ISSN 0307-7284
New Series No.49
Michaelmas Term 2001

Edited by Aidan Baker, Kathryn McKee, Sheila Cameron



This issue of CULIB focusses on our raison d'être, Library Users.

A variety of libraries, both College and Faculty responded to my request for information on how we communicate with users, and the responses are collated. Practice varies widely between institutions, with a range of feedback mechanisms in place.

How do we measure more quantifiably if we are getting it right or not? Heather Lane has bravely grasped this nettle and has recently surveyed students at Sidney Sussex in a wide-ranging questionnaire about library and computing services. She shares with us her report on the responses received, conclusions drawn, and the action to be taken as a result.

Users no longer have to be physically in the library to access its resources, but the librarian still has an important rôle in guiding students in the use of electronic services. Isabel Holowaty describes some of her experiences in setting up and running training in IT resources.

Sadly, users don't always conform to the library's rules as we might wish. Aidan Baker weighs up the merits of fines and forfeits as he tackles the difficult question of punishment.

Not all users are academics of course. Increasingly libraries in Cambridge serve professional users from a wide variety of backgrounds. Jane Milburn discusses the challenges of providing a range of 'business' information to the diverse users of the Judge Institute. Peter Morgan gives some insight into library services for the medical profession.

And finally, bowing to pressure from my co-editors, I am forced to admit to what I do in my spare time.

Kathryn McKee

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Earlier in the year I sent out a request for information from Cambridge libraries on how they communicated with their users. I received responses from 5 Faculty and 6 College libraries, plus the UL. Among department and faculty libraries who responded there was a range of feedback mechanisms in place. Formal representation on library committees varied from:

"We have a long tradition of student members on the Library Committee - one each from the Undergraduates, M.Phil. students and Research students. It is not always easy to find representatives but it is very useful to have them. They are able to make suggestions and provide a different perspective on proposed changes. If they wanted to propose changes themselves, the previous chair of the committee used to make them look at both the pros and cons of the suggestion and conclude for themselves whether it would be a good idea or not. It was a good way of avoiding an unwanted change without having a 'them and us' battle."


"We have a Library Committee but no student representation on it, and the Academic Librarian does not wish to encourage this."

Formal representation does not always go through a library committee as such. One librarian routinely receives students' feedback from course committees and course evaluation forms, and commented that when suggestions were made (eg about opening hours) the library usually adopted requests at least on a trial basis. In another department, the librarian is a member of a staff/student committee which monitors the department's work in general, including library provision. Student representatives are responsible for organising questionnaires at the end of both the Michaelmas and Lent terms, and questions about the library appear on these. Questions are fairly basic, asking if College libraries hold the essential texts, and if departmental facilities could be improved, but it does mean that the library receives feedback on a regular basis without having to organize it themselves, and the results are discussed there and then with staff and student reps. Such setups where library provision is included in wider departmental evaluation appear to work well.

The UL has a Student User Committee, which consists on the student side of 3 undergraduate representatives and 6 graduate students, reflecting the Library's research support role, and is chaired by the Chairman of the Library Syndicate. The Librarian, Deputy Librarian, and Head of Reader Services represent the Library and there is normally a secretary from the staff side. CUSU and the Graduate Union usually arrange for representation, and the CUSU Academic Affairs Officer is usually one of the representatives. The agenda is set by the students but if there is an important library issue to report then this can be included, e.g. forthcoming building projects likely to cause disruption. Suggestion forms are also used for individual feedback.

In colleges the picture is equally mixed. Most of those responding did have student representatives on a committee, although not all colleges have a regular library committee at all.

In all Cambridge libraries, informal comments at the issue desk were regarded as a primary means of communication. In small libraries with a relatively small pool of users one to one communication is easy and effective. Wherever possible, librarians maintained a friendly atmosphere and approachable attitude. Patricia Aske has been providing students at Corpus Christi with afternoon tea during the revision period. Daily tea and biscuits were the suggestion of the new Librarian, Dr Christopher de Hamel, to try to reduce the tension in the library during the run up to examinations. A mix of all years has taken up the offer, and benefited from the chance to take a short break, relax, chat (and eat lots of biscuits), and the atmosphere has noticeably improved. Another librarian encouraged students to phone or email her about loans that might be late or reservation requests, helping to create a relaxed atmosphere in which potential problems could be dealt with early.

Suggestions books or boxes were often regarded as limited in usefulness. Comments tended to concern things which were already in hand, or simple requests for particular books to be bought. Inevitably, silly seasons could strike comments books, with requests for essential new library services such as televised football, music, coffee bars, swimming pools, etc. Requests for books to be purchased come in a variety of ways: in person at the issue desk, via the library's pigeonhole, by phone, email, in suggestions books, or on cards designed for the purpose.

Many libraries are starting to use email more extensively to communicate with their users. Some have automated housekeeping systems which will email out overdue notices. Some are using EMICS. In most cases, the librarian will maintain his or her own list(s) of email addresses to inform users of new resources available or distribute other more general notices. A news page on a departmental or College intranet can be a way of keeping users updated, sometimes combined with emails to inform them if important notices are posted on it. One College librarian commented that while she emailed the technophiles on the Fellowship with much appreciated information on new electronic resources in their subjects, her Fellow Librarian chatted to the technophobes over lunch, thus between them maintaining effective lines of communication with the whole senior academic body. Many respondents stressed the importance of having a range of means of communication available.

