, opening up the library as a stop for guided “behind the scenes” and “historic” tours of the building complex. The library was a popular stop, and the public asked a lot of questions, some of which I could answer, and some I couldn’t. One of the questions was “when did a woman first sit on a jury in Scotland?”. What was the answer? I had no idea! I knew it would have to be around about the time women first got the vote, but I didn’t know how closely tied that was to women sitting on juries, or what the process of female jurors being authorised was.

So, I decided to find out. I couldn’t find any ready information on ladies in Scottish juries (although this resource is very helpful for information on English lady jurors), so I thought I’d do a bit of digging in the newspapers of the time. Because it’s awesome, the National Library of Scotland has a wealth of electronic resources available remotely to residents of Scotland. I knew that it had a variety of newspaper resources, and for the time period I was looking at (1918 – 1928), The Scotsman Digital Archive was perfect, so I went hunting through it. It has an Edinburgh bias, but covers news from all over Scotland, the UK and the world, so it should be a reliable resource. So I somehow ended up down a rabbit hole of newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and teeth-grindingly patronising attitudes about the “weaker sex”. This is not an academic review, rather a review of newspaper reports available at the time – hopefully this is of interest!

 

Legislative history and implementation

Ladies have been able to sit on juries in the UK since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 came into force. On August 9th 1920, a Bill was introduced to regulate how “Scottish women jurors” would be introduced and managed in the courts (1). The resulting Jurors (Enrolment of Women) (Scotland) Act was given Royal Assent on 16th August 1920, with a timescale of no more than 6 months for it to be brought into effect: “new lists of jurors shall be prepared and come into use in every county within six months after the passing of this Act”. The Court of Session passed an Act of Sederunt regulating the procedure for juries with women on 7th February 1921 (2), and in advance of the February 1921 deadline, in Edinburgh in December 1920 Sheriff Crole instructed the Sheriff Clerk to create a new jurors roll for the city and county, including eligible men and women, and 27,500 circulars were issued (3). The citations for the Edinburgh Sheriff Court were the first to be issued, and there was discussion of the potential for lady jurors to be cited for duty in the 14th March 1921 trial of “the alleged Sinn Fein prisoners” (4).

 

England

Ladies sat for first time at the Old Bailey in London on 11th January 1921 (5). Soon after, they sat in a divorce court (the Allen case) as part of a mixed jury on 25th January 1921 (6). The lady jurors of the divorce case had some of the letters and photos that were submitted as evidence withheld from them at the suggestion of the judge, and a member of the bar excused himself from describing them to them, as they were  ”too revolting for women to hear” (7).

 

Scotland

The first female jurors in Scotland sat in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on the 10th of March 1921. The case involved the theft of grain from a warehouse in Leith (8). The text below is from the Scotsman report on the event, from the 11th March 1921 (9).

“Jury Women

Pioneers of the New Order in Edinburgh

Time is a revolutionary in its treatment of the law courts and their procedure. The impression was created by a visit to an upper room in Edinburgh Sheriff Court House yesterday. From a first glance the previous visit might have been the day before; as a matter of fact, the interval was wide. Women for the first time in the city sat on a jury. The gentler sex have been petitioners, Portia’s and other characters in the dramas of the Courts; now they entered into the prerogative of the men, and shared the duty of weighing evidence and returning verdicts. The half-dozen women summoned were in plenty of time for the proceedings, and after all had answered to the roll-call, they smiled and waited the fate of the ballot, for, of course, more were called than need be chosen.

They were to hear one of the statutory inquiries into a number of fatal accidents, and for that purpose a jury of seven had to be empanelled. The first name drawn was that of a man, and finally, when the seven citizens “good and true” had been called, they included three ladies, one of whom was married. From the point of view of the visual amenities of the courtroom, the presence of the ladies in fur and feathers on the jurors’ benches was no disadvantage. “Jury men and jury women” said the Sheriff Principal to those whose services were not required, “I thank you for your attendance, and you are now at liberty to go.” Did a momentary disappointment cloud the brow of the women who were left out? At any rate, one lady lingered on to watch the proceedings, possibly with the idea that they may serve better next time who only sit and wait. Others made a quick exit, and one woman, basket on arm, with may be a presentiment that things would turn out so, was perhaps able to carry out a shopping plan after all.

Then there were unfolded for the mixed jury five stories of the casualties which occur periodically in the great army of industry. There were pit accidents, those tragedies which occur in the subterranean darkness where the coal is won; there was a brickworks fatality in which a man was apparently struck down suddenly by the machinery. For the examination of the causes and circumstances of these cases the women had to follow narratives by witnesses which were at times necessarily technical, but they gave the statements their close attention from first to last. They seemed keenly interested in their new job, and though every case had the angel of death in the background, they did not shirk the saddening details upon which the presence in the Court of other women in black – from the homes where the blows had fallen – was a realistic commentary. For a first experience, their judicial functions were, however, comparatively light, for the verdicts in these inquiries are usually formal. In certain of the cases questions of fault were raised, but, on the suggestion of the Sheriff, who pointed out the possibility of other proceedings in regard to them, the jury returned open verdicts. The women discussed the evidence with their male colleagues on the jury, and through a sitting which lasted for three and a half hours were alert listeners to evidence and observers of procedure. At the close, Sheriff Crole thanked the jury for their services, and commented upon the first appearance of women in their new role, and expressed the hope that the long sitting had not been too much for them.”

Female jurors were expected to first sit in Glasgow Sheriff Court on the 15th of March 1921 (10) and the first lady jurors in the Court of Session sat on the 17th of March 1921 (11), before Lord Sands. “The case submitted to the jury, whom counsel addressed as “members of the jury” had reference to a claim for damages arising out of a Leith tram-car accident.” This case appears to be unreported, notable only for the jurors rather than the legal points.The first mixed jury sat in Glasgow Sheriff Court on the 21st of March 1921 (12).

The first murder trial with female jurors in Scotland was heard in Perth on the 5th of April 1921 (13).

 

Reception of female jurors

Although there is regular reference to the belief that women sitting on juries is an experiment, and that it would be “reconsidered by Parliament”(14), it soon became settled that women were regular participants in juries. The advent of women jurors seems to generally have been received with equanimity in Scotland.

