RHS and Books
This week I revisited RHS Harlow Carr library for the first time in several years. I previously volunteered in the ‘old potting shed’ library before the new building was completed. Then I was part of the team that moved and reshelved all the books from one part of the garden to the ecofriendly new premises.
At the time of our relocation there had been a spate of thefts from the Lindley Library and some very valuable tomes had been taken. Good old artistic books with frameable prints were also susceptible to loosing pages to the ner-do-wells. So the powers that be decided to install anti theft devices in the spine of all the books at Harlow Carr. After much painstaking work we volunteers were told the exit was not compatible with the spine tags and another exit system had been purchased. As a consequence new RFID tags a couple of centimeters square had to be fixed inside all the books that already had a metal spine. Several good looking end papers were damaged or covered in this process. Imagine my ‘surprise’ (not) when the 3 books I borrowed this week were passed to my by the librarian in a way that circumvented the exit alarm because it wasn’t working properly.
The harlow-carr-library-learning-centre-is-eco-friendly as reported here eight years ago see’ library’
Orville Lyttle A Tree of Knowledge?
RHS Lindley Library Disaster Prone
- Named after botanist and artist John Lindley the library is a multisite operation with books, paintings, photographs and old documents at Wisley, London HQ and other RHS gardens. In addition to old and modern books the RHS has an extensive collection of paintings and photographs plus horticultural paraphernalia.
- When I tried to visit the library last January it was closed for stock taking! Now I bother to check the website and warn you it is again ‘Closed: First fortnight in August’.
- The library in Vincent Square London was saved from a proposed closure in 1995 by refurbishment of the downstairs area. Then in 2011 it was damaged by fire but reopened in 2012.
- Bigger disaster occurred when a notable book thief stole 13 volumes published between 1848 and 1860 of ‘Une Nouvelle Iconographie des Camellias’ by nineteenth-century Belgian horticulturist Ambroise Verschaffelt.
- William Jacques, also known as the ‘tome raider’ stole antique books worth £50,000 from the world-famous Lindley library and was jailed for three-and-a-half years after skipping bail and evading recapture for several years.
- Jacques used a false name to sign in to the Library before stuffing valuable books under his tweed jacket and fleeing, Southwark Crown Court. I was shown how easy it was to circumvent the security gates by balancing items on your head (but keep that under your hats).
RHS as Hard Copy Publishers
- The most popular RHS publication is probably ‘The Garden’ a members monthly magazine that often ends up in charity shops or NHS waiting rooms.
- Also very popular are the annual Members’ Handbook, The Plantsman and the RHS Plant Finder
- Coffee table books are produced regularly often in a joint venture with other publishers like Dorling Kindersly. This supplements the technical treatise on specific subjects under the RHS own imprint including Botany, Genealogy, Latin for Gardeners and encyclopedias.
- I have cheekily chosen the following title to highlight because I am not sure ‘How Do RHS managers Work?’
What Others Say about RHS
- RHS is a charity generating over £82m last year 2016/17. The accounts are silent on how much of this relates to publications, RHS enterprises ltd operates some commercial activities with profits gifted back to the charity.
- The Lindley Library contains works dating back as far as 1514. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s most extensive horticultural collections, including books, journals, pictures and art concerned with botany, garden design and history, as well as practical gardening.
- The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £4.8 million in a first stage grant towards an overall project of £160 million 10 year development project. HLF said “Wisley is such an important site in the history of plants and gardens – a superb setting for some rare and fascinating plant specimens along with thousands of books, artifacts and photographs…….