Living disability, collecting and researching it academically

Meggie Boyle is a 3rd year student of French in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Literature and Linguistics. Earlier this year, she got in touch with us at Cambridge University Libraries with book recommendations for her Year Abroad Dissertation project. She suggested titles that we did not have, and we arranged digital alternate formats for books that were only available to buy in print format, via the Cambridge Libraries Accessibility Services. You can read here about her experience of disability which fueled her dissertation project.

“Disability has dominated my life, not only pervading every part of my physical body, but also seeping into the very core of my being, my mind: I see it in everything I do and everywhere I go.

Continue reading

Ukraine in new electronic resources

A tranche of funding from the UKRI and other sources earlier this year has allowed Cambridge University Libraries to buy large amounts of electronic material that had been flagged for purchase but had not previously been feasible for us to buy.  This blog post looks at Ukraine in some of these resources (but you can also see a summary of all the resources available here:

Banner of issue one of the Kharkiv anarchist periodical Khlieb i volia

There are three obvious candidates to search for Ukraine and Ukrainian material in amongst these new purchases:

  • Russian Anarchist periodicals of the early 20th century (Brill)
  • Soviet Woman Digital Archive (1945-1991) (East View)
  • Soviet Cinema Online. Archival Documents from RGALI, 1923-1935 (Brill)

Continue reading

Dame Margaret Anstee Collection: a Newnham alumna in South America

A profile picture of Margaret Anstee wearing a blue UN cap and light blue shirt. She is looking towards the left down and smiling to someone outside of the frame.

Dame Margaret Joan Anstee (image from Wikimedia Commons).

Dame Margaret Joan Anstee (1926-2016) was a remarkable Newnham College graduate who had special ties with Bolivia and who in 1987 was the first ever woman to become Undersecretary-General of the United Nations, the third most senior position at that institution. During her life as a UN official (which we can read about in Never learn to type: a woman at the United Nations), she spent several years working in different parts of the world, including many countries in South America and also Angola (see Orphan of the Cold War: the inside story of the collapse of the Angolan peace process, 1992-93).

It was Bolivia though, where she was the UN representative from 1960 to 1965, that would become a prime focus in her life. In her 1970 work Gate of the sun: a prospect of Bolivia, she recounts her first experiences in a “country to which one cannot remain indifferent”. She not only became special adviser to its government after leaving the UN in 1993 but also chose it as the place to spend part of her retirement (read The house on the sacred lake: and other Bolivian dreams – and nightmares).

Continue reading

English-language titles on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Following on from the recent post on new arrivals about the Russo-Ukrainian war, I wanted to highlight a few recent English-language items which deal with last year’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov’s Diary of an Invasion was published last autumn. It gathers together his writings and broadcasts about the events of 2022; the publisher describes it as “a remarkable record of a brilliant writer at the forefront of a 21st-century war”. Another collection of reportage, War Diary of the Ukrainian Resistance, was released on 23rd February 2023: it is the work of staff at the Kyiv Independent online newspaper, combining articles which they have published along with personal accounts of their experiences since the start of the invasion.

The voices of ordinary Ukrainians, and how they have been dealing with the conflict, have been captured in another recent anthology, Queer Ukraine : An Anthology of LGBTQI+ Ukrainian Voices During Wartime, and by the Swedish academic Gregg Bucken-Knapp in his graphic novel Messages from Ukraine. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Bucken-Knapp contacted Ukrainian migration and information professionals, offering help: “He found himself filling in the visual gaps as he read their text messages–trying to imagine their immediate circumstances as they chose to stay and volunteer or fight, or sought safety elsewhere. In graphic form, Messages from Ukraine explores the varied experiences of the people who sent these messages: those who were forced to flee home and seek safety elsewhere in Ukraine or abroad, those who remained to take part in war efforts, those who were abroad at the time and witnessed the unfolding of events from afar, and those who found themselves trapped in Ukrainian cities under siege.” This last title has been published as an Open Access ebook, and can therefore be read freely around the world.

Rebecca Gower

The Good Friday Agreement at 25

This post has a rare domestic focus, on the watershed moment in the history of Northern Ireland when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, 25 years ago today.  Most libraries are closed today, so this post looks at a small sample of ebooks about the Agreement and how to find others in the catalogue.

Continue reading