Michael Brook and the Parish Library

Ironically, I met Michael at the Greek Church, Derby Road, Nottingham where he attended the Liturgy on those Sundays there was no Liturgy at Carlton. Some time later the idea of forming a library at Carlton was suggested and unaware of the other’s interest we both put our names forward and eventually became the team.

There had been a previous attempt at cataloguing the books then in stock but it was decided that a fresh start should be made, especially as three or four previous parishioners left the whole of their collections of Orthodox books to the library in their wills – a total of several hundred books.

It was quickly brought home to me that Michael was the epitome of quiet professionalism. Sitting opposite him at the work table, I was aware that care and meticulousness were paramount and every word and number on every card had to be double-checked and if need be put aside for further discussion as to a book’s place and which details could correctly be included on the card.

Reluctantly, we used the Dewey Decimal system as no other was at hand, and Michael was always aware of its weaknesses with regard to a specialist collection.

A pattern emerged that he would spend every Thursday morning at the Library and he did this increasingly on his own as I found it difficult to make the journey at that time. He would never make a decision without consulting me and would always leave the books he had processed for me to see and check before shelving.

But, independently, of this work he was also compiling a definitive bibliography of the collection of Local History publications at Nottingham University. Also, he had a unique collection of Swedish/American literature which is of world significance.

He was particularly keen to see all the periodicals properly boxed and shelved in date order. Any duplicates were ruthlessly put on that pile for discard.

The result of his efforts is such that people studying at the Cambridge Institute have compared our collection favourably with theirs and it is a standing responsibility to ensure that the Library continues to expand and be available to a wider public as a tribute to all Michael’s work.

It has been suggested that we call our library ‘The Michael Brook Memorial Library’

At Michael’s funeral we were privileged to have with us some of his former colleagues – both from Nottingham and Leeds – on being acquainted with some of our problems they have kindly written and suggested really workable solutions. This is very heartening as people important to Michael, in his professional life, are involving themselves in his final work and enabling it to move forward.