CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

ISSN 0307 7284    Edited by Kathryn McKee, Aidan Baker, Mary Kattuman and Kate Arhel

Issue 57, Michaelmas 2005: Library publicity



Library staff in Cambridge University are to get free coaching in web design and press work.

The coaching comes in the latest issue of house journal CULIB. University Press Office head Cerris Tavinor tells how to write press releases, and Eleanor Rideout of the Scottish Parliament Information Centre explains what makes a good web site. Other articles in the issue report on the public relations opportunities that Cambridge librarians are already taking. Patricia McGuire and Jude Brimmer write about how they boosted public awareness of King's College Archive Centre, and Steve Hills describes the joys and perils of producing a newsletter for library users.

CULIB co-editor Aidan Baker explained: "This is the first time CULIB has looked at library publicity. Librarians and archivists have a hugely important service to market, and some of them are making a brilliant job of it. And we've got the regular features such as the PEOPLE page and the article about a librarian's hobby – quilting, this time. It's been exciting to see this issue of CULIB come together."

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Most people spend no more than a minute reading an article. It's therefore essential that you convey the information that you want to put over to the public in a lively, factual and informative style.

Firstly, think of your heading. It needs to be snappy, stimulating and pertinent. A good pun or alliteration will help; quite different to the titles you might use for a paper in a professional journal. Keep the title to three or four words, no more. If you need a subtitle, add one, rather than making a very long title, e.g.:

Quake, Rattle and Roll: The Science of Earthquakes


Bright Outlook for Weather Centre

Put your press release on official paper (if it's your college, include the logo). If it's from your research group, or just you personally, that's fine, but make sure there is some sort of address or branding on the paper. Journalists like to know where the press release is coming from.

For a press release, put the date at the top. If you don't, it will be thrown away. No journalist is interested in old news. Also remember to date your release for the day you send it out, not the day of your first draft. Preferably, you want the journalist to read the release thinking it has just been written and faxed over to them.

Your article or press release should then immediately tell the journalist what the news is:

A unique weather research laboratory opens today.

This is not the moment for a paragraph of scene setting about the history of global warming (although you might want to mention that this is a relevant factor). You need to hit the journalist straight between the eyes, and engage their interest immediately.

Your second paragraph should fill in the detail – what will the laboratory offer, why was it needed, what work will be done there? Is it the first of its kind? If so, say so. Is it special? If so, explain why.

You must convey your enthusiasm but write in clean, short sentences. Avoid passive tenses and complex constructions. Avoid jargon or abstruse scientific terminology.

Your third paragraph might be the place to include a quote from someone who is most closely involved with the news. The media like quotes on a plate, because if they can't get hold of the person, they can still include a personal quotation in their article. It's also a chance to say something a bit more "over the top" or informal. It brings in a human touch, and stops the press release sounding too factual, e.g.:

New head of the laboratory, Phil Simmonds said: "We've been waiting for this day for three years now. All our staff have worked so hard to ensure that funds were raised, and it is a great honour to welcome the Duke of Kent to open the premises. Innovative and cutting edge weather prediction will take place in this building, and we are looking forward to leading the way in forecasting."

Your final paragraph (if you need one), might include another quotation (perhaps from a corporate sponsor, a colleague, or an alternative commentator), e.g.:

Estelle Sunproducts, the main sponsor of the new building, have provided £6 million for a new chair in Sunburn Sciences. Managing Director, Quentin Factor, welcomed the new Weather Centre: "We are thrilled with the collaboration, and hope this is the beginning of many new discoveries. Estelle scientists will collaborate with the team of researchers. Together we hope to bring about a far greater understanding of skin cancer and sunburn."

Round up the press release at this point. It is good practice to write the words "ends" after this main part of the press release. This is usually then followed by two more sections: For more information, and Notes for Editors.

Always add points of contact at the end of your press release:

For more information, contact
1. Dr Jenkins, on (home tel) … (work tel) … (mobile) … (email) … (fax) …

The more numbers you can give, or alternative contact names, the better. If people can't find your point of contact, they may not cover the story.

Any "dull" or technical information, statistics or facts can then be added under "Notes for Editors". This is a way of giving journalists easy facts and saves them asking too many questions, e.g.:

1. There are 6,000 students taking Weather Studies, of whom 25% are female. Statistics show that the rise in weather reporters is increasing by 2% at entry level each year.

Cerris Tavinor
University Press Office

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A website is now a prerequisite for any organisation. To the majority of people, if an institution does not have a website, or that site cannot be easily found by a search engine, then it does not exist. A lot of available internet marketing advice is for businesses, the aim of their websites being by definition to maximise profits as much as possible. However, this new essential of marketing is not limited to organisations with a product to sell or irrelevant to libraries, which also wish to achieve the most successful outcome with the resources available. For example, it is a now a requirement that local government websites help save money by increasing efficiency.

Some good starting points are listed at: which gives 20 good reasons to put your business on the web. These reasons all highlight the fundamental importance of being visible and contactable. A good summary of the eight generally recommended basic principles of web marketing techniques can be found at: These all aim to increase traffic to your website by advertising it wherever possible and by ensuring that the site itself is good enough to attract visitors.

