Thursday, 8 November 2012

Day 4 of the OPU display

Today's choice is from Carol Campbell...

My first choice is not a major publication it’s a colouring book - ABC pictures to colour and I came across it when I was working on an enquiry a few years ago. It instantly reminded me of my childhood visits to the National Museum of Scotland, I think I insisted on being bought a new one each time I went!

My next item is another smaller ephemeral item, Be the voice that counts, is careers information leaflet for recruiting female Post Office telephonists published in the early 1970s. I chose this leaflet because it is very much of its era. Looking at it forty years after publication the contents could be viewed as quite sexist – reflecting the attitudes of a pre-equality legislation society. I am really interested the more ephemeral government publications like pamphlets and posters. These are often published in quick response to an emergency like Bird flu or in this case as temporary publication, easy to update as situations change, and were seen as items to be discarded after they stopped being useful. They provide an interesting snapshot of a moment in time, and we are fortunate that the National Library of Scotland retains these items in the collection.

Native American Photography at the Smithsonian is my last selection. The official publications collection includes a very interesting selection of United States material, including Congressional publications on print and microfiche. This item is a republication of the catalogue of the first photography exhibition held at the Smithsonian, but is more than that. This book gives an insight into attitudes of the time – the Native Americans appear to be treated as specimens rather than people and they are often wrongly identified, something that has been rectified where possible in this republication.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Quirky, moi?

Today's choice is from Diane Milligan, she has chosen items of a more quirky nature. Look out in particular for the 1947 vintage style 3-D glasses!

I guess I've made a pretty eclectic selection of material, but there is one overarching theme - the sheer breadth of the official publications collections.

One of the reasons why I chose "Food from the garden" is that it makes me think of my Granddad. When I was little my Mum told me about how he planted vegetables around their Anderson shelter during the Second World War. I also think it’s amazing that we have publications like this which come from that actual era, not to mention other items from the 19th century and earlier; it’s like holding a piece of history in your hands.

I really liked the way that "Air survey for development" takes a quite narrow subject area and makes it accessible, with the various applications of aerial mapping and photography clearly listed and with plenty of illustrations, some of them in 3-D (which explains the accompanying stereoscopic glasses!)

When I came across "Art collector", the Tate Gallery’s twist on the game of Happy Families, I was immediately struck by how it was such a good way to get kids interested in art and artists. We receive many beautiful books from the Tate and other galleries, and I did think that maybe I should have chosen one of those, but in the end this item’s quirkiness and innovation won out.

And last but not least, I was keen to include an electronic item. "Looking for Vikings" is an interactive resource, informing through words, pictures, and occasionally song! It was the result of a collaboration between the National Museums of Scotland, the National Museum of Ireland, and the National Museum of Denmark.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Curator's choice

Francine Millard an OPU curator tells me about her choice.

“I chose ‘Farm fires’ because it represents many Official Publications which have colourful illustrated covers. MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) was dissolved in 2002 when its responsibilities became part of the Department of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra). Having grown up in rural Lancashire among a menagerie of chickens, goats, ponies, cats and dogs, I have a particularly like publications on farm and animal management.

‘Make your own Egyptian mummy case’ is a British Museum item which I liked not just because of its subject, but because it was an interesting item to catalogue. Its format is ‘visual material.’ It is never to be made, so it is preserved exactly as it was when it arrived in the Library. It is similar to the real British Museum sarcophagi as it will be kept safe for future generations.

Finally, I chose ‘Pandemic flu: important information for you and your family’ because in 2005 governments were considering the danger H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu) if it evolved the ability to spread from human to human. The Welsh Assembly Government, who produced this leaflet in Welsh and English, issued many such publications. These will be important to future epidemiologists and history of medicine scholars who will be able to construct early 21st century reactions to infectious disease.”