National Chess Library closure

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

Post by MJMcCready » Sat May 23, 2015 3:16 pm

I called them up in March and were in the process of moving. Not a well managed situation.

Mick Norris
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:31 am

gpjelliss wrote:The NCL PDF provided by Mike Norris above says "The ECF received notice that the National Chess Library MUST move from its current location by March 2015" (my emphasis), But there is no indication whether any negotiation on this took place with the University other than to allow more time.

The PDF also says that the Library Committee made "searches for a new location free of charge". But why does the location have to be free of charge? If the ECF is willing to pay several thousand to put the library in storage, why not pay the same for it to be kept open? A much better use of the money.
George

Could you kindly update us on any progress you have made on this?

Regards
Mick

P.S. Personally, after a discussion with an ECF Director, I have approached the John Rylands Library, part of Manchester University, but very conveniently located on Deansgate in the heart of Manchester, so easy to get to for most ECF members - their Stock Management Group makes a final decision on Tuesday, but I am told it is unlikely to be a yes to chess
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Julie Denning
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Julie Denning » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:59 pm

Mick,

The John Rylands Library would be an ideal home for the chess library. Certainly more central for the country as a whole than anywhere on the south coast. We were able to move it all the relatively short distance from Hastings to storage in Eastbourne using volunteer effort. The move to Manchester would be a bit more demanding (we're talking about 6 tonnes of material, perhaps a little more) but perfectly doable of course.

Although Sussex has been my chess home for quite some time now, being a graduate of Manchester University and an ex-secretary of the university chess club might make me a bit biased!

Julie

Tim Harding
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:18 pm

Julie Denning wrote:
The John Rylands Library would be an ideal home for the chess library. Certainly more central for the country as a whole than anywhere on the south coast. We were able to move it all the relatively short distance from Hastings to storage in Eastbourne using volunteer effort. The move to Manchester would be a bit more demanding (we're talking about 6 tonnes of material, perhaps a little more) but perfectly doable of course.

Although Sussex has been my chess home for quite some time now, being a graduate of Manchester University and an ex-secretary of the university chess club might make me a bit biased!
I agree that a Manchester location would probably be a lot preferable to Hastings (in terms of transport issues etc) for many prospective readers.

While the John Rylands library is indeed marvellous in many ways, you could run into similar issues as with Hastings, i.e. a university library would lose interest if they didn't perceive that the collection was being accessed fairly frequently for academic work.

If the British Library is considered unsuitable, then I would suggest instead an approach to the Manchester Central Library (wonderfully reborn last year) which already hosts the quite useful Manchester Chess Club collection, including many MSS relating to Lancashire chess, and which has a good research room of which I made grateful use last year when finishing research on my Blackburne biography.
Tim Harding
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David Robertson
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by David Robertson » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:37 pm

Six tonnes of material [!!!] Jesus wept! How much of this is archaic junk; how much antiquarian dross; and how much core literature?

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.

Then there's the modest matter of user need. Who will access? And how many, how often? If the metrics are low, librarians will shun - unless the collection is exceptional.

Best to be realistic. I don't believe we have six tonnes of worthwhile archivable material. Libraries already bulge with dross. They do not need more. Because something has been written, does not mean it must be saved. If it did, our libraries would be full of cookery books.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Upham » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:12 pm

This might help some (not myself) unless you are of a nervous disposition...
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Mick Norris
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mick Norris » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:00 am

Julie Denning wrote:Mick,

The John Rylands Library would be an ideal home for the chess library. Certainly more central for the country as a whole than anywhere on the south coast. We were able to move it all the relatively short distance from Hastings to storage in Eastbourne using volunteer effort. The move to Manchester would be a bit more demanding (we're talking about 6 tonnes of material, perhaps a little more) but perfectly doable of course.

Although Sussex has been my chess home for quite some time now, being a graduate of Manchester University and an ex-secretary of the university chess club might make me a bit biased!

Julie
Julie

Yes, I laid it on a bit thick about me being an alumnus and donor etc, but I'm not hopeful

Worth a try though
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Mick Norris
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mick Norris » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:01 am

Tim Harding wrote:
Julie Denning wrote:
The John Rylands Library would be an ideal home for the chess library. Certainly more central for the country as a whole than anywhere on the south coast. We were able to move it all the relatively short distance from Hastings to storage in Eastbourne using volunteer effort. The move to Manchester would be a bit more demanding (we're talking about 6 tonnes of material, perhaps a little more) but perfectly doable of course.

Although Sussex has been my chess home for quite some time now, being a graduate of Manchester University and an ex-secretary of the university chess club might make me a bit biased!
I agree that a Manchester location would probably be a lot preferable to Hastings (in terms of transport issues etc) for many prospective readers.

