National Chess Library closure

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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John Moore
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Moore » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:24 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:Having now read through the catalogue (2011 vintage so presumably a little out-of-date) I found just over 6500 books including, as others have noted, many duplicates. Among the more extreme cases were, for example, the two volumes (1905-30 and 1931-55 respectively) of Tartakower's best games, each with a dozen duplicates! My first inclination, I have to say, was that these could be regarded as junk. However, on checking eBay, I find that sellers are asking anything between £17 and £30 per volume.

That's the problem to which I alluded earlier. You can take an item which 99.9% of us would regard as junk but all it needs is one interested purchaser to put a different complexion on things. Taking the case of the Tartakower books, one could list copies on eBay at £15 each post-free and undercut other sellers. Whether this sort of thing is a worthwhile exercise, taking into account the time and effort involved, would be a decision for others. But I took the Tartakower books more or less at random and it's very likely that other books are listed on eBay at higher prices.
Ah but sellers can ask anything they like on EBay and, so far as chess books are concerned, they frequently do. It doesn't mean to say that they sell them. I buy and sell a lot of chess books including on EBay and I would start the Tartakower books at around £6.50 each post free. I would expect them to sell and perhaps make a little more but I wouldn't be getting very excited about them and expecting to make £20. So I doubt that the EBay route would generate anything very much in terms of funds.

If you went to a dealer, he is going to look to cherry pick the better items. He certainly won't want innumerable books by Golombek (with one or two exceptions), Abrahams and dare I say it, Reinfeld and Chernev. Much though it pains me to say it, someone who knows what they are doing needs to go through it with David Robertson's skip(s) to hand.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:36 pm

Why are people so quick to mention skips? Surely charity shops and chess clubs (particularly junior ones) who are organised enough to have prizes and/or libraries to loan out/give books to those who want them might be interested in some of the unwanted duplicates? Secondhand bookshops as well. If the books are in good condition (I'll admit that books that are falling apart and of no other value should be binned), then there is no real reason to bin them. Binning books that are in good condition is a real waste.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:03 pm

There is the fact that many older books use the "dreaded" descriptive notation to consider - especially when thinking about junior players.

(personally I found it easy to grasp even as a child, but some do seem to have a bit of a phobia about it)
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John Moore
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Moore » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:23 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Why are people so quick to mention skips? Surely charity shops and chess clubs (particularly junior ones) who are organised enough to have prizes and/or libraries to loan out/give books to those who want them might be interested in some of the unwanted duplicates? Secondhand bookshops as well. If the books are in good condition (I'll admit that books that are falling apart and of no other value should be binned), then there is no real reason to bin them. Binning books that are in good condition is a real waste.
Secondhand bookshops, or those that are left, are looking for decent stock that will sell at a profit. You can't take 2,500 duplicates down the local branch of Oxfam. You could perhaps take 10 copies each to 250 branches of Oxfam! I am more attracted to the idea of allowing bona fide chess clubs to pick what they would like from the surplus but how many chess clubs still have libraries - I am aware of at least two that have sold off their books recently.

I do understand where Chris is coming from and personally I don't even throw away damaged books or at least not very often but it's a question of the alternatives where there is a significant financial outlay involved.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:14 pm

To be fair, the numbers involved do make it difficult, and secondhand bookshops (as John says, those that are left!), will take large numbers (similar to when they do house clearances), but at really cheap prices. They have to, to make any money out of the stock.

If you take 10 copies each to 250 branches of Oxfam, you might seed a new chess revolution. Though not if the wrong books are distributed to charity shops! The irony is that some of the legacy donations (e.g. after people died) would have ended up in charity shops and secondhand bookshops anyway - it seems they are going that way anyway, just after the ECF paid to store them for a bit...

It is entirely possible, as Mike intimates, that the real gems in the collection may end up paying for the storage, but two points:

(a) You need to find those gems (and hope that they are still there! There are stories of such collections being pilfered by the unscrupulous, and the collection was available to the public in the relatively insecure Hastings location for long enough for that to have happened.)
(b) The real gems should really be kept as prized assets of the ECF. A cabinet of really nice collectors' items books, with an associated insurance bill. OK, maybe not.

BTW, is the National Chess Library currently insured, and for what value?

(Both insurance while in storage, and insurance for any collectable books that are present in the collection.)

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:24 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: If you take 10 copies each to 250 branches of Oxfam, you might seed a new chess revolution.
Even if they're 1980 tomes on the Caro-Kann?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:32 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote: If you take 10 copies each to 250 branches of Oxfam, you might seed a new chess revolution.
Even if they're 1980 tomes on the Caro-Kann?
I was being facetious there. The chess primers might do that, though surely putting money towards distributing modern chess primers would be more useful. Is there a special place in the British Library for chess opening books to go and die?

