Exclusive Interview: Chelsea Library's golden ticket

Chelsea Library is a closely guarded secret in the world of fashion.  I spoke to an inspiring and passionate Library Collections Officer to find out why.

Exclusive Interview:  Chelsea Library's golden ticket

Can you68174341a8a854d38208dc0cc3a299e8813e76e0.jpg tell me a little bit about yourself, what you studied and your job?

My name is Nina Risoli and I come from Sarajevo, Bosnia, where I studied for a degree in English Language and Literature. After graduating from university I moved to London and completed an MA in Information Services Management. With that, I became a professional librarian. I have worked in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea libraries for over 20 years now, in different roles. I am currently a Library Collections Officer.

Why is it important to still have libraries?

Libraries are the only public spaces that admit everyone indiscriminately and they are the heart of each community. Libraries offer much, much more today than they did traditionally – so you get access to expensive subscription resources such as the one I demonstrated yesterday, Bloomsbury Fashion Central, you can download eBooks and magazines free of charge, you can read newspapers online though your library and there is often a good programme of events for both children and adults. Lots of libraries have spaces for the community to meet via the reading groups and book clubs, coffee mornings and poetry clubs, to name just a few. The library offers health information and events, support to business start-ups and help students with preparing for their exams. There are Careers Advice sessions on offer, as is IT help for older people who wish to get to grips with the technology. And a lot more.

How can a librarian help me?

A librarian can instruct you in where to find good, authoritative information for your work, they can show you how to use resources that are available and how to get the best out of them.

What is the connection between Chelsea library and fashion?

Chelsea Library is located in King’s Road and is very close to the V&A and KCC, so it was decided decades ago that the library would focus on Fashion and Costume, so a large collection was accumulated, supported by different related subject areas such as textiles, photography, design, art etc.

What is Bloomsbury Fashion Central?  

ALL things fashion in one fantastic database! The real gems can be found in three amazing resources:

  • Berg Fashion Library: The authority on world dress, covering a wide range of text and images from across cultures. Invaluable for scholars, students, professionals, and anyone interested in dress, it includes the Berg Encyclopaedia of World Dress and Fashion, an extensive E-Book collection, a vast image bank, extra reference resources and more.  
  • Fairchild Books Library offers a collection of fashion textbookscovering subjects such as design and promotion, pattern cutting, retail, colour theory, drawing and illustration, and setting up a business. The STUDIO section supports revision with practice assessments and quizzes.
  • Fashion Photography Archive showcases forty years of contemporary fashion history, from runway and backstage to street-style fashion, and key designers’ shows. Focusing on recent fashion history, the archive also contains biographies of key designers and brands including Chanel, Dior, Missoni and Prada, as well as articles on recent fashion and short videos.Great for research and inspiration through hundreds of thousands of digitized images

What advice would you give your younger self?

To slow down a bit! I missed some things precisely because I was in such a rush to get to them.

Did you know?

Chelsea Collection also includes bound copies of contemporary and historical fashion magazines, such as:

  • Vogue - issues from as early as the 1920s
  • Tatler
  • Harper’s Bazaar (from 1949 to present)
  • L’Officiel
  • Vanity Fair

There is also a number of historical fashion magazines such as:

  • Tailor and Cutter
  • Manufacturing Clothier
  • La Belle Assemblée
  • The Ladies' Cabinet - depicted contemporary fashion of the day in the nineteenth century


Evie Wildish

Evie Wildish

I've completed my Bronze Award and am now working towards my Silver Award. I enjoy art, writing, fashion and would like to become a designer in the future.

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  • Luke Taylor

    On 9 August 2018, 10:18 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    Nina sounds like a brilliant woman. It's shame though that a lot of libraries are getting shut down nowadays...

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