National Chess Library closure

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
David Robertson
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by David Robertson » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:23 pm

JustinHorton wrote:I'd like to help, but as I've not been in the professional librarian business since 2005 I don't really have anything to offer. Are there any current ECF members working in the field?
A number of us would love to help. Tim Harding and others with a historian's interest would be one source; professionally-trained librarians, obviously another.
David Robertson wrote:Six tonnes of material [!!!] How much of this is archaic junk; how much antiquarian dross; and how much core literature?
But first, they would have to answer my question above before any help could be applied.

As I understand it, that question cannot be seriously addressed because we have six tonnes of uncatalogued, unclassified, unindexed material. So no quality assessment is possible, absent physical inspection. That shortcoming must surely seriously impede efforts to find a professional home. No library, such as those mentioned, is likely to welcome ownership of six tonnes of material of unknown quality. So before we dignify the collection with the term 'National Chess Library', we should surely commission an informed audit of the stock, publishing some detail of the holding. I might even be willing to pay for it.
Last edited by David Robertson on Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:01 pm

The key may be whether the current location (commercial storage) is sufficiently spacious to allow the collection to be sorted and catalogued properly. If the boxes have been closely packed in the store on top of each other to cram everything in, that will be a big problem. If the boxes are on shelves and there is space to unpack and catalogue the contents, that will help immensely.

My impression is that the collection has grown since the initial opening and that additional donations are mostly boxed up, labelled to some extent, and haven't really been sorted. I believe there was a catalogue of the initial core collections, which as I said elsewhere does include some older books of some value (both historically and to collectors). From reading things elsewhere, it is not clear whether the amount of archive material exceeds (by volume) the amount of library material (books and magazines):

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/Forum/vi ... t=20#p1938

The archives are now in storage. Has the library been moved? A number of people have volunteered their help (I suspect mostly for sorting and cataloguing, not for moving heavy boxes). What is needed is someone to co-ordinate this. To get the volunteers to go to where the books are and start cataloguing and sorting them. A priority should be locating the catalogue that definitely existed when I visited Hastings in 2010. I suspect this only covered the core collections (e.g. the Harry Golombek collection, and so on).

David Robertson
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by David Robertson » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:16 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:My impression is that the collection has grown since the initial opening and that additional donations are mostly boxed up, labelled to some extent, and haven't really been sorted
Hhmm...so these additions: we've no way of knowing whether we've inherited timeless treasures, or merely had someone's attic dumped on us. A generation of well-read chessplayers will pop its clogs over the next decade or so. We could be swamped by well-intentioned generosity unless someone gets a grip.

John McKenna
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John McKenna » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:49 pm

Some will say that I'm a cynic, but I've had visions of the Nat. Chess Lib. heading for the nearest provincial auction rooms.

All those interested will read the online catalogue (complete with reserved and guide prices) and bid by phone if they cannot attend in person... (Hold on, these days isn't the nearest auction house called E-bay?)

I have visions of the Nat. Chess Lib. heading inexorably for E-bay.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Julie Denning
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Julie Denning » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:53 pm

I'll try to answer a few of the points raised.

Much of the material that was in the University library at Hastings had been professionally catalogued by their staff, but not all of it. I had a full listing of what they had catalogued. My first intention was to splice up this listing to show exactly what went into each box. This very quickly proved impractical. The material on the shelves was mixed, to some extent, between catalogued and uncatalogued. Some had also been rearranged according to size. Some further rearrangement was then made by us to maximise what we could get into each box. All I can say is that we did not mix collections in any one box and they were packed approximately in accordance with how they were arranged on the shelves. Each box is labelled to show the collection its contents has come from. To have done better would have turned a job that took about 6 days (with a round trip of about 85 miles each time) into something taking more like a month. Neither time nor practicality permitted this.

My estimate of 6 tonnes includes additional material to that from the University. I think much of it might be duplicates that had already been sorted out. In addition to books, there are large quantities of magazines, some loose and some bound. I suspect there are many duplicates, but again time didn't permit paying a lot of attention to this.

