Behind the scenes at the library! Part 2.

Blog post by Kelly Saunders, Library Assistant, Central Library.

All about the store!

I think I’d better start this post with a thank you to the Swindon Advertiser and BBC Wiltshire for taking an interest and helping to promote the blog and the library service in Swindon.  I am slightly concerned now though that I may have peaked far too early in my behind-the-scenes tales, so apologies if this post doesn’t reach the entertaining highs of bacon bookmarks!  I know I promised to unveil the secrets of the reservations process in this blog outing, however it is proving to be a somewhat lengthier (and dare I say boring) process than I realised, so I thought I’d take you on a journey to the library store instead.
If anyone wondered what I was doing in the Adver’s photo – I was accessing the store shelving in Central Library.  A better photo of the store is below to give you some idea of what I’m talking about, but essentially it’s an area of shelving located in the staff-only spaces in our libraries, many of which are on rollers to save space.

stacks at central library
These types of shelving areas are also known as “stacks” in some libraries and can be found in most sorts of libraries (e.g. academic libraries and national libraries such as the National Library of Wales, where I once nearly got squashed between the moving shelves!).  Aside from those at Central we also have store shelving in several of the larger library branches including at North Swindon, West Swindon and Wroughton libraries.  The store shelving houses various items and collections.  In West Swindon for example we have a large number of duplicate copies of books aimed at book groups; and in Wroughton we have our Subject Specialisation Store (SSS).*

Here at Central we have numerous types of items in our store.  A quick and not exhaustive list is as follows:
•    Normal book stock – items that we can’t fit on our normal shelves but really should have a copy of; duplicate books which can be used as replacements for popular items which may wear out quickly (such as the latest James Patterson); out of print items that are in a fragile or worn state; books that may be required because they are part of a long-running series, such as the Cynthia Harrod-Eagles series pictured below:
Store books
•    Storytime books – as the name suggests books only used for storytimes and not for normal lending, especially the over-sized picture books.

•    Christmas stock – Books/DVDs/CDs for and about Christmas.  They can be leant to customers all year round but take up precious shelf-space and are (obviously) rarely wanted mid-year so they are generally put out in October/November and situated on a specific Christmas display which is then taken away in January.

•    The staff library – items not for lending to the general public and about subjects like the Dewey Decimal System.

•    Large runs of reference items – mainly because we’d have little else in the library if all of these were on open shelves.  Runs of books include Wisden’s Cricketing Almanacs, The Times Index, The RAF List, Jane’s Fighting Ships and Crockford’s Clerical Directory amongst other things.  Below is The Times Index – all seven and a half shelves of it:

Times Index
•    Back issues of the magazines we stock, such as Which and Sight & Sound.  We also have a run of bound volumes of the Railway Magazine dating between 1897 and 1978.

•    Acts of Parliament – we are automatically supplied with these and have a complete run from 1887 onwards.  We did have a full run from much earlier, however when they were moved as part of the building regeneration, they completely disintegrated.

•    Swindon Collection stock – This includes stock such as bound volumes of newspaper cuttings that are too valuable or fragile to be on open shelving and duplicate copies of items.  There is also a collection of items that make up the “Disaster” stock for the Swindon Collection – these are items of which we have a third copy that will eventually be stored offsite (probably in another library’s store) in case fire or similar were to destroy the Central Library.

So if you look anything up on the online public access catalogue (OPAC) and it says that the item is located in the store, you will need to either reserve the item or ask a member of staff to collect it from the store for you.  And at Central we may well come back to you out of breath as it’s located on the top floor of the building and the stairs are often quicker than the lift!

*I’ll perhaps write more about the SSS in another post, but put simply it is a collection of stock about our specialist subjects, which are designated by Dewey number; e.g. one of our designated numbers is 385 which is about railways.  Libraries in other local authorities have different specialist areas designated by Dewey number in order that all subjects are covered; however I’m led to believe that this is a dying practice.