One year ago the RUSI Library of Military History began with the objective to breathe life back into our storied collection. The challenge was significant; the library is entrusted with maintaining rare books which we often have the sole remaining copies. This is update of the progress we have made and our objectives for the future.
The re-development of the RUSI Library of Military History started in September, with the introduction of a new strategic plan for the Library. Staff have been working solidly to implement the plan over the last twelve months and would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the achievements, in particular on the improvements for our members.
From the outset, the strategy had three key aims; access, preservation and engagement. Below is an indication of the progress within each of these themes.
- Over 4,000 individual catalogue records have been added or updated, improving the accessibility of our collection for our users. A new classification scheme and Library map has been introduced to assist users finding their way around the collection.
- The process of properly signposting has begun and is ongoing.
- Alphabetisation of the catalogue has begun.
- As has the indexing of a number of journals and periodicals (accessible via the catalogue).
- All items are now checked in and out of the Library via the Librarian's circulation system which will enable future stock control and stock taking.
In the next year it is hoped that a new version of the online catalogue will improve usability and will introduce mobile. The archival and remaining museum collections will also be catalogued as part of the continuing process of cataloguing of the book stock. It is recognised that there are still a number of blocks to accessibility which are problematic for our users and it is hoped that these will be addressed over the coming few years.
- Integrated Pest Management programme (checking for potential threats to the collection including, silverfish, book worms etc).
- Temperature and Relative Humidity monitoring.
- All rare and valuable books have been removed from the shelves, properly stored and catalogued (including all pre-1821 items).
- The archive has been surveyed in preparation for cataloguing.
- Monitoring of the building for potential risks and threats to the collection.
- A full emergency procedure has been introduced and an emergency box procured.
- The main collection has been cleaned using a hepa vacuum (Archival Standard).
- A new cleaning schedule has been introduced and volunteers have been trained to work on the collection.
The monitoring and interpretation of statistics on the condition of the collection will continue, as well as the cleaning and re-shelving. Much work remains to done including the provision of suitable enclosures for damaged items and the identification of books for preservation as well as the raising of the requisite funds to do this work.
- Strong emphasis on digitalisation with a redesign of the Library pages, including an RSS feed of new acquisitions and a Twitter page (@RUSI_Library).
- Regular news updates from the library.
- The Library is now a member of a number of forums for similar Libraries including as part of the APML / LLPSLG / HLF training consortium.
- An exhibition with the Bomber Command Association was held at RUSI.
- A joint-event with the Imperial War Museum took place in the RUSI Library.
- User figures and enquiry numbers across the year.
Over the next year projects to help engage not only our members and staff, but also to raise awareness of the RUSI collection within the wider community (academic, local, and professional) will continue. A number of activities to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the First World War are planned.
Clearly it is important to state the achievements that have been made in the Library, but also to recognise that there still a long way to go. The Library project is part of a long-term plan that will make the collection more accessible and more widely known, but will also preserve them for future generations of RUSI members and the wider military history community.
Please do let the Librarian know if you have any thoughts or comments about the work in the Library.
Contact the Librarian at: email@example.com