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?