The Ron Heisler collection is one of the more rewarding collections to catalogue. Labour and radical political movements being a broad field, the collection is full of surprises for the sheer diversity of material, from different countries and time periods. Songs, poetry, personal memoirs, union rules, even a cookery book are to be found alongside lots of labour history. Titles range as widely as Torture is part of the system: state violence in South Africa and Namibia (1984) to The flower maker: a play in one act (1910), a play by Norah Doyle which says of itself on the cover: 'Being a socialistic play ... with a preface and stage directions for performance with the simplest scenery', and Indians and ecology in Brazil (1990; a paper printed by the Catholic Institute for International Relations). Both among the pamphlets and the books, there is always something interesting. Even for subjects which one believes to have been well explored, it is always possible to discover a different point of view.
Some of the material is very ephemeral – for example, Richard Tydeman’s 11-page play Iron-hot strikers: an all-women minidrama – and some of it was printed in small print runs. This means that is scarce, and there is a relatively high proportion of original cataloguing – i.e., describing material from scratch, as opposed to being able to download and adapt a catalogue record from another research library in the United Kingdom or within America’s OCLC network. So there is a real sense of contributing to research and providing access to a unique and distinctive collection.