Category Archives: Cataloguing project

Using group codes on BromCat

One of the advantages of a library catalogue is the ability to gather books together virtually, even if they are not physically together on the shelves, or to enable a search to be made on a special collection. To do this at Bromley House Library we use group codes. These are most often used to mark books that have been donated as a collection, but can be used for other reasons.

Those that we use are as follows:

Group code        Description

AB                          Adolphe Brunner Collection

AS                           Alan Sillitoe Collection

BHL1816             Collection of books appearing in the first printed catalogue of 1816

GK                          Books found in an attic of a coal merchant’s house and donated to the Library by Graham Knight

JWC                  James Ward Collection

LH                           Local History Collection

MD                         Michael Dobbin Collection

NH                         Books previously in the collection of Neville Hoskins

PJB                         Philip James Bailey Collection

PPAS                     Parliamentary papers of Alan Simpson

SL                            The remainder of the Standfast Library

TG                          Travel Guides

WWI                     Books relating to the First World War

To search for any of these collections, or within any of these collections, select Advanced Search and using the drop down menus, select  ‘Group’ and enter the group code in the search box.  If you have any problems with this, please ask a member of staff for help.

More information on these collections coming later.


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Filed under Book collections, Cataloguing project

Cataloguing Finale

So, this is it. Last night our cataloguers, both professional and volunteer, enjoyed a glass or wine (or maybe two) as they celebrated the end of two years hard work. Basking in the knowledge that they had achieved, if not the impossible, certainly a herculean task (See DB274). They have explored the darkest corners of the Library (DD2318) and there retrieved books that have languished unloved for many a year, or perhaps decades. They have grappled with a classification system that predates the railways, although we have 59 books about the railways (CB02639). They have got to grips with accession numbers, shelfmarks and ISBNs.  Our cataloguers have shared their enthusiasm (DD2908) with each other, and laughed over the titles of some of the books (DC4779). They have discussed nuances of meaning and the difference between items that are ‘not for loan’ and those that are ‘Reference only’.

 And the staff? They have nurtured the volunteers and instructed and advised them. They have directed them towards collections that they will enjoy, and been patient when technology has found a building from 1752 (EX1968) difficult to navigate. They have found ways to meaningfully catalogue collections that are organised in a way that may best be described as ‘organic’, so that they retain their cohesion as collections but are easy to find and identify on an online system.

 Our rare book cataloguers have tracked down and compared books of which we have several copies with different provenances (CC199), displayed some of our more esoteric material and instructed the British Library that they may have made a mistake in their cataloguing. (CC142). Handwriting has been deciphered (CC785) and they have at times concurred that perhaps the Library Assistants of times past should be sent to Night School to improve their handwriting.

 One thing about our cataloguers, they have had no need to read DD3081….

So, now it is done, over 40,000 books have been taken off the shelves, dusted, catalogued and replaced. Two books missing for 30 years were rediscovered down the back of a shelf, and some never catalogued books can now be found and read. It isn’t an end, but a beginning, a time when forgotten novels by forgotten authors will find new readers, old readers may be reunited with lost loves, and members can continue to be delighted, intrigued, informed and enthralled by the books they encounter at Bromley House Library.

 Find the link to our catalogue on our website at

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Filed under Cataloguing project, Library news, New books

Quirky catalogues; beguiling books

Starting as Nottingham Subscription Library in 1816, what is now Bromley House Library had to find a way of organising and cataloguing its books. For the former, it didn’t have the option of choosing Dewey, the classification system used by the majority of public and academic libraries, because Melvil Dewey wasn’t even born at that point, let alone embarking on a career in Librarianship. So Nottingham Subscription Library created its own, using letters to denote subject areas and their subdivisions, then numbering the books in acquisition order. This classification reflects the interests of the time, with Theology being given priority and therefore the letter A, Philosophy split into two subsections so that Bb becomes Philosophy: Natural and Mathematical, and so it continues to F: Law and Politics, which also at one point included military strategy.


How to know whether the Library had a particular book? A catalogue was published, a slim volume of 61 pages, which started very importantly with the laws of the library, and moved on to listing the fines that could be imposed, enthusiastically one presumes, as the Librarian was allowed to retain a quarter of those collected. Then it listed the books, by classification, with an index, of sorts, at the back of the catalogue. Of course, given that the Library continued to buy books, the catalogue was out of date as soon as it was published. It did have the advantage, however, that each member could have their own copy to peruse at home, and by means of update, lists of books acquired during the year were part of the Library’s annual report.  The arrangement of the books on the shelves reflected that of the catalogue. Thankfully books retained their numbers, rather than it being a strict shelf mark, so the catalogue didn’t need to be updated if the books were rearranged around the Library. Successive catalogues were published until one of 1881, which then had a supplement added in 1894.  Then in 1899 it was decided that a Card Catalogue, a late 19thC innovation, should be produced.


Not an easy task, it would appear, and perhaps one started with more enthusiasm than skill, as the Librarian, Arthur Lineker, was constantly being asked to report to the Committee on its progress.  But it had the huge advantage that new additions could be slotted in as required. Author and subject catalogues were created but it was 26 years (check) before it could be reported that the catalogue was complete. No longer, however, did the members have a copy of the catalogue in their own homes.


And so a century passed, and Bromley House Library continued to use its own classification system and its card catalogue. Was there ever a time when Dewey was considered – if so, there is no record of that, although at some point the entire collections were renumbered. Then, after a decade of consideration, it was decided that a computerised catalogue should be created, and so BromCat was conceived. Software was chosen, funding followed up (Thank you, all you purchasers of lottery tickets) staff selected and volunteers recruited. The project was underway, all of the approximately 40,000 books were taken from the shelves, dusted if necessary, their contents considered and assessed and a catalogue record created for each one. Rare books were allocated for specialist treatment with very detailed records as the result.


So now Bromley House Library has a new catalogue, and those books which were favourites in the past and whose spines are too worn to enable the titles to be read are finding a new audience, and again each member (and non-members as well) will be able to access the catalogue in the comfort of their own home. But the classification system remains the same, so Bromley House Library still has its Dd section, Miscellanies, where you can find the ‘Social Life of the Chinese’, on the shelf next to ‘Practical Billiards’. Alas, the Library has not yet reinstated the Billiard Room that used to be here…


BromCat is expected to go online in May 2013, and will be linked to from the Library’s website at  


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Filed under Cataloguing project, Library History