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:42 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Surely charity shops and chess clubs (particularly junior ones) who are organised enough to have prizes and/or libraries to loan out/give books to those who want them might be interested in some of the unwanted duplicates?
Matt Mackenzie wrote:There is the fact that many older books use the "dreaded" descriptive notation to consider - especially when thinking about junior players.
There's also a few other issues to consider:
  • Asking a young child to pick up a book and read from it to learn is about 30 years behind, pedagogically speaking. That's not to say it's bad per se, but there are other approaches that are thought to work better than just giving them a book. You really need to use more multimedia these days, or at least learn interactively. A subscription to something like Chesskid is better value for money for a younger child than a chessbook on the Najdorf Sicilian. So the target market isn't as big as you think it is.
  • A large number of chessbooks are completely unsuitable for children. They're pitched way too high for the majority of children to gain anything from reading it. They're pitched way for adult club amateurs of my standard, in many cases.
  • How many chessclubs - junior or otherwise - have the facility to house a library? Mine doesn't. I know one in Birmingham that does, and no more spring to mind. I suspect many clubs in the Birmingham League don't have the space available. Speaking for my own club, if it had a library, I'm not sure it could find a volunteer librarian - it struggles to find enough volunteer team captains.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:24 pm

Was anything done with the useful comments made earlier in this thread?

"at this stage they should just give everything to the British library" - Tim Harding

"I contacted Charles Clarke who opened the library in 2008 and it was the first he'd heard of the moves. Part of the library is based on the records of his father Sir Richard Clarke the statistician who devised the ECF grading scheme. " - George Jelliss

"My personal interest in this matter is partly because I contributed nine boxes of material to the library on behalf of the British Chess Variants Society with which I was involved. It used to be in a bookcase in my living room, but now languishes in limbo somewhere." - George Jelliss

"Libraries these days are not what they were. They are not, for the most part, museums of antique artifacts; nor depositories of marginalia. They are desperately short of shelf-space; they refuse, for example, *freely-donated* series of academic journals accumulated by people like me. Much of this is now online. So my lifetime hoard must go to the skip. It's heart-wrenching but unavoidable." - David Robertson

(how much chess publishing from yesteryear is online?)

"The ECF collection includes duplicate sets of BCM which I think Manchester Central don't have, at least not complete. The best should be kept, second best copies of 1881-1882-1883 should go to the British Library which lack those years. Other duplicates could be sold e.g. through Tony Peterson or Alex Baburin or the Ken Whyld Association" - Tim Harding

"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." - Angus French

"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." - Angus French

(That was referring to a previous Chief Executive)

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JustinHorton
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:26 pm

You may find Oxfam take donations rather than paying for their stock. (I don't know this for a fact, I'm just guessing.)
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Julie Denning
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Julie Denning » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:27 pm

David Robertson wrote: Who was it a while back - Julie Denning and someone else nearby - who were claiming the importance of a key national resource. Utter bollox
Just noticed this topic has got hyper-active again.

No, David, I don't believe I ever said anything of the sort.

John Moore
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Moore » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:41 pm

JustinHorton wrote:You may find Oxfam take donations rather than paying for their stock. (I don't know this for a fact, I'm just guessing.)
Justin, you are safe in your assumption that Oxfam like you to give them things - a factor, though not perhaps a massive one, in the demise of second hand book shops who generally like to give the punter a couple of quid for their priceless gems.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:13 pm

Julie Denning wrote: Just noticed this topic has got hyper-active again.
The reason being that the ECF is proposing to increase its expenditure on the library to at least £ 8,000 a year without, it would appear, any firm plans on the library's future and what it's for.

For the first team a catalogue has appeared which suggests that much of the material is stuff, that older players at least, already have cluttering up their houses.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:20 pm

without, it would appear, any firm plans on the library's future
Have you actually bothered to read the supporting documents?
ECF is proposing to increase its expenditure on the library to at least £ 8,000 a year
Incorrect. See various previous posts.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:31 pm

Mike Truran wrote:
ECF is proposing to increase its expenditure on the library to at least £ 8,000 a year
Incorrect. See various previous posts.
I said increase TO. The ECF is increasing the amount it pays in annual premises rental by that amount. That substitutes for the current cost of storage, so the net increase is less. It's still £ 8,000 a year above the "skip solution".

If the ECF has a plan to deal with the library, then what is it? It can be brought back to Battle and checked that it's all there, but then what?

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