Category Archives: 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…

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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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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.




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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

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