One of the phrases often given in the aims of websites is that it should be "useful, usable and used." That is, a website should have a clear function, perform this properly and finally, this should be what users actually want.

Socitm, the Society of Information Technology Management, produces an annual report on the websites of local authorities: They have their own rating system which is very useful for understanding the potential of institutional websites. The four levels are: Promotional, which give only basic information and contact details, Content and Content Plus, which are achieved as more sophisticated and interactive features such as site searches and online catalogues are added. The final level is Transactional, described as "accessible, complete, thoughtful and coherent" which reflects a site which can be really used. They allow different interactions, for example bookings and payments and can recognise a customer – for example to check an individual account.

However, it is important to keep in mind what the technical possibilities are supposed to achieve. The Plain English guide to designing clear websites ( states that "The golden rule of good websites is to decide what you want your site to do, and then use technology to achieve this goal. Too many designers find out everything technology can do and then try to think of something to do with this technology."

As a lot of libraries are part of larger organisations they are constrained by the designs and systems used by this organisation's website. One very frequent problem can be that many council or business websites are structured in the same way as the organisation, which can be confusing for an unfamiliar person. A good A–Z index or task-oriented website is needed to improve access.

As many aspects of website design have been increasingly professionalised, staff members whose job description involves updating websites are often now using content management systems, which can limit freedom to structure information as wanted. However, there are still steps which can be taken by a writer of content to improve its usefulness and usability. Simple steps such as ensuring that links within your site are used consistently, so a reader knows where a link will take them can be invaluable. Even a writer experienced in writing instructions and information needs to be aware of the different way users interact with online text. For instance, it has been proven that even users with high levels of literacy scan rather than read text on screen. See, which also features columns on many aspects of usability for both design and content. It is also a mistake to assume that a user has read through all your carefully prepared information, starting with the homepage. The nature of hyperlinked information means that a user can enter or leave a website at any point and does not expect to have to follow one structured path to find what they want.

More tips on writing electronic content can be found at:

The speed with which most libraries have adapted the still very recent development of internet technology is a sign both of how much the internet has become an essential part of modern life and a contradiction of the myth that libraries would become less useful once access to information through technology was widespread. In fact, the potential user base has widened – "Within just a few years, the researcher can now access thousands of libraries across the world without leaving the office".(John Sherwell, "Online Library Catalogues",

Technology can be used as a way of facilitating access to popular existing services. For example, it is now standard for users to be able to search catalogues online and to renew and request books themselves. However it is also possible to achieve things which would have previously been logistically or financially impossible. An email of news events sent to all users can be sent to all users signed up to a mailing list for very little cost. It is also possible to notify users of new acquisitions by their favourite authors or in their preferred genre, which would have been an enormous job without database technology.

One of the most innovative websites is Gateshead Libraries website. One recent scheme to try and target young borrowers was a Blind Date book service, which provided a surprise book chosen according to the reader's answers in an online questionnaire. Among its other features are interactive polls which provide interest for regular users, special music information and children's sections. The user book discussion forums suffer from the common problem of not being added to very often, perhaps a sign that this is not something users are interested in doing on a library website.

Evaluation of a website should be ongoing. It is possible to track how users move around a website from their point of entry as well as seeing usage statistics for individual pages. These statistics can also be useful evidence of the value of library services, indicating how a good website can enhance the reputation of a library as well as marketing its services.

Conversely, one of the most effective promotions for a library's web service is the existing strengths and reputation of a library. Many library homepages now act as portals to librarian-selected electronic resources, and as the amount of information available online grows ever greater the role for libraries in "authenticating" information will become more important. Customer service is still all-important – technology is a tool not an end in itself. Services such as online reference enquiries answered by librarians show that traditional skills are still vital, just used in a new setting.

Eleanor Rideout
Current Awareness Assistant, Scottish Parliament Information Centre

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Illuminated initial featuring the King's College seal, from an Elizabethan lease of land in Cambridge to Dr. William Warde, physician and scientist. 1595 (Ref CAM/111) Last summer, King's College Archive Centre received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to promote public access to the College's estates records. The first part of the project is to create an online catalogue of the material, and the second part, in line with the HLF ethos, is to promote the collections to relevant user communities through various outreach activities.

The Collection
The collection includes records of estates in England given to the College by Henry VI following the foundation in 1441, as well as properties acquired subsequently. These lands brought their written memory with them in the form of charters and court records, stretching back well before the foundation of the College, in some cases to the 11th century. The material includes manorial documents such as court rolls and rentals, estate records including title deeds tracing the exchange of property among local inhabitants as well as with the College, wills and probate inventories, surveys, valuations, correspondence, drawings, and maps. The records cover a total of 187 estates in 30 counties ranging west to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, east to Toft Monks in Norfolk, north to Allerton Mauleverer in Yorkshire, and south to Hooe in Sussex. Some of the documents are beautifully decorated, and there is an impressive range of royal Great Seals spanning 700 years from Stephen through Victoria.