Prior to their introduction in Scotland, a case in West Bromwich Sessions was a topic of discussion in December 1920 (15), as the female jurors had been objected to due to their “inexperience”. A response by a Dora Rees in the letters page a few days later pointed out that the onus in that situation was not on the jurors to have experience, but on the judge to manage the case properly, and asked “what experience or legal knowledge a juror is supposed to have?”(16).

An editorial in The Scotsman, regarding the withholding of the “revolting” evidence in the English divorce case which female jurors sat on, was not impressed with the action of the Judge in the case in doing so.They point out that “in the operating wards of our hospitals, in the mixed classes of our medical schools, neither nurses nor women medical students nor anyone else are embarrassed by false prudery”(17).

A group of Scottish women’s organisations wrote to the Scotsman to protest about the way the judge in the Allen divorce case had handled the issue of having women on the jury. They stated that the distinction made by the judge between male and female jurors was “highly improper, and stands in the way of women jurors being able to carry out their work efficiently, and that this would be likely to lead to the service of women on juries being discredited, and even falling into desuetude”(18).

Discussions at a meeting of the Edinburgh Women Citizen’s Association on February 24th 1921 were interesting (19). J Robertson Christie, Principal Clerk of Justiciary was supportive of the idea that women jurors could be useful in certain types of cases (namely those involving other women or children as witnesses), but was more dubious about their value otherwise. This was not due to objections to the idea of women serving, but because the speaker preferred an option where “public-spirited, trained women who felt themselves qualified to be of use in this particular department of citizenship might have volunteered to have their names placed upon a roll from which jury women might be summoned.” The meeting also poured scorn upon the actions of the judge in the English divorce case of the previous month, stating that “If there happened here in a civil trial what happened in a trial in England not long ago – when certain parts of the evidence were withheld because they were supposed to be too revolting for them – the verdict would be set aside, because no jury was entitled to assume the functions of the jury which was not prepared to decide upon the evidence.”

In a “Letter to the Editor” by a Charles A Salmond in October 1921 expressed a variety of objections to female jurors (20). One point was that of the “propriety of dragging gentlewomen of retiring and refined instinct” onto juries for “often nasty” cases. He was also concerned about how a woman juror would cope with having to “disregard…her feelings and all of her home ties and duties”, while claiming that he did “not presume to refer to the mentality of ladies or to suggest one thing or the other about their capacity” to sit effectively as jurors. Instead, he claimed that women were physically unsuited to sit as jurors, and this could lead to new juries constantly having to be summoned, as woman after woman would swoon away when exposed to the physical hardships of…sitting in a jury box. He conceded that there “may be cases in which women jurors may very appropriately serve”, but he urged that “the new system should be drastically modified”.

Rebuttals of the previous concerns regarding the delicate nature of women and the problem of them being exposed to distasteful evidence were regular.

Mrs Seaton-Tiedeman, Secretary of the Divorce Reform Law Union said that “nowhere were women more needed than in the Courts of the country”, and that expecting women to be innocent was unwise, as “knowledge is a great protection” (21).

In April 1922, there is an exchange of letters between J Forbes Moncrieff, who declares that judging “from the conversation of women generally” saying that “very few of them have the slightest desire to serve as jurors”(22), and Dora Rees of the Edinburgh Women Citizens’ Association rebuts his statements, saying “the same conclusion may be drawn from the conversations of men generally” (23). Moncrieff responds, asserting that he has “a strong conviction that I speak for a large number of women” when he claims that men are better suited for jury work (24). He continued in his conviction that women were unsuited for jury work, and should only do it voluntarily, with another letter to The Scotsman in November 1824. He asserted that he believed that the female jurors in a recent case “like many (possibly most) women, were serving in this capacity very unwillingly” (25). Dora Rees appears to have give up responding to him after her letter in April, and I can’t say I blame her: J. Forbes Moncrieff is unshakeable in his manly conviction that he speaks for the silent majority of women! Instead, “A Woman Citizen” responded to that letter, stating that “women of clean mind and habit are the best agents yet discovered for clearing away filth, and that they shrink from such work has not deterred them from doing it all down the ages” (26). Whether A Woman Citizen was Dora Rees is unknown, but J. Forbes Moncrieff did not respond to this letter. Perhaps he finally accepted that he was not qualified to speak on behalf of all women? In support of A Woman Citizen’s response, a letter from “A. Mother” on 1 December 1924 seconds her previous comments, and refutes the “sad view” that “women will be contaminated by hearing filthy evidence”(27).

It appears that sitting as a juror was initially something that ladies could excuse themselves from when asked by the judge if they wanted to do so, but this was not something that was occurring in Scotland. Those being tried also apparently had the right to object to female jurors hearing their case, and if this happened, they were dismissed. Again, this does not appear to have happened in Scotland, with mention of defendants objecting to female jurors all relating to English cases. Another concern was how to address female jurors, as “gentlemen of the jury” was no longer accurate, so “members of the jury” seems to have taken its place (28).

By 1923, female jurors seems to be firmly established as a part of normal court business in Scotland, sitting on a variety of cases. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Alness, praised female jurors in a speech to the Associated Societies of the University of Edinburgh in January 1923 (29):

“Touching on public service rendered by women, Lord Alness remarked that it was not too much to say that their position vis a vis of the State, had within recent years been revolutionised. Now, in the exercise of the franchise, in the practice of the professions, in Parliament and outside of it, they were substantially on the same footing as men. He had been very much struck recently by the service rendered by women upon juries – particularly in criminal cases. They sat a few weeks ago on numerous juries at the High Court in Glasgow, and they dealt competently and sympathetically with some of the most difficult and terrible cases which had come within the range of his professional experience. He was satisfied that in dealing in particular with cases where young children were concerned, their services were quite invaluable.”

And entertainingly, by January 1922, you could have placed a bet on a Lady Juror…in the Victoria Cup at Hurst (30). She appears to have had quite a successful career: by September 1922 she won the Jockey Club Sweepstakes at Newmarket (31), and was still winning five years later at Lingfield in 1927 (32).