Surveys were felt to be a useful means of obtaining user feedback on particular issues. One library had carried out a survey of academics regarding which journal titles should be continued in print. Another had distributed a questionnaire to academics and graduate students to determine whether microfilm facilities in the library required upgrading. One librarian who had found standard requests for feedback ineffective, suggested that a survey might be carried out over the web, though had not yet tried this. Sidney Sussex achieved a high response rate to its wideranging survey of library services by tempting students with the prize of a bottle of wine. A full evaluation of their survey follows.

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The Richard Powell Library offers essential learning support to Sidney students but the collection is focused upon the needs of those reading for Part I of Tripos. It provides monographs, periodicals, electronic and audiovisual material for the use of all members of the College. The Librarian and her assistant are also able to advise on the use and acquisition of other resources available within and outside the University.

The survey was prompted partly by changes that have taken place in the library and partly by discussions within the University, outlined in The Reporter, relating to student support, especially in relation to Information Technology.

The Library has been accessible for 24 hours a day throughout the year for some years and in 1997 an automated self-issue system was introduced to improve circulation control. A security system, comprising an electronic alarm and video cameras, was installed in summer 1999 to help prevent stock losses.


The survey was designed to ascertain the views of junior members on library and computer suite provision, ease of access to electronic media and perceived training needs. Questionnaires were sent out during Lent 2000 with a return date of 17th March, and with the incentive of entry into a prize draw for a bottle of wine. Of 437 surveys sent out, a total of 132 were returned. 19 of these were from postgraduates, representing around a fifth of the postgraduate body; and 113 were returned by undergraduates, representing approximately one third of this group. The level of response was heartening, especially as most questionnaires had been carefully completed and many included constructive comments.

Replies were received across the range of disciplines as follows (the percentage of the 132 completed questionnaires shown in brackets): Medicine (15%), Natural Sciences (14%), Engineering (9%), Geography (8% ), English (7% ) and History (7%). Other subjects, including Languages, Economics and Social Science, Music, Philosophy, Classics and Law were all represented in smaller numbers.


The College library acquires books from several sources: recommendation by Directors of Studies and students, faculty and departmental reading lists and publisher's catalogues. As it is not possible to provide the range of material needed by more advanced students, given the constraints on the library's budget and shelf space, expenditure is concentrated on Part I provision. The survey confirmed, however, that many Part II and postgraduate students continue to borrow books and to use other library facilities.

The majority of respondents (55%) used the library on a daily basis and only three said they never used it at all. For more than two thirds it had several purposes, which included some or all of the following: book borrowing, somewhere to study or complete course work, a place to consult engineering 'cribs', somewhere to use email.

Most students surveyed (81%) used other libraries. The UL, as well as departmental libraries were cited, as was Cambridge Central library. Two thirds (66%) considered the library's general book stock to be good or very good and 58% had a similar opinion of book stock in their particular subjects.

Non-book materials
Only 2 of the 132 respondents had used CD ROMs. More had used electronic journals (8%), citation indexes (5%) or databases (7%). Most students had no idea of their access to such resources from the computer suite. For example, 66% were unaware they could use electronic journals, 71% were unaware they could use citation indexes and 71% were unaware they could use electronic databases. Only a small minority had acquired an Athens password, which would allow them free access to a large number of journals and databases.

Library practice has been to introduce all new entrants, usually organised in groups by subject, to the computerised catalogues and the computer suite. Sidney web pages and their links to other resources have also been demonstrated, and students have been invited to seek further individual training as required. Only 6% of respondents had taken advantage of this offer, though a further 42% expressed interest in further training. This included both graduates and undergraduates.

These findings have obvious implications for training and for induction into the learning support facilities offered within college, and much work has been done subsequently to improve user education in these areas.

Computing facilities
There are three main aspects to the Library's computer provision. These are: access to library catalogues; computer suite facilities for students to use the Internet, email, word processing and other software packages and access to electronic information resources.


Comments were invited on the questionnaire. There were some complaints, in the main about computing facilities. These provided us with some useful leverage for requesting improvements, the need for which had already been recognised by library and IT staff:

"Computer facilities outdated ; often cannot use files created in department or sent to me because of ancient DOS/ Win 3.1, old MS Office"

"Better computers or software so we can access all the sites we need to. At the moment we cannot print out our lecture handouts from many of the university web sites"

"Great investment in PCs required. It is a joke that project work done in the department cannot be opened here because the software is too out of date. This puts Sidney students at a distinct disadvantage compared to those at colleges with better facilities"

…"The first floor is hot and stuffy - Please improve the ventilation"

As far as possible, any complaints were dealt with promptly, and an explanation sent if we were were unable to alter existing arrangements immediately. We also had a number of requests, all of which prompted further action:

…"Improve the Classics section"

…"Web form for requesting new books"

…"Better links with the careers service"

…"Could postgrads have longer borrowing periods?"

