National Chess Library closure

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Tim Harding
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:02 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote: There are also boxes containing archival materials (not sure exactly what that consists of).
That's almost certainly the unique stuff worthy of retention. Records of forgotten chess clubs and their officers is of interest to historians and researchers and if the ECF doesn't keep it, nobody else will.
As an historian, I would certainly agree that MS material could be valuable, and should be evaluated fairly soon. If the relevant boxes can all be easily identified and brought together in a suitable place where they can be opened and examined by somebody qualified to do so, one day might be enough.

Records of chess clubs, diaries of players etc. could be very interesting to historians and if the ECF cannot mind them they could be offered to the British Library MS department maybe. If it's mostly old scoresheets and lists of matches and tournaments, maybe less so but certainly not to be thrown away lightly.

Duplicates of common books might well be disposed of at the next ECF congress as somebody suggested.

As I have said previously, the British Library lacks the first three volumes of BCM (1881/ 1882/ 1883) and the ECF library is known to have duplicates of those. So bound volumes of those years in good condition should be donated to the BL and I don't know why it wasn't done when I first suggested it.

The British Library copies of the Hoffer/Zukertort "The Chess-Monthly" are also in poor condition, so if there is a spare set of that they should be offered too.
Also if there is a spare of the first edition of "Modern Chess Openings" which they do not have.
Tim Harding
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:05 pm

Mike Gunn wrote: Some of the part he retained will go to the ECF if/when the library is on display again.
That leaves the question unanswered as to what happens to books in the collections inherited from Clarke, Croker, Diggle, Golombek, Jordan, Dunleavy, Rumsey, Ravilious, Whiting and unclassified "ECF" where they duplicate those in the Wade collection, assuming the ECF has ownership of all the rest.

Should the ECF store or display duplicates for the rest of time given the costs we now see, or should it have a coherent policy for retention and disposal?

Mike Truran
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mike Truran » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:13 pm

Yes, of course we should have a coherent policy. We'll develop that once we know what we're dealing with, and once we surface for air from all the other things we're trying to get done.

Angus French
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Angus French » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:25 pm

For what it's worth, I wrote on behalf of those I represent on Council to object to the new proposal: copy of email here.

Julie Denning has kindly provided information about the separate room (see point 4.a from my email). The room is separate to the main area (as seen in the photographs provided) but *included* in the 936 sq. ft. of office space. It would be for the exclusive use of the ECF Office.

Bob Kane
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Bob Kane » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:49 pm

Surely the management should coordinate some volunteers to properly catalogue the library before any major commitment like this?

Modern Tech can help... one App of many
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... e&hl=en_GB

Roger de Coverly
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:07 pm

Bob Kane wrote:Surely the management should coordinate some volunteers to properly catalogue the library before any major commitment like this?
The whole concept of a National Chess Library turns out to be something of a dead weight to the ECF. Given that it's not prepared to dump the lot in a skip or paper recycling facility, it has to be in a position to identify and dispose of duplicates, even do it commercially if possible to make the library self-financing. Using a storage facility doesn't appear to allow this, hence the need to acquire space at the Battle offices.

When in the hands of the university in Hastings, there was a decent catalogue produced, as posted by Angus French earlier. That may well not document the entire collection, but it demonstrates that much of the library consists of the book collections you might expect any lifetime player to have acquired with obvious duplications of best sellers.

John Townsend
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Townsend » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:23 am

An auctioneer could be the most pragmatic answer. He might get some good prices for the better material, while also offering a way of disposing of the lower grade items and duplicates and turning them into some cash.

A good choice would be Dominic Winter Auctions, of South Cerney, Gloucestershire, who are specialist book auctioneers. Earlier this month they held a specialist chess sale for the "Gareth Williams collection", with some nice sets; all the books were in one lot. They are quite capable of going through the ECF library and lotting up the books. The lower grade items could perhaps be divided into bulk lots, e.g. each lot comprising three (or six) shelves of books.

Members with strong views about keeping the library together would at least have the option of attending the sale and bidding up for the choicer items.

I'm not a member of the ECF and have no particular motive in making this suggestion, though I have used Dominic Winter Auctions for both buying and selling books, and I might decide to bid for some of the chess material if it came up.

Tim Harding
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:19 pm

John Townsend wrote:An auctioneer could be the most pragmatic answer. He might get some good prices for the better material, while also offering a way of disposing of the lower grade items and duplicates and turning them into some cash.
An auctioneer might make some sense for the duplicates but I have no opinion on any particular one and Tony Peterson has also been suggested. I believe he lives nearer to where the books currently are, but don't know if he auctions books.

Especially considering that books were donated on the basis they would be available for research rather than to make money for the ECF,
I would urge strongly that:

a) No MSS are sold. They should be kept and made available or else donated to an archive such as the British Library where they can be made available.

b) As I have repeatedly said, a set of good volumes of the early BCMs that the British Library don't have should be donated to them. The same probably applies to some other potentially useful volumes for research.

