Serge Fernandez, head assistant for preservation, head of the library-documentation center since 2004.
Serge, what are the service’s main missions?
It’s hard to pick just one! For me, all the little things taking up my time during the day are essential!
But I’ll give it a shot anyway. Let’s make a horticultural comparison: if the museum were a plant (and what a beautiful plant it would be!), the documentation and library service would be the soil, since it contains a variety of elements which help the plant to grow and the flower to blossom, elements to study and understand the works. Completing that same parallel, you could compare the food reserves contained in a flower bulb to my daily work – research and conservation. But since we’re talking about information, I’ve got to say that the main mission is to classify works to make them known and available, whether those works be books, artwork and artist files or digital files.
As such, I try to respond to the needs of people performing research on the museum in general, on the works that we hold, on Bordeaux-based or born artists and of course on our temporary exhibitions. By “people” I mean not only museum staff, but also an audience we seek to cater to as best we can. In numbers, this translates into managing more than 25,000 works, more than 332 journals and bulletins (in 47 languages in all), more than 8,000 artwork files and 2,530 artist files containing over 60,000 documents (correspondence, photographs, articles, etc.), together with the digital catalog of museum works (micromusée), the library catalog (mobytext) and the thousands of digital files they include.
Clearly in need of constant enhancements, these resources are equally accessible to all by appointment. Appointments may be made by calling me at +33 (0)5 56 10 25 09, and if I’m not available, Hélèna Salmon +33 (0)5 56 10 25 18 may also be contacted.
What kind of research do people who come to the museum library perform? Are there a lot?
Requests from the public are varied – from the collector to the university professor, from the antique dealer to the student – but they always revolve around the life and work of an artist or around an artistic theme. Defining the needs of the “researcher” is important to respond to his or her request and find suitable documents which are not directly accessible. On-site document consultation has been diminishing little by little as direct e-mail requests grow. While those requests are quicker for the person doing the research, they require a bit more work for the service! 200 to 300 requests are dealt with yearly (224 in 2011, to be exact).