…"One section of the computer suite where silence is enforced"

and our personal favourite:
…"More copies of hardcore texts"

It was also encouraging to hear that we were doing some things right!

…"Thanks for the straightforward signposting"

…"I'm v. impressed by the library services - have no complaints at all!" …"

… "The chairs are the best in Cambridge"

… " Very progressive library"

…"The Library is an excellent place to work"

…"The librarians are always very helpful and friendly"

…"Wonderful lending arrangements and staff"

…"I find the library easy to use, especially with 24 hour access. It also has a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere!"


The survey findings indicated overall satisfaction with book provision. Improvements to catalogue access and search facilities resulted from software upgrading during the long vacation 2000 and appear to satisfy any criticisms that the survey revealed in these areas. Improvements to computer facilities are also well developed. There are, however, at least two remaining challenges. First, to increase student awareness of available resources; and, secondly, to enhance their confidence and skill in exploiting these materials.

The Library assists with this in a number ways:

University wide recognition of the importance of training in the use of such resources has now resulted in the appointment a new Deputy Head of the Reference Department at the University Library, with formal responsibility for user education. The University now offers a wide range of training courses and these can be promoted by Directors of Studies as well as the Librarian. There is scope for the Library to provide additional user education, either to individuals or to small groups within a particular discipline, where a need is identified by a Director of Studies, either for a general introduction to resources in the subject or in the use of particular datasets. The advent of the College network now makes it feasible to book a group of machines in the Computer Suite for training use without inconvenience to other users.

As a performance measure, the Library will repeat the survey to gauge the impact of improvements to library and computing facilities. The questionnaire will be circulated once every three years via email, as this may improve the response rate and will simplify data gathering and assessment.

Heather Lane
Sidney Sussex
June 2001

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Wednesday 30 May 01

Just put the 'phone down - at last! Philosopher's Index is supposed to start in 15mins, the doors are still locked, the Entrance Hall staff don't know where to send people, and here I am in the Reading Room answering enquiries. HELP! Good thing I set up the computer earlier this morning. Grabbing the numerous keys, I run through my checklist: guides, evaluation forms, flyers, my notes, pen and a rather heavy Philo's Index volume. All there. No, need my floppy disk. Quickly seize the next one I can put my hands on, wondering what on earth is on it. Waving to a colleague mouthing "I'm off", he mouths back what I think is "Good luck". Head for Morison Room 2.

Have started on time and feel fine, but unfortunately late-comers keep arriving. Mentally I count the no. of people, but almost get lost in my opening speech. And another two, I think, arrive. Now lost count as well as my line of thoughts. Aaargh! Somebody failed to pick up the handouts. He'll need them, so I hop down to hand them to him. Great, I'm a bouncing, bumbling presenter. Must try and get back to my script.

Move on to describe Philosopher's Index, comparing it to the printed version. Holding up the biggest and fattest tome I could find on the shelf, I go through my usual jokes about weight-lifting and the need for magnifying glasses. Might be cheating a little, but nobody will know. Certainly lifts a few heads and corners of mouths. I've got a good group, I know, and I feel better already. Then there's a moment of tension as I logon. Has it always taken that long? Hope the network hasn't packed up in the meantime, because for the life of me I can't remember the searches I used in the screendump version. Probably can't even remember the filename either!

But all's well today and I settle in to what is my typical 'what-to-click-on-next' voice - sounds boring to my ears so dread to think how it is received on the floor. However, there's nothing glamorous or entertaining about 'Click on Open Selected Databases'. Hohum, as long as everybody knows what to do.

Things lighten up when I move on to my carefully picked search examples. Usually they provide an example of the content or make a positive or negative point about searching functionality. Try to cover equally well the advantages and disadvantages of the database and to give practical tips to cope with the latter. Philo's Index is a real joy to demonstrate. WebSpirs searching functionality is good and it has all the right bits (speed, search history, indices). It also has many typos and this hilarious feature called Suggest Term. Here I let my imagination run wild. 'How come the database suggests terms such as change, time, color, drug, epistemology, etc., even mystical experience (!!) when searching for banana?', I ask. A few are giggling. By the time I come to rice pudding, everybody is laughing. As expected the system finally comes to its senses and draws a blank. Point made. Heads are nodding in agreement and everybody knows to tread carefully with this feature.

Methodically am working my way through. Despite the script, despite it being the 4th repeat, have yet again deviated in my examples. Am praying that the hit list will prove my point, otherwise I'll look a fool up here. But today my brain is working fine and I talk my way out and can return to script. Phew! Nobody knows what a close shave this was.

It's all over and finished. Feel hyper-upped after this performance. Some come up with more questions, some have positive comments to make. All very up lifting, but I must get the room sorted and return the precious flat-screen monitor. Am also desperate for the loo, a late coffee break and a chair. But before all that must have a glimpse at the evaluation forms first.

