Light-sensitivity in displays

So I have been passed on an interesting to link by my line manager about a blog post that focuses on the affects of light on artwork/ objects. Since working in illustrations on alternative Tuesdays as mentioned in my typical day as a library graduate trainee post, this is a really important issue in displaying old and rare special collections and especially illustrations. 


A lot of the items we have in the Archives and Illustrations are boxed in dark storage for the simple reason of reducing fire and possible water damage but also reducing light induced damage such as paper discolouration. Ink or watercolour artworks on vellum are another tricky item to display due to the material morphing under environmental temperature changes. Due to this, I have definitely been thinking about what items to select from the Library, Art & Archives collection for my commemorative exhibition project focusing on Kew’s involvement in plant science during the First World War. 


Thankfully, a lot of the items we will be using have either had a considerable rest period, are objet d’art part of the Economic Botany collection or just never come out of storage since their acquisition. In addition, all light sources around the display are at optimal levels above temperature controlled glass storage, thus ideal for a two-months exhibition period. Nonetheless, this post is definitely a must read for those doing their first exhibition.

Friday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee


It may be a bank holiday today but I thought I would blog about my Friday last week.

My first project to create a list of exchange partners in Excel to help build stronger relations between the acquisitions team and international exchange partners is slowly drawing to a close. I am slowly adding all the contact information and email addresses of about 300 vendors. Even though I technically completed updating the list in February, there are still on elements that can be considered unfinished. For example, exchange partners whose websites have run out of bandwidth, have non-existant re-directs to the new website or webpages taking 30 minutes at a time, have been holding me back in gaining access. It becomes even more of a problem in areas with not a lot of advanced technology.


It is days like this I really appreciate the importance of access to information and that all important internet connection. A lot of these vendors have phone numbers but no website to detail their purpose. Some of the websites also have out-of-date information and URL translators like Bing! do not always get the job done in making it easier to navigate through the sites either. However, with less than 20 email contacts left I am happy with my progress towards my deadline.

Thursday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

So it is nearly the end of the week and I had to get up early to ensure I got to work before 9am. The start of my 4 hours shift on the enquiry desk as a “gopher or resource retrieval”. Whenever someone enquirers about an items it is my responsibility to retrieve it from a variety of different library locations. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk 10 minutes (either way) to our Studies Office Library in the School of Horticulture or Mycology Library in the Jodrell (branches libraries). Furthermore, today was another relatively not busy day with a few enquires and retrievals in the morning.

I did however get some scanning requests. I finally got trained in using the USB operated flatbed scanner for small A4 sized books instead of the large table scanner. It was quite straightforward and quick I am pleased to say. Thinking back to my university student days it would have really come in hardy for our foreign speaking students as the first thing on the touch screen menu is a language select option of 15+ languages.

Wednesday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

It is mid-week and I am having a busy morning doing a little bit of administrative work. I have my first meeting with someone outside of my library team :- our main source/ go-to-guy/ researcher for our large end of year exhibition to comemorate Kew Gardens involvement during World War One in terms of stories of plant science, research and plant-based products from the Library,, Art & Archives and Economic Botany collection. So, the first thing for me to do is to gather together my research in an organised fashion and set up a meeting to view some materials from the Economic Botany collection for our display.

One thing I learnt from having this meeting is that organisation of research and a planned agenda key. Being able to be in a place like the pub/restaurant also helps encourage individuals to be relaxed enough to actually get involved and contribute to the discussion.

Tuesday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee


Every alternative Tuesday, I work with the Illustrations team and today was another one of those days. After checking through some the work I did the day before, I was tasked with the challenge of finding a number of listed illustrations and taking photographs of them. On a normal day this would be the simple case of searching on the catalogue for the location of the rare books in which the illustrations are in. However, the whole entire library catalogue down. So I have been left with searching through rows and rows of rolling stacks with different call numbers.

I have to say at the end of the day, I was more appreciative of the opportunity to get to know the rare books titles and locations little bit better, so it wasn’t complete a waste of a few hours. I think a number of things I learnt with this task were patience and the importance of natural light. Discolouration of paper from the reaction of light means that in fluorescent light, all the illustrations had this mustard yellow background. Finding a natural light source in a building that is designed to keep light away from books was difficult but thank god for our nice display tables facing some narrow vertical planes in the wall and a bit of spring sunshine.

After work, it was time for me to go to my Japanese language evening course. Once again, I am thrown into a topic that I don't really know much about. However, learning more kanji is always helpful in my job when cataloguing.

Monday: Typical start to my week as a Library Graduate Trainee

So it has been about a solid 6 months into my traineeship and I have been making good progress into all my duties. So, I thought it would a good idea to document a typical week in my traineeship at Kew.
Bright and early into the office this morning and first on the agenda is changing the book display. This gets done about every two weeks but considering the fact that I have been cataloguing so many new books and now it is the end of the financial year, the inflow of new books is scarce. Nonetheless, there is still a pretty good variety of books and journals present.

Next on the list of my many duties is retro-cataloguing some serials from the South American region. The majority so far have been completely in Portuguese or Spanish with a few in English. Not being a native speaker when cataloguing can sometimes be problematic. Especially when identifying if the publisher is an important institute, government body or society, which should be named as corporate author responsibility in the 710 MARC21 field.