CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

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

Issue 61, Michaelmas 2007: Library décor



This issue of CULIB focuses on library décor.

Kathryn McKee reports on the innovative design ideas showcased at the "Putting Learners First" conference at Leeds Metropolitan University. Closer to home, Kirsty Wayland from the University's Disability Resource Centre provides some practical advice on making libraries more user-friendly towards people with disabilities – "it's not just about ramps"!

The use of space, colour and light in the design of the Betty and Gordon Moore Library is described by Michael L Wilson, while Sue Williamson takes us behind the scenes of the refurbishment of Cambridge Central Library.

Libby Tilley evaluates the reinvention of the Earth Sciences Library as an Information Commons, and Lesley M Thompson and Lys Ann Reiners discuss the new "Corporate Visual Identity" of the award-winning Lincoln University Library.

In our regular feature on what librarians do in their spare time, Robin James exchanges the corridors of the UL for the wilds of Norfolk during a weekend of assault training with the Territorial Army.

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This event drew speakers from LMU itself, Leeds public libraries, and beyond. It showcased the refurbished Headingley campus library, whose innovative design illustrated many of the ideas highlighted in the presentations.

Les Watson, former Pro Vice-Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, now a freelance educational advisor, set the day in context, with a thought-provoking presentation on learning and society in the 21st century. He spoke of moving from an information age into a conceptual age or "ideas economy", a transition which could only be achieved through education. Create the right environment for learning and people will change with the environment. Experiences matter more to people than goods and services, so give users a good experience and create an environment which motivates. Les urged designing libraries which address the students' needs, rather than those of the institution, and use the technology with which students are familiar. Teaching methods employed in HE have not kept pace with changing learning styles amongst a student population very different from the one for which the system was designed. At the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian, a priority was to create more study space where students cold interact. Only the quarter of the book stock in regular use was located on conventional open shelves. Compact stacks housed the remainder, allowing a doubling of seating from 900 to 1800 places. Arrangement of furniture was flexible, and facilitated conversation. Portable, inflatable (!) mini offices could be booked and inflated as needed within the open working area if users required privacy for tutorials, meetings, and group discussion.

Bev Rice of Leeds Public libraries discussed new builds and refurbishment projects she had managed. Whilst her lively presentation focussed on public libraries, she raised issues relevant to any sector. A public library's use by the community depends on "location, location, location". Our library's location may be fixed, but this mantra applies equally to facilities within our buildings. Ensuring that enquiry points, particular equipment, or collections are located at logical places, and on natural routes through the building can radically affect the uptake of services. Bev also stressed the importance of knowing what is going on in one's wider organisation, being aware of potential funding bids, grasping opportunities for libraries to be included in larger scale refurbishments and contribute to broader initiatives. Sound advice. She confessed to keeping her eyes open everywhere for ideas for colour schemes, furniture, or fittings suitable for libraries, and was delightfully unembarrassed if dining out with friends to quiz the restaurant manager on who supplied his chairs!

Speakers from LMU described the Headingley library's redesign. The project was necessitated by a larger refurbishment of the building in which the library is housed, but the opportunity was seized to revolutionise services to students, providing a completely different style of working area, 24/7 opening, and RFID self-issue. A visitor entering the library might be forgiven for thinking he'd strayed into the Students' Union. Informal groups of comfy seating, tables where students could gather together to chat over coffee, a buzz (in term time, deafening) of chatter, not a book in sight… nonetheless essentially a learning space: a popular, vibrant learning space. Journals were relocated in open access mobile shelving, initially regarded warily by users who feared that the collection had been reduced (it hadn't), but now accepted. Service points for IT, AV, and short loan collections hugged the perimeter of the working area. Wireless networking throughout and numerous floor power points allowed all furnishings to be completely flexible. Upstairs, a more conventional library accommodated all book stock. Quiet study areas, including a completely silent, laptop-free room, needed little policing, as students automatically regulated their behaviour when surrounded by a familiar library environment. The RFID project, achieved in record time, enabled self-issue, freeing circulation staff for more interaction with students and enhanced enquiry services. 24-hour opening was scheduled for the new academic year.