We have identified the key interest groups as local historians and genealogists, but the material would also be useful to anyone working on the history of King's College or the University, or to anyone looking at administrative and social developments in England throughout the Middle Ages, particularly the manorial system, as well as religious houses, farming practices, alterations to land boundaries or properties and local history in general.

Second Great Seal of King Stephen (reverse) attached to a Market Charter for Great Bricett manor, Suffolk. 1152 (Ref GBR/22) The Catalogue
The College's estates records catalogue has until recently been available solely as a set of index cards kept in the Archive Centre reading room, sorted by manor and with an accompanying handlist classifying them by document type (terriers, court rolls, etc.). The project archivist is now converting this card index into an ISAD(G)-compliant hierarchical database using Cantab. An on-line version of the catalogue will be made available through Janus (, the web resource providing public access to catalogues of Cambridge archives. As an interim measure, the catalogues can be downloaded from the project website in Microsoft Word format, and are available as soon as the work for each county is completed. Printed copies of the locally relevant catalogues (there are five volumes in all!) will be sent to county record offices. It is also intended that the information will be sent to national initiatives such as the Archives Hub (

People who are accustomed to archival research will find the on-line catalogues a great boon, as they can save time by determining the likelihood that we hold documents of interest to them without necessarily having to visit. In line with the inclusive philosophy of the HLF, our aim has been to encourage the involvement of different user groups. Aspects of the outreach programme have covered:

General Publicity
A press release giving a brief description of the material and the project was submitted to a variety of publications, to reach as wide an audience as possible. The article was submitted for publication in Eemail, the newsletter for EEMLAC (East of England Museums, Libraries and Archives Council); the Cambridge University Press Office Website; Cambridge University Newsletter; Varsity and TCS student newspapers – hard copy and online versions; ARC, the magazine for the Society of Archivists; Local History News, the journal for the British Association for Local History; and the Cambridgeshire Local History Society Newsletter. We felt it was important to publicise within the College and University as well as outside, as interest in the archives from College members has always been lower than we would like.

Illumination from Letters Patent of King Henry VIII, granting land in Nut Lane, Cambridge, to the College. 1535 (Ref CAM/49) We have also designed a set of exhibition boards and a take-away leaflet, including facsimiles of the material, to be displayed over the summer tourist season in King's College chapel, and then offered to record offices and public libraries around the country. It is hoped that the more aesthetically-pleasing manuscripts, maps, and royal seals from the collections which we have chosen for the display will attract people who might not otherwise be aware of archival resources, leading them to further investigate archival collections at King's or nearer their homes.

Genealogy Societies
The project archivist has made contact with genealogical and local history societies as she begins the catalogues for each county, and the concern throughout has been to develop methods of outreach which suit them. These have included writing an article for publication in their journals, which provides an in-depth look at the material itself and outlines its relevance to genealogists and local historians, as well as including images of documents relevant to the society's local area. To date this has been submitted to four publications: the journal of the Cambridgeshire Local History Society; Norfolk Ancestor, the journal of the Norfolk Family History Society; the Fenland Family History Society journal and the journal of the Hampshire Genealogical Society.

In addition, small groups of members have visited the Archive Centre for exhibitions, tailored to their specific interests – through discussions with them, we put together a selection of documents from the geographical area and/or time period which was relevant to their studies. We also put together a small document pack for exhibition visitors to take away, made up of print-outs of scans of a selection of documents from the exhibition along with explanations and transcriptions of hard-to-read material.

Part of a detailed survey map of the Lessingham estate in Norfolk. 1587 (Ref LES/35) Life-long Learners
Groups from the local University of the Third Age have been contacted, and a group from the Cambridge U3A visited us for an exhibition in the reading room last December. Also, contact with Dr Evelyn Lord, course tutor in Local History at the University Board of Continuing Education, has resulted in the planning of a Day School, to be held at the Archive Centre for MA Local History students. Speakers have been arranged and subjects covered will include the manorial system in general as well as more specific studies of local areas, all based on documents from the estates records. It is hoped that this will encourage the students to visit the Archive Centre as readers and use the collections for their own research interests. Depending on future developments within the College, we hope to set up a regular event with each new intake of students from the MA course. This kind of outreach venture is clearly the most appropriate for the material, as it demonstrates the archive's relevance to the students and their research at the same time as introducing them to the reading room environment and the pleasure of handling original documents.

The HLF is keen that we involve schools in our outreach programme, however the fragility of the material and logistics of the reading room have made providing access to large school groups an impossibility. It is partly for this reason that we have developed the original plans for some kind of web presence for the project, into a more elaborate site where both the catalogues and images of documents can be downloaded. See the project website at

Once work on the site is complete, a letter will be sent to teachers in the LEA district, giving the web address and underlining the fact that all images may be downloaded and printed free of charge (and free of copyright restriction) by the teacher for classroom use or by pupils themselves at home, and outlining how the material may relate to the national curriculum. A document pack, similar to the one given to exhibition visitors, will be included as a sample of the documents they may expect to find. The teachers will be invited to visit the Archive Centre to see the material for themselves or discuss further options with us, including encouraging their GCSE and A-level History students to identify documents of potential interest to them through the website and then avail of the Reading Room facilities (individually or in pairs) to consult the primary sources themselves.

