Back in the stacks

After several years away, getting my librarianship mojo back on. I do love a good library…

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to attend a Cilip Members’ Network event at Leeds Library.

That’s the easy-to-miss library on Commercial Street, which everyone in Leeds has walked past at some point in their lives and never noticed.

As well as being a chance to meet the new President (David Stewart) and hear about his plans – including doing more in the north of England, hurrah! – we also got to hear from someone about the development plans taking place at the British Library at Boston Spa.

If you’ve never been there (and as most of you know me from PR things, I bet you haven’t) it’s a collection of buildings on the outskirts of Leeds, down the road from Wetherby, built on part of a former munitions factory. It’s the hub of all things related to Inter-Library Loans, as it’s close to the A1 and is a low-traffic post code (ILLs travel by post).

Hilariously, the Guardian broke this story about British Library North yesterday morning, which seems to be based on a bit of crossed-wiredness; but confirms that the British Library is looking at doing *something* in Leeds during our year of culture in 2023.

The thing about the Leeds Library though is its classification scheme. It looks like Dewey… but isn’t. When you find books about fishing on the 200s and political autobiographies in 941, you know something’s amiss.

So I took myself away from the post-event drinks and had a lovely chat with one of the librarians, who explained that there were two sequences in use; the original and a Dewey. You could work out which was which by the age of the books (and other materials), and where they were in the building. So that was good.

Being in the Leeds Library reminded me how much I missed that environment. Being organised and helping people who wanted to be helped. It’s got a lot going for it. Perhaps I ought to get back into that world a little more often.