Film in Cambridge

Part of the cinema section in the MML Library

Film is an ever popular subject, and as such it is hardly any surprise that Film Studies are flourishing. Modules and courses on film have been taught at Cambridge University since the 1970s, but with the beginning of this academic year, the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty (MML) also offers the possibility of gaining a PhD in the subject. To reflect the offer of a PhD in Film and Screen Studies, the long-standing MPhil in Screen and Media Cultures has also been renamed to match the title of the PhD programme. In addition, the Centre for Film and Screen is also based in the MML Faculty, with John David Rhodes as its director. However, film is not exclusively taught at the MML Faculty, but for example also across programmes in English, Architecture and Art History. As a consequence, several Faculty libraries as well as College libraries actively collect films, while the main University Library itself does not.

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Grouping material by subject

It was only with the closure of the Guardbook for 1978 imprints, and the introduction of a new cataloguing code accompanied by Library of Congress subject headings, that serious attempts were made to analyse the subject content of each item acquired by the University Library. Up until that point subject analysis had been minimal – access points for material about a named individual, and for grammars, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and volumes of conference proceedings, without using a controlled vocabulary. For much of its earlier history, the only consideration of subject which took place was in determining where to place each item on the shelves.

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The centenary of the 1830 revolution in Belgium

The late summer is an excellent time for those of us in Cambridge libraries to catch up on work that is less pressing, but still needs to get done. Foreign academics have by and large gone back to their home institutions, while our own academics and students haven’t yet fully returned. Some older donated volumes arrived in the UL several months ago, but it wasn’t until September that I had a chance to examine them and assure myself that they belong in the Library’s collections. Of note are four volumes produced during the 1930 celebrations in Brussels honouring the centenary of the 1830 revolution:

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‘Crime and Punishment’ at 150 : exhibition opens today

montageIn 1866, the journal ‘Russkii vestnik’ (Russian Messenger) published Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ for the first time.  The University Library is taking part in a transatlantic series of events coordinated by Dr Katherine Bowers (University of British Columbia) and Dr Kate Holland (Toronto)  to mark the anniversary of the novel’s publication.

Strictly speaking, two exhibitions open today and not one – a large virtual exhibition of 22 objects and a smaller physical exhibition in the Library’s entrance hall, with two cases displaying a total of 9 of these same pieces.  Over the course of the year, captions for the exhibitions have been written by Dr Bowers’ undergraduate students in collaboration with us both, and with input from Kristina McGuirk and Barnabas Kirk, research associates at UBC and Toronto.

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Richard Boyle’s Spanish Colonial Art book donation


Donation label designed by the Faculty of Art & Architecture Library, Cambridge (based on original from Richard Boyle)

Richard Boyle, an enthusiast of Spanish Colonial art history, recently donated 88 Spanish colonial art books to the University Library in honor of his wife Marlene de Block. This is a significant donation, as there were very few volumes on colonial Latin American art and are mostly North American publications. Until now, the University Library and the Centre of Latin American studies collections mainly focused on nineteenth and twentieth-century Latin America.

This exceptional donation includes Spanish publications from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries, unavailable in most European national libraries. This is a unique opportunity for the development of colonial Latin American art studies in the United Kingdom. Continue reading