Visits to the website indicate that there is considerable interest in the project and the material, and it is gratifying to see that the numbers rise after the publication of each article/press release. In general, response to our outreach efforts has been politely positive but this has not been reflected in our reader numbers. We hope that following further sustained bombardment more people will come in and make use of the amazing resource lying undiscovered in the Estates Records. At least once a month an enquiry comes into the Archives which we can now answer with a referral to the website, hopefully tempting the enquirer into the reading room. Decorated initial from a grant of Walsingham Priory, Norfolk. 1528 (Ref WLM/1)

It is too early to evaluate the increase in reader numbers. We routinely monitor reader statistics and we will eventually be able to evaluate this measure of success. There is moderate but definite interest for such projects within the U3A, local history courses and local history societies. We have not yet contacted the schools so we cannot judge the impact in that arena. Janus will be able to give feedback on the number of hits to the catalogue produced by the project, as another measure of success.

For more information about the King's College Estates Records please visit the project website at We are also happy to talk to anyone about the cataloguing project or outreach activities; contact the Archivist by telephone (01223 331444), e-mail ( or write to the Archive Centre, King's College, Cambridge, CB2 1ST.

A publicity brochure (in pdf format or in high-quality print hard copy) is available upon request. Please contact the Archive Centre.

Patricia McGuire, Archivist, and Jude Brimmer, Project Archivist
King's College Archive Centre

Images courtesy of King's College Archive Centre

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Every September, hundreds of former Cambridge students descend on the University for a programme of talks, tours, and other high jinks. This is the Alumni Weekend, and the point of it is to flag up the University's current teaching and research. And libraries and archives, being central to both those things, can get in on this act too.

Library and archive contributions usually involve some combination of exhibition, tour, talk, and performance.

Exhibitions work particularly well in archives, where what is on display is by definition unique, and in libraries with many rare books. Patricia McGuire, the Archivist at King's, has mounted exhibitions relating to particular individuals. The 2004 display honoured the computer pioneer Alan Turing, and in 2005 it will be the turn of the historian Ronald Edmund Balfour, killed in a shellburst in 1945 while trying to save archives at Cleves. At Corpus, the Parker Library is giving the Alumni Weekend a rest this year, while its treasures are on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum's Cambridge Illuminations Exhibition (

The tour is the natural extension of the exhibition. At the Churchill Archive, Allen Packwood divides the presentation between a display from the original material – the high-profile Churchill and Thatcher archives – followed by a visit to the conservation unit. The University Archive tour, when the Archives were housed at the Old Schools, used to walk and talk the visitors around the University Combination, Dome, Council and Syndicate Rooms. The UL's tour used formerly to conduct 5-6 groups of ten people around the building simultaneously, each group following a different route. It has had to be reduced in scope, on grounds of health and safety, but Tony Harper, who arranges it, still manages to get eighty people round the stacks and some of the reading rooms. And the UL's special collections – the Genizah Archive, the Darwin Letters, the Royal Commonwealth Society Library – arrange tours too.

An exhibition can make some sense without talk, but a silent tour would be meaningless. All these presentations involve some form of talk, whether it's a brief piece of introductory patter or a full-blown lecture. For the Wren Library at Trinity, David McKitterick tells the returning alumni about the building, the design, the funding (including the text of an appeal from the 1660s), the content, the lighting, the heating, the sculptures – all pitched so that the listeners get some idea of the library as more than just a collection of books and computers. Presenters quickly learn the importance of varying the show from year to year, as a gratifying number of alumni visit more than once, and remember what they have heard. Robert Headland's talks, at the Scott Polar, are tailored for specific anniversaries and other celebrations.

In Archaeology and Anthropology, the Haddon Library's shows have included a dramatized ghost story by M.R. James and a reading from the works of alumnus Ted Hughes. Alumni Weekend presentations are an opportunity to exploit the drama that is locked up on our shelves for the rest of the year. (They are not the only one – the UL's Darwin Letters project organized a reading from the letters at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities in June 2005, and it played to a packed house.)

Who are the visitors? Archive visitors often turn out to have been friends or correspondents of the person at the centre of the archive; a presentation made on auto-pilot will not do for them. College alumni sometimes come back to Cambridge without having been inside the rarer parts of the college's collection during their time as students; and many of them bring partners for whom the display is equally new. Some alumni bring their children. These can be tolerated on library tours provided they are of secondary school age, and provided that something like the Riot Act is read beforehand. And some of the visitors, perhaps about one in ten, are people who have become aware of their own mortality.

Alumni relations have much to do with fundraising, but no one should expect a show to result in a specific donation. One archivist told me she had never seen a penny from hers. The benefits are more indirect – the promotion of the library's good name, the opportunity for staff to go down byeways of the stock in search of showable material, the boost to morale that springs from an event's going well. A chance to be actually seen reading the books!

