Introducing the new Arthur Quiller-Couch website

In normal times, Morrab Library would be hosting a large event (with lots of cake!) to celebrate the launch of this major new website exploring the life and works of Arthur Quiller-Couch. But instead, we’re delighted to tell our members all about it through this blog.

 

 

The site is curated by library member and leading researcher Andrew Symons, who has developed the articles and resources it contains in collaboration with Morrab Library, which holds collections of the works of Q and other members of the Couch family.

The product of many years’ study, the website offers the largest and most authoritative online collection of research into Arthur Quiller-Couch. It includes studies of many of Q’s literary works and the cultural landscape in which he worked.  You will also find short articles, maps, summaries, chronologies, biographies of Q and his family – and a wealth of other resources – all of which help to illuminate his writings.

Many people in Cornwall will be familiar with the name of Q but may not know the extent of his work. He was a popular novelist with an international reputation, a poet, a literary critic, an anthologist and an academic who championed the importance of literature in the education of young people. Born in 1863, he lived through an extraordinary period of British history until his death in 1944.  The lives of his grandfather, father and uncles also reveal much about the fascinating scientific and cultural history of Cornwall in the nineteenth century.

This site is designed to act as the fulcrum for wide-ranging study and exploration of Arthur Quiller-Couch and his writings. It welcomes submissions of original academic work from other researchers.

It is hoped that the website will also provide an introduction to the works of this outstanding figure in Cornish cultural life. Newcomers to Q may be surprised to find how contemporary his voice sounds today. Once known as the ‘Greatest Living Cornishman’, Q was a brilliant man who deserves to be rediscovered. The hope is that this important new website will help in that process.

Row Boys Row

Cornish male vocal group, the Bryher’s Boys, recently collaborated with Morrab Library to create a video for one of their recordings. Using evocative images from the Library’s extensive historic Photo Archive, they were able to capture the essence of their song in pictures, and they’re delighted to share the finished product with us. The story follows below…

 

How did this video come about?

Bryher’s Boys are a busy Cornish male vocal group so the restrictions of the Covid Crisis have hit us hard! We’ve adapted by producing our own videos, both for our fans and, sometimes, to use in place of planned live performances which could now not take place. The Morrab Library Photo Archive was invaluable in helping us with a video we were asked to produce by the organisers of Yn Chruinnaght – The Celtic Gathering, a festival we’d been invited to represent Cornwall at in the Isle of Man. The song we chose – Row Boys Row – is all about Cornish maritime heritage, and the history of pilchard fishing here, so we wanted to marry the music with some images which would evoke that period. Thanks to the Archive’s 10,000+ photos covering many elements of vintage Cornish life – all available and searchable online – we were able to assemble a series of images to summon up that era, which perfectly complement the song. We’re very grateful to the Library for permission to use this resource which has helped disseminate this little piece of Cornish heritage to an audience of thousands, worldwide.

Backgrounder for Bryher’s Boys

Bryher’s Boys formed back in 2017 when the Tenor and Bass sections of several Cornish choirs were press ganged to form a new crew especially designed to navigate the choppy waters of Sea Shanty singing!

Their collective love of the established folk repertoire, both Nautical and Cornish, proved an immediate hit with West Cornwall audiences, clocking-up almost 200 performances to date in venues as diverse as private parties, weddings, crowded pubs, festivals, community events, large scale concerts – even aboard the Royal Fleet Auxilary ship Lyme Bay!

Although firmly rooted in the male vocal tradition, their trademark style of free harmony ensures that no two performances sound exactly the same.

Named after bandleader Trevor Brookes’ youngest daughter, Bryher, the Boys do not hail from the Scilly Isle of that name, but come from all over West Cornwall, from Newlyn to Truro.

The group are proud to have been selected to officially represent the Duchy of Cornwall at Europe’s largest music festival, Festival Interceltique Lorient, in 2019, taking their unique mix of Traditional Cornish songs, shanties and shaggy dog stories to a new audience of more than 800,000 attendees, singing to 9,000 people at a time!

Last year, they recorded and released their first CD, The Ballad of the Boy Jacq.