The main problem about the ECF idea is similar to what it was when the university had the material: that probably few people who don't live locally will go to the Hastings area to read stuff whereas they might if it was available in a big city like London or Manchester. It is easier for me to go to the great collection in The Hague than to Hastings but I do go to the British Library a few times each year.
Tim Harding
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:28 pm

Tim Harding wrote: Especially considering that books were donated on the basis they would be available for research rather than to make money for the ECF
The issue that now comes to the forefront is whether they were donated on the basis of losing money for the ECF. The additional running cost is at least £ 8,000 a year in larger premises/storage cost plus whatever staff time is needed.

Does the ECF need to retain copies of books for research that are still available for sale, either because reprints are available or because there are a lot of second hand copies about? Arguably once a book or publication has been reliably scanned and the digital copies safeguarded, is there a need to retain paper copies? A book produced in the Victorian era perhaps because of its qualities as an historic artifact, but an openings potboiler from the 1970s?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:57 pm

Where do you draw the line? Roger mentions the Victorian era. What about the early 20th-century (the Edwardian era)? What about books from the inter-war years? Do those have historic value? I would say they do. And who is to say that someone 20-30 years from now might not find historic value in the 1970s "openings potboiler" if only as an example of the genre? Imagine a chess museum, showcasing examples of chess books over the years, and how the notation and style has changed. All the way up to modern DVDs and online training programs, though goodness only knows how you curate or archive those. That may be going slightly beyond the remit of an ECF National Library, but you would hope the worldwide chess community (or at least the chess community in the UK) is capable of archiving and preserving its history. It is not easy, though, as there are (and always will be) financial constraints. Some of those can be mitigated by good planning.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Joey Stewart » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:13 am

Here is a novel (and much cheapter idea). Pay some impoverished chess player a few hundred quid to scan every page of every book and create an online archive which could then be accessed by anybody through the ECF website (or if somebody REALLY clever was able to help, it could even be marketed as some sort of an app as kindles seem to be fast replacing physical books).

Once this was completed I am sure it would be possible to recoup a lot of the money through a publicised auction of the best bits of the collection, and then burn the rest rather then store it in extortionate london property.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:09 pm

Joey Stewart wrote:Here is a novel idea (...)
Pun intended? :D

AustinElliott
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by AustinElliott » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:13 pm

Joey Stewart wrote:Here is a novel (and much cheapter idea). Pay some impoverished chess player a few hundred quid to scan every page of every book and create an online archive which could then be accessed by anybody through the ECF website (or if somebody REALLY clever was able to help, it could even be marketed as some sort of an app as kindles seem to be fast replacing physical books).

Once this was completed I am sure it would be possible to recoup a lot of the money through a publicised auction of the best bits of the collection, and then burn the rest rather then store it in extortionate london property.
The problem one has to beware of, at minimum for virtually any post-WW2 work and likely even some pre-WW2 stuff, is copyright. Copyright is incredibly long-lived compared to things like patents, typical running 'life of author + 50 years after their death'. So e.g. for a book to now be out of copyright the author would have to have died before 1967. A chess example would be Paul Keres (died 1975). His written works, even if published pre-WW2, are still copyright (and thus couldn't be reproduced without permission, including 'scanned and put on a web archive') until 2025 at minimum. I'm not clear what happens with stuff like journalism where the material is often written for a fee and then ''copyright assigned' to someone other than the author, typically the publisher of the publication where the journalism appears. Someone else on here can probably advise on how that works.

However, scanning/digitising does sounds a decent idea for old stuff like the C19th material which, as has been discussed above, would likely be of greatest archival/historical interest. As an example of what can be done, most scientific journals have now 'mass digitised' their back catalogues (well back into the C19th in many cases), so commercial set-ups to do such stuff do exist, quite apart from volunteer labour.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:35 pm

AustinElliott wrote: typical running 'life of author + 50 years after their death'. So e.g. for a book to now be out of copyright the author would have to have died before 1967. A chess example would be Paul Keres (died 1975). His written works, even if published pre-WW2, are still copyright (and thus couldn't be reproduced without permission, including 'scanned and put on a web archive') until 2025 at minimum.
Worse than that, Austin. It was increased to 70 years some time ago now as part of a European rationalisation (which of course, might now be up for reversal - though I doubt it). At the time I believe it caused considerable problems because there wasn't proper provision for books that had left copyright and then re-entered it, but my knowledge of that aspect is a bit hearsay.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Ian Kingston » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:27 pm

Apart from the copyright issue, there is also the practical problem that in order to get the pages to lie flat on a typical scanner most books have to be dismantled. Otherwise you ended up with a distorted or illegible inside margin for each page. This may not be a problem for books where there are duplicates (so that one can be sacrificed), but for single copies of old or valuable books it may not be an acceptable solution.

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