How we used to order in pre-computer days
Many of our readers, familiar with the ease of book purchasing over the internet, often with a next-day delivery service, assume that the buying of new titles by the Library is invariably straightforward. The internet has certainly facilitated the way in which we work. Ordering 20 books on-line usually only takes a few minutes. It is much easier to establish whether a title is still in print, although publishers’ and vendors’ websites are often not completely up to date in the detail they provide. The websites of many suppliers enable us to track our requests, seeing the dates on which they order, acquire and dispatch a book. Sites such as Abebooks and Chapitre can make the acquisition of many out-of-print items far easier.
It shouldn’t be assumed, however, that the Library can always replicate the experience of the private individual, particularly in terms of e-books. Continue reading
Textures : processus et événements dans la création poétique moderne et contemporaine
Two PhD students at Trinity College have just published a book which has arrived at the University Library. Jeff Barda and Daniel A. Finch-Race edited the volume Textures : processus et événements dans la création poétique moderne et contemporaine (736:47.c.201.102, and at the MML library at classmark F5A.G.10), which presents papers from the 17th French Graduate Research Seminar held at Trinity in May 2014. Published by Peter Lang, this is the 120th volume in the series ‘Modern French Identities’, of which the University Library holds 99.
This is patently an important book for us to have in the Library, both because of its subject and its Cambridge connections. It was not a difficult decision to purchase the book. However, it is increasingly becoming a difficult decision about how to purchase books. Continue reading
In the early hours of Sunday morning each week, members of the European Collections and Cataloguing team get an email telling them how many new records have been added to the catalogue in the last seven days. The breakdown which the system gives us is either by language, or in some cases by language grouping. The figures fluctuate considerably from week to week, of course, depending on what other things people have been doing, but our aim is to achieve a reasonable level of consistency over the course of the library year, which runs from August 1st to July 31st. August and early autumn see the work of adding up these and other statistics to produce figures for the full year.
In deciding which Dutch language titles to buy, the Library needs to be very selective, bearing in mind that the audience for such material amongst our readership is small. What we buy in Dutch is a small percentage of Holland’s total publishing output. On the other hand the Library has excellent collections of Dutch material, and providing continuity in our collection development is important. The Dutch language collection currently numbers about 22,000 items, and we add between 200 and 250 new titles each year. Our main focus is on history, fine arts, church history and medieval literature. Contemporary literature is acquired much more selectively.
The annual Libris Geschiedenis Prijs is a useful indicator of important recent titles in Dutch history, and the shortlist is scrutinised carefully. We buy many but not all of the titles featured, restricting our choice to books relating to the Dutch-speaking world. We did not acquire the 2010 winner, for example, a book in Dutch on the history of the Congo by David van Reybrouck, although this later appeared in English translation and was therefore received under legal deposit (649:2.c.201.29).
Whilst Finnish language items have never been energetically collected in the University Library, it has substantial collections of material in the other Scandinavian languages – Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. Two librarians with special responsibility for Scandinavian studies built up our collections over half a century. F.T.K. Caröe had been the principal planner of the massive operation by which the University Library was moved from its old to its present premises in 1934. He retired in 1963, and in his obituary in the Staff Bulletin in January 1971, Deputy Librarian John Oates paid tribute to Caröe’s interest in the Scandinavian literatures, “his deep knowledge of which he used indefatigably in the interests of the University Library”. His successor Dr J.B. Dodsworth, who was appointed in October 1965, carried on that tradition, but since Dr Dodsworth’s retirement in 1998, collection development in this area has significantly diminished.