Am back from lunch and start dealing with the usual tidy-up operation: take down all Philo's Index posters in the building, store the guides, update my training log files, edit the webpages, file all paperwork, enter the no. of attendees in the stats file, no. of evaluation forms returned and analyse them. Tend to count the excellents and very wells several times to make quite sure, but fly over the goods and wells. Then read to my horror the following comment: 'An excellent presentation, clear and well explained, but please introduce yourself the next time.' Am mortified. How could I forget!!

Need to try and forget this introducing business, so I emerge from the office to find out whether everything is ok in the reading rooms. Feel guilty for having forgotten the department in the last few hours. Nothing's happened out there, all's well and I'm not needed, so return to the office to catch up on e-mail and re-think my tasksheet. Among 15 e-mails waiting, there are 2 about user ed. First, 'When are we going to receive the posters for the next programme?' 'In the third week of June', I reply confidently, secretly crossing my fingers that the printers will be able to print them on time after all. Then, 'I won't be able to come to the Web of Science course on 15 June. Can you tell me when you will run it again?' Am pleased to have dates and times at my fingertips, but if I managed to finish editing the webpages, so would everybody else! Hm, maybe I should treat this more urgently now.

Realise to my dismay that my next presentation is only a few days away. Time flies. Did I really mean to have that many presentations in Easter Term? Still need to prepare for TLS. At least it's a repeat and I don't have to learn a completely new subject and database, write a new guide and screendumps. But 3 months ago my diary looked wonderfully empty and everything seemed possible. I still fail to learn my lessons these days. Hope others learnt more about Philosopher's Index and WebSpirs, though. I'd be very happy to settle for that because then it makes all my efforts and worries worthwhile.

Isabel D. Holowaty
Reference Department, University Library

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"The scribes scared potential book thieves with all sorts of threats: They will be erased from the book of life; suffer violent body pains; receive a blow upon their fundaments; be hit with a rod, mightily; hang from a gallows; get a knife into their bellies; be drowned; be cleft by the sword of a demon; have their eyes gouged or picked out by ravens; be consigned to the depths of hell; endure fire and brimstone; have their souls rot away; be boiled in a cauldron, seized by epilepsy and fever, and broken on the wheel; be tied by the chain of excommunication; be accursed unto their seventh generation; or be ripped apart by swine." So wrote Reinhold Aman in 1984, reviewing the book Anathema!: medieval scribes and the history of book curses by Marc Drogin. People who took possession of books from dissolved monasteries were often careful to erase the curses they found in them.

In practice, the curses left nobody one penny the worse. The most horrendous threats turn ridiculous when the threatener clearly can't or won't deliver on them. The Haddon Library enjoyed some success with the regime of punishments it used to enforce at the end of every term. People who returned books late then were asked to help with library tasks. We kept that up for ten years, and it did a great deal - perhaps surprisingly - for our rapport with readers. It had loopholes, however, and as time went by, these frayed wider and wider. In 1998, with the advent of automated loans, the punitive-labour system became both harder and less necessary to administer, and we abandoned it. But student reps on the Faculty Library Committee told us they were sorry to see it go.

We did less well with an earlier wheeze, where I tried to aid the end-of-term recall by publicly threatening to donate a penny to Conservative Party funds for every overdue note we sent out on a certain date. I'm not sure who was most punished by that. I personally was 86 pence the worse. It got us a mention in the Times Diary, but we didn't build it into the programme.

Nearer to the spirit of the medieval book curse is the threat that Nigel Hancock used to dispense when he was Senior Under-Librarian at the UL: "If you carry on like this, you'll be singing in the Vatican choir!" Nigel found that, at times, the only way to retrieve books was by raids on the borrowers' quarters. Occasionally, setting out on these missions, he would be accompanied by 'heavies', members of a college eight being the best for this task. It required the greatest caution if you wanted to stay on the right side of the law. Breaking and entering is a criminal offence. I would suppose that threats of castration must be similarly risky, but they seem to have been taken in good part.

Threats concerning degrees are more readily enforceable. Colleges have been known to withhold degrees until library books are returned. On one occasion, a member of college library staff was authorised to pluck a student out of the graduation queue and demand payment of the fines he owed - but that, again, is an incident that is remembered and not a regular feature of the programme. Reinhold Aman's 1984 article contrasts the medieval book curses with a situation where "Today's mild-mannered librarians threaten us with a blood-curdling fine of 5 cents a day." If you enjoy the spectacle of physical violence, fines are bound to be a disappointment. From all other points of view, however, they have a lot going for them. Being quantitative, they can be varied almost infinitely to suit the heinousness of the offence, with a printed scale of fines for standard transgressions (e.g. failure to return a book). They can be administered discreetly. You can take some of the hostility out of them by treating them as charges (morally neutral) rather than penalties (which blot a person's character), and still retain the leverage. Best of all, they bring some benefit to the library that levies them. You can do more with the income from fines that with the results of any number of floggings. Bloodless and utilitarian they may be, but you can get a very long way with that.

Aidan Baker
Haddon Library

AMAN, R. 1984. Review of Anathema!: medieval scribes and the history of book curses by Marc Drogin. In Verbatim, 10(3), p.11.