It looks like the Lady Juror was definitely a good long-term bet 😉

 

  1. Jurors (Enrolment of Women) (Scotland) Act 1920, Ch 53, Royal Assent 16th August 1920, coming into force no later than 6 months after Royal Assent = mid-February 1921
  2. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 07 Feb 1921: 7
  3. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Dec 1920: 3
  4. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 04 Mar 1921: 4
  5. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 12 Jan 1921: 6
  6. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 26 Jan 1921: 7
  7. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 8
  8. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 19 Mar 1921: 8
  9. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 11 Mar 1921: 4
  10. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 15 Mar 1921: 4
  11. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Mar 1921: 4
  12. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 15 Mar 1921: 4
  13. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 06 Apr 1921: 7
  14. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 11
  15. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 07 Dec 1920: 6
  16. Rees, Dora. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 11 Dec 1920: 13
  17. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 8
  18. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 05 Feb 1921: 9
  19. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 25 Feb 1921: 3
  20. CHARLES A SALMOND D D. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 12 Oct 1921: 10
  21. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 11
  22. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 08 Apr 1922: 13
  23. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Apr 1922: 7
  24. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Apr 1922: 6
  25. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 27 Nov 1924: 7
  26. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 28 Nov 1924: 5
  27. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 01 Dec 1924: 5
  28. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Mar 1921: 4
  29. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Jan 1923: 9
  30. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 27 Jan 1922: 3
  31. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Sep 1922: 4
  32. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Apr 1927: 8

 

 

A ladyfellowing

Well, in January this year, I submitted my Fellowship portfolio, and heard in April that it had been successful, making me now officially a Ladyfellow and able to add FCLIP after my name, yay!

Me registration fees were paid in September 2015, so technically it took less than 18 months from registration to submission. However, that doesn’t include the good few months before that, preparing my thoughts, talking to my mentor, and plotting out just how I would Get This Damn Thing Done, so realistically, it was more like a 2 year process.

So, how big a task was it? In a “dear god, what have I done” moment, I totalled up the word count of all items in the portfolio, and it came to approximately 30,000 words. That’s easily the largest piece of work I’ve ever produced (I’m a rubbish student, so I’ve never had to produce an academic dissertation). So yes, it turns out that reviewing your career and achievements to date, and reflecting on what you’ve learned from all of your experiences is quite time consuming and makes for a hefty piece of work! Undertaking Fellowship does make you critically assess your skills – everyone develops as they progress in their career, but you rarely get time and space to think about the ways, and the whys. Fellowship specifically makes you think about this, and also about whether this development in your skills and knowledge was planned, plannable, voluntary or involuntary….

So, would I recommend doing Fellowship, if you’re in a point in your career where you’re considering it? Well, I’d advise taking all the information below into account, and making your own choices….

  • What’s the time commitment?

I won’t lie – doing Fellowship takes a significant commitment of your personal time. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to fit the work needed into your normal working day, unless you have both a very understanding and supportive employer, and the ability to block out substantial amounts of time from your working day. Unless you have both these elements in place, you have to understand from the start that you’ll be doing this in your own time, and that means using your evenings, weekends, and yes, annual leave.

  • How’s your motivation?

Are you self motivated? You’d better be! Because the person setting the deadlines for this is you, so you have to be both realistic, and strict – set realistic targets, and stick to them. Or agree with your mentor that they have free reign to berate you if you slack off. It’s very easy to let progress slip or stall if there’s nobody being let down but yourself. I was odd, and competed against myself to beat my own deadlines

  • Who are you doing it for?

If you are doing this for anything other than personal satisfaction, you’re going to be disappointed. You may be lucky enough to be in a workplace that will recognise and celebrate your achievement, but sadly the majority won’t. Also, you may end up changing employer/workplace during the Fellowship process, so don’t tie your motivation to workplace recognition – it has to be an entirely personal process. And as for financial recognition of the achievement – forget it! Fellowship has no positive effect on your salary! Unless you maybe work in that utopian workplace with lots of time for doing this sort of professional activity during the day…

  • You can’t predict when you’ll be ready to think deeply about your career!

If you’re like me, you need to be in the right mood to be introspective. And there is not one single thing you can do to make yourself be in that mood. So you’re going to feel like you “waste” a lot of time, when you’ve scheduled it in for working on your portfolio but instead find yourself clicking through dozens of Buzzfeed stories…

  • You will need others to help you

Fellowship can be a confusing process at times (not helped by the minimal guidance, and the fact that the Fellowship Handbook is 99.9% the same as the Certification and Chartership ones, with the word Fellowship swapped in), and it can be really easy to get lost and lose motivation. As the process is as individual as you are, it can be difficult for even experienced mentors to know how to help you sometimes. Find people who’re also doing Fellowship and support each other – it helps build a pool of knowledge that helps everyone. I was part of a wiki where mentors and mentees discussed their individual processes, and talked to others about how they were doing things. It helped!

  • Give yourself a break

It’s highly likely that you’ll have a demanding job (who doesn’t these days?), and that will always be your priority when you’re determining what to spend time on. Next comes your personal life – that thing you have when you’re not in work, but which is also demanding (in different ways from your job). After that, comes professional activities like Fellowship. Juggling these competing priorities can be tricky, but never lose sight of the fact that you work to live, not live to work (I know, but who can resist a good cliche?), and give yourself a break when attending to those other things push Fellowship progress back a bit.

  • It commits you to continued membership of CILIP

Due to a change in the way the Professional Registration system (i.e. Certification, Chartership and Fellowship) works, you can now join CILIP and immediately begin the Fellowship process. Previously, it was (perhaps officially, perhaps unofficially, all I know is this is what I know) recommended that you undertake 3 Revalidation cycles (when Revalidation was done every three years and required the submission of the equivalent of your Chartership portfolio), and then you’d be ready to begin the Fellowship process Things are much more straightforward now, but it does mean people may be joining without having had time to discover if the organisation suits their needs. Once you’re a Fellow, if you leave CILIP, you lose the post-nominals, as you can only use them if you’re a current member. That’s as it should be – would you trust a Chartered surveyor who’s no longer a member of their professional body, but were still saying they were Chartered? So, the only person who can judge if those post-nominals are worth the initial investment of time (CPD hours and portfolio creation) and money (registration and submission fees), and the ongoing investment of money (membership fees) is you.