The Alumni Weekend is organized by the University's Development Office. Librarians within Cambridge University and Colleges who would like a piece of the action should contact Jenny Zinovieff on 01223 332288 or

Aidan Baker
Haddon Library

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Cambridge University Library Readers' Newsletter first appeared in October 1995, under the editorship of Ray Scrivens, and has appeared three times a term (as close as possible to the beginning of each Full Term) ever since. I took over the editorship in October 2000. Both Ray and I have worked in close consultation with the Librarian, Peter Fox, who initiated the Newsletter at the end of his first year in post, and with the University printing service, whose name has changed several times but whose expertise and efficiency have remained constant. Issue no. 1 established the basic recipe for its successors, both explicitly in a statement of intent from the Librarian and implicitly in the mix of its ingredients. At the risk of over-extending the culinary metaphor, it probably also established the prevailing flavour: not provocatively over-spiced, not too stodgy, digestible without being bland. It included major news (of the forthcoming construction of the Aoi Pavilion), notification of more routine Library developments, announcements of new staff appointments and of forthcoming events such as printing classes, meetings of the Friends and new exhibitions. News from the dependent libraries was an important feature. It comprised four sides of A4, and contained four monochrome illustrations, while a contrasting colour was used for the title banner and headings of articles. As would become clear in the course of the year, this colour changed (and continues to change) seasonally: autumnal russet, vernal green and an optimistic cerulean blue for summer. Holes were punched to allow copies to be filed with a contemporaneous innovation, the cumulating sections of the Library's Readers' handbook.

A significant development in the physical format of the Newsletter occurred with issue 19 (October 2001). The main story was the opening of the new Betty and Gordon Moore Library and generous sponsorship from Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, the main contractor for the building, enabled a double issue of 8 pages with an abundance of full colour illustrations, particularly of the Moore Library and the newly extended Munby Rare Books Room and Manuscripts Reading Room. The number of pages subsequently reverted to 4, but colour printing has persisted. In late 1996 the Newsletter had begun to appear on the Library webpages (we now aim for near-simultaneous electronic and printed versions), with all issues retrospectively mounted, and a minor by-product is access to many of the original polychrome versions of pictures which were printed in black and white.

If the format has changed little, the content has probably changed even less. Leading stories are likely to concentrate on new buildings, major benefactions and acquisitions, or very significant changes in services. They will be supplemented by other news from the University Library system and the library world generally as it impinges on Cambridge readers. Forthcoming events and new publications will be announced, special collections described and, occasionally, aspects of user behaviour commented on. All this is within the context of a publication of which a particular issue will remain current for between three and six months. Urgent announcements are more suitably made on the website and by notices in the buildings, but the Newsletter permits more discursive explanations and provision of background information. Articles, commissioned from any relevant source, are usually anonymous, to convey a corporate institutional voice, although first-person attributed pieces are infrequently included, such as a Sandars Lecturer's own account of his forthcoming lectures (and contact details at the end of articles offer broad, if sometimes misleading, hints about authorship).

Three thousand copies of each issue are produced. They are distributed to all libraries in Cambridge, to U.L. staff and to the Friends of the Library. There is also a mailing list of others who have expressed interest. The majority, however, are placed in the reading rooms and other public areas of the University Library and its dependent institutions to catch the eye of the passer-by.

The Newsletter seems not to move its readers to frequent explicit comment. This editor has received two letters in five years. (Three, if one includes a cutting anonymously amended to correct a perceived confusion between 'less' and 'fewer' based on a misunderstanding of what was being said. This rankled quite disproportionately; if you're reading this, please make yourself known so that I can vindicate myself and start sleeping at nights again!) The stocks on display do, however, steadily diminish (and are not simply redistributed round the building), accidental breaks in supply to individuals are noticed, and anecdotal or inferential evidence suggests that the messages we aim to deliver do reach an audience. Sometimes the results are extremely positive: a report of a notable manuscripts acquisition prompted a pledge of a similar and equally desirable donation in due course. Usage of the electronic version can be measured less impressionistically. In the first six months of 2005, for example, visits to all issues of the Newsletter averaged 6,117 per month. Issue 18 was by far the most popular, for no very obvious reason (close reading of the text might, I suppose, reveal some search term particularly enticing to Google users).

As this expression of the public voice of the U.L. enters its second decade, I hope it does so with undiminished vigour.

Steve Hills

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Librarians should love quilts. Where else would you find detailed information, pattern, organization and, above all, stories? If I took you around my house and showed you each patchwork/quilted item from bed quilts to wall-hangings to clothes and bags, I can guarantee that I could (and would) regale you with its 'story'. A quilt's story may just be about the fabric that has been chosen to make it, or it might be about the pattern that has been chosen. It might be about the person or the place that the quilt was made for – to commemorate a special occasion or 'just because…' – whatever the quilt, there's still a story in it.

My interest in patchwork and quilting came about as a result of several discoveries. In my teens, a needlework teacher inspired in me an interest in sewing in general and I discovered that I was reasonably good at it. A more important discovery, made whilst living in America, was that you did not have to spend hours and hours with hexagons and paper and masses of hand-sewing, as everyone in England at the time seemed to be doing, but that rotary cutters and cutting boards and sewing machines were how you did things – fast and effective. Cheap fabric shops were everywhere and we were living in New England. I really felt that I had no choice at all but to start quilting.

