The first two months of my traineeship have seen many changes occurring in the science libraries, and it has been an interesting, (if often surreal) induction into librarianship. The Departmental libraries in Zoology and the Plant Sciences have closed, and the collections have mostly been merged with those of the Radcliffe Science Library. My first few days of work as a trainee were spent wrapping a corridor-long card catalogue drawer-by-drawer in cling film so that the cards would not be dislodged during moving – a “unique” experience, but important none-the-less, as a good portion of the references (pre-1938) are not catalogued on OLIS. Other tasks have included measuring and calculating shelf space for the ornithological journals and bulletins in the Alexander Library of Ornithology, and “blue bagging” duplicate journals for secure destruction (see the photo of Mont Blu which is all that remains of the former Zoology Departmental Library). I have also had the invaluable opportunity to participate in library induction tours and more specialised research skills presentations with the subject librarians at the Radcliffe Science Library.
On September 23, the Plant Sciences Library was officially closed with a “BBBL” (Brown Bag and Bubbly Lunch). Roger Mills, Head of Sciences, gave an excellent address outlining the history of the Plant Sciences Library and the Oxford Forest Information Service, and the work that has gone into the move of most of the Plant Sciences collections for inclusion in the Radcliffe Science Library. The future of ISBES was toasted with sparkling wine, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with the librarians about their work and experiences. The Plant Sciences Library is now closed, but the new Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy still remains associated with the Oxford Herbaria. Herbarium Curator Dr. Stephen Harris took us on a tour of the Herbaria, while special collections and biology subject librarians Anne Marie Townsend and Judith Pinfold took us on a tour of the library collections, including a glimpse of the magnificent Flora Graeca, first published in 1806, an incredible work of botanical illustration.
October 7 not only marked the official opening of the Book Storage Facility in Swindon, but it was also National Poetry Day. The Radcliffe Science Library celebrated with the Parallel UniVerses poetry evening, held in the entrance lounge of the RSL. The Parallel UniVerses poetry competition had been organised as a unique synthesis of science and art, and over 86 entries were received. Ten of these were selected to be read during the evening. It was a wonderfully festive use of the library space: although 40 people had booked for the evening, almost 100 people were in attendance. The mood was festive as the poets and their audience partook in hors d’oeuvres and wine before the event. The poems themselves were lovely, poignant and often touching reminders that science is not all cold laboratory benches and sterile white lab coats, but is a human endeavor.
(With Thanks to J. Ralph, G. Petrokofsky and O. Bridle for photographs)