Tag Archives: Library catalogues

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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Hey, BromCat, take me to your collections…

Exploring the Local History Collection

One of the features of the “Bromcat” online catalogue is that it provides a means of exploring the Library’s special collections. The catalogue describes these as “Groups”. If a book is included in one of the Library’s 13 collections it will show up in the “Related” field on the main display pages for each record and under the “Group” field on the dynamic display page (found by clicking the “change display” button on the right hand side and selecting from the “detailed” options). Clicking on a collection title brings up all its titles. The largest, with 1828 entries, is the Local History Collection.

What a fascinating collection it is. If, like me, you find that serendipity is one of the joys of library membership, this is the collection to dip into. All of the titles invite curiosity, some closer study. Who could not be intrigued by a title like “Damn His Charity, We’ll Have the Food for Nought” (Cc03044), the story of the 1766 food riots, when the Mayor of Nottingham was bowled over by a rolling cheese? Or be tempted to explore “British Duck Decoys of Today”, 1918, by Rainworth naturalist Joseph Whitaker (Bb1779 and JWC/1(12)), “The Wonders of the Year 1716” (Cc02238(5)) for prophecies about the Antichrist or, more prosaically, the delights of the “Conchology of Nottingham” 1853 (Bb2407)?

I would guess that members might be particularly interested in notable Nottingham personalities and families: George Green, the Thorotons and the Smiths all have links to the Library, the latter in particular providing Bromley House with its name. There are many others: Holles, Chaworth  Musters, Byron, Trotman, Birkins, Samuel Butler, Jesse Boot, Bendigo, Albert Ball, JT Becher of Southwell, Huntingdon Plumtre and the Pierreponts of Pierrepont Hall, who had brothers on opposing sides in the Civil War. The Collection has books or pamphlets on all of these.

For anyone wanting to dig deeply into the history of a local family there is a Southampton University thesis by G. Jaggar on the Whalley family of Screveton (MD/6(518). Sir Richard Whalley, whose family crest was, yes, a whale, became extremely rich on the proceeds of helping Henry VIII to strip the monasteries. His grandson was a wastrel, however, and the family not only lost its wealth but died out altogether, despite Sir Richard’s 25 children by 3 wives. The family went from riches to rags in 3 generations.  Screveton church has a magnificent alabaster monument to Sir Richard, (see pictures).

There is more, much more.  An illustrated guide to Matlock, perhaps? A book on the scenery of Sherwood Forest? Histories of Gedling, Southwell, Hucknall, Epperstone, Bulwell, Kimberley or Eastwood? Or should we be investigating whether the Nottingham Subscription Library represented an elite institution in the period 1815-1853 (Cc02646)? I think we should be told!

Martin Gorman

Whalley memorialsMG blog 2

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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 www.bromleyhouse.org.  


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