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'What do you actually do in the Business School?'
'There are courses in economics, management, salesmanship, commercial history, theory of exchange, the ethical aspect of business - all that kind of thing.'
Blake, N. (1966) Morning after Death London: Collins

Nowadays "all that kind of thing" covers everything from health or prison management to e-business and from entrepreneurship to derivatives trading. At the "soft" end it is almost purely social science, at the "hard" end it is almost completely mathematics. The multidisciplinary nature, as well as the commercial applicability, of the subject means that, perhaps more than in any other field, there is a plethora of information resources available to us - but at a cost. The majority of business information resources are not developed for academics, but for practitioners. The high demand for up-to-the minute business information, by companies that are prepared to pay, has definite benefits: there are many suppliers competing to provide up-to-date and relevant resources. In the beginning, however, many operated on a pay-per-use basis, which caused problems for academic libraries, who generally do not have the organisational and accounting structures in place to pay in this way, preferring instead an annual subscription for unlimited usage. It has often been necessary to negotiate terms, in order to ensure that there are no unwelcome surprises during the financial year. Increasingly though, agreements are being made so that academic business information providers can access the same information as corporate clients, at a fraction of the cost: an academic subscription to the financial database, Datastream, for example, costs 15% of the full commercial price. Also, the range of subjects covered means that deciding which combination of products to choose is a complicated matter and, although they are often greatly discounted, the costs can still be considerable (the aforementioned subscription to Datastream is £10,000 for single-user access, and there is no viable alternative).

By choosing to take advantage of academic discounts, we cannot use our electronic resources to provide information on a commercial basis. The Judge Institute has links with companies and organizations at local, national and global levels: through guest speakers and lecturers, student projects, recruitment, collaborative research and consulting. The Library often receives requests from local businesses to use its services and, although anyone is allowed to access the print collections, licensing agreements do not permit us to make the electronic services available to external users. It is periodically suggested that the Library provide a fee-based service for the business community, but this is a decision that would completely alter the Library's primary focus of supporting the teaching and research of the University. The cost of abandoning our academic subscriptions in order to service external information requests, not including the employment of additional staff to run this service, could be as much as seven times our current expenditure. These costs would need to be recouped before any profit could be made. In any case, there is already a fee-based business information service at Cambridge's public library, which works in partnership with the local Business Link organisation.

The Library does, however, serve a huge range of people with a variety of information needs. About half of our full-time students and all of our part-time students come from business or management backgrounds: from the not-for-profit sector through to the very-much-for-profit sector. This year's MBA cohort includes charity workers, military personnel, medical doctors and a film director, as well as the more traditional finance and marketing types. They may be used to a very specialised role in a large corporation, or be self-employed entrepreneurs, or be consultants moving from one organisation to another. Most have been out of the education system for a while (from five to twenty-five years) and have varying expectations when they arrive. Some may have extensive experience of information resources within their particular area of expertise, whereas others may be completely changing track and need to start again from scratch. Some may remain locally throughout their course of study, but many will travel across the world to do research or work on projects. Our main challenge is to make a wide range of services as quickly and easily accessible as possible, whilst operating within the various licensing constraints that exist.

Despite the restrictions on allowing commercial usage of its resources, the Library does achieve a level of symbiosis with the business community. The Library, like the Institute as a whole, needs the information produced by and for business in order to operate. In return it helps to create a new generation of business information users, who become the clients and information producers of the future.

Jane Milburn
Judge Institute of Management Studies

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Medical school libraries, it is sometimes observed, are different - different, that is, from the other libraries that make up university library systems in the UK. When this observation is made by medical school librarians, it is usually being offered as an excuse. When made by senior colleagues within the University, it is more likely to be tinged with other sentiments - confusion, annoyance, regret, or despair (possibly all at once). The main reason for the difference is not hard to identify. As a rule, libraries in higher education institutions exist to support the twin pillars of academic activity, teaching, and research: each of these contains a well-established user community with information needs that are instinctively understood and endorsed by the parent institution. Medical school libraries share these two roles, but they also have a third: they support a working community of doctors and other health-care professionals who require information, not to pursue an educational goal, but to help them do a job in the "outside world" of health-care practice. They thus have priorities which in some respects are fundamentally different from those of other academic libraries: there is, for example, a far greater emphasis on current awareness services and on speed of supply ("I'm operating in half an hour - what have you got on surgery of the hand?").

In Cambridge the Medical Library (ML), a branch of the University Library located in the Clinical School at Addenbrooke's Hospital, serves staff of the local NHS hospital and community trusts - respectively Addenbrooke's and Lifespan - and has a wider back-up role as the largest library in the NHS Eastern Region's library network. In reality, of course, the demarcation lines between university and NHS staff are often blurred, sometimes to the point of near-invisibility. While most Clinical School teaching staff have honorary clinical contracts, many NHS staff are heavily involved in educational activities: there is a strong commitment to continuing professional education, especially for the medical profession; senior NHS staff have honorary teaching responsibilities in the Clinical School; and NHS-based research, often involving collaboration with higher education and Medical Research Council (MRC) units, has become more prominent in recent years.