So, with those thoughts in mind, consider whether it’s right for you. 

Personally, I’m glad I did it. I was working on it during a time of huge professional upheaval for me (I remained in one workplace during it, but had four different managers in those two years; the library moved from one department internally, to another, to another; I restarted one library service from scratch, and set up another one; recruited and trained for both; took on a promoted role; and we’re now preparing to launch and eventually integrate the two libraries into an organisation-wide, national library service).

It made me focus on what my skills are, and unpick why I did the things I did, and therefore why I do the things I do. It was in some ways like a self-therapy session, spanning a couple of years. My mentor is now probably the person who knows the most about my career, and was able to give objective input regarding situations that I had struggled with, and help me to see that I needed to be less harsh about myself and my skills, and accept that I was more competent than I had believed. Her dedication to the process, and intensive support for me during it was key to getting me through it, meaning it is as much her achievement as mine. So: THANK YOU CÉLINE, you’re the best of mentors!!

Do you read with your eyes, or your ears?

This article discusses the decline in ebook sales, and explains some of the potential future challenges, once of which is that the main growth area seems to be audiobooks. Publishers are now seeing audiobooks as their best area for growth rather than ebooks.


This does not make me happy! I am not an old fashioned person who expects a book to be a physical object – I have both a well-stuffed Kindle and a rapidly read-and-returned collection of charity shop purchased books at home. Physical books are merely containers for the exciting contents, and the contents work as well digitally as they do physically. What I don’t have in my home however is any audiobooks. Because I hate the damn things.


I just cannot get on with them. For a while a few years ago I commuted by driving for about 30 minutes each way in often-semi-static traffic. So I thought I’d put some audiobooks on in the car so the time was a little bit more productive. Nope: it didn’t work for me. I was focused on the driving/traffic, so I tuned out everything non-essential to that…which includes voices…which meant I listened to maybe a third of the book the first time around, and the rest was when I rewound/repeated the chapter. Which is not easy to do if you’re concentrating primarily on being in control of a car rather than fiddling with CD player buttons, so often I couldn’t manage to do that. Which meant I got a very disjointed overall experience, and really didn’t have much of a clue if the book was good or bad, because I hadn’t fully experienced it.


Also: oh my GAWD, the narrators talk SO SLOWLY!! I read fast, so I can whizz through books in a few hours. But the equivalent “size” audiobook will take hours to listen to. And hours. And hours. So slow. So frustrating. I feel like I’m wasting so much time listening, when I could be enjoying reading.


The other problem I have is because I’ve not actually read the book myself, but it’s been read to me instead, it means that I don’t keep anywhere near the amount of information/knowledge about it in my head that I would retain if I’d been more “active” in my consumption. It’s like reading the comic book version of a classic novel – the story’s there, but the nuance is gone. I want to remember the whole thing, not just the bits that caught my attention as the words dawdled by me.

So please…take pity on a woman who just likes to read with her eyes, not her ears, and don’t take away my ebooks!

2016, the year that tried to break me..

Well, THAT was a busy year! And it’s not going to get any quieter this year either….

So, why was it so hard? Well, last year involved these things in the library:

  • Implementing a brand new Library Management System
  • Getting the core library materials (textbooks and looseleafs) recatalogued (1,200+ items by the end of the year) on the new LMS
  • Reclassifying all library materials to a new in-house classification system
  • Setting up the subscription records for hundreds of journals and looseleafs
  • Relocating all stock to match the new classification system, over a three floor library
  • Driven to the Borders and back three times, to pack and relocate 40 sacks of books and law reports
  • Setting up and stocking a new room with library materials
  • Coping with recruiting and training three different assistants in six months*
  • Spending a month running the library on my own
  • Me having two different managers
  • Managing a mid-year wholesale move of the library from the oversight of one department in the organisation to another
  • Dealing with the associated chaos related to every single thing that had previously worked smoothly when we were in the original department 
  • Hosting a pre-law intern for two months
  • Hosting a Masters student on placement for a month
  • Gaining the assistance of a librarian volunteer to help with the recataloguing project
  • Writing a demanding but successful business case
  • Going through the process of successfully recruiting a Doctoral candidate to work on a proposed archive project
  • Taking on a temporary promotion in order to focus on setting up a new library service
  • Drafting job descriptions for both my own promoted role, and two new library roles 
  • Starting the internal and external recruitment process for two new library roles.

So, not all bad things, but definitely a huge amount of work for two (or at times just one) people to have done, often utterly phyically exhausting work too – book relocations from the Borders, and manual moving of all stock over three library floors.

We have been hugely assisted by the amazing volunteers we had/have, in the form of EM (top legal research and analysis skills, eternally cheerful book relocator) and LM (amazing cataloguer and super focussed relabeller). WT our Robert Gordon placement student was an absolute star, and came in at a point where discussing how the library worked (or didn’t) helped to identify things we should be looking at reviewing. Plus, she left us a fab marketing plan to use in future!

Also, KM the Assistant Librarian has been the brightest point in the year. She came in to a situation where I was drowning in workload and struggling to keep things to the high standard I expected the library to provide. She immediately started taking on responsibilities, without me having to task them to her, and I quiskly learned that could trust her to do the work to the same level (or higher) than I would have done it myself. She is a wizard with spreadsheets, and she’s built on the excellent work of KB, to bring order and clarity to the budget spend, renewal dates, predicted invoicing and all sorts of things that were just impossible for me to get to. She’s rapidly developed advanced research skills (she already had a good headstart with her law background) and can do pretty much anything that comes in as an enquiry. She has almost certainly saved me from having a breakdown this year, because I was able to begin taking time off, and know I wouldn’t just be coming in to all the work I’d left, plus more that had built up when I was off. I was able to discuss plans for the library, and her input helped shape them in a way that was right for the service and our work capacity. If KM hadn’t come in, I don’t know how I’d have got through this year. And now she’s going to be able to continue her work, as she will be covering my librarian role as I step away from running the library service to temporarily take on a new role.Together with KB, the Assistant Librarian who will return this month, they are going to be an amazing team in the library, and I’m really excited about what they’re going to be doing with the service when it’s in their hands!

