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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Old compact shelves

Tuesday we had a visit at the library from a Danish technician who has been working with compact shelving systems for more than 25 years. He is the one who repairs the systems at one of our largest storages. When he heard we have an electric compact system from 1955 that still functions, he asked to see it. It's in the lower basement and he spent more than two hours there, taking photos of almost everything, taking measures and looking at the engine and the locking arrangement. He was absolutely fascinated. He had never seen such an old system before and he was impressed by the quality of the metal shelves. A total nerd. I am not so impressed, because I have to get the enormous thing to work and that's not easy. 55 years of moving the heavy shelves back and forth on concrete floors have caused some damages, both on the system and the floor. He thought he could make it work better by exchanging several things on it, but it will be pretty expensive. We'll see what my bosses say about it.

This week has been "challenging requests" week. For instance, we got one question that definitely qualifies in the category tragic lifestories. They called me from the manuscript reading room and I was asked to help a young woman to find information on her grandparents. She had never met them, neither had her father (!). His mother was a concentration camp survivor and his father a Russian officer during World War II. Both of them had ended up in this country; she was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross, how he got here we do not know. He disappeared from the records in the 1950s. The thing that bothered our visitor more than anything is the fact that he could still be alive somewhere. There are many questions she will never get answered, unfortunately. I went to great lengths for her (several of us did), and came up with very little. There were some records from the transportation of the mother to this country, but as can be expected, the information given was brief. She did get an origin for her, though (Poland).

We have another challenging visitor here this summer. It's a guy that is in the process of ordering all the comic magazines we have. You might think it's not serious research, but it is. He is doing a project for an archive here in Lund. I hope he has some limitations, because we have over 1000 titles in that category. Most of them are placed in storage also, so it adds to the burden.

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