Speakers from outside the library added a wider dimension to the conference. Head of Estates, Sue Holmes' perspective on learning spaces gave a rather different view of design. All space costs money, making it vital to monitor use and assess its effectiveness. Equipping a teaching room with networking, data projection, interactive whiteboard, sound system and tiered seating is expensive, not just in capital costs but also in servicing and technical support. How many rooms need equipment? Discussion with engineering lecturers revealed that simple rooms with moveable seating, and writing surfaces on all four walls would serve virtually all of their needs. Observation showed that learners' behaviour changes where learning spaces are open, light and accessible, being perceived as a public arena. Flexible infrastructure facilitates group work and exchange of ideas, and can reduce running costs. Dialogue with learners must be maintained, as needs change.

I found it inspiring that two Pro Vice Chancellors of the University introduced and concluded the conference. Academics at LMU regarded the library as being at the heart of the University's learning provision, took a keen interest in the development of appropriate learning space, and were proud to publicise the library's achievements.

Kathryn McKee
Sub-Librarian, St John's College

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Creating a welcoming environment is crucial to a library's success. Welcoming disabled visitors is an important part of that, since recent research suggests there are between 8–12 million disabled people in the UK, and anti-discrimination legislation is continually developing to protect the rights of disabled people.

So to that end, here are a few pointers when considering how to create that right environment in your library.

It's not about ramps
Well, it's not just about ramps. Only 6% of disabled people are wheelchair users, with the vast majority having other kinds of disability affecting perhaps sight, hearing, concentration, reading speed or something else entirely. So wheelchair access is important, but not at the expense of considering other kinds of access.

Creating an accessible environment doesn't have to be expensive
Some library buildings will need to undertake, or are undertaking, extensive building work to provide physical access to disabled users. Some library collections are very old, making them harder to access by new technologies. However, there are always lots of smaller things that can be done at minimum cost. Please consider the suggestions below.

External access
This is one area where a ramp is often useful, and in the case of a listed building a portable one can be a good solution. By portable, it just has to mean moveable, rather than easily moved each time it's used. Can the doors open easily? If not, is there a doorbell? Is there someone to answer the doorbell whenever the library is open? Is there a need for some kind of automated opener, and if there is some kind of swipe card system is it straightforward for someone in a wheelchair or a person with a visual impairment to use? If level access is not at the main entrance is that indicated and is the route made clear and well sign posted?

Internal access
Unless you are very short of space it should be relatively easy to negotiate around between shelves and tables. If shelves are high, then either help will need to be offered from library staff or users will need to be allowed to bring a human helper with them. Consider the working spaces – do you have adjustable height desks? Adjustable chairs? Do some of them have wheels/arms? Can particular desks be booked for particular readers? Ensure these basic issues are solved: is the lighting good and consistent? What colour are the walls and is there a contrast between walls and doors and flooring? What about between the furniture and the flooring? Consider in particular access to and around the issue desk, as this is where the disabled library user may be most likely to ask for help. An induction loop will be useful to deaf users who have hearing aids.

Oral and written communication
Are all rules and regulations clearly printed to avoid miscommunication with people who lip-read? Unfortunately no one format of written material suits everyone, so the best option is to offer alternative formats, and stick to a basic strategy of a sans serif font on cream/pale pastel paper with a font size minimum 12 and justified on the left side only.

Assistive technology
Is any access technology, such as scanners, photocopiers or CCTV, openly available? If not, can books be taken to a location where such things are available? Can disabled users access the technology themselves or bring in their own equipment? Can online catalogues and other digital information be accessed with assistive technologies such as screen readers? Is there a range of mice available? Consider setting up your computers so that users can change the colours, fonts and sizes of things on the screen, and perhaps have them sited at different heights.

Policies and procedures
Obviously, policies and procedures are not about physical access, but they are about making best use of the physical space available, whether that is fully accessible or not. It is also about keeping users safe, so make sure that you know who your disabled users are; ask about disability on any registration forms and record that personal information securely, making sure you act on it when required. Ensure that fire evacuation procedures take note of disability and that those responsible have been appropriately trained. Some disabled people who read slowly or who cannot sit for long periods of time may need extended loan periods which would complement other adjustments in the library.