Next year promises to be equally hectic, with me taking on responsibility for creating a new library service within the organisation.This will involve getting the library location fitted out, ensuring the resources are there for the library staff, integrating the existing LMS with the new service, creating a user portal for each element of the service (existsing and new), recruiting the new staff, training the new staff, communicating to the organisation what is going on, and anything and everything else that comes up.

I am quite sad in some ways about my new role, as it involves stepping away from the day to day work of the existing library service, in order to oversee the creation and management of an equivalent service to meet the needs of the other part of the organisation. I’ve never been in a library role where I didn’t have responsibility for doing legal research or user training, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope. The research work is one of my favourite parts of the job, so it may be something I’ll really miss. Or maybe I’ll enjoy the policy work more – one of my tasks in the new role will be to develop and implement service-wide policies: collection management, stock selection, disaster management, stock insurance policies…

And I have a lot of other stuff to do to: I have an ILM qualification I’m close to finishing but I can never find time for (other than at home and weekends, which is not how a work-based qualification is meant to work), the Informed award that I’m involved in, and I’m inching closer to getting my Fellowship portfolio together. So I’d like to get those cleared off my plate so I can focus on other things.

So, 2017 – I can do this!

* The turnover wasn’t because of me, it was because one person went on maternity leave, and a different job opportunity that came up for the first maternity cover person, meaning they needed to be replaced by a third person within three months.

Learning from the experts

One regular occurrence, no matter what the age of your collection, is finding a book in need of some sort of repair. Whether it’s become overheated and dried out, with random pages falling out, or if it’s “shelled itself”, with the whole cover block detaching from the pages, there’s always a book that needs some attention. My problem is that I’m not skilled enough in this area to know what sort of repairs are possible, and where the line is between me being able to do some basic repairs, and when a book needs to be sent off to the book binders for some expert attention. 
Luckily, the binders we usually use, Downie Allison Downie, run a variety of classes on all elements of book making and repair. My colleague and I were able to go along to one of these classes recently, carrying a few sad examples each of books in need of repair. The way we spilt the carrying weight, I had the hardbacks with me, and my colleague had paperbacks in various states of dirtiness and collapse. I’m going to show you what I had to do to repair my pile of books…and why I am even more in awe of the skill of the bookbinders at DAD!    

The hardbacks pile

I had four books with issues – two old books that needed their spines/boards replaced or repaired/had sprung overly open and the sewing had started to become loose (and one of those had also suffered from some historic munching by a bookworm on the spine and front board); one that was in danger of having the spine break off, and one modern one that had a single loose page which we wanted advice on refixing properly.

My colleague and I were art of a class of about eight people, with two teachers, John and Mia. The ration of students to teachers meant we had lots of individual attention, which was essential – the range of books being brought for repair was amazing, from historic family bibles to bound collections of early motorcycle magazines and rare books on gardening and British moths and other insects, and specific advice on how to deal with each of them was needed. So, when I say “I did X, Y or Z”, what I’m really saying is “John and/or Mia told me how to…” – they’re the ones with the amazing skills here!

So….I started with the two “sprung” books – this involved taking them completely out of their original shells.

Removing the boards and spine from one of the “sprung” books

Bookworm damage on spine and edge of front board

Once the “shell” of the books had been removed, the old glue and paper from the spines needed to be removed too.

Taking the crumbly old paper bonded to the old glue off

Taking off the old fabric strip on top of the stitched spine

After clearing all the old glue, paper, and “stuff” off the spines, it was time to pull the relaxed pages back into a semblance of tautness again. This involved using whip stitch on the front and back sections of the book. There was a manoeuvre involving knots, and wrapping the thread around the needle that made sense at the time, but I guarantee I couldn’t replicate now. But it worked well to pull the book together, especially with the book that had a loose front section.

Whip stitch
Whip stitch securing front and back sections to main block

Meanwhile, my colleague was also hard at work. She had a paper-bound book/pamphlet which (for reasons we shall not question) held the contents of legislation relating to taxation on beer in Edinburgh from the 17th and 18th centuries. This wasn’t something to be rebound, but it was fairly dirty and had pages earmarked by folding, and we wanted advice on what to do to with it. She was set to work to carefully lift surface grime and dirt from this by carefully cleaning each page with an absorbent sponge/rubber (don’t ask me the proper description for it other than it was gentle and safe!). Yes, I am mean and took photos of her while she was hard at work!

Careful removal of ingrained dirt in pages

I have to say, it took a while but the end result was impressive! The booklet now feels less….well…manky!

After doing the whip stitching I measured up, cut and glued new custom-size end papers on to the front and back of the text block. Then a new fabric covering was put over the spine, attaching on to the new end papers.

New fabric covering on spine, new end papers in place on front and back

Then, I got to vent some frustrations! The books were held tightly in a heavy duty metal clamp, and the spines needed to be hammered back into the curved shape that a book spine should sit in. So….I got to hit them them with a hammer, yay!

Book clamped in place, ready for spine to be hammered

Meanwhile, my colleague had been hard at work too. After cleaning every single page of the “booze book”, she had then been busy with the other paperbacks. Two of these had dried out, and pages were either already falling out, or were about to. She carefully detached each individual page from both volumes, then (I may have missed some information here as I was doing my books, so forgive me any errors) she…erm….glued on the fabric spine? Sorry – I was engrossed with stitching and hammering at this point! But she was super focused, lining up pages with careful concentration!

As for me, my books had to be left overhanging the edge to preserve the curve of the spine, while I worked on the other bits.

Book resting while overhanging desk edge

Next, the spine needed to be replaced. This was done with some thin card, and it needed to be measured up against the size of the original book.

Card, cut to matching width for the spine 

Then, I had a moment where I had to lay bits on top of bits, while going “HOW THE HELL DOES THIS WORK THEN!?!?”

