Work experience at the Minster Library

Staff at the Minster Library were recently joined by Sam Rogers, a year 10 student on work experience. We asked him to describe his week for us...


For my work experience I was based at the York Minster Library. I worked there for a week and I did a variety of jobs, involving old collections of books and other items.

For the first two days of the week, I was cataloguing the items - mainly books - from Cage XV in the ante room onto a spreadsheet.

I found many interesting things there, including a list of books in the Minster Library dating from 1687, and an advertisement for services at the York Minster to mark the opening of the South Transept, dating from 1874. What was even more interesting about this advertisement was that it appeared to have been used as rough paper, as it had notes on the back of it.

Left: York Minster programme 1874. Right: The Simmons Bequest
Another thing I found was a bequest by someone named Simmons, dating from 1884. It appears that Simmons was very fond of the Library as he left lots and lots of items on top of a sum of £100! I'm sure that you are aware that £100 pounds would have been a lot of money in those days.

On Wednesday, I was working in the reading room as the ante room and exhibition hall were being used for a private function. I was doing a very similar thing to the days before, in the fact that I was sifting through items in these shelves but by now, I had sorted all of the books, and instead had to tackle the piles of loose sheets that were present.

The catalogue dating from 1687. It was written in Latin and in ornate manuscript text
These were interesting as a lot of them were old shelf registers written in neat manuscript. There were also a lot of things relating to M. Fothergill. I am reliably informed that Fothergill, who was a generous man, ended up donating much of his collection to the Minster Library. This would make sense as, with most dated 1737, there is a large list of items that Fothergill owned, that were then given to the library.

The most interesting thing for me was the York Minster Library visitors book, dating from 1988, that I found on Wednesday. It was fascinating because it showed the reach of the Library with many entries from exotic or far flung countries, such as New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

Our visitors book, with people coming from Australia, New Zealand,
New York, Alabama, Warsaw, San Francisco and Doncaster!
Once I had examined and catalogued the items on Wednesday, I had to put them into envelopes and archival boxes. This was to ensure that they could be conserved for longer.

Thursday was different as I was using item details, and then searching for them in the catalogue. I then had to check that all details had been entered into the catalogue, and once I had identified any details that hadn’t been included, put them back into the organised piles.

Overall, I enjoyed my time here. I came across some very interesting books and although some jobs must be tedious at times, they are vital to ensuring that this Library can continue and look forwards into the future. I found looking at older texts, dating before 1780, interesting as it gave me an insight into the history of the Library and how important it was in the past, and also, as said previously, how important it can be for the future.

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