booktree

Happy Finals Week! Enjoy our National Union Catalog Christmas tree in Perkins Library, and help us decorate it!

… how steadfast are your branches!

In this case, the tree in the entry of Perkins Library isn’t an evergreen, but made of the green cloth-bound National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints. The NUC, as it’s affectionately known in library circles, is a set of 754 volumes of catalog records for works printed before 1956 held in American and Canadian libraries. Consider it the über library catalog of library catalogs. This has since been superseded by the online resource WorldCat, although it should be noted that a large percentage of books listed in the NUC are not yet included in WorldCat.

Many libraries have preceded Duke in creating a Christmas tree out of the NUC. We took the opportunity to do so this holiday season as this particular set is about to be relocated in preparation for materials moving onto the first floor of Perkins from other parts of the library. Given that it’s finals week, the Libraries also wanted to provide some stress relief and delight for students who are filling up our spaces studying for exams. An ornament-making origami station has been set up at the entrance of Perkins Library for those who wish to decorate the tree.

Guest post by Jean Ferguson, Head of Research and Instructional Services

 

7 Responses to Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

  1. Lee Sorensen says:

    Jean:

    Thanks for supplying the data on the NUC, which I think was the point of doing this particular tree. I wanted to put a little blurb about the pre-56 imprints near the tree, but blogging about it is much more effective!

    Lee

  2. Beth says:

    I think this is a terrible way to treat materials housed in one of the top academic libraries in the country. Our books are not for decoration, they are here to support research and learning.

    • Bryan says:

      Damn straight & what a great message it sends about the relevance of the book. We send out out in steel bins thru the loading dock, as happened with one of our NUCs. Bryan, from a middling research library in the Beltway of DC.

    • Sal says:

      Clearly you are not familiar with the Wall Of NUC at Perkins. I am sure that, when the library acquires more little-known pre-1956 works, there is a way to access the NUC data.

  3. Cynthia Greenlee says:

    As a student and a consumer of Duke’s wonderful libraries (and I think we have the best reference librarians on the planet!), I found the display to be a lovely tongue-in-cheek way to acknowledge both the holidays and our academic pursuits. If I’m not mistaken — according to the reference librarian with whom I chatted at the desk immediately behind the “Christmas tree — these copies were headed to the Library Service Center, rarely see the light of day, and there are multiple copies of these books, some of which are scheduled for discarding. I don’t think that using these books in this way is any more dangerous than the wear and tear they get during the normal borrowing process. I saw this display as another way that our library staff, at both Perkins and Lilly, work to make our libraries be more engaging than the libraries of old — places that were like tombs in their silence, where librarians existed to shush you, and where fun was not on the menu of services. I, for one, learn better in 21st-century libraries, where there are book sculptures, study spaces, and a coffehouse. I work in Perkins daily, and I can’t tell you how many times I saw people stop and look at this piece, or have a conversation with the reference desk staff about it. I can’t think there’s anything but good that will come out of those communications. And I understand that this was the work of Lee at Lilly, and I appreciate that he as a librarian of the arts could think to express his love of books and the arts in this way. So much better than a wreath or nothing at all.

  4. Thank you some of which are scheduled for discarding. I don’t think that using these books in this way is any more dangerous than the wear and tear they get during the normal borrowing process. I saw this display as another way that our library staff, at both Perkins and Lilly, work to make our libraries be more engaging than the libraries of old — places – See more at:

  5. Mitch says:

    What a cleaver idea and so nicely displayed. Whoever did this, obviously spent a great deal of time and care in the layout. As a book lover and conservator myself, I find this display harmless and rather charming. These books are flat, bind is intact, pages smooth. This creation is treating those books far better than most patrons treat books!!! The two fellow naysayers need a life! Loosen up a bit, enjoy the pleasures of life—ya might not be quite so disagreeable—spread a little cheer!

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