Moment of confusion and self-reassurance – card spine now also cut to matching length

Luckily, John and Mia were there to explain and reassure. Otherwise, I may have been tempted to start whimpering….

Meanwhile, John had also been advising on how to stop one old book’s (Report of the Trial of the Dynamitards, in case you were curious) spine label from popping off. Turns out, its thick paste. Wipe it on with a sponge, then wipe the excess off, and leave to dry. Voila! Turns out, it also slightly cleans it in the process too – who knew that book was so manky? (not me).

Hammering the corners back into shape before stiffening them with paste 

Leaving front and spine to dry after pasting

John had chosen a close match in buckram fabric for each original cover, and these needed to be cut to size for each spine. The card for the spine was glued on to the buckram, with overlap at all sides.

Spine card, lying on buckram

Earlier, I’d carefully eased up the spine edge side covering of the original boards. This left space on the original boards for the new buckram to be pasted on, with the original cover material being smoothed down on top of the new material, and burnished to minimise the visibility of the overlap point.

Spine in place between old covers. Original cover material on right has been glued down over new buckram, yellow underside of cover on left is showing before being glued down over new buckram 

Both books needed this treatment – the fadedness of the original cover on one book was quite impressive!

New spine in place, with both covers glued down. Bookworm damage to cover visible on the board on the right. 

The original spines now needed to be fixed on to the new spine sections, after being trimmed to remove any trailing edges or threads.

The detached and trimmed original spines – one with a fair bit of nibbling from a bookworm at the top right
My colleague was also working her way through her pile of paperbacks, and was moving on to making brand new hardback covers for these books.
My colleague being instructed on how to put her collection of loose pages into a new hardback cover

Just to prove that I was there myself…. 

The top says “I have no idea what I’m doing and that’s kinda the way I like it”. A phrase I aim to live by. 

Once the spines were dry, I moved on to securing the book into the shell by gluing the end papers and text block on to the boards and the spine, and that was mine…done!

Recovered books, with glue drying
Don’t they look nice?

The final hardback rebinds
I took the opportunity to shift the bookworm damaged cover page from being a front cover to being a back cover, to make it less obvious. The spine of that book had to be trimmed to be narrower than the original to get back to a solid piece of fabric, so it’s not a perfect match, but it’s now secure and won’t deteriorate.
The other book could be trimmed more exactly, making it a very close match to the original size, and making it look almost as if it hadn’t been touched. 

Finished, rebound books

This isn’t everything about the day, as my colleague had further work on the previously-paperback-now-hardback items she’d been dealing with, doing foil lettering, clamping, burnishing, and who knows what else, but that’s her story, not mine!

It was a busy day but the time flew by – we were always hard at work on some element of the complex process of repairing our hardback and paperback books. And what I’ve learned from the day is…repairing old books is definitely best left to the very skilled staff at Downie Allison Downie! They were brilliant teachers, and full of patience with our class! If you get the opportunity to go to one of their classes, do it….even if it’s just to gaze in awe at the knowledge and skills of the teachers!

Opening the doors

Last month, for the first time ever, my library took part in Doors Open Day. My organisation has taken part in DOD for many years, but the library had never been involved before. From my first days in the library, I was aware of the need to raise its visibility, both internally, and externally. We’ve been working hard internally to raise awareness of the service, so that was being dealt with. To add to that, taking part in Doors Open Day seemed to be a good way to show the public more of what goes on in the organisation, and what resources are available to the service users.

My colleague and I worked hard to make sure that the library would be an interesting destination, and the public would know about it. Because the library is in a secure area, the only way to visit was to book onto one of the two tours running throughout the day, and choose at the end to come to the library. We made posters to leave at the booking desk, and another popular visitor area, to tell people how to get into the library. We put signs up in our windows, which many members of the public passed on their way into the building. We told other members of staff about the activities and items we had in the library, so they could tell the public. We’re unsure whether it was the effect of this promotion work, or just general curiosity about the existence and work of the library, but visitor numbers exceeded our expectations – we suspected maybe only 5-10 visitors would continue on past the end of the tour to the library, but in the end at least 20 visitors per tour came to the library, meaning at least 200 people visited the library on the day.*

We restricted access to anything beyond the main ground floor corridor – we couldn’t allow visitors to go where we couldn’t see them, so we had to keep them in this space. To block access to the rest of the ground floor, we used roping, kickstools, and…Magnus.

Magnus, our skeleton staff. Many people think that Magnus retired from the Assistant Librarian role, but we know better…

So what did we have for visitors to do and see int he library? We had three desks to use for display in the ground floor space, and we used each for different purposes – one for an activity, one for display only, and one for browseable texts. We also used the library service desk to display additional items, and freebies for people to pick up. A window hosted a display usually managed by another department, but which we used this year, and which worked well with the materials we had to show.

Unfortunately my phone camera doesn’t cope very well with the contrasts between the areas of dim and bright light in the library, so these photos make it look like there were some very bright lights on the books, when they weren’t anything like as bright as that!

Ink, quills, pen pot, calligraphy examples and an original, hand-annotated copy of a text

At the first desk, we were hosting the materials which another department usually displayed, on technology through the ages. These materials included old quills, ink pots, document bundles and handwritten ledgers, along with a typewriter, floppy discs and dictophones, and these were placed in the empty window space above the first desk. To complement this, I bought quills, a dip-nib pen and nibs, and calligraphy inks. These were put on the desk in front of the technology display, with a layer of blotting paper, laminated example sheets of calligraphy, and a pile of squares of paper, to allow visitors to try their hand at writing with quills and nibs. This proved to be hugely popular, with all ages of visitors – frequently, people were already trying out the quills even before I had welcomed them to the library and invited them to try them! Almost every person who visited the library left with some sort of inked item: the Chinese ladies’ names were particularly impressive, as was the beautiful poem about souls left behind by one visitor.