In practical terms, the tripartite nature of this library user community has far-reaching consequences for the ML's policies and services. First, consider the numbers involved. The ML currently has about 7,000 active registered users. Of these, about 55% are NHS-based -mainly from Addenbrooke's Hospital, but also from the community trust Lifespan, from general practitioners and other primary care staff in Cambridgeshire, and from other hospital trusts such as Papworth and Hinchingbrooke (Huntingdon). Of the remaining 45%, about 15% are local MRC staff and other external users, and only about 30% are members of Cambridge University. Within the 2,000 or so who make up our University clientele, only 400 are clinical students; and while those students are a very active user group, it will be obvious from the foregoing figures that the external user groups have a major impact on the ML's collection development policies and information services.

Given the multi-professional composition of the NHS workforce, it is perhaps inevitable that the individuals who use the ML will have widely varying levels of educational achievement and knowledge of how to seek and evaluate information. They also, frequently, have limited opportunities to visit the library, and this is especially true for those who are community-based. The way in which the ML organises its user training courses and its reader services must of necessity be responsive to these special factors.

The ML's external user community is formally recognised by funding agreements. At present, about 40% of its recurrent funding is provided by the NHS and, to a much lower extent, the MRC. The NHS funding comes from different sources, reflecting the fact that it is a very complex organisation. This complexity poses real problems, because it can be very difficult to establish which particular authority has (and is prepared to acknowledge) responsibility for funding a specific area of activity: for example, there are at least three distinct funding channels for NHS education and training. To make matters even more complicated, the NHS regularly undergoes substantial reorganisation, leading to lack of continuity in the ML's relationships with various NHS departments and individuals. And while the NHS's commitment to continuing education and training is undoubtedly strong, it remains the case that the role of libraries within the NHS is not well understood by administrators, and that libraries do not enjoy the high profile we take for granted within higher education. While this creates difficulties for the ML, it also serves to remind us that the conservative stability of Cambridge University as an organisation, and the high regard in which the University's libraries are held, are assets that we should value.

Peter Morgan
Medical Library

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Anne Keith has moved from the Forbes Mellon Library, Clare College, to the Union Society. In her nine and a half years at Clare, she was reponsible for getting the library catalogued online, automating the loans, and all that goes therewith. At the Union Society, which has an excellent bookstock but no computer, she faces a similar challenge. Her place as Forbes Mellon Librarian has been taken by Anne Hughes, who moves up from Trinity.

Peterhouse has taken on a retrospective cataloguer. Sarah Preston taught in the Department of Library and Information Studies at University College Dublin and is an expert in the history of the Augustinian Canons in Ireland. Sarah aims to get the college's 45,000 books on to the Union Catalogue in the space of four years.

Trinity's cataloguing project is bigger still. Latest recruits to it are Cherith Durrant, fresh from the University of Central England, and Frances Wetherell, who moves from Chemical Engineering.

St John's College library is embarking this summer on a four year project to catalogue the contents of its historic library. Two rare books cataloguers have been appointed. Stewart Tiley moved from Trinity's retrospective cataloguing project to start work in August. Allen Purvis, whom many of you will know from his years at the UL, will be starting in January once he has completed Newnham's recataloguing project.

King's library has a new assistant in Anna Cook, a Reading graduate who's been working at Addenbrookes.

Emma Rixon swaps libraries for administration. She moves on from the Haddon Library in Archaeology and Anthropology, which she helped to pull out of a black hole five years ago, to the Registry at Homerton. Her successor at the Haddon, Liz Guest, swaps admin for libraries: she comes from the Central Records office at the Old Schools.

Magdalene loses an assistant to art. Bridget Alexander, who when not in the college library has been building a career as an oboist in London, is leaving after four and a half years to be an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Her place will be taken in October by Kari Duchin.

Several Colleges have appointed graduate trainees for 2001-2002. Joanna Davies comes to St John's having studied English at Newnham. Jo has previously worked in the Open University Library. Trinity's new graduate trainee is Ann-Marie Eze. New Hall gets Miriam Riley - who will add her experience there to previous work at Dublin Institute of Technology and Meath County Library.

Architecture & History of Art has a new assistant, Rhona Hamilton, who likes hill-walking. From here that requires a certain amount of travel, but there are places near her home in Stirling that will satisfy.

Chris Michaelides joined the University Careers Service in November, taking up the post of Information Services Manager at Stuart House. Chris's previous experience has included legal reference librarianship and work with rare books and manuscripts at the Inner Temple Library (one of the four Inns of Court libraries) in London, followed by development of Information Services for Kent County Council Careers Service in their Ashford Centre. Most recently she has managed Information Services and Information Technology development for the RNIB in one of their specialist Further Education Colleges in Leicestershire. Chris is a graduate Librarian, an Associate of the Library Association and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Further Education. Other enthusiasms include music of all types and periods, local history and archaeology (with Parts 1,2 and 3 of a University of London Diploma in Archaeology to back this up).

