Women of the British Library
With International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Content and Community Team are introducing you to some of the women here at the Library, and the role they play in making us who we are.
Dr Cordelia Rogerson
Cordelia is the Head of Collection Management for the South (we have locations in St Pancras, London, and Boston Spa, Yorkshire) at the British Library.
Cordelia manages the care and conservation of the physical collection in the British Library – that is approximately 150 million books, manuscripts and varied artefacts ranging in date from 3000BC to the present day. Cordelia is also responsible for metadata creation (cataloguing) teams based in the St Pancras site. A team of 120 specialists support these activities. Cordelia’s aim is to ensure access to the Library’s collections for all our users as well as the long-term preservation of the items.
Cordelia has shared an amazing photo with us which gives you just a glimpse of her work here at the Library – being conserved and prepared for display for the Library’s 2015 exhibition, it is of the Magna Carta (dated 1215). Cordelia says, ‘I managed the project and it was the most fulfilling and engaging conservation project I have worked on.’
Jessica is a Digitisation Conservator, her role is to support and enable the imaging of British Library material by ensuring their safety through all stages of the digitisation process, working very closely with Imaging Services, curators and the rest of the digitisation conservation team. Carrying out thorough condition assessments prior to imaging highlights any issues that may pose a risk to items during handling, and conservation treatments are completed where necessary to stabilise weak or damaged areas.
Jessica says, ‘It’s an incredibly varied and busy role, and I never know what I’m going to see from one day to the next. In the last year alone I’ve assessed over 700 items including Ostraca fragments, pre-1200 illuminated manuscripts, embroidered Chinese scrolls and 20th-century photographs. I really couldn't pick a favourite item but just last week, while assessing a collection of Ethiopic manuscripts, I was excited to come across the original leather satchels which were used for both storage and transport. Each item was individual and beautifully crafted which helped make up for spending a Friday afternoon alone in the basement.’
Jessica also has a knack for snapping some spectacular photos of her work, here’s just a taster (follow her Instagram @mini_museum for more)…
Let’s delve into the sound archive. Cheryl Tipp is our Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sounds, and looks after the Library’s collection of natural history sound recordings which contains over 250,000 species and habitat from all over the world.
Cheryl says, ‘It’s a really varied role and can see me doing everything from cataloguing and enquiries to exhibitions and events. I’m currently involved with the Library’s HLF-supported Unlocking our Sound Heritage project which will see over half a million rare and at risk recordings from across the UK digitally preserved.’ Find out more about the project here.
With so much choice, what’s Cheryl’s favourite collection item? ‘I love the Gothic atmosphere of this Woodland in Winter recording’, she tells us.
Meet Susan Reed, Lead Curator of our Germanic Collections which includes some 115,000 German books published before 1801.
‘I’ve been in the British Library for nearly 25 years – almost half my life! – and have always worked with the German collections: selecting books for acquisition, cataloguing, answering enquiries and using my knowledge of and research on the collections to raise awareness of our rich holdings from the German-speaking world.’
Last year Susan embarked on something very different – co-curating the Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths exhibition, a challenging but fascinating experience. She’s currently researching 19th-century Anglo-German newspapers for a seminar paper in June, and coming up with some new ideas for a future exhibition.
Amber is our Community Engagement Assistant. She started as a Community Engagement Trainee under the culture and heritage programme, Culture&. She spoke about her year of experiences at the Library at her graduation in 2017 – which included meeting Dr Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress.
Now, Amber’s role is all about encouraging the local residents of Somers Town, King’s Cross, Bloomsbury and Regents Park to use the British Library and all the facilities it offers, including tours, show-and-tells, and collaborating in community festivals.
Amber tells us: ‘As part of the Community Engagement team, I am currently holding community tours for local residents who have never been to the Library before. We are working with youth groups and harder-to-reach communities to take part in the Library’s major events such as the 100 years commemoration of the Suffragettes. We are also working with different departments in the Library to have a walkabout in Somers Town to meet and greet local businesses!’
Maria Lampert is our Intellectual Property Expert for the Business and IP Centre and she helps raise awareness of the practical application of intellectual property (IP) in supporting the innovation and enterprise process.
Maria says, 'In short this means having one-to-one meetings with inventors and entrepreneurs to help them understand what IP they may have and the value it has for them or their business. I give talks and run workshops on IP for businesses and educational establishments outside of the British Library.’
Maria recalls, ‘I met Von Ryan Sy – inventor of the Nimble Babies Milk Buster – for advice sessions on many occasions whilst Von got to grips with his intellectual property needs. He had great belief in his product and, after using it on plastic travel mugs at home, I’m a fan myself! Von even wrote a post for us detailing his experiences.’
For Maria, working with inventors and entrepreneurs can be very rewarding especially when those same inventors and entrepreneurs go on to be a success.
Content and Community Team
(Rachael Williams, Shimei Zhou, Ellen Morgan)