The material from the University filled about 160 boxes, each measuring about 18" square, by 12" deep. Even at that size, they get pretty heavy when filled completely with bound volumes of BCM, or whatever! These boxes are stacked 4 high and either 1 or 2 deep in the self-storage facility. We considered the use of shelving to aid further sorting, but it quickly became apparent that this would have been inefficient in terms of floorspace, necessitating a greater storage space and greater cost (and well in excess of what had been put to, and approved by, the recent Council meeting). In my view, any further sorting in the current location is impractical. If it were possible, and I knew how, I could attach a couple of photographs I took to illustrate this.

To summarise, a lot of cataloguing has been done but to take this further I consider it essential that it is all moved again to a more appropriate, and spacious, location.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:53 am

Thanks Julie, for a very clear answer.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:56 am

Julie, many thanks for this. I'll add a few thoughts if I may.
Julie Denning wrote:I'll try to answer a few of the points raised.

Much of the material that was in the University library at Hastings had been professionally catalogued by their staff, but not all of it. I had a full listing of what they had catalogued.
Do you still have that listing? It is in printed and digital (electronic) format? How many items were in that catalogue? Did they keep the catalogue or pass on a copy with the collection?
Julie Denning wrote: My first intention was to splice up this listing to show exactly what went into each box. This very quickly proved impractical. The material on the shelves was mixed, to some extent, between catalogued and uncatalogued. Some had also been rearranged according to size. Some further rearrangement was then made by us to maximise what we could get into each box. All I can say is that we did not mix collections in any one box and they were packed approximately in accordance with how they were arranged on the shelves. Each box is labelled to show the collection its contents has come from. To have done better would have turned a job that took about 6 days (with a round trip of about 85 miles each time) into something taking more like a month. Neither time nor practicality permitted this.
That is all understandable. I've had to move moderately large collections of books (tens of boxes and several hundreds of books) and know what it can be like. Arranging by size makes packing so much easier! Does a list exist of all the boxes and what they contain, or is the only listing what is written on the labels of the boxes? You say below that there are about 160 boxes. Having an exact figure and a listing of the boxes would be the first step to a full catalogue - ideally with a figure for the number of books/magazines in each box. It might seem like time wasted doing this, but it helps give a better idea of the size of the task and the progress being made.

On the subject of packing, can I ask if the older, potentially more fragile items, were packed separately and/or with more care? That is a subject I don't know much about, so this is where guidance from professional librarians and/or archivists would help. It is possible to look up some of it on the internet.
Julie Denning wrote:My estimate of 6 tonnes includes additional material to that from the University. I think much of it might be duplicates that had already been sorted out. In addition to books, there are large quantities of magazines, some loose and some bound. I suspect there are many duplicates, but again time didn't permit paying a lot of attention to this.
If there were duplicates that had already been sorted out, I hope there is a record of that somewhere and that the duplicates were labelled as such. If not, then the sorting work will have to be redone... I'm speaking from experience here, as I've recently been sorting through my own collection of books. Not six tonnes of it, thank goodness, but enough to have an idea of what this sort of thing entails.
Julie Denning wrote:The material from the University filled about 160 boxes, each measuring about 18" square, by 12" deep. Even at that size, they get pretty heavy when filled completely with bound volumes of BCM, or whatever! These boxes are stacked 4 high and either 1 or 2 deep in the self-storage facility. We considered the use of shelving to aid further sorting, but it quickly became apparent that this would have been inefficient in terms of floorspace, necessitating a greater storage space and greater cost (and well in excess of what had been put to, and approved by, the recent Council meeting). In my view, any further sorting in the current location is impractical. If it were possible, and I knew how, I could attach a couple of photographs I took to illustrate this.
That size sounds like a medium-size storage box or maybe a slight overestimate of the smallest size of box. I know (again from experience) that magazines densely packed can get very heavy - I have three small boxes of magazines that I over-packed and which are very heavy to lift. Did you use self-assembly cardboard boxes, or plastic crates, or something else? I'm asking because that would affect how long they should stay in such storage. Pictures would help there. Could you e-mail them to someone or ask someone who would know how to attach them here or tell you how to attach them here? That would also allow an assessment of how easy it is to access the boxes to complete the cataloguing.