Visiting the Library

You may like to make a cuppa to get you through this long document! But please read on carefully as it does contain a lot of important information.

 

 

Visiting the Library

We are delighted to say that Morrab Library is open again, although in a very limited capacity. The necessity to keep staff, volunteers and members as safe as possible is our first priority, and we will need to continue to work within the context of health and safety legislation and best practice guidelines for libraries to achieve this. So please bear with us as we take a careful and steady approach over a period of time to try and get everything back on track. 

 

We will take gradual steps, offering more services over a number of stages. In this way, we can trial each step, and make sure it’s working effectively, before moving on to the next level.This takes into account factors such as staffing levels and extra time needed for additional tasks.

 

Sadly of course, this means that things can’t be as they were, at least initially, before we closed. But we hope you understand and will be patient with us as we take these actions, to both mitigate risk and ensure that we’ll be able to get things back on track, as far as possible. We are working within a constantly evolving situation, and the service we can offer will change alongside this.

 

From current thinking, COVID-19 is transferred via respiratory droplets, and breathing these in presents the biggest infection risk. The more people in an area and the longer they stay, the greater the risk of passing on the disease. Therefore, we will need to limit the number of people in the building, so entry at this time will be by appointment only.

 

It needs to be said that while the staff will do all it can to make the library as safe as possible, we cannot of course guarantee it 100%, so each member will need to make their own decision about whether they feel they can visit.

 

At this stage, it won’t be possible for volunteers to help us at the front desk – this goes against guidelines and best practice around safeguarding and multiple people handling the same objects, in our case items such as the loans cards, date stamps, sharing desks etc. so the staff will be extra busy – we ask for your patience.

 

The following outlines our first stage on the path to one day being fully operational, explaining the action we are taking. Once we have tested the process and see how things work, we’ll then be able to move on to the next stage, and offer more. 

 

Opening hours and access 

    • The library will open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10.00 am to 3.00pm. This reflects staff capacity, the necessity to spend more time cleaning the library each day, and completing essential tasks when less people are about . 
    • The library will be open for book loans and returns, and for readers who wish to book a workspace on the first floor.  
    • Entry will be by appointment only. We need to be very strict about how many people can safely be in the library and share spaces at the one time. You can email us at : enquiries@morrablibrary.org.uk or telephone 01736 364474 and leave a message with your name and contact entails – staff will contact you to arrange an appointment. 
    • Please don’t try to visit unless you have received confirmation of your appointment time. We do not want you to have to queue outside for any lengthy period, especially if the weather proves as erratic as it has been of late.
    • Please book for an appointment as far in advance as you can to avoid disappointment.

 

  • You do not need to make an appointment if you are only returning or collecting books and do not wish to enter the building beyond the entrance foyer.

 

 

For members wishing to borrow books:

  • We will be able to welcome you for a visit of 30 minutes. This will hopefully allow enough time to select books to borrow. We need to keep the permitted time short so we can allow as many members as possible to access the building safely over the course of the day. Our statistics show that 75% of all of our loans are from our fiction collections, which is centred in one room, so we need to be aware of how people will be in that room at the same time. Numbers and timings will be constantly reviewed.
  • If you are isolating as a household, a couple or family can come in together. 

 

For members wishing to book a workspace:

  • Rooms on the first floor will be available to book for members to use for research, study or work.
  • Most rooms will allow for solo occupancy, some of the larger rooms will accommodate two people, with appropriate social distancing measures in place. 
  • You will need to book a room in advance, specifying the time you will want to spend in the library. We will need time between appointments to clean the workspace thoroughly before the next person.
  • As well as your own thermos or bottled water, you may want to bring your own cushion for the chairs, as ours have had to go into storage! Please see the Amenities section below for more information about available facilities.
  • We will try as best we can to accommodate your room preference, but bookings will be made on a first come first served basis.
  • We ask that you remain at the desk you have been allocated, and let us know if you move or touch anything outside of this area.