In conclusion…
Most libraries are more accessible than you think they are. Don't forget all the great things you are already doing: being available, being flexible, having a photocopier that can enlarge text, and perhaps providing coloured paper (pastels are best). It is time to ensure that your library is as accessible as possible and that you are reaching out to disabled library users, so review this article and see what seems easy to you and start working your way through it.

For more information, please contact me, Kirsty Wayland ( at the Disability Resource Centre and I'll do my best to help. Or come on one of my courses: Libraries: Making them accessible to disabled users.

Kirsty Wayland
Disability Equality Training Coordinator, Disability Resource Centre

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A library is many things. A place to work, a place to study, a place to pop into, a place to linger, even a place to sleep off the night before. Faced with creating a brief for an architect the bare bones of your requirements do not really touch on this beyond, perhaps, "we want flexibility, efficient use of space, x seats, y workstations, – oh… AND a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere". To the credit of Edward Cullinan and his project team responsible for the Betty and Gordon Moore Library the end product is a striking and invigorating use of colour, space, light and furnishings which do put the finishing touches that elevate it into a great space, a great building. The effect has not faded for me and I have been involved since that initial brief stage in 1996.

I have given tours of the Moore Library on a regular basis to librarians, building engineers, bursars, architecture students, and others for the past seven years and despite what I may recite on the painstaking design process or on their professional inclinations I think the lasting impressions people generally leave with are the largely obvious ";Round" and "Colours" so it is hard to argue that among all the decisions a client may make along the road to a new building the ones which will truly resonate with users are to do with décor.

Both the University Librarian and I were sceptical of a round library. Betraying my utilitarian tendencies I feared it would short-change us over usable space. However we were gradually persuaded. In fact the roundness is fundamental to the way in which the upper three floors of the Library work. Natural light enters through what is virtually a continuous series of windows on the upper three floors. The roof overhangs the windows so that light enters but never glares.

On the first floor of the building the public combination of shelving and seating can be seen at its best. There are reader places at fixed benching around the outside of the building to take full advantage of natural light. The circular design with bookcases radiating from the centre means that the light is permitted to pass though the building and not be obscured. Conversely the mass of windows permit views from virtually any point out of the building, into and above the mature trees of the suburban setting or out over Cullinan's elegant Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) development. The eye is encouraged to travel and rest. The twin stairwells also feature generous windows so that one ascends glancing into sky and clouds and descends into the seasonal colours of trees and shrubs on the outside or into views of the floor below.

The rondure also plays with the concepts of space. The shelving capacity, particularly on the first floor as seen from the centre is rather deceptive, it looks much less than it actually is as the end panels of the shorter bookcases are not extended to centre and even the full length cases are foreshortened as the eye is drawn to the window beyond. This is a feature which probably accounts for the very positive response the building has received from its primary users – on its upper floors at least it does not overwhelm the individual with ranks of shelves. On the other hand between the two stairwells it also provides a wonderful vista by a sweeping ambulatory between desks and the regularity of the outer ends of the bookcases.

By the time a final colour palette was proposed for the Moore Library many of the individual elements had already been determined. The benched seating was provided in a standard grey/black, the Danish BCI Opal shelving used throughout a shiny metallic grey with semi-opaque green acid etched glass end panels. Bright colours had been used throughout the CMS to provide a signature identity for each pavilion, but had not been selected for the Library. Fate intervened in the course of a visit to the Tate Britain (as now) by one of the project architects and her realization that the Bridget Riley painting Cantus Firmus included all the colours already planned but also three colours that had not – but would, she was convinced, work. A deep blue, a warm pink and a lime green.

The Library does in fact uses a variety of lighter shades of this blue, in detailing around the perimeter walls and in smaller rooms but the pure blue is used as one of the accent colours in tandem with pink. As the library is built on a north/south axis with an east west symmetry – single lift shaft in the centre, and twin stairs – these two colours were seen to be ideal for complementing and compensating against the warm natural morning light entering from the east – cooling blue – and the cool evening light from the west – warming pink. So most obviously the stairwells are now colour coded blue and pink. One staff office on the east side of the building is painted blue, the one on the west is pink. There is a slight anomaly in the lower ground floor where the long eastern wall is actually pink rather than blue. However the result can not be faulted as it stands. In fact this effect was even more stunning immediately on handover while the book cases were empty and the mass of colour reflected and refracted through the metal and glass frames.