You mention the cost that had been approved by Council. Was that a one-off cost for a set period, or an amount approved annually indefinitely? If the former, how long has the storage been approved for (i.e. what sort of timescale are people working towards to get this resolved)? Again, from experience, it is terribly easy to end up storing things for longer than intended, and this can lead to soaring costs. It is essential to try and tackle this as soon as possible to get an idea of how long it will take to sort out.
Julie Denning wrote:To summarise, a lot of cataloguing has been done but to take this further I consider it essential that it is all moved again to a more appropriate, and spacious, location.
Would one feasible possibility be temporarily hiring a storage unit at the current location for the sole purpose of unpacking boxes, sorting through them, and cataloguing where needed? I know some storage places have facilities they hire out as offices. Or are there some other possibilities in mind for this (I have no idea how close the storage facilities are to other facilities nearby)? It might seem expensive to hire facilities as a one-off for this purpose, but if it means the storage (or even only part of the storage if enough duplicates are identified) gets closed down sooner, then it will save money in the long run.

A couple more thoughts on cataloguing. For items that have barcodes and/or ISBNs printed on their cover or on their publishing details page, it is much easier to catalogue using some sort of barcode scanner (I believe libraries do this as well). When cataloguing my collection (I last did this about 15 years ago by hand, typing into a computer - that would have taken too long this time round) I used a mobile smartphone with an app called BookCatalogue (others exist as well) and an app you download that uses the phone's inbuilt camera to operate as a barcode scanner. Providing the lighting is good and you have a cheap internet connection (again, many storage places that provide office space on the side also provide internet connections now), it works very well. The application looks up the barcoded ISBN details on the internet and enters the details into a database. It is not suitable for professional cataloguing, but good enough to give an idea of what you have. For older items (before the late 1960s and early 1970s), manual cataloguing may be needed, though even there it is often possible to search existing databases by the title and copy across details. Finally, manual entering doesn't take long if you are set up correctly (preferably sitting down somewhere to type properly) and have the space to churn through boxes of books.

A brief comment on magazines. On re-reading the above, I noticed you said that the library includes "large quantities of magazines, some loose and some bound" and that many may be duplicates. This can take up a lot of space. If the boxes have been labelled and stored in a way that would permit this, I would suggest that sorting through the magazines should be done first as it would help to identify duplicates. Has any thought been taken on how to store the loose magazines? If you are keeping them, binding them in some way would help long-term. If not, then identifying magazines that are not needed and how to dispose of them would free up space quite quickly.

As you may have gathered from the above, I'm one of those willing to help out in some way. Are you handling things 'on the ground' so to speak, and is someone on the ECF Board and/or the Library Committee mentioned earlier overseeing this?

I am assuming you had volunteers who helped you physically move the collection. Are you still looking for more volunteers to help with the next couple of stages here? There is a fair amount of goodwill and a number of willing volunteers. It would help if someone was co-ordinating that side of things and proactively contacting people and replying to direct offers of help and maintaining contact details of volunteers and what they are willing to do. May I contact you further privately about this and what is the best way to do so?

