The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 21, May 23, 2004, Article 6


  [Last week's email glitch prevented the following submission
  from begin published until today.  This is a first of a two-
  part article.  -Editor]

  Dick Johnson writes: "On the occasion of the COAC
  Conference Saturday, May 15, 2004, at the American
  Numismatic Society's new building I asked for, and received,
  permission to view the Library.  I found librarian Francis
  Campbell -- ?Frank? to everyone! -- surrounded by hundreds
  of boxes of books, perhaps five or six hundred still to be
  opened and contents placed on shelves.

  Yet there were thousands of books already on shelves.
  ?How many boxes did it take to move all these books??
   I asked. ?Approximately four thousand? Frank said. Any
   part of the library still at the old building?  No.

  The library occupies two floors, five and six, of the Society's
  building at 140 William Street in deep lower Manhattan. The
  library is named for its most consistent supporter, it is now
  known as the Harry Bass Jr. Library, and the bronze plaque
  with relief portrait is already installed, visible immediately as
  you step off the elevator.

  Harry Bass was honored for his more than $4,000,000
  generosity to the library, while he was on the Society's council,
  as president, and until his death in April 1998. His influence will
  be felt well into future years, particularly for funding the library
  database (like he funded the periodical NIP database). Access
  to this began in 1997, where the online catalog contains the
  library's full holdings. See: NIP database

  As I stepped into library on the fifth floor I have entered the
  John J. Ford Jr. Reading Room.  This thanks to the generosity
  of the Ford family.  The dedication ceremony of this Ford
  Reading Room was held two days earlier, May 13th. After
  weeks of work the first books brought into this room had filled
  many of the shelves in time for the ceremony.

  The shelving is the first thing you notice as you enter this room.
  The lighting is the second. Both are brand new, and both more
  than adequate. Good choices by the planners. The library
  retains the use of movable shelving, like in the old building up
  at Audubon Terrace. Movable shelving can accommodate
  about one-third more shelf space than fixed shelving,
  according to Frank.

  Rows of shelves occupy both sides as you enter the room.
  One fixed shelf is on the left of a row of seven movable shelves.
  With an easy twist of the black-armed controls one entire shelf
  unit ? or the entire row of seven! ? can move easily and
  noiselessly along the tracks in the floor. In two seconds
  thousands of pounds of books are shifted for easy entrance to
  the desired shelf.  With adequate overhead lighting the titles of
  books, even on the bottom shelf, are easily seen.

  Unlike the old library, Frank pointed out, all pamphlets and
  auction catalogs are on open shelves.   These used to be in
  rows of black filing cabinets if you remember those. Now these
  unbound gems are still in the well-marked file folders but now
  reside in six-inch wide plastic trays on open shelves. This
  section of the library is in the far left corner.

  Frank's office is adjacent to this. He pointed with peevish pride
  to the window in his office that he can keep an eye on these
  pamphlet shelves. What used to be called by the library term
  ?vertical files? now occupy six shelf units each 40" wide (the
  end one is 36") with six shelves high. Perhaps 140 shelf feet of
  these pamphlet files with an equal number on the opposite side
  of that shelving row.

  The end results, after more than four years of planning, exhibit
  this effort was well worthwhile.  The floor layout of offices and
  shelving location are ideal. But the planning included even the
  box labeling. Each box was identified with codes as to the floor,
  the ?origination? ? where it came from ? and the destination,
  where to put it.  ?F5" was the code for the fifth floor.

  On this floor are all the numismatic books. The journals and
  nonnumismatic books are destined for the sixth floor. New
  technology is influencing some of shelf locations as well. A
  cabinet just outside Frank's office will contain audio-visual
  items, cassettes, CDs, videos and microfilm.    Readers for
  each of these are planned to be nearby.

  Overhead will be cameras for security, Frank noted.

  Perspiration was pouring off his brow as we talked.  He had
  been working six days a week to effect this move and
  restocking the shelves. The move had commenced in March.

  ?How many books does the library have?? I asked.  ?We are
  still using the figure 100,000,?   Frank said. And then with a big
  smile, ?Maybe in the future someday we will count every one!?

  Next week: The sixth floor and the Rare Book Room."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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