The new librarian at the Whipple is Jill Whitelock. Jill has worked previously in the Institute of Astronomy Library and at Addenbrookes. The Whipple has also taken on a new cataloguer for its project under the Research Support Libraries Programme: Kirsty Corrigall, who started in July after six years as Assistant Librarian at Tyndale. Cataloguing the Whipple's collection of German material in physiology has given her a rare appreciation of web-based translation services.

Sara Wilkinson, who has been covering maternity leave for Andrea Thomson at the Newton Institute since September 2000 has now been offered the position of Librarian and Information Officer permanently, following Andrea's decision not to return to the Institute.

Mark Hurn took over as Departmental Librarian at the Institute of Astronomy on 30 April. Mark studied philosophy and literature at the University of Essex, before taking his MA in Information Studies at the University of North London. Mark has spent most of his career in the Library of the British Standards Institution, though has always had an interest in astronomy as a hobby. He and a friend have put together an astronomy-related website:

Congratulations to Gotthelf Wiedermann (Research Associate in the UL, working on special projects, currently on the Arthur Schnitzler archive) and Sarah Taylor (Assistant Librarian at the School of Education since November 1999) on being awarded their MAs in Library and Information Studies by the University of North London.

Karen Attar of Kings College Library has had 2 articles published recently: "Stefan Heym's King David Report: a Microcosmic Precursor", Neophilologus, 85 (2001), 273-86; and "The Application of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification in Cambridge College Libraries", New Review of Academic Librarianship, 6 (2000), 35-49.

African Studies' new part-time assistant, Claudette Henry, has come a long way - from Toronto, her original base, and from Dersingham near Kings Lynn every working day. Her background is in journalism; a daunting thought for the editors of CULIB.

Kathleen Manson is leaving Classics for Modern and Medieval Languages. With varied experience that included a stint as a distillery tour guide, she has enjoyed Classics for its small team and the opportunity to get to know the users. Stephen Howe, who joined the Classics Library in March, was previously at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. He finds the new place a breath of fresh air after that - life among things that were either spiky or went bang had begun to pall.

The Engineering Library's new assistant, Xioahong Zhao, arrived in June. Her own background is in engineering, and she taught at the Chinese school in Reading before coming to Cambridge.

Louise Gibbons has retired from the Oriental Studies Library after 25 years. We wish her well. Her place is being taken by Jane Tienne, who has experience of living in the Middle East and Korea and of working as a private tutor.

There have been a number of changes at the UL. Michael Wilson has been appointed Senior Under-Librarian in charge of the Betty and Gordon Moore Library with effect from January 2001. Nicola Thwaite has been appointed Head of Rare Books from 1 June and has been replaced as Exhibitions Officer by Anne-Marie Robinson. Dr Dominic Marner and Dr Stephen Roberts are recent appointees in MSS, the former as a medievalist and the latter to catalogue the papers of Professor Meyer Forbes, the social anthropologist. Ms M. Zhang has replaced John Wells as Jardine Matheson Archivist from 4 June, John having been appointed to an Assistant Under-Librarian post in MSS.

On 27 July, Voula Tantanozi, the UL's Greek cataloguer, moved back home to Salonika, while James Bass, Eva Huehne and Clothilde Chaignon have been replaced in foreign cataloguing by Urszula Dench, Cecile Gani and Athina Valdramidou respectively. Changes, too, in the UL's IT Department. On 24 August, Simon Hewitt, already making his name as a playwright, left to do a course in creative writing in Liverpool, while Colin Edwards left for Trinity College and was replaced by Thomas Waldoch from Poland. And on 20 August, following Isobel Wilson's retirement, the UL's Offical Publications Department welcomed Joanne Phipps, previously on the staff of Queen Mary College, University of London.

Finally, after all these moves of people, it's time to announce that three libraries have been seen to move over the summer:

Land Economy is now at Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1SB. The telephone number is still 01223 337110.

History of Population and Social Structure is now at Sir William Hardy Building, Dept. of Geography, Downing Site, Downing Place. CB2 3EN. The telephone number is now 01223 333399.

The Computer Laboratory Library has taken its place in the new William Gates Building, J.J. Thomson Ave. CB3 0FD. The telephone number remains unchanged at 01223 334648.

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… annoy other librarians by becoming the most demanding of library users themselves!

It all started with a simple question from my Dad-in-law about the history of the town in which he grew up. Most of it was new town, but there were a few older houses, and he wanted to know how far their grounds extended, as he remembered playing in overgrown gardens as a boy and wondered to which house they'd originally belonged. A quick visit to the UL map room - that was all it needed. I could have stopped then and there, but the map, though fascinating, didn't quite show enough. Having a firm conviction that when you want to know something you ask a librarian (I wonder where I got that idea?), I wrote to the local library, and they put me in touch with a local history group, who sent a publication, which set Dad reminiscing, and regretting that he knew so little about his forebears. He had a photograph of his grandmother, but he didn't know her name. "I can find that out for you," I said confidently. I didn't honestly know where to start, but I knew exactly how I could find out. I promptly visited the public library and borrowed a book on how to trace your family tree.

