I will freely admit that I am a Children’s fiction addict so visiting the Collection Dept store at Seven Stories has actually been on my to-do list for a while but I haven’t had a specific research “need” to feel I could justify the trip – especially as it would have to be in the working week. So when CILIP NE committee were discussing possible places to arrange to visit, I felt this would be a great opportunity!
Paula Wride was kind enough to agree to give up her time to host our visit and show us some gems – and also the stacks! It was lovely to see the original artwork and the archival treasures and I completely understand that this is, and should be, the focus of Seven Stories and their work. This material is unique, irreplaceable and is what makes it a world class collection – but you need the final printed books too in order to understand why this artwork was created. So thankfully they have a book collection too – although it’s not yet on the online archives catalogue so you have to know it exists from tours like these. There’s around 35,000 volumes so it’s no small task to pop it all into even a basic listing never mind a detailed catalogue to help researchers.
As it’s a collection which supports a museum and archive, they have kept to an archival arrangement of stock; keeping collections together in terms of provenance rather than attempting to intershelve and alphabeticise – although I bet many of the Librarians in the group were dying to do that at times walking round- myself included. I can understand the logic though considering the wider collection. In some ways, these are simply part of numerous separate larger archival collection yet they can be shelved standing on a shelf without a box so you couldn’t possibly mix them up together. It is also nice to see at a glance what different authors and organisations contributed as one collection which would be lost if they were swept into one alphabetical sequence.
My favourite sections were those which had come from libraries when they were forced to dispose of their “final copies” sets of books by various authors; often of a 70s/80s/90s era but also some earlier material as well. I was really thrilled to see copies of the “Young Traveller” series – as described by Kay Whalley at Topsy Turvy conference in 2014. I will definitely be going back to read some of those. There were also various career novels which I would love to read and some reference books about children’s literature which would be fun to browse too.
I am determined to make time during the working week for a return visit to read! I think I could probably be there all day…
CILIP NE Visit 13/10/15