While the John Rylands library is indeed marvellous in many ways, you could run into similar issues as with Hastings, i.e. a university library would lose interest if they didn't perceive that the collection was being accessed fairly frequently for academic work.

If the British Library is considered unsuitable, then I would suggest instead an approach to the Manchester Central Library (wonderfully reborn last year) which already hosts the quite useful Manchester Chess Club collection, including many MSS relating to Lancashire chess, and which has a good research room of which I made grateful use last year when finishing research on my Blackburne biography.
Tim

Central Library is the next on the list, if the JR say no

Do you have a contact you dealt with there? I was going to ask Alan Smith, but he isn't the easiest person to deal with
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Tim Harding
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Tim Harding » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:21 am

Mick Norris wrote:Central Library is the next on the list, if the JR say no

Do you have a contact you dealt with there? I was going to ask Alan Smith, but he isn't the easiest person to deal with
I was there for most of a week in May 2014. I am not sure who the top person is but I mostly dealt with Sarah Hobson, one of the archivists, who was extremely helpful. Apart from books that were the property of Manchester Chess Club (some of them originally donated by George Newnes when he left Manchester), there are more recent books and manuscripts, up to about the 1950s anyway. They have The Chess-Monthly (Hoffer/Zukertort) and Westminster Papers which are probably in the ECF collection too? Also a few very old books and the printed rules of the first Manchester CC (1817).

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 to raise some money which the accepting library might need towards cost of upkeep - new shelving, rebinding etc?

By the way, the John Rylands library has the only full set in Britain (perhaps anywhere in the world) of The Home Circle, a weekly journal from the early 1850s which had a chess column by H. C. Mott. I discovered this when they reopened back in 2007 and it was invaluable for my PhD research. The British library lacks one or two volumes of that.
Tim Harding
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Brian Towers
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Brian Towers » Sat Jun 13, 2015 7:06 pm

Tim Harding wrote: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 to raise some money which the accepting library might need towards cost of upkeep - new shelving, rebinding etc?
Perhaps the approach to JR would be more readily accepted if it were accompanied by an offer of help to sort through the two collections to identify what to keep, what to pass on to other libraries, what to sell and what to chuck?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by gpjelliss » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:26 pm

Mick Norris, above, asks me for an update.

1) On 24 May I emailed Phil Ehr:
"Concerning the future of the National Chess Library. Is it possible for the ECF to set up a dedicated fund to which interested parties can make donations, for the purpose of finding a home for the Library, preferably in the Hastings area?" And offering a donation of my own to get this started.
He replied: "My first thought about your potential donation is that it may be better to ask The Chess Trust (a new charity) to create a dedicated fund for the National Chess Library, rather than to ask the ECF or to create a charity exclusively for the National Chess Library."
Later he wrote: "Some of the trustees believe The Chess Trust is a suitable vehicle to hold a fund for the National Chess Library, and probably more tax efficient." However the Trust doesn't meet until September.

2) I wrote on the CEF Forum on 5 June:
"Has the ECF looked into the possibility of the NCL being incorporated into the Hastings Public Library? There are at present moves in hand for the Brassey Institute building to be combined with 12 Claremont next door. The premises would then house the Childrens' Library from Robertson Place and the Registry of Births etc from Bohemia Road. Quite a lot of money is being spent on this by the East Sussex County Council. This would seem a sensible place to house the NCL if it is to remain in Hastings. Perhaps it could be an annex to the Reference section."
This has not received any response on that forum.

3) I emailed Valerie Wright at East Sussex County Council regarding the work being done to expand Hastings Public Library as described here:
http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries/ ... ibrary.htm

and received a reply from her on 11th June, in which she wrote:
"Although East Sussex Library and Information Service occasionally receive small book collection donations these are accepted under the understanding that we are unable to guarantee that any items remain in stock in perpetuity. Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to accept and keep large collections and/or specialist libraries."
She also suggested that some of the material might be of interest to East Sussex Record Office,
and secondly that Hastings Museum might have space.

She doesn't say what is going to happen to the premises at present occupied by the Childrens' Library in Robertson Passage. This might perhaps be a suitable site for the NCL in Hastings? But I suppose it all depends on the cost of the property and whether its future use has already been decided.

I hope it is OK for me to quote from these emails here. None of the contents I have mentioned have been specified as confidential.
George Jelliss

Mick Norris
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:16 pm

George

thanks for the update

The John Rylands have said no, but have offered to help find a home

Thanks to Tim, we may well approach Manchester Central Library, although there is a limit to how much time I can justify on this
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JustinHorton
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:45 pm

In principle 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 by way of contacts or advice. Are there any current ECF members working in the field?
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by John Upham » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:04 am

The ECF web sites lists the following:
Library Committee
David Anderton (Chairman), Andrew Farthing and Gerry Walsh
Are they involved in dealing with this matter?
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Re: National Chess Library closure

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

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