Mind the gap!

The following should be of interest if you want to find volumes of songs at the UL. It is also another instalment on the theme of understanding our classmarks/classification system. You probably know that M290 is the UL classmark for songs, and then the next bit is the size (a-d on open shelves); then there is a “time of publication bit” (90 = 1900-1949, 95 = 1950-1999, etc.), and then a running number. However, for songs published between 1900 and 1999 there are sub-divisions within the running numbers. So for M290.a.95-items, there should be the following sub-divisions:

    • 1-199: General collections/misc. bound vols
    • 200-599: English/American
    • 600-699: Welsh
    • 700-799: Scottish
    • 800-899: Irish
    • 900-999: French
    • 1000-1099: German
    • 1100-1199 [& continued at 1300]: Other languages
    • 1200-1299: Children’s (songs)

I guess the original thinking was that people would browse when at the shelf, even if there were, in theory and eventually, more than 300 English/American songs between M290.a.95.200 and M290.a.95.599. Obviously, now searching and browsing can happen much faster via LibrarySearch or Newton.
So to illustrate this, a couple of images indicating the “gaps” on the shelves:

UL books, shelf at M290.a.95.313 to M290.a.95.600, “English gap”

So there are just more than 280 volumes of songs of “English/American” to go, until the gap to Welsh songs is closed. Another example:

UL books, shelf at M290.a.95.801 to M290.a.95.900, “Irish gap”

Irish songs to “chansons francaise” is a huge gap which we probably could not even close any time soon, even if we found and catalogued all bound Irish song volumes. (My guess is that, alas, not many were bought and not many were received via Legal Deposit.)
Finally, from German Lied to the start of volumes of songs in other languages; it looks as if we can close that gap quite soon:

UL books, shelf at M290.a.95.1078 to M290.a.95.1100, “German gap”

In fact that’s the gap I’m aiming to close at the moment, so every week I try to catalogue one or two volumes of German songs (but I only work 50% of my time at the UL, and I have a lot of other jobs, besides cataloguing).
Why is this a big deal for me though? First, it makes scanning the shelves for the running number of the volume you are looking for much easier if there is not a puzzling gap! Second, when we classmark volumes with songs of that time, we do still need to worry about the sub-divisions within the running numbers. If we had filled all the gaps and every song could just go at the end of all running numbers, then we could disregard the language of songs – that would make our classmarking faster.
But for the time being, and for years to come: mind the gap, when you are approaching shelves with songs. Oh, and you will be pleased to know that we stopped having such sub-divisions for items published from 2000 onwards.

About cg474

Since August 2010 I have been working as a librarian at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK). Since October 2015 I am the librarian at the Faculty of Divinity Library. Between August 2010 and November 2013 I was the Deputy Head of Music at Cambridge University Library and at the Pendlebury Library of Music. Between December 2013 and September 2015 I was the Librarian at the Marshall Library of Economics. Since October 2015 I have been the Librarian at the Divinity Library.
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