Preaching what we practise

In late 2017, our department started to produce termly newsletters about our acquisitions work, and the latest newsletter – for Michaelmas 2018, also covering the summer and Christmas breaks – has just been put online.  The idea for the newsletter came from discussions with faculty librarians.  What we in Collections and Academic Liaison (CAL) do in terms of selecting and acquiring books was not always well understood, and our faculty colleagues agreed that a regular newsletter which shed light on the kinds of things we buy would be welcome.  While the newsletter is written primarily for a library audience, readers are also welcome to look at it.  All four newsletters produced so far are now publicly available on CAL’s public webpage. Continue reading

Exit, pursued by a warehouse operative : Soviet drama and the Library Storage Facility

Inside the new Library Storage Facility

The Library Storage Facility (LSF), whose contents can be ordered to the Library but cannot be borrowed, was opened in June 2018.  By the end of 2019, the store’s astonishing 4,000,000-book capacity will be one third full.  We in Collections and Academic Liaison have started sending a few books there, and this blog post looks at the what, the why, and the how.

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Farewell and thanks to David Lowe

The head of our department, David Lowe, retires today, after a career at the University Library stretching back more than forty years.  This afternoon, the Library gave him a grand send-off attended by scores of current and former staff, with speeches from former full and acting University Librarians among those given, ending with a lovely speech by David himself.

Apart from one year at library school in Sheffield, David has been in Cambridge since he left school to study German and French at Jesus College.  He first came to the University Library as a trainee for one year; after completing his library course, he returned to take up employment at the UL once again.  He was appointed as the German specialist in 1979 and held this role for over twenty years, during which time he had a crucial role in accessions such as the Stefan Heym archive and he led work with other UK libraries to set up the German Studies Library Group.  He then moved up to become head of the new European Collections and Cataloguing department, which recently merged with English Collections to become Collections and Academic Liaison.  Through these roles, David has had a fundamental effect on the University Library’s collections, either through direct selection, through careful instruction to new staff regarding selection, or through the negotiation of both small and vast donations. Continue reading

Coming to a library near you…

MusiCB3 Blog

New to Cambridge this autumn – iDiscover.

So, you’ve been away for the summer, you come back to university, and what do you find? Your friendly catalogue of choice, LibrarySearch, has vanished and there’s a brand new catalogue iDiscover instead. iDiscover has been introduced across the UL, to affiliate and faculty libraries, and to college libraries. It’s replacing LibrarySearch, though our old friend, Newton, will still be available until August 2017.

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Cataloguing old-style

Guardbook catalogues

Guardbooks in the Catalogue Hall of the University Library

On September 1st a colleague pointed out to me that I am the sole surviving member of staff who catalogued exclusively for the Guardbook catalogue, the old catalogue which lines the walls of the room leading to the main Reading Room.  When I arrived fresh from library school in September 1977, all academic material was added to the Guardbook.  It was only with imprints dated 1978 onwards that the Library started to handle its intake differently, initially by creating a rather cumbersome microfiche catalogue, which then gave way to an online computer catalogue.

Nowadays, of course, most users pass by the Guardbook without a second glance, but for the shrinking number of people in the know, a great deal about the Library’s past history can be gleaned from its entries.  Today we work increasingly not just in a national but in an international context, using an international cataloguing code (RDA), and we strive to establish identical access points for an author wherever his or her works are catalogued.  Back in 1977 we used a set of cataloguing rules which were distinctively Cambridge’s own, and which had been much revised over the preceding decades. Continue reading