American patchwork patterns are a fascinating reflection of the history of the country. The blocks that make up many of the quilts, some from over 150 years ago, help to conjure up images of life then – and more often than not are patterns that modern quilters still use: Birds-in-air, Smoothing Iron, Lincoln, Young Man's Fancy, Log Cabin, Storm at Sea, Goose Chase, Grandmother's Flower Basket and the Wedding Ring are but just a few. The patterns tell us about life, about what things looked like, and what activities were important. As historical statements about segments of American colonial society I think they tell a very interesting story. Just the use and re-use of tiny scraps of fabric, cut and re-cut to 'make do' for another quilt, tell us about the hardships of life. The social history in a quilt is just one of the reasons why I like this craft.

As well as the historical aspect, I quickly learnt that choosing the right combination of fabrics was a fascinating and essential aspect of the craft, although often hit and miss too. What colour or pattern looks right next to another, should that fabric be plain or flowery, bright or dull, dark or light or… or… or… The choices seem endless. The complexity of the blocks varies enormously, but even using simple squares with particular choices of fabrics and layout can result in a very pleasing quilt. I made a baby's floor quilt using only fabric that I had used in making clothes for my daughter, Stephanie, whilst in America – each square tells its own story.

I love projects and the planning and executing of a quilt is a perfect outlet for this. My preference is to make quilts that are for cots (each nephew and niece has had one), wall hangings or household decorations, although I have made several double bed quilts. I have to confess that the dog has one too. One of my favourites is a wall-hanging that was a joint effort between two of us, using a patchwork block called Storm at Sea. Patchwork and quilting can be one of the most sociable craft occupations that I have been involved in. Group quilting projects are common, but even in making a 'solo' quilt there is always plenty of advice and help to be had by attending a group or patchwork class. I have belonged to these groups both in America and in the UK. Recently my time has been more pressurized and I have not had opportunities, to quite the same extent, to indulge in patchwork and quilting. A notable exception was a recent one-day course when I made an Indian Patchwork bag which reminded me of the sociable side of this craft.

If you want to see what this craft is really like, go and look at the quilt show that comes to Chilford Hall in Linton quite regularly. The quilts on display there are not only stunning works of art, but also illustrate the mixture of history, practical skills and sociable activity that quilting means to me.

Libby Tilley
Librarian, Earth Sciences

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The Ward Library, Peterhouse has now expanded into its new room, the Gunn Gallery, which provides space for 20,000 books, 19 desks (all networked), a lift and two computer rooms with 6 new PCs. It also houses the collection of Chinese ceramics donated by Dr C C Gunn who provided the funds for the majority of the development. The room will officially be open on October 1st.

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A.B. (Joe) Britton (1926–2005)
Former Under Librarian at the Scientific Periodicals Library and Editor of this journal 1972–1986

We at CULIB were sorry to hear that Joe had died. As you will see below, he must be accounted one of the founders of this publication. We are grateful to Anne Stow for contributing this obituary; sadly apposite for an issue devoted to library publicity.

Joe Britton died on Sunday 10 April after a brief illness. Joe was educated at Cheltenham Grammar School and Gonville and Caius, Cambridge. The latter period was interrupted by army service in Egypt at the end of Word War II. He started his library career at Cheltenham Public Library. Then, after a few years at Reading University Library, he moved in 1967 to Cambridge and the Scientific Periodicals Library to work first as deputy to Julie Larter then to Anne Stow. In 1978 the SPL became a dependent library of the University Library and Joe became an Assistant Under Librarian and was then promoted to Under Librarian. He retired in 1986.

When he came to Cambridge the SPL was still an independent department within the University and was pioneering various services for scientists: a full interlibrary loan service, self service photocopying, telex and later fax services, a panel of translators for scientific articles – all 'firsts' in the University. In these days of global information networks, with English the universal language of scientific communication and publishing, these services must now seem unremarkable but at the time they attracted a custom from across the University and Colleges. Joe was the backbone of these services, troubleshooting for the staff and helping the readers. A former member of staff wrote from Australia "How kind and helpful he was, in a most unobtrusive way. He always sorted things out with the minimum of fuss and left one with one's self esteem reasonably secure. And he was fun". He managed the periodical subscriptions and exchanges and even there established more personal contacts. No problem stumped him whether it was producing statistics on Chemical Abstracts for Fred Ratcliffe or contacting the Antarctic by Telex over Christmas. He had an uncanny ability for identifying elusive misquoted references perhaps at times allowing the pursuit to assume undue importance; one such took him over seven years, on and off, to resolve. The story is told in the Bulletin, ns 9, May/June 1983.

It is no coincidence that shortly after his arrival in Cambridge the first issues of the Scientific Periodicals Library News Bulletin started appearing. Its purpose was to inform librarians of the scientific departmental libraries of new accessions and developments in the SPL and elsewhere. In 1972 it became an official University Library publication under the joint editorship of Glynn Parker and Joe Britton. From then until his retirement in September 1986, Joe Britton remained as co-editor, although Glynn Parker was succeeded in turn by Andrew Dalby, Barry Eaden, John Charles and Toby Bainton.

