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David Nguyen
David Nguyen

National Railway Museum Library And Archives


The library and archive collections at the National Railway Museum form one of the largest resources of railway and transport history in the world. The Library Collection is international in scope and covers all time periods. It includes:




national railway museum library and archives



The total library and archive collections weighed 180 tonnes, 22 tonnes more than the Flying Scotsman. And the range of material was very diverse, from early engineering drawings to photographs and glass plate negatives, from sound archives to railway posters, rare books and company records.


This material is currently dispersed amongst the staff of the National Museum in Freetown City Centre, the archivist at the University of Sierra Leone, and the National Railway Museum of Sierra Leone, where material is piled in the corner of a showcase. The papers, particularly those in the two national museums, are not properly stored and there is no proper provision for their care or access. They are currently kept in heaps in unsuitably hot and humid conditions and are vulnerable to damage from movement, light exposure and dust. They are un-catalogued, with the exception of a small number of tickets and wagon labels, so inaccessible to visitors or researchers, and vulnerable to loss or theft.


There are few people left in the country who remember the railway in operation and therefore it is essential that the archives are located, preserved and catalogued as quickly as possible whilst there are people who can explain the meaning of unidentified items and give the material context. The development of a railway archive will give meaning to the rolling stock collection and will help the Nation to re-discover and understand a large part of its history.


The National Railway Museum in York has worked in partnership with the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum since its opening in 2005 in the presence of President Kabbah and Andrew Scott, then Director of the UK NRM. To date support has been practical: curatorial support; the provision of information held in the UK in the Crown Agents Archive and the local archives of the Leeds-based railway manufacturing industry; and the recovery in the UK of a small number of documents and photographs, which are currently held for safe keeping at the National Railway Museum, York. As the archives are not catalogued or accessible, further historical research, and development of interpretation at the Sierra Leone museum is severely limited.


In 1992 the Library joined with Imperial College London to form the Imperial College & Science Museum Libraries. Due to the increasing demand for space in South Kensington, about 85% of the collections and all of the archives moved to a specially adapted library building at Wroughton in 2007. The library in London closed in February 2014 and all of its collections were moved to Wroughton.[8]


Wikimedia UK and National Railway Museum jointly organised an editathon focusing on Railways, kindly hosted by the National Railway Museum in York on 19 October 2013. The day included some article editing, a backstage pass tour of their library and archives. One of their curators joined us to answer questions.


We have one of the largest collections of Colorado and Rocky Mountain railroad artifacts, books, maps, mechanical drawings, archives, images, and audiovisual materials in the United States. Our Library is non-circulating, however we welcome patrons to visit and examine the materials on site any time during our public hours of Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 3pm. For detailed research requests, please make an appointment by emailing our Curator of Collections at library@crrm.org.


Images purchased from our print site are for personal, decorative use only. If you'd like to use any of these images for any other purpose please visit www.scienceandsociety.co.uk or contact picture.library@sciencemuseum.ac.uk for all licensing and editorial queries.


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