The Librarian’s Report from the AGM 2022
“As many of you will have noticed by now, the library is currently receiving a long-delayed overhaul, and is being dragged into the 21st Century. It’s been something of a struggle, as many of the well-engrained rules and concepts have been in place for over a century. But we’re getting there! The biggest change has been the introduction of new technology. I still find it quite remarkable that the library didn’t even have a telephone until about 12 years ago!
For the last 18 months a group of us, led by Graham and Cal, have been preparing to introduce an online system which includes a catalogue of the entire holdings of the library, together with an electronic checking-out and checking-in facility. This has been a huge undertaking, and my first official duty as librarian is to formally thank everybody who has been involved in the project so far. Hundreds of hours have been spent setting up the system, cataloguing, checking and labelling over 18,000 items, many of which have had to be entered onto the database manually. In addition, templates have had to be set up, and thousands of QR code labels printed, as well as membership cards. These will be made available as soon as the labelling of fiction and DVDs has been completed. As far as the new system affects library members, there will be no big changes. You will just have your membership card scanned at the desk, and your books will then be checked out or in. This will be a new experience for the desk staff as well, so please remember to be patient! And remember to keep your membership card with you.
The online catalogue has actually been up and running – albeit in an incomplete format – for 10 months now, and many members are making good use of it. Once the new system is fully-functional members will also be able to login and reserve books and DVDs for collection. This will be particularly useful in an item is already out on loan to someone else.
The big table in the reading room has been a scene of chaos for some time now, and I’m afraid that is entirely down to me! The decision was made to remove a number of books from the general shelves as they are now approaching, and in many cases well over 100 years old. These are currently being re-shelved as a special collection, and have a separate category in the online catalogue. They will be available for use in the library, but due to their age, condition and value, will not be available for loan. I am also in the process of cataloguing the library’s fascinating collection of archival material. This includes minute books, original plans and applications, together with legal papers and letters dating back to the founding of the library at the beginning of the 20th Century. Once this collection is fully catalogue it will be available to consult on application, and the entire collection will also be preserved digitally on disk.
Since BREXIT we seem to have experienced an ongoing and ever-increasing problem with receiving book and DVD orders, and I know this is also affecting some individual’s orders as well, including my own. Nobody seems to be able to get to the bottom of the problem, but many parcels seem to be getting stuck for weeks-on-end in Madrid, and then again at various courier depots across the islands. The President of the Partido Popular in Gran Canaria has recently denounced the Correos, and it appears that there are over 3000 letters and parcels being held back for no apparent reason at the company’s depot in Madrid. The trick seems to be to order in small amounts, and to have them delivered to someone living in a built-up area! It seems to be working at the moment!
We have managed to add a small but respectable number of books and DVDs to the library since summer 2021, and I plan to get this back on track with monthly orders from now on. So please use the suggestion sheets for books and DVDs if you think an item would be worth adding to the collection. I will of course consider all suggestions, but due to obvious financial restraints at the moment, the priority will be given to items that will appeal to a general clientele – fiction books and recent films and series DVDs. In fact, I feel that this will be the general policy for the future. Non-fiction books date very quickly, and the majority of people now tend to use online searches for factual information. This does not mean that the library will stop purchasing non-fiction: the category is huge and somewhat misleading. ‘True Stories’ and ‘Biographies’ are both included in the category and we will certainly not be ceasing to purchase those. And of course, good quality non-fiction books are always welcome as donations.”