The most controversial colour remains the lime green selected for the carpet. I must admit it required some courage to sell the idea to my colleagues in turn but talking point as it undoubtedly has been, seven years on I believe it works. It brings the building to life. It provides an essential contrast with the dark furniture and shelving, even more important as motion sensor controlled lighting is used through out and 24-hour access will mean users approaching darkened areas in the middle of the night.

As the finishing touches the choice of furniture and its connection to space and light and colour are not to be taken lightly. The Moore Library is fitted out with over 300 reader chairs that have worn well. They echo the rondure of the building with a circular seat and a perforated "polo" back but they were also selected for function. The hole in the back means that they can be lifted moved easily if required yet the weight of each chair is sufficient to discourage readers from moving them continually from their "home" position. The plywood and chrome tube construction also gives each chair a definite spring while the design and weight combine to make difficult (but alas not impossible) to tilt back. The remainder of the featured furniture in the library is by the designer Eileen Gray, the curved sofa, the arm chairs and the casual table in the current books browsing area all complement the angles, curves and elegance of the building over all.

Michael L. Wilson
Cambridge University Library

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Lincoln University Library Great Central Warehouse building Corporate Visual Identity (CVI) is an important part of the identity of any organisation; it plays a significant role in how an organisation presents itself to its stakeholders. The main elements of a CVI are corporate name, logo, colour palette and font type1. In the past, academic libraries have not been recognised for creating their own visual identity, but that is beginning to change, with some very dynamic new builds and refurbishments requiring their own brand, image and identity.

In 2004 the University of Lincoln renovated a disused railway warehouse to create a new university library. This project enabled the Library and Learning Resources (LLR) department to create a new CVI for the university library. The department has its own marketing group whose remit was to look after the marketing and publicity needs of LLR, and to work with the University's estates department to create the corporate identity of the new library.

Lincoln University Library enquiry desk Colour palette
The building's historical character has been fully retained with the original beams and brickwork left exposed. It was the exposed brickwork that gave LLR our new corporate colour palette – a deep brick red to complement the bricks. The original steel girders gave us our second corporate colour – a deep grey. The final colour in the palette was a soft cream to enhance the red and grey. The colours were an important part of the new image for the library; we were changing our identity from a learning resource centre to a university library. We wanted colours that had connotations of tradition, learning and history.

Font type
Following consultation with the project architects, we chose Gill Sans, from the sans-serif family of typefaces, as our signage and publications font. This typeface was designed by the type designer and artist Eric Gill, and was used extensively throughout the British railway system from 1929 to 1965. Project architect Maria Kariolides said: "Given the history of the building, we were keen to reference traditional railway signage, and Gill Sans is itself based on the Johnstone typeface used throughout the London Underground." The typeface and signage font size are also consistent with national recommendations from the Disability Discrimination Act.

Lincoln University Library stairwell The building
With the colour palette and font decided, the next step was to apply this imaginatively and creatively throughout the building. The architect had expressed the idea of using all the colours on the large stairwell. The stairs, doors and window frames were all painted grey, while the walls were cream and the text was dark red: the effect was striking and contemporary. The conversion of the old warehouse is phase one of the new library; as the stairwell will connect to a very modern building in the future, the architects decided to blend the traditional colours with a modern look.

The LLR marketing group was asked to provide the architects with the design brief for the signs. The brief stated that the signage must be user friendly, consistent and professional. The group identified the three types of signage required:

1. Orientation signs
These signs are to present the physical layout of the building and help users find their way around, usually maps or directories. A directory of services was required at each entrance and on each floor. These menu boards were designed in the corporate colour palette; the colour was reversed to highlight current location and text was kept to a minimum.

Lincoln University Library orientation sign 2. Identification signs
These signs identify places, functions, services and resources; for example, library desk, self issue etc. These were also in the grey and cream; the red was kept to a minimum, in order to have more impact when it was used.

3. Directional signs
These signs guide people to areas or services within the library. They are located in entrances, stairwells and along major pathways within the floors, and usually make use of symbols such as arrows. We used the dark red for these signs.

The colour palette was also used for the shelving, with the colour of the shelf-ends alternating between grey and cream on each floor.