The Bulletin went through various changes in format and frequency; at its peak, with a coloured or illustrated cover and monthly issues. It even had the occasional cartoon. Harsh reality intervened and financial limits forced it to settle back to an irregular newssheet. Reading through the back issues (available at the University Library and the Central Science Library) one is reminded of how much the University's libraries have changed in the last thirty-five years, administratively and technically, while their purpose remains constant. On-line catalogues have reduced the Bulletin's terms of reference as far as accessions and holdings are concerned. But it has retained its original purpose: to inform librarians of developments in Cambridge and elsewhere, which might be of use or interest.

Joe delighted in researching and writing articles for LIB, as it was generally known, in particular a series of 33 short biographies on the Founders of Scientific Journals such as Poggendorff, Pfluger and Liebig. Some will remember that Oldenburg founded Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; fewer that Lockyer founded Nature and Wakley, The Lancet. Reading through the issues Joe edited, one only discovers two articles with his initials but he contributed much more: informed articles on new publications, somewhat quizzical reviews of new technology, elegant tributes to colleagues and gentle tilts at acronyms. It was not without controversy. One distinguished Cambridge don became quite incensed by the inclusion of what he called "esoteric librarians' jokes". Despite this, LIB's survival during that period owed much to Joe's continued interest and influence. It lapsed for a year when Joe retired, but was revived a year later by some of the Departmental Librarians and continues to this day steered by Aidan Baker and Kathryn McKee and sponsored by the UL. Spurning web versions, Joe continued to read paper CULIB in his retirement, delighting in its endurance and calling the attention of his ex-colleagues to items that particularly took his fancy.

Joe was not a competitive man but a shrewd and observant onlooker. His friends and colleagues delighted in his amusing and pertinent notes always signed with the J encompassing a smiling face. He made many friends through his work and had a large number of correspondents to whom he remained loyal many years after the initial meeting. A telephone call from Joe was always a delightful interlude. A devoted husband to Barbara, father to Charlotte and Nigel, and grandfather, his retirement gave him more time for his family, his correspondents and to indulge his love of literature, music and films.

Anne Stow

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The Whipple has a new Librarian – Tim Eggington, formerly of the Royal College of Music and Reading University. The Faculty of Education Library has a new permanent Library Assistant in Elizabeth Hume (replacing Catherine Hall ) and Nancy Bouidghaghen and Claudia Luna as temporary Library Assistants for 6 months.

New graduate trainees have been appointed in several libraries. St John's College welcomes Charis Cheffy, a medical graduate of Newnham College. She replaces Eleanor Rideout, 2004–5 trainee, who has returned to her native Scotland, to take up a position as a Current Awareness Assistant at the Scottish Parliament. At Emmanuel College, Charmian Oldman moves on to a postgraduate course at Loughborough University, where her place is taken by Peter Andrews, who has just completed an economics degree at Durham University. Christ's College welcomes another Durham graduate, Ellie Murphy. Ellie read classics, and has just spent a gap year volunteering on the education team at Flag Fen. Her predecessor, Eleanor White heads off to the University of Northumbria at Newcastle to start her masters. Trinity's Liz Osman is going to Sheffield for her MA, being replaced by Beth Brook, a graduate of the University of St Andrews. New Hall's Nicola Perry will also be going to Sheffield. Her successor is Païvi Pasi, who is a Newnham graduate in oriental studies, though has also written a thesis in political science in her home country, Finland. At Newnham, Caroline Herbert (née Blowers) leaves to embark on part-time study for the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. Caroline will be remaining in Cambridge, combining her studies with part-time work as Archives Assistant at the Churchill Archives Centre. Newnham's trainee for 2005–6 is Sarah Turk, who has a degree in English and American Literature from the University of Kent, Canterbury.

Sarah Wilcock and Katya Airaksinen, 2003–4 Graduate Trainees at St John's and Trinity respectively, who job-shared a post at the Physiology Department Library for the 2004–5 academic year whilst studying for their MAs at UCL's Library School have both now obtained professional posts. Sarah has the challenge of setting up a new secondary school library from scratch in Haverhill, while Katya has taken up a position working with rare books at the Brotherton Library, Leeds.

At Trinity, Cherith Durrant has left the retrospective cataloguing team to take up the post of Librarian at West Perry Prison. The new member of the team is Tessa Smart from Imperial College in London.

The new Library Assistant at Sidney Sussex is Judith Brown, who has moved there from the Faculty of Philosophy Library.

Nicki Lake, formerly Project Librarian at Newnham College Library, has moved on to the post of Customer Services Consultant for Sirsi Limited.

It gets a bit complicated now, with job-shares. Two librarians leave Trinity Hall for four jobs. Alison Hunt will be spending two days a week as Information Officer for the MS Trust in Letchworth (where she has worked on and off for several years) and two days as Chief Library Assistant at the Medical Library at Addenbrooke's, sharing with June Steel. Meanwhile, Andrew Lacey has moved to be Senior Assistant at Architecture and History of Art, combining that post with teaching of 17th & 20th-century history at Madingley Hall.

