Graduate Trainee Project: Reclassifying pamphlets

I finished my last day at the SSL yesterday. I’ve had an amazing time there, and I am very sad to go. The original idea for this blog post was a reflection of the past year as a graduate trainee, but I soon realised that was too huge. I have done so much over the last 12 months, including visits, training sessions, and projects, not to mention all the new skills and information I have learnt, so I decided to split it into smaller chunks.

When I helped out with the interview days for the next set of trainees, a lot asked me about our projects, so I thought that would be an excellent place to start.

A few of us have written short posts about our projects at (apologies for the ugly long links, my laptop is refusing to insert links), and there are some of our presentation slides at Because of that, I won’t go into too much detail about the actual work involved, as Lauren and I covered that in our blog post already.

The project was to reclassify pamphlets from an in-house classification scheme designed at their previous home, the International Development Centre, to Library of Congress classification, which is used for the main run of books in the SSL.


A selection of the more photogenic pamphlets


The pamphlets live in their own section in the library, which is between the periodicals and working papers. To be honest with you, they weren’t much used, and in fact Lauren and I didn’t know where the section even was until we started the project. Hopefully reclassification will make the section easier to navigate, and it will be used a bit more.

The planning involved in the project was actually pretty straight forward. We discussed with the Cataloguer what would be involved, and ran our decisions past the Social Sciences Librarian. After that it was mostly a case of getting on with the work, and tackling any problems as we got to them.


Working out a shelf mark range for a box could often be headache-inducing


My expectations of the reclassifying were quite wrong. I had thought it would be a lot of technical work, with MARC records and cataloguing terms I wouldn’t understand, but actually I really enjoyed it and found we often raced through this part. Choosing Library of Congress shelf marks was a great opportunity to do decision based tasks, which aren’t often given to lower level library staff. It also meant I tried something I probably wouldn’t have gone for off my own back, because of my preconceptions of classification work, that it very technical and not something I would be interested in.

When I left last week, Lauren and I had completed a bay of pamphlets. We worked out that we had reclassified, processed and re-shelved approximately 1110 pamphlets, a very satisfying number.


The pamphlets section - we completed the first bay by the end of the year

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