Category Archives: Library news

A week at Bromley House Library by Charlotte Brown from Nottingham Emmanuel School

July 3rd to 7th is work experience week in Nottingham and Bromley House Library hosted Charlotte from Nottingham Emmanuel School. Charlotte approached us in November last year having visited the library as part of the First Story programme. We invited her for a chat and soon decided that she would ‘fit’ in with Bromley House Library very well. Charlotte has done a blog for us – so here – in her own words is an account of her week.

Day 1 

I was so pleased to be working in a friendly, fascinating place such as Bromley house Library for my work experience. During my first day, I learnt the rules of health and safety, got to know my colleagues and was told how the unique Bromley house classification system worked. I had the chance to order some books that were not in the library and I was shown how the desk works by Amy. I was also allowed to look at some of the older books in the cabinets. I really enjoyed my first day.

Day 2

On day 2, I discovered how to process books by doing their labels and covers, which I picked up on quite fast. The members’ reserved books were introduced to me and I was beginning to find my way around the rooms of the library. Choosing mythology and Shakespeare, I created a display for the glass cases in the library which was fun because we had to hunt the books down and I got to position them how I liked. 

Day 3 

I was now used to doing the filing for the previous day, which oddly I found quite relaxing. I helped to set up plates and food prior to the tea party later that afternoon where I got to introduce myself to the members. Me and Geraldine had used social media to advertise the library which consequently lead to more people joining the tour I assisted on after the party.

Day 4

After completing the daily filing, I was shown how the book conservation volunteers help preserve the older books using different tools and steps. During the afternoon, Frances and I checked the library’s temperature and humidity that also helped me know my way around a bit better. Again, I got to look at the older books in the cabinets and I really enjoyed reading “Alice in wonderland” for the first time. 

Day 5 

My final day at Bromley was quite relaxed. Because of the garden party on the following day, the majority of it was spent preparing for it. In the morning, I watched how Nicola and a local bookbinder prepared books chosen for conservation binding. Then onto helping Geraldine collect the last few bits and bobs for the party. My confidence had grown and I was upset that after finally settling in, I had to leave. I really enjoyed my time at Bromley and would choose it over school any day; luckily, I have applied to be a member and hope to return soon. 

We were delighted with Charlotte’s work it was a pleasure to have her with us in the library and she was a real ambassador for her school. Well done!

Bromley House - 09175-004

One of our favourite reading rooms and though the doors the library counter where Charlotte spent some of her time.




Comments Off on A week at Bromley House Library by Charlotte Brown from Nottingham Emmanuel School

Filed under Library news

Locked out of the Library

People often joke that they wouldn’t mind being locked in Bromley House Library, with its comfortable chairs, constant supply of coffee, and most of all, no chance to get bored with the wealth of books on the shelves. This morning, however, we were locked out of the Library. Something inside the mortice lock on the front door had slipped, meaning that no-one could unlock the door. At the same time, the Central Library had a queue of people on its doorstep as it had a power cut, and so was closed.

 So, we gathered in Cafe Nero just up the road, got in touch with our locksmiths who said that they could be there within the hour, and waited for them. You’ve heard of pop-up shops and galleries – well this was a pop-up library! We even had bookstock – a parcel delivery took note of our redirection notice and came to find us. So members joined us, our trainee catalogue mentors and the French conversation group were there. We considered doing poetry readings, but the wait wasn’t long, and then we were back in the building.

 For those members who hadn’t indulged in Cafe Nero we offered free coffee whist we opened the building up and coaxed the technology back to life,  realising we too had had a power cut. By just after ten thirty life was normal again, well, as normal as it ever gets in Bromley House…

Comments Off on Locked out of the Library

Filed under Library news

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

Comments Off on Cataloguing Finale

Filed under Cataloguing project, Library news, New books

Builders in the Billiard Room

Over the years many of the rooms at Bromley House Library have been rented out, tenants have included photographers, basket makers, wine and spirits merchants, solicitors, the Nottingham Law Society Library, the Thoroton Society, a Natural History Museum, and yes, a Billiard Room.

This seems to have been in place from shortly after the Library took over Bromley House.  Only recently have we known for certain that it was on the first floor of what we now refer to as the Garden Wing. It was accessed by a staircase next to the apartment where the Librarian lived ‘free from rent and taxes’. The relationship between the Library and the Billiard Room was not always an easy one, with the Library Committee having to express their ‘high disapprobation’, when shots were fired there and in the garden. The person employed as a marker was also told that he was not allowed to drink alcohol whilst on the premises. One feels that the Ladies Bible Group, meeting here at the same time, would have thoroughly endorsed the Committee’s ruling.

How long were they here? It is difficult to know for certain, but the room that they were using became the ‘New Library Room’ in 1882, when the little room that we use as a kitchen was built to connect the first floors of the two parts of Bromley House. This was in use as a Reading Room until 1959 when the Library decided to let out all of the Garden Wing as a means of gaining extra income, moving the book collections around and taking back into use the attic floor which had been let as a photographic studio.

And so over a period of time the wing was used by Wimpey, Burger King, and then Nando’s, and now the first and second floors are back in the Library’s possession and we will again have a ‘New Reading Room’, in that wing.

So, the builders are starting this week, and plan to be with us until 5th July. The first floor will include a new coffee area, toilets and staff accommodation (ie offices, not an apartment free from rent and taxes) and on the second floor there will be the reading room, with windows looking into the garden. We’re looking forward to the extra space that we will have, both for books and people, in a bright and sunny room.




Comments Off on Builders in the Billiard Room

Filed under Library History, Library news

Bromley House Library has a blog…

Yes, really.

But please bear with us as we learn what to do with it.

We thought it would be a good way to share news of what is happening in the library without bombarding our members with emails, and a way to raise the profile of the Library too.

We will aim to put something on here on a weekly basis. It may be news, snippets of library history, or whatever takes our fancy.

Carol Barstow

Comments Off on Bromley House Library has a blog…

Filed under Library news