Having decided on the colour palette and font, the marketing group was able to write a list of guidelines for our library publications. We developed templates which used the new corporate colours and font, and which were consistent and uniform. We were keen to move away from clip art and in-house publications, to develop a more professional, corporate look. At last, we had visual consistency, when we discarded all the old guides and replaced them with new ones.

Launch event
The marketing group decided that the best way to introduce the academics to our new library was to hold a special staff event. With the support of Ottakars' bookstore and advice from our subject librarians, we organised an event in which we invited representatives from publishers that covered relevant subjects. The representatives were invited to bring new publications and stock items for academics and library staff to view. A few publishers also sent editorial staff to discuss commissioning new books. Database providers were asked to demonstrate their products; a number used this opportunity to provide training sessions for library and academic staff. We asked the suppliers to provide a small amount of sponsorship towards the costs of this event, and most of them were happy to do so. We used the sponsorship that we raised to buy the refreshments for the event, and also to pay for promotional items such as bookmarks.

What has happened since?
It is now almost three years since we opened the new library, and it still looks really good. We have hosted numerous events in the library, including one UCRG event, when the library tour lasted an hour, as so many questions were asked! We have won two Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICs) awards (silver and gold), and a gold Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award. Our publications and signage are still consistent, although we do have to work to make sure that they remain that way!

Lesley M Thompson
Academic Subject Librarian
Lys Ann Reiners
Senior Academic Librarian

Photos courtesy of the University of Lincoln. The full set of historical photographs of the renovation of the Great Central Warehouse Building is available under a Creative Commons licence at

1VAN DEN BOSCH, Annette L M, et al. 2006. Managing corporate visual identity. Journal of business communication, 43 (2) 138–157.

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When it opened in 1974, the Central Library represented a fantastic resource for Cambridge. But in the last thirty years, the face of public libraries in the UK has changed dramatically. The redesign is our opportunity to realise our vision of a public library service for the 21st century.

The Internet, Wi-Fi, self-service, and learning provision will be available alongside a selection of reading and information materials to suit a city of the stature of Cambridge. The whole will remain flexible enough to adapt to further advances in technology as they become available.

The project required the builders to strip the Central Library back to its original shell, so we could make a completely fresh start. At the beginning of the process, we consulted extensively with all our customers, stakeholders and partners about their vision for the new library. We wanted to give ownership of the building to the whole community.

Our location in the middle of the new Grand Arcade is an enormous advantage. We hope to attract new members, as well as welcome back our existing customers. The building will be light and airy, and the colours and finishes of the fixtures and fittings will enhance a sense of openness. We will have wide walkways for easy access. Guiding and signage will be clear and comprehensive, making it easy to find what you need. Throughout the building, we will ensure that the lighting and air quality provide a comfortable and pleasant environment. Everybody will be encouraged to move through the whole building to take full advantage of all the services we have on offer. Lifts, escalators and staircases will make this really simple.

The building will still be on three floors, and the new entrance on the first floor of the Grand Arcade will bring the customer right into the heart of the Library. This will be a vibrant building with plenty to do and see, but with oases of calm for browsing or studying. Staff will be available throughout the building at all times to answer any queries.

Library users will be on a quest for new sources of entertainment, whether in reading, film or music, or for knowledge or personal development. So let me take you on a tour of this new Library.

Each floor will have a distinct and recognisable identity. The first floor will be a hive of activity. We plan to introduce a service aimed at those who have little time to spend within our walls: the first thing customers see will be a selection of popular paperback novels, alongside non-fiction such as biography and travelogues. There will also be a staffed reception desk, and clear guidance to the whereabouts of everything to be found in the Central Library. The Children's Area will be on this floor, and we plan to host lots of events and activities here. A separate area for our young adult readers will clearly reflect their interests as expressed when we consulted with them at the start of this project.

All our fiction will be on this floor, along with some suggestions from us about titles that customers might like to try. These may reflect current issues and concerns, highlight a special date or anniversary, or be a themed collection of specific interest. For those with more time to browse, there will be plenty of comfortable seating areas. The impact will be largely visual and the graphics and layout should have universal appeal. This area will also be the showcase for new state-of-the-art self-service technology which will make borrowing our stock easier and quicker than ever before. This will free staff from more routine tasks and enable them to play a new role in helping customers to access all of our services and resources.

