Sometimes the old things in the cellar come in handy after all. I was just chatting to a colleague who asked, “Is there a way of finding out whether we have a picture, anywhere in the library, of William Wake? There’s one at the National Portrait Gallery, but surely we have even an illustration in a book …?”
There is a way, but it is an old-fashioned one. Periodically librarians go through the collections with an eye to their visual treats. Someone had taken this to the extreme of having slips printed up with sections for the subject of the picture, the title of the book it is in, and the page. They went through (how much of the collection? I can’t tell) and completed these slips, in beautiful blue fountain pen script. The slips are arranged in two sets: topographical views and portraits. They are kept in boxes, about the size of a shoebox, stowed up on some high shelves in the bookstack. So this is one of our Image Management Systems.