Mick Norris
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:01 am

Chris

The proposition put to Council which I think they accepted was Plan B
Move the collections into storage rooms large enough to allow access and sorting of the collections from boxes.
Recruit volunteers or a paid librarian to maintain the library, selling duplicates per a detailed policy to be determined. Continue to search for a permanent location free of charge. In due course, decide whether to disestablish the National Chess Library by donating selected volumes to the British Library, to establish a registered charity for the National Chess Library, or some other long term solution.
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Julie Denning
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Julie Denning » Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:43 am

Christopher,

In response to yours above:

From memory, there is more than 1 listing. I have one that came from the ECF and one that came from the University. Both are electronic. There were also 3(?) files of listings that I intentionally did not put in any of the boxes, but left loose so they would be readily accessible to anyone who did visit the storage facility. The electronic listings are in spreadsheet form and include about 6500 items. They include title, author and dates, as appropriate, but not ISBNs. While, I can't see why there should be anything confidential about this, I think I should have the agreement of the ECF before passing them on.

I labelled each box with a simple sequential number, the collection it contains and a number related purely to that collection. For example, 50 - Golombek_27. This indicates it is the 50th box overall and the 27th to contain Golombek material. I have kept a record of my labelling. I also ensured that the boxes are stacked in numerical sequence in the storage. If you wanted to get to something and saw from the listing that it was, say, about a third of the way through a particular collection, you could make an approximate guess of which box it would be in. Sod's law dictates it will be in the bottom layer of the rear stack of course!

I was concerned about fragile items. Someone, I presumed the University, had labelled some as fragile and put them in protective sleeves. I tried to pack these in a way that would minimise the risk of further damage, but this sort of handling and moving can't have helped the situation.

My understanding regarding duplicates is that duplicates from within a particular collection had been identified, but not duplicates between different collections. At least some of the boxes that came from a separate storage facility in Hastings were, I believe, labelled as duplicates. This material is in addition to the "about 160" (actually 159 to be precise!) that came from the University. It's in a mix of boxes and not necessarily as well packed / protected as we tried to be with the University material.

The box sizes I quoted are pretty accurate. They came from the storage company who quoted 452 x 462 x 290 mm. I didn't check whether that was internal or external. They were flat pack boxes that we assembled and taped along the joins and open edges, so the contents should be reasonably protected. (I trust rodents aren't a problem in the storage facility!)

I have no problem with attaching photos to an e-mail. I just couldn't see any method to post them on the Forum.

The costings were as given in the paper presented to Council in April and which is still available on the ECF website. They may have varied a little when the precise storage location was chosen but I think it's for the ECF to report on that. It was recognised that the storage cost would obviously be on-going so long as this "temporary" arrangement continued. I share the concern that "temporary" may prove to be a loose description! Hence, I wish success to find a better long term home in Manchester or wherever.

It would be possible to hire additional space in the same storage facility and the staff did suggest they might be able to rig up better lighting, but it would still be quite an undertaking.

My involvement came about by me being stupid enough to suggest at the last Council meeting that a few of us from the Sussex area might be able to undertake the moving task, thus saving the ECF the £2.5 - 3k that had been quoted for this. I'm not a librarian and didn't foresee my involvement extending beyond the task of moving the material into storage. I do, however, remain an "approved person" to access the storage, which is about 30 miles from where I live.

I did indeed have a number of other volunteers who helped with the packing and moving.

Please feel free to personal e-mail / message me if you want to follow this up further, or see photos of how the material has been stored.

David Robertson
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by David Robertson » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:36 am

All very lengthy, and helpful. Clearly a number of colleagues are doing their best, going to some trouble too.

But nothing moves forward here until we can see some .pdfs or similar of catalogued materials. Only then can interested parties, observing at a distance, offer any guidance and judgement on the quality of the stock

Julie Denning
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Julie Denning » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:57 am

David, Chris, Mick, ... everyone else who is interested in taking this forward, please note that I do not speak with the authority of the ECF. I just volunteered to help with one specific task. I think further progress needs to be coordinated with the ECF. I don't think there's anything I alone have, but if there is and they want me to pass it on I will do so. Also, if a group of people wanted to see directly what's involved, I would be happy to accompany them to the storage facility. However, bear in mind that without starting to split open boxes in the limited space available, all you'll see right now is a great stack of boxes.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Angus French » Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:23 pm