The second floor will have a more traditional library ambience. All the non-fiction will be housed here, with lending stock alongside reference materials. This means that customers will no longer need to travel between floors to access all the available material on a specific subject. This will be a quiet, contemplative area, with plenty of study spaces and computers available. There will also be a selection of newspapers and magazines and comfortable seating to peruse them at leisure

On the third floor, there will be a large café area, as well as all the music and film materials and the books relevant to these topics. Some of the more popular journals and newspapers will be available here, so customers can have a cup of coffee and read a magazine or paper at the same time. We hope that people will use this part of the Library for discussion groups and meetings. This floor will also offer:

  • a space for events and exhibitions – if there is a special event in the Library, it will probably take place on this floor
  • our excellent Learning Centre, offering a wide range of courses in information and communications technology and other subjects
  • advice and guidance agencies, such as Connexions for young people and Nextstep for those looking for career progression
  • the world-renowned local studies section, the Cambridgeshire Collection

Our aim is to merge and group services so that customers will see the Library as a single holistic entity. This is a very exciting project for us and we look forward to welcoming everybody into the new Central Library when it re-opens in Spring 2008.

Sue Williamson
Manager, Cambridge Central Library

This article represents the views of the author and not those of Cambridgeshire County Council.

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Bays Background
In the summer of 2006, we at the Earth Sciences Library set out to create an "information commons" for our undergraduates: a collaborative learning space with appropriate services and resources. Before this, the configuration of library services reflected the ad hoc addition of computers in the two main library rooms. The predominant use of space was tall shelving units creating bays for large working tables.

There were three reasons why change was needed. Firstly, we felt that the library ought to reflect the students' different learning styles: "A learning space should be able to motivate learners and promote learning as an activity, support collaborative as well as formal practice, provide a personalised and inclusive environment, and be flexible in the face of changing needs" (Joint Information Systems Committee 20061 ; my emphasis). New computer suite

Secondly, we wanted to match resource and service provision to user needs. It was becoming obvious – from questionnaires, from focus groups, and from communications between Librarian and Head of the Teaching Committee – that we had insufficient access to online resources via library computers, and insufficient software and printers available. It was also evident that the spatial arrangement was not always conducive to quiet study. In addition, with the increasingly varied research guidance, it was clear that we needed to provide appropriate training and technical support. Ideally we wanted this in the library, and not in a lecture room.

Thirdly, we knew that users were abandoning the physical space. From observation and anecdotal conversations we knew that we were dealing with an undergraduate population that multi-task. They listen to music and chat on MSN and on Facebook at the same time as they are studying. And they are "Starbucks studiers" – they want coffee whilst they work. They are digitally literate and yet display "satisficing" behaviour; that is, they are satisfied with a basic minimum amount of information, and are rarely prepared to spend long on the research process. We felt it vital that we changed the image of the library space so that the Information Commons was their first impression of the library. It would also be the area closest to the library staff, with the potential for us to tackle computer and reference enquiries quickly and easily. We hoped the changed image would attract more students in, with subsequent increase in our contact with them.

Assessment and evaluation
The most important question is: after one academic year of use, have we achieved what we set out to do? The following data collection techniques have been used to assess and evaluate the effects of the changes to the library space. Group working in the new computer suite

1. User surveys
The overwhelming response from the students (with a 75% response rate from the 2007 survey) was that the new configuration of space was just what they wanted, and has been much better than before. We found we had underestimated how much some of the computer equipment would be used, and we have already taken steps to improve this for 2007–2008. The quiet study room was full in exam term, and many students had to find other places to work. Many students liked the fact that they could use the computer space as a group working area and could feel free to chat and discuss work or just use the area for accessing email, Facebook etc and having a break from work. It was noticeable that they self-regulated the noise level and staff made a point of interfering as little as possible – merely making sure that the door to the quiet reading room was shut. We were more vigilant in exam term.

The following comments from the user survey for students are typical and reflect all aspects of our goals for the project:

"The library has been a really good place to work", "I've noticed a really good improvement this year", we need a "faster printer"; "this exam term the tables have been filled. Library just too small!", "I like the set-up of the library this year. Library staff are very helpful", "the sessions for Part II have been really useful."