Historic texts on display on book pillows

We had a display of some of our older and more interesting texts from the special collection on the second desk. This included a 1699 text by George MacKenzie on “Laws and Customs of Scotland in Matters Criminal “ which discusses the crime of witchcraft in some depth (accompanied by a modern English translation by me of the first few witchcraft pages), a text open at a 1665 case of son of a William Wallace trying to claim his inheritance, a text from the 1800s on the trial of Lord Melville for “high crimes and misdemeanors”, a Latin text from the late 1600s, a copy of Regiam Majestatem from 1609, with additional annotations, a book on “the Douglas Cause“, and a selection of other interesting books. After this picture was taken we also added a selection of handwritten deeds from 1700, with beautiful handwriting. Although the library has many modern texts, and electronic resources, we felt that they aren’t as interesting to the public as “old stuff”!  The materials on this desk were the source of most questions from visitors, with people wanting to know about book ages, authors, history, contents,the legal system, the handwriting, and all sorts of other random things!

Books on the crimes, the law and notable trials

 We had a third table, with dictionaries of crime for people to look up the changing penalties for certain crimes. There were also exampes of books about practitioners of the law, and how they view themselves (the Punch drawing about the absurdity of women barristers was well liked – apparently, they’d just have their silly little heads turned by fashion) and materials on notable trials, including one being re-enacted on site that day. These were for visitors to flick through themselves,

The library service desk was used to display a large volume of the record edition of the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, with a Glendook duodecimo edition for comparison.

Magnus checking the card catalogue for overdues

We had a tour group arriving approximately every 20 – 25 minutes, with the visitors able to stay up to 15 minutes in the library. As the library is in a secure area, someone was needed to escort visitors from the library and the building when they wished to leave. My colleague took this role on, and was busy constanly going back and forth as people requested to leave. I therefore was responsible for doing the talking – not a job I’m generally particularly keen on, and it was quite challenging – getting the attention of an unknown group, who were leaving at random times, and trying to explain the different desks and their contents to them, along with answering totally unpredicable questions. I think I got into the swing of it quite quickly, and I got quite a few laughs from the visitors – one even said I’d made a location and information that could be dry and boring into something interesting and fun, so I’d say I got away with it!

It was great to be able to speak to members of the public about what the library and the library staff do, and they had some interesting questions, which put my general and legal knowledge to the test! Some I knew, some I didn’t know and have found out, and some I’ve yet to check.

  • Where did you get the quill pens from? And the ink? 
    • Feathers I bought on eBay and cut myself, and calligraphy inks that work well with dip-nib pens from Cult Pens
  • Who was the last person to be tried for witchcraft?
    • Helen Duncan, during WWII
  • Was the law to prosecute witches still in force?
    • At the time – I don’t know, probably not! Now – I know it was repealed by the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 (probably something to do with Helen Duncan, but I’ve not had time to check this)
  • Which court room would trials for treason in the 1700s been heard in?
    • I’ll need to double check this one, but renovations in the 1800s mean I’m unsure without checking about which courtrooms were where
  • When were women first allowed to sit as jurors?
    • I’ve not had time to properly check this yet, but I suspect it was at the same time, or soon after the point when we gained the right to vote. It may have been the Representation of the People Act 1918, or the Equal Franchise Act 1928
Also, there were some unexpected things: someone was so keen on the quill and ink that I decided to give them a few of the spare feathers, to take away and showed them how to cut the shaft to be able to use it to write with. Another person was so fascinated by the translation of the witchcraft text that he asked if he could take it? We were happy to oblige, and printed ourselves another copy. Someone else wanted to understand and discuss the comparable points of Swiss and Scots law. An English-qualified retired legal practitioner wanted to know what the equivalent of Halsbury’s Laws of England was, as she’d never known but assumed it existed (it’s the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia of the Laws of Scotland). Magnus also was occasionally “interfered” with by visitors, and I sometimes spotted people taking books off the shelves which had a rope in front of them to discourage that. As they weren’t special or unusual, I wasn’t concerned about this, but it was surprising to me that people would touch things that were obviously meant to be off-limits. I suppose I’m just not used to how odd the public can be!
Overall, it was a hectic, exhausting, but very fun day – I’ll definitely be taking part again next year – will you be visiting?

* This is just an estimate – we were way too busy herding people to be able to count them, especially when two tours colluded and we had 40+ visitors in the library at once!

Relaunching a library service

What do you do when you decide to do what is verging on library-based insanity, and basically scrap your current library service, and relaunch everything – physical layout, LMS, and classification system? In my case, spend a year, planning, developing, preparing….and then a frantic few weeks hauling stock!

The background to this apparent madness is this: when I took on this role I inherited a library using a layout that didn’t seem to make sense, a classification system I wasn’t familiar with, and an LMS that had been in place for 20 years but didn’t seem suited to our needs. As I was new to the library, a major part of the time I had available while settling in during my initial few months was dedicated to exploring how well these things were working, both for users, and library staff. I had the benefit of my colleague also being new to the library, only a few months after me, so together we looked at these issues with fresh eyes.We came to the following conclusions:

  1. The physical layout over the three floors was not intuitive, and separated core materials over multiple floors, which led to confusion for users and extra travel around the library.
  2. The classification scheme was more suitable for a large library in a common law jurisdiction than a medium sized one in Scotland. Materials on the same topic were split by jurisdiction into different locations in the library, which was confusing for users and did not allow users to browse easily.
  3. The LMS was more suited to a large institution than one the size of my library, and had accumulated too many errors in records to be regarded as reliable. It was also overly complex and difficult for library staff to use, and far more expensive than equivalent products with better functionality

So, what was my solution to these issues?

  1. I decided to change the way the library was physically laid out. This was linked to the classification scheme.
  2. I changed the classification scheme from Moys, to one developed in-house for Scottish law firms – this scheme allows far better browsability of the shelves, and is designed to incorporate the specific legal terms and issues unique to Scots law.
  3. I worked with Procurement to identify and implement a new LMS, which halved the ongoing costs of the system, and gave library staff a greater ability to manage materials effectively.

Well, those are the main points of my relaunch plan. The actual implementation takes a little bit more effort than that!