David Robertson wrote:All very lengthy, and helpful. Clearly a number of colleagues are doing their best, going to some trouble too.
Yes. Well done Julie (in particular), Chris and others.
Mick Norris wrote:The proposition put to Council which I think they accepted was Plan B
Move the collections into storage rooms large enough to allow access and sorting of the collections from boxes.
Recruit volunteers or a paid librarian to maintain the library, selling duplicates per a detailed policy to be determined. Continue to search for a permanent location free of charge. In due course, decide whether to disestablish the National Chess Library by donating selected volumes to the British Library, to establish a registered charity for the National Chess Library, or some other long term solution.
Yes, Plan B was accepted. Presumably the next thing to do - as David R keeps saying - is to audit the catalogue. (Given that the Library issue was identified more than a year ago, this really ought to have been done already.) I think it would be good idea for the Chief Executive (who I understand has taken on responsibility) to report periodically - say every month - on progress.
Julie Denning wrote:The electronic listings are in spreadsheet form and include about 6500 items... My understanding regarding duplicates is that duplicates from within a particular collection had been identified, but not duplicates between different collections.
I happen to have a copy of the spreadsheet (from the brief time I was a NED) and it seems to me the *identified* duplicates are actually across collections. They total 2525/6587. That said, from a glance at the titles of publications there are some duplicates which haven't been identified and different editions/publishers/publication formats of the same book don't seem to be counted as duplicates. A decent number of the books appear (from their title) not to be written in English and perhaps many of these mightn't be available elsewhere in the UK. I can't see any magazines listed. Not all of the the Library was housed at Hastings University - I believe there are an additional 2,000-odd books stored elsewhere.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by gpjelliss » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:01 pm

I would like to see the NCL reopened by the ECF somewhere in Hastings. There is apparently a meeting of the relevant ECF body in September to consider the issue, but that is three months away. Why can we not see more urgency given to the matter?

In the absence of anywhere in Hastings for the Library I would suggest that the Leicester University Library might consider the collection. They already hold the Mathematical Association collection, which includes recreational material.
George Jelliss

Angus French
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Angus French » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:04 am

From an email sent to Council members yesterday:
Email to Council members wrote:It had been the Board’s intention to include on April’s agenda an item proposing the co-location of the Office and the ECF library. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, a firm decision needs to be taken immediately. Please find attached:

- a letter from the Chief Executive to Council, outlining the issue and the circumstances
- a paper containing the detailed proposal
- a paper outlining the costing of the exercise
- a copy of the estate agents advert
- some pictures showing the existing office and the proposed new accommodation

If Council members have any strong objection to the proposal, they should email accommodation@englishchess.org.uk no later than Monday 13th March 2017.
I've attached the documents but not the pictures - there appears to be a limit of 5 file attachments per post.

A couple of brief comments:
1. The current annual cost of storing the library is £3,526. The additional annual cost of a larger office at Hastings is £4,672. The proposal is to take out a 10-year lease. Before it was moved from Hastings University into storage, "visits to the National Chess Library [had] fallen to fewer than ten visits per year".
2. This appears to me to be the *exact* same proposal as was put to ECF Council at its Finance meeting in April 2015. See here. That proposal was "overwhelmingly" rejected: see the minutes.
Attachments
chain-lane-battle-3-1 (5).pdf
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Chess Library Relocation v3.pdf
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Relocation of Office to the first floor of Watch Oak v2 (3).pdf
(180.2 KiB) Downloaded 24 times
Council Member 542825786_3.pdf
(78.03 KiB) Downloaded 28 times

Angus French
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Angus French » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:21 am

Pictures to go with the previous post:
Attachments
upstairs-5.jpg
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upstairs-4.jpg
upstairs-4.jpg (150.26 KiB) Viewed 480 times
upstairs-3.jpg
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downstairs-2.jpg
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downstairs-1.jpg
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