2. Statistics
The sample day average, in the Annual Return to the General Board's Committee on Libraries, shows a 22% increase this year. Secondly, circulation statistics show a small increase over the previous year. I believe that that is significant, given that students are generally relying more heavily on online material; we will wait to see if this trend continues. Relaxed seating area

3. Observation and photographic evidence
From observation we know that the library has more people in, we have far more queries than before, and more assistance is required to sort out computer problems – the library is a popular place to be. There has been a much higher use of print journals by students working in the library – we put far more journals away on shelves than before. Our computer suite has started to attract postgraduates, researchers, technical assistants and retired members of the Department into the library on a regular basis. Our relaxed seating area with a daily newspaper attracts a number of people during the lunch break as well as for group discussion. We have plenty of photographic evidence to confirm the use of the library and its resources for all aspects of learning.

We have achieved a great deal through our introduction of an Information Commons. We have provided an environment that supports learning in as many ways as we could think of; we have changed the image of the library from dry and dusty to one that is vibrant, active and current; we have brought more students into the library and encouraged them to use the resources. In short, I believe that we are successfully fulfilling our role, which is to support the mission of the University. All that remains is for us to create more space from nowhere – and to allow the coffee in!

1Joint Information Systems Committee. 2006. Designing spaces for effective learning

Libby Tilley
Librarian, Earth Sciences

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OUT WITH THE BOYS: LIVE FIRING A librarian describes his experiences as a part-time soldier with the Territorial Army

Friday night, as I make my way to the base. I've rushed home from the UL, had a quick meal and grabbed my kit. I've spent the last two nights carefully packing it so everything's exactly where I need it – even if I have to find it in the dark.

I arrive and change then it's straight to the armoury to draw my rifle, bayonet, magazines and cleaning kit. I check over my trusty rifle: serial number 232613 (it's been mine for over two years now), then find a quiet spot to strip it down and give it a thorough clean and re-oil. It's already clean from when I last used it but I want to make doubly sure it's ok and won't let me down at a crucial moment. I dismantle my magazines and clean those too and make sure the bayonet fits securely and won't come off unexpectedly. My colleagues are all quietly doing likewise, aware of course that we are all dependant on each other for our safety over the coming two days. There is no real enemy, of course, this is just training, but live rounds are just as dangerous in training as they are in war.

We load up the lorries and head out to STANTA (Stanford Training Area) in Norfolk, a far cry from Dad's Army, which was filmed there decades before. We de-bus and after a short zeroing spell on the range and several hours of night-time patrolling we move into our harbour position to get some rest before the dawn attack. Our brief is that we are assaulting an enemy dug-in in trenches. Platoon frontal assault with flanking grenadiers who will advance under our covering fire, grenade the trench, then we attack through the position. The part of the enemy will be played by electronically-operated moving or static man-size targets that will fall when hit. Ammunition and hand grenades are issued, cleaned, primed and loaded. We all make ready to move out. Live firing is always tense and all are a little nervous, regardless of rank or experience.

The order is given to fix bayonets and make our weapons ready, with safety catches on. We start to snake through the trees. Hushed orders are passed as we come into the battleground. The machine gun section breaks away to find a location to provide covering fire. Shots ring out, everyone drops to the ground: we've engaged the enemy somewhere on the left side. I should be on the far right and I push wide, crawling and squatting behind cover to give those behind me space to move. The ground opens up and now I see targets, which I engage with rapid though deliberate fire. I'm breathing heavily but I'm sure the shots are accurate. The range is about 300 metres though diminishing as we advance. I glance left and see dirty, grass-covered bodies, rifles at the shoulder, all engaging targets. Empty cases are thrown aside as moving parts slam back and forth. We advance in half sections, with one covering while the other moves. It's vital that we advance in a straight line in the direction of the enemy, firing across at known positions, rather than all heading towards the trench and thus bunching and blocking fields of fire. Also, we're constantly looking for cover: things to hide behind or dead ground where we can't be seen or shot at, but can make ground. Momentum is important so we must also stay moving; good communication is essential. The noise is incredible and in order to be able to maximise my ability to hear commands and instructions I have disobeyed the rules and not worn one of my ear defenders. It's common on live firing and certainly preferable to being injured but it is nevertheless slightly uncomfortable.