Andrew's AHA predecessor, Gail Barber, worked as Senior Library Assistant from June 2000 until she took early retirement at the end of March this year. Gail, it seems, excelled herself at the end of each academic year by managing to recall all of the leavers' books.

The new librarian at Trinity Hall will be Dominique Ruhlmann from Oriental Studies. Also at Oriental Studies, Jane Tienne left in June for an adventure in Korea. Her place has been taken by Chui Peng Tan.

There have been some name changes at the Judge. From 1 July 2005, the Judge Institute of Management became the Judge Business School. Their Librarian also 'rebranded' on 29 July, Jane Milburn becoming Mrs Kennerley. Congratulations, Jane!

From October 2005, Iwona Krasodomska-Jones, the Butler Sub-Librarian, is taking on new responsibilities. With the agreement of the Master and Governing Body of Corpus, she will also be an affiliated lecturer of Polish at the Department of Slavonic Studies. Iwona is delighted to have the opportunity to teach again. The course is open to all University members.

The librarians at Christ's College have taken up a new challenge. They plan to swim the distance of the width of the English Channel (22 miles) in local swimming pools to raise funds for ASPIRE, a charity supporting people with spinal cord injuries. The challenge will take place over a period of 11 weeks, beginning 12th September and must be completed by 4th December 2005. The swimmers will be Candace Guite (College Librarian), Eleanor White (Graduate Trainee 2004–2005), Ellie Murphy (Graduate Trainee 2005–2006), and Helen Brown sister of Pat Hall (Deputy College Librarian). Pat will be managing the web page and fundraising along with the other non-swimmers on the library staff: Ann Keith (Jt. Deputy College Librarian), Patricia Ward (Library Assistant) and Jenny Scott-Cillalobus (Voluntary Library Assistant) as their part of the challenge. The team's webpage will be updated regularly and sponsorship can be pledged online at ASPIRE have their own website at

We congratulate Joanna Ball, Sub-Librarian of Trinity, for being one of the first chartered librarians in the country to revalidate under CILIP's new framework of qualifications.

New faces may well have greeted recent visitors to the University Library. Michael Aston, Christopher Pascoe and Mark Gilbert have all joined the Reader Services team working in the Entrance Hall since publication of the last issue. Mark has, however, since moved to the Map Department replacing Catherine Green (Saturday mornings only). Following promotion, Alex Fisher can also be found at front-of-house in the West Room where she is joined by new fetcher Megan Gill. Fetchers Lucy Newman and Holly Neville-Smith left the University Library in June and subsequently spent two months travelling, stopping off in Japan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Martin Blake has joined staff in Manuscripts following the departure of Kizitus Mpoche and Shelley Rodwell whilst fetcher Susannah Crockford has replaced Heather Sayer in Periodicals, and Jordan Webb has replaced Stephane De Brito in Inter Library Loans. Meanwhile staff in Official Publications have bade farewell to both Keith McVeigh, who retired in June, and Stephanie Tilley.

Emma Lowdon and Catherine Rooney briefly joined staff in English Collections and Cataloguing. Emma covered the absence of Samantha Freeman, who following a temporary part-time promotion, worked afternoons in the Music Department, whilst Catherine took on the other half of Carmen Cheung's post as she returned from maternity leave to work part-time. Both Emma and Catherine have subsequently left following the end of their contracts. Emma can now be found working as the Graduate Trainee in the Classical Faculty Library. Meanwhile, Cecile Gani left European Collections and Cataloguing to take up a position at the Judge Business School. Nataliya Pivnenko, of the Greensleeves Project, also left to join staff at the Judge. Agnieszka Drabek is Greensleeves latest recruit following her promotion from Rare Books. Elaine Skidmore, of Materials Processing, left on maternity leave whilst Rachel Oakes, of the same department, chose not to return following her own maternity leave.

Laura Waldoch, of Electronic Systems and Services, has also gone on maternity leave. Laura's post will be filled during her absence by Magda Weglowska who was promoted from her position in European Collections and Cataloguing. Electronic Systems and Services have also welcomed Huw Jones since publication of the previous issue.

Other staff changes include the appointment of Rosemary Rumbelow and Katie Barrett to positions in Library Offices. Katie is currently covering the temporary absence of Charlotte Ross who, as reported in the last issue, has transferred to the position of Deputy Librarian's Secretary during Anna Maria Ercolani's maternity leave. Elsewhere Stephen Osbourne has joined the Technical Maintenance team following the departure of Gerry Start whilst Frank Deneke has joined the Cleaning and General Maintenance team covering Nicola Davies' maternity leave.

Rosemary Clarkson of the Darwin Correspondence Project gained promotion and is joined on that project by new staff member Emma Spary. Meanwhile, Willow Silvani was promoted in the Royal Commonwealth Society though staff there bade farewell to both Katie Sharp and Sacha Girling.

The University Library has also welcomed a number of staff working as volunteers or on work experience. These include Maike Donath, Svetlana Shadrina, Suzana Jakubisinova and Aregash Gezmu.

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