Three years later, after countless hours in libraries and record offices, I dread to think how many pounds spent on certificates, copies of wills, photographs, etc., and I am beginning to build up a picture of the various branches of my husband's family. Along the way I have learnt a great deal more about the hatters of Oldham, the Lancashire cotton industry: its spinners, carders, tenters and slubbers, the spread of the Strict and Particular Baptists following the ministry of William Gadsby, the printing trade in the North East and Scottish Borders, migration from Ireland in the 1840s… Starting on my own family I have encountered yet more printers and bookbinders (London and Gloucestershire this time), a Metropolitan policeman, agricultural workers in Sussex, and the biggest surprise of all, French Huguenot refugees who arrived in England in the 1680s and entered royal and military service. Family history can take you down some unexpected routes. This all started with a simple trip to a library… Never borrow a book, you don't know where it might lead you.

Where did I start? Well, my book's instructions led me first to annoy relatives. I phoned them up, and asked what they remembered about about Grandma and Great Aunt Lizzie. I rummaged through the oldest and dustiest volumes in Mum-in-law's bookroom in search of those wicked people who ink their names and addresses on the flyleaf. I even gritted my teeth and smiled nicely when, after a couple of years of "Oh no, Dad didn't have any other relations," my father suddenly produced Great Uncle Horace's medal from the loft and expressed innocent surprise that I hadn't seen it before.

The Family Records Centre in London was the first port of call: home to births, marriages and deaths indexes, censuses, wills and some non-conformist registers. Information about the FRC can be found at Once I had identified ancestors' home towns or regions, I could then progress to local record offices: the repositories for parish registers, records of deeds, electoral registers, local businesses, etc. and to libraries with local studies units for collections of local publications, newspapers, maps, etc. GENUKI is the best starting point to find out what there is available on any region

The UL has proved an invaluable source of local publications where travel to far flung places would be too timeconsuming or expensive. Trade directories can help where families have moved between censuses and you need to find an address to attempt to trace them. Magazines produced by particular religious denominations or trades may provide obituaries, notices of events or offices held. Local family history society journals can also provide leads to new sources of information to try. If you have traced your ancestors to a particular locality, it is well worth joining a family history society, as oftenthey have indexes to original sources which can save a great deal of time.

When searching libraries for genealogical information you have to bear in mind that much of the material you are after was never designed to help future generations find people. It is often not indexed. The "useful" stuff may be the books in the basement, the ones that haven't made it onto the computer yet, the sources only available on microfilm for which you should have booked a reader in advance, or in manuscript, for which you need to be supervised, possibly even out at the remote store and only fetched on Tuesdays and Fridays. You know that, as a genealogist, you are going to be the sort of library user librarians hate. Practise that apologetic, yet winning smile. Try a whispered confession:"It's ok. I do understand, I'm a librarian myself," magic words which can occasionally produce unexpectedly welcome results (like a cup of tea or use of the staff loo!)

Tracing your family tree is a hobby which can take up a huge amount of time, be extremely frustrating, and appear sometimes to go absolutely nowhere. You can spend a whole day staring at microfilms and come home having gained only a headache. It can be the most amazing thrill to discover a new ancestor, a new branch, a new fact about your family. I've only managed to push one of the many branches of the families I've tried to trace back any further than the start of civil registration in 1837, and that was largely due to the fact that they were professional people who left records: army officers and clergy, wealthy enough to leave wills. The majority of ancestors of most people leave little trace. If we can find them at all, all we know is that they are born, they marry, they die. For the rest of their lives, the place we turn to for clues is inevitably a library; we try to find out how big the village was then, how many churches, if there was a school, what the principal products or trades were. The library may have a photograph, or map, or contemporary account with which to flesh out our outline a little. Diaries of local people, histories of local institutions, booklets to commemorate the chapel centenary, newspapers, notices of events: a persistent library user can extract a local social history from a variety of sources. We all know what it's like finding the ephemeral in our own collections, the works that are "about x" for which the reader knows neither author nor title, and for which the catalogues are antiquated and idiosyncratic. I probably have the advantage over many amateur genealogists in that libraries are familiar places and I automatically assume (usually correctly) that the librarian wants to help me. Many of those trying to trace family history may not be regular library users, or at least never have ventured beyond the fiction shelves before. They may need guidance on what resources exist and how to make best use of them, how to use a variety of catalogues and indexes, how to use microfilm and microfiche. The librarian may also have to break the unwelcome news that the information sought is not readily found in a single publication, and that the user faces a considerable amount of research to discover it.

What was it I wanted to find out - Grandmother's name? Oh, she was Lillian Taylor. That was written in a Bible on the shelf at home. I didn't actually need to go to a library at all…

Kathryn McKee
St John's College

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The theme for the Lent 2002 issue of CULIB will be interlibrary coooperation. If your library has participated in a collaborative effort, benefited from a cooperative scheme, joined forces with another library in order to improve services, CULIB would like to hear from you. All contributions to Sheila Cameron at the UL by 14 January please.

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CULIB is edited by Aidan Baker (Haddon Library), Kathryn McKee (St. John's College Library) and Sheila Cameron (Cambridge University Library and is produced and distributed by Sheila Cameron.