  • I needed to adapt the classification scheme I had chosen, and update it – it was developed in the 1990s and some of the terms used in it were very dated. It was also originally developed for use in a commercial law firm library, and therefore neglected most areas of criminal law – this whole area needed to be expanded massively.
  • I wanted to be sure the subject terms we would use would reflect current legal terms in use on standard legal databases. I downloaded a standard legal taxonomy from a large publisher, and went through it methodically, pulling out the terms I knew we would use, and adding in some Scottish-specific ones. This was imported into the new LMS and allows us to tag materials consistently, and in a way that users would recognise.
  • I’ve been working with the Assistant Librarians (there’s only one AL, but one is on maternity leave, and the cover librarian has picked up where the initial one had to stop) to import the records for all of our textbooks from COPAC, and catalogue them in the new system. We have at least 3,500 textbooks and 45,000* other items in a variety of locations (both in the library and in a multitude of sub-sites within this building and others), so our focus has been on getting the core textbooks onto the system. I made the decision that we would also be cataloguing the contents pages from the textbooks, to make sure that the books and their contents were findable through the LMS in a variety of ways.
  • The AL and I have manually added hundreds of staff/users on to the system, and monitor staff bulletins to ensure that new staff are added as soon as possible.
  • I measured every shelf in the library, and every law report series/run of primary and secondary legislation/journal volumes, to calculate how much shelf space they’ll take up, then drafted a detailed plan for exactly where they’d go on the ground floor in the new layout (I ran out of time to do the same for the other floors).
  • We decided on what items can be sent to our storage and archive rooms, to reduce duplication in the collection.
  • The three staff currently in the library spent many hours mapping the old classification system to the new one, to enable us to relocate the textbooks from their old shelfmark to their new one more efficiently .

Since last week, my colleagues and I (the excellent Assistant Librarian and a fabulous intern) have been working on the actual physical relocation of stock. We’ve now got the ground floor rearranged to its final layout, have moved half the stock from the mezzanine floor to new (temporary and permanent) locations, and we’re now ready to do the big shift of the textbook stock. This is where the users are going to see the biggest change, as almost everything on this floor will be changing its location.

We’re now in the quiet period for my workplace, and luckily we have had the extra help of that fabulous intern – having three people work on this has been so helpful, and we’ve got about half of the stock-moving done in a week. Since I estimate that we’ve moved about 8,000 volumes in the last few weeks, and we probably have the same to move again before we’re done. It’s physically demanding and exhausting, but it’s satisfying to see things taking shape.

Despite me having tried to explain what we were doing in the library and why to a variety of people in advance of this move, it’s only now that people can actually see for themselves how things have changed that they’re beginning to see what I’ve been talking about. Already we’ve had positive feedback, which is very good to hear – it’s been a LOT of work to do this, and knowing that users are happy with what’s been done is a great vindication!

It’s not finished yet either – once we have the bulk of our textbooks on the LMS we’ll be officially launching the new system to users, and training them on the new uses of the system – they can see their own account to check what they have on loan, see who has the items they want out on loan, request books of photocopies be sent to them, and all sorts of exciting new things that just weren’t possible before. The relaunching of the service continues…

So, what would I advise if you were planning to do something similar in your service, that on first glance seems to be verging on masochism?

  • A core part of this relaunch was the new LMS. Take the time to find out the detailed specifics of how you can buy a new or replacement service – despite trying to get this sorted out early, not having been involved in a public sector procurement process before I had no idea quite how long it would take – what is simple in the private sector (“this is the best product for our needs”) becomes an epic and labyrinthine process (“we need a new LMS…this is what an LMS is”). I had trialled a variety of LMS, expecting that I would be able to then select the most suitable one, only to find that all my efforts had to be scrapped and I had to start again, and work in a very convoluted structure. So – seek advice early! I did, but unfortunately, what I was told was incorrect, so – seek advice early, AND get a second opinion on that advice too!

  • Despite all my best efforts of measuring, and matching, and over-estimating, and allowing for expansion space….things haven’t gone quite as hoped with how materials fit on the shelves. This has meant making some ad-hoc decisions on temporary new locations, and will mean another phase of stock moving will have to come later. So – even if you think you’re giving plenty of space…give more.** And have a fallback plan in case of overspill of stock if the estimates don’t work out.

  • Things will always take longer than you think – I wanted the new LMS to in place and being catalogued onto by September 2015, but due to a variety of delays, it wasn’t partially ready until December 2015, properly useable/staff being trained until February 2016, and our old LMS went offline at the end of January 2016. This meant we had only a few weeks to try and get stock onto the new system before it went live and our old one became inaccessible. Needless to say, this was NOT ideal! It also pushed back our stock move plan from spring 2016 to summer 2016.

  • Don’t get distracted – the AL and I keep on finding things that need sorted as we look closely at the stock while moving it*** and have to keep reminding ourselves of our priorities – just get things moved, THEN you can fiddle with them.

  • Ask for more storage or disposal boxes than you think you need, because these sort of stock moves also include some informal stock reviewing – I’ve decided to send a variety of things for disposal (no, we didn’t need that partial third set of those law reports), and others to storage (SIs and SSIs are not something I expect to need regular access to). However, I had only requested enough crates for what I had already decided to send elsewhere, and additional items needing moved weren’t accounted for. The lack of crates to put things in for these purposes means stock sitting temporarily on trolleys until we can get

  • We weren’t able to get internal physical help for this stock move (it would have been available to us), as so many of the move decisions were based on knowledge only I had in my head, and because we kept having to make ad-hoc decisions, it would take as long for me to instruct someone who was helping to do it, as to do it myself. I hate having to work like this – I try and share my knowledge with my colleagues as much as possible, so this was not a natural way for me to work. It also meant I needed to be constantly involved, which was difficult to balance with my normal demanding workload. If you have the time to plan something like this, try and factor in writing up detailed instructions/guidance for anyone who’s offered to/been instructed to help.
*To be honest, it’s probably actually far more items than that – we just keep finding more stock in random locations!

**How can something that took up 30 inches of shelf on one floor take up 40 inches on another floor?

*** Why were the loose parts from that volume from 1991 not sent for binding? Does this volume need a repair on the spine? Everything is so dusty, should we be cleaning these?

And now…time to get these empty bookshelves filled up!