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Library Of Birmingham Web Site

Spargone

master brummie
I am interested in getting a copy of a photograph in a book that the author said came from Birmingham libraries. Just after Christmas I visited the central library. My first problem was finding it! I found the building OK but all I could find inside was a cafe and a theatre. There was an escalator that appeared to be out of action and was guarded by a posse of security staff.
Turned out that was the gateway to the library but that it didn't open until 11 a.m. Fortunately I only had to wait 15 minutes.
Ascending to the top floor I spoke to a lady at the desk, after she had dealt with someone else. She knew the book that I was interested in and went off to fetch her 'reference copy'. Unfortunately the picture that I was interested in wasn't indexed, (presumably not popular?). I was given a form and told that it was probably filed under 'miscellaneous' at the Wolfson Centre.

So far I haven't taken my search any further. I would be grateful to hear of others experiences with the Wolfson Centre, 'forewarned is forearmed'! I am aware of this How to use the Wolfson Centre.
 

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Spargone, I have also had problems locating material at the library. I don't seem to be able to find out exactly what there is on offer to want if you see what I mean. You can access the Wolfson centre (when it's open) and look through other folders on the shelves and then order whatever you want. Unlike the old library, you then have to make an appointment to return to view the papers. There is a lot of information locked away but finding out how to find it is a mystery to me. I remember a librarian at the old site telling me that there was much more archive stuff in storage but they didn't have the time to catalogue it all. Now that staffing levels have been reduced it seems unlikely that this material will ever see the light of day.
 

Bob Johnson

master brummie
Once when I was in the old library I stumbled upon an index card for a book that sounded quite interesting. Just to see if I was right I filled in a slip and requested to view it. The librarian was both flabbergasted and slightly annoyed. Apparently, I was the first to ask for this book for almost 12 years! Apparently, if a book was not used in 15 years [I think that was the figure] the library could dispose of the book as it was no longer required. My request would mean that it would have to wait another lengthy spell before it could be dumped. It made me wonder how much stuff was simply binned - not simply through lack of use but the fact it was so hard to know what they had. The stack was massive and the boxes of material held in storage apparently equalled that last scene in "Raiders Of The Lost Ark." I could be completely wrong, but I doubt if all that stuff was moved to the underground part of the new library. I don't think there was the capacity for it all. It is a bit frightening to think of the volume of material that may not have survived the move.
Most if not all archived material from the city council is stored in the Dollman st warehouse. The public have no access to this part of the warehouse, even on open days.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
I noticed that Shoothill ,in 2018on their Facebook account, was promoting the Birmingham library Shoothill site, so made a comment, which Shoothill has replied to. Not that it says anything
Facebook Shoothill.jpg
 

pjmburns

master brummie
I did see it thank you but those are Phyllis Nicklin aren't they? Not the same as the Warwickshire Project - or am I confused?
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Yes Janice. The Phyllis Nicklin collection is different - supported by Birmingham University.

What a loss to those interested in Birmingham history, genealogy etc when a site is no longer funded.

An aside. Acknowledging sources of images and information is a common courtesy and expected of those posting on this site. It also serves another useful purpose in that a search with the originators title could also find images. If you type in ‘Shoothill’ in the search box it throws up a lot of the threads containing images from that site. Not a solution but at least quite a few are on BHF. Viv.
 
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Radiorails

master brummie
Sorry for the confusion ladies. The link to the photos do mention Nicklin, so I did not delve further. Anyway it seems enough of us are aware of the Nicklin archive and it being missing so hopefully one of us will stumble upon it.
 
I noticed that Shoothill ,in 2018on their Facebook account, was promoting the Birmingham library Shoothill site, so made a comment, which Shoothill has replied to. Not that it says anything
View attachment 141723

It didn't make sense to farm it out to somebody else. They should have a person in-house uploading stuff to their own website - a much cheaper way to put their material online. I approached them years ago with a view to doing this for them but I was regarded as some sort of plank incapable of doing the work!
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
I'm just wondering where the images are?
Does the library have them as digital files on a server somewhere, or are the actual photos stored in an archive somewhere?
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
They look like archived photos Phil. Many have the handwritten details on them. I’d always believed the original photos were held by Birmingham Library. Viv.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
As I notice there are no comments on the Brumpic photos by Phyllis Nicklin, I have to ask what is the difference between those and the Shoothill ones?
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
terrible the way we have lost the shoothill photos..does not surprise me though...i stand to be corrected but i think it cost 1 million pounds to set up the library web site..once again a let down for us brummies

lyn
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
The problem now is that the libraries employ very few cataloguers nowadays. ISBNs are now issued sometimes two years before books are even written, and, of course, in a very few cases a book may never get written and many are delayed for various reasons. So the only cataloguers that need to be employed are for exclusively local books. All else is controlled by the British Library. So without the qualified staff, things like photographs tend to get put aside forever. Birmingham has dragged its feet over photographs for many many years. Yes, there used to be an old card index which was no use to people online. But Oxford, for instance, had over 30,000 local photographs properly indexed way back in the early 1990s. With the dreadful state of staffing at the Library of Birmingham, I'm not holding my breath because it appears that there are no funds for anything at the moment.

Maurice :cool:
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
if only birmingham had done a lot of things other cities have done mike..so much for forward thinking...just looking at that link you posted reminded me that before our new library was built there was a whole line of cabinets containing thousands of index cards in the previous library giving us the names/locations of photographs that the library held..all we had to do was write out the ref no hand it over and a member of staff would go and retrieve the photos you wanted to see while you waited..when i first visited the new library i asked where the cabinets were..reply was oh we dont have the space to put them anywhere now...so they sit out of view of the public never to be seen again...i find it disgraceful that including the website this library cost in excess £200 million to build yet they cant find the space for a few cabinets and as we now know they have taken down the shoothill website. coupled with the fact that they halved the staff and weekly opening hours and only open every 4th sat making it so difficult for those working to visit the archives section..yet another white elephant..:mad:

lyn
 
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