 

Other considerations

  • Only library members (or members of their household) will be able to access the building – we will sadly not be able to welcome any visitors at this stage, unless they are expressly wishing to join as a new member.
  • We cannot accept any book donations at this time.
  • The Photo Archive will not be open to visitors on Thursday mornings at this time, but please email photoarchive@morrablibrary.org.uk, or call the library and we can pass on any enquiries.

 

While you are with us

  • It will not be possible to remain in the library beyond choosing or returning books. 
  • Hand sanitiser will be on offer at the front door, and we will ask that you make use of it BEFORE entering the building. Alternatively, you are very welcome to wear your own gloves. 
  • If you are able to do so,you will be asked to wear a face covering whilst moving around the building. If you are then working in a room on your own, your mask can be removed at this time.
  • There will be additional hand sanitising stations throughout the building.
  • Social distancing practices will be in place (working to the 2 metre rule) and staff will be working behind a temporary screen. We don’t relish this latter prospect, but it is sadly a necessity at this time in order to mitigate any risk to staff.

 

Loans and Returns

  • If you are returning library books, please bring them in a bag (preferably one you don’t want back), and include a note with your name on it. There will be special boxes in the foyer where you can leave them – in keeping with health and safety guidelines, they will need to be quarantined for 72 hours before staff can process them. 
  • The lifting on restrictions on the number of loans will remain, meaning you can borrow more than six books at a time. If you don’t feel comfortable coming to the library yourself, you can nominate a fellow member, friend or family to borrow and collect books on your behalf.
  • We will be offering a collection service. If you send us a list of titles you are seeking, we can check our holdings and the shelves, and if they are available, we can bag them up and leave them for you or a friend or family member to collect from the foyer, so you won’t have to come into the rest of the building. 
  • The magazines and newspapers normally located in the Reading Room will be moved to the tables in the Jenner Room, and be available for loan. 

 

Amenities

  • The ground floor toilet will be available, but we ask that it be accessed only if completely necessary. Please leave the space as clean as possible after use. A hand sanitising station will be located just outside.
  • Sadly, the kitchen will be closed to members, and not accessible.
  • Lockers will not be in use. Bags must remain with you. They cannot be left at the desk or elsewhere. Again, we are obliged to avoid multiple people touching the same objects. 
  • The till will be in operation for book and other sales, donations and new memberships and renewals. Payment by card is our preferred option, although we will accept cheques and cash. Appropriate hygiene measures will be in place for using the till.
  • The photocopier will only be available for the use of library staff, but we will happily copy anything you need on your behalf.
  • The lift will be in operation and hand sanitising stations will be available in the foyers on each floor.
  • Parking at the library should generally be possible during this time, although if you would  like to be guaranteed a parking spot, please let us know when you make your appointment.

 

Cleaning

  • Library staff will carry out regular cleaning of ‘hotspots’ around the building throughout the day, such as door handles, stair bannisters and the toilet. 
  • We will also undertake a deep clean of the library after hours each day. 
  • Desks, chairs and other items will need to be cleaned in between different people using them.

 

Please contact Lisa ( librarian@morrablibrary.org.uk, or leave a message on 01736 364474 and I’ll call you back) if you have any questions or concerns.  A detailed reopening plan is available on request for those who might like to see it.

 

We would also like to offer my assistance to any of you who will need to continue to self-isolate and won’t be able to visit, or do not have anyone who can borrow books on your behalf. Please get in touch so we can find a way to help you if we can.

 

I know this is not an ideal situation, but hopefully this is just the beginning of a gradual return to the normality of the Morrab Library we all love so much. Thank you so much for your wonderful support throughout lockdown, and as we move forward into this rather unknown territory!

 

Lisa Di Tommaso

Librarian

A reopening, of sorts…..

Dear Members,

You’ll have seen the news from the Government yesterday confirming permission to reopen libraries from the 4th July. After consultation between Trustees and staff, we are happy to say that Morrab Library will be able to reopen with a limited service from Wednesday July 15th.

This gives us time to bring staff back from furlough, to establish necessary procedures, and undertake a deep clean of the library in the weeks prior to this. The necessity to keep staff, volunteers and members as safe as possible is our first priority, and we will need to work within the context of health and safety legislation and best practice guidelines for libraries to achieve this. So please bear with us as we take a careful and steady approach over a period of time to try and get everything back on track.

