|Behind the Scenes|
Seeing the National Art Library at the V&A
With over a million items in its collection, the National Art Library is known for its strong and extensive range of materials. Access is closed, but users can get a reading card and request, on-line, to see materials. Services are available to take photographs, scan documents and photocopy books for readers. The National Art Library does use databases, but they are only available on site. The staff is trying to make the catalogue available to users at home, but it just hasn’t been done yet.
Ms. Williams took us to the stacks to see the 11,000 periodicals and thousands of books housed at the library. We learned how books were shelved by size, saw how periodicals were bound together in volumes and get an overall sense of what working for this library was like. Due to the importance of their materials, we learned about how close their relationship is with book conservation is and all about their preservation efforts.
In order to preserve materials, the library does encourage readers to use electronic periodicals and fact sheets, that they provide, to limit handling materials or requests for the wrong items. What’s interesting though is despite these attitudes, the library is only just beginning to digitize its collection. There are about 200 hundred books available on Google Books, but there really isn’t enough resources to speed the process up.
|Original Picasso artwork|
Written in Charles Dickens's own hand