More details will follow very soon, but for now, please be aware that initially, the library will be open three days a week – Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 10.00am to 3.00pm by appointment only, and only for loans and returns. You will need to call or email ahead to book a time to visit, as we will need to manage the numbers in the building at any one time and ensure social distancing, which at least for now, will remain at 2 metres to mitigate any risk to our members.

We’ll be able to take bookings for appointments from Tuesday 7th July, and more information will follow soon. We do envisage a busy first rush, so we may need to beg your patience as things settle down.

Once we have established safe processes, we will then, as quickly as possible, look to reopen the rooms upstairs for members to work in. This will also work on an appointment system. The opportunity to host classes and workshops will be reviewed over the summer, based around future Government guidance.

It will be wonderful to see you again, although please be aware that we will need to work to very strict guidelines, at least initially. We will do everything we can to restore the library to full service in due course. Please keep an eye out for more detailed information about our reopening over the next week.

Many thanks for your wonderful support throughout all of this.

Take care,

The Trustees and Library team

Hilda Quick & VE Day

 

The library is lucky to hold archives of work by the Cornish artist and illustrator Hilda Quick.

Quick was born in Penzance in 1895 and trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, later specialising in wood engravings. Locally, she created designs for the Minack Theatre programmes, working directly with Rowena Cade (founder of the Minack). She also illustrated numerous books including her own — Marsh and Shore, about bird-watching on the Cornish coast, which became a bestseller.

She lived in Penzance until the death of her parents in 1951, after which she moved to St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly, remaining there for the rest of her life and continuing to produce work until her death at the age of 83 in 1978.

During her long career Quick produced numerous studies of the local community in Penzance and Newlyn, including these rather wry and playful sketches. They were made during the second world war and give an insight into the everyday lives of people in Penzance during that time – from the desperate and dutiful queues at the local fishmongers and chaos at the food office in St John’s Hall, to Penzance’s exasperated ‘chief billing officer’ pulling at his hair.

VE day commemorates the beginning of peace in Europe, a peace that must have been felt in a thousand little ways across the country, from our own land’s end to the highlands. It celebrates the peace that started the long and complicated process of healing for many countries. Hilda Quick’s drawings capture a time that is past but VE day reminds us that the value of peace, and working together, is ever-present.

 

 

Library closure from Friday 20th March, 4.00pm

A message from our Librarian to the membership – 

To all our Members,

I am incredibly sad to have to tell you that, based on advice from government authorities overnight, the library will close at 4.00pm on Friday 20th March until further notice.

This is not a decision taken lightly. We all know that Morrab Library is more than just a building in which to work or borrow a book. It is also an important space for our members to meet and spend time with friends and colleagues, be it through a coffee together in the members’ kitchen, or a class or workshop. I am keenly aware that removing this option from so many of your lives, at such an uncertain time anyway, will leave a significant gap.

But it is impossible to ignore the level of risk that remaining open poses to our members, volunteers and staff, and it is a risk the library feels it cannot take.

At this stage, it is not possible to say when we will be able to re-open. As you will be aware, this is an unprecedented time, with circumstances changing daily, and we will be guided by official advice as to when it is considered safe to open our doors again.

In the meantime, staff will be working from home, and be contactable via email and social media. Unfortunately, we cannot forward the library phone number to another number, but we will check for voicemail messages once a week. So please stay in touch, and if we are able to help in any way, we would be delighted to do so.

If you have any library books out on loan, please don’t worry about returning them. As you know, we do not impose fines for overdue books, and rather than try to return them to the library when we’re not here (they won’t fit in our letterbox!), we would rather you held on to them and kept them safe until we are open again.

One last thing – obviously all classes and talks will not be able to take place for some time. For those of you who have booked events with us, we’ll keep your names and let you know when we are able to reschedule. Please note that this week’s Medical Students Display event will not be going ahead. Sadly, the Penzance Orchestral Society concert on Saturday has also been cancelled.

We will miss you, and hope to see you again very soon. Please stay safe and take care.

Lisa and the library team