Just up ahead and to one side I see a ditch running in the direction I want to go. I realise it will completely obscure me from the enemy position and allow me to gain an excellent firing position. I shout my intentions to my colleagues and safety supervisor and drop into the ditch. I am able to jog down and appear at a bank only fifty metres from the position, which I engage with rapid fire. I see the two appointed grenadiers start their flanking manoeuvre and I intensify my fire into the trenched position. I know that as soon as their grenades go off they will jump into the trench and "kill" any survivors and my job will be to look for and engage any escaping enemy or to engage any positions beyond this one. I must switch fire as they enter the trench.

I recognise the first grenadier as Chris, a childhood friend, and as he approaches the trench, crawling, I'm now shooting almost directly over him. His grenade's out and with a shout of "Grenade!" he posts it over the ledge and into the trench. I feel the shockwave slightly before I hear the muffled crump. Instinctively I check fire and shoot at the next suspected positions slightly beyond this one. Before the dust has a chance to settle Chris and his partner are over the parapet, into the trench, neutralising targets with bayonets and fully automatic fire. The first enemy position has fallen; we reorganise in cover, and prepare to attack the next.

Over the next two days we perform another four attack scenarios, including one which is Company-sized with almost 100 participants, and practise our grenade throwing on a special range. We also fit in two Battle PT sessions which, as Company Physical Training Instructor (PTI) I have had to plan and run. It's been hard work, we haven't slept much and everyone is exhausted, but all are relieved that nothing has gone wrong and no one has been hurt. Almost without exception we all sleep the journey home.

Tomorrow morning I'll be back at my desk in the UL.

Robin James
English Cataloguing, University Library, formerly a Private in the 6th (V) Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment.

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Two new books, both of them relevant to the theme of library décor, and both of them having substantial input from Cambridge librarians, have appeared within the last year:

WILSON, Alison, comp; Mittler, Elmar, ed. 2006. Furtherance of academic excellence : documentation of new library buildings in Cambridge. Göttingen, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek. (Göttinger Bibliotheksschriften, 37)


HOARE, Peter, et al., eds. 2006. The Cambridge history of libraries in Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stand by for proper coverage of them in the next issue of CULIB!

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Elizabeth Erskine, who was editor of the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL) from 1985 until 1990, died on 14 July at the age of 77. She started work on ABELL in the mid-1970s, when it was produced in Sheffield under the editorship of Derek Roper, and moved with it to Cambridge, working with Mike Smith and eventually taking over the editorship. For many years her wit and intelligence enlivened the ABELL office on North Wing 6 (to the extent that readers sometimes complained about the peals of laughter emanating thence), where her artist's impressions of bizarrely-named scholars, and her cartoon responses to some of the more absurd aspects of literary scholarship, adorned the walls.

Elizabeth's wit could be acerbic: she did not suffer fools gladly and, herself a woman of firm and traditional principles, could be hasty in judgement of those whose values and lifestyles differed from her own. But she was a loyal and generous friend and had a strong sense both of family and of the duties of hospitality to her friends. Her beautiful home in Albert Street, which she shared with a succession of feline companions, was a place of warmth and laughter, as well as reflecting her own refined tastes and what Jane Austen might have called her "elegance of mind".

The daughter of the manse in Northern Ireland, Elizabeth remained throughout her life a devout Christian. For many years she was in regular attendance at St Edward's Church, where she also acted as treasurer. She gave generously of her time to other causes too, her love of nature leading her to become treasurer to the Cambridgeshire & Isle of Ely Naturalists' Trust.

It was a great sadness to all her friends that a person of Elizabeth's personal elegance and incisive intelligence should have succumbed latterly not only to physical infirmity but to Alzheimer's disease. Those who visited her at Cottenham Court, where she spent the last year or so of her life, found her confused and living (apparently quite happily) in the past. She died peacefully at Addenbrooke's as the result of a stroke.

In his tribute to Elizabeth at her funeral, which was held in Cottenham Church, Mike Smith applied to her words that she had herself used of a former co-worker: 'Kindest colleague, companion who "could not help being amusing", distinguished Editor, resourceful friend.' Literary and linguistic scholarship owes a huge debt to Elizabeth, who leaves behind her many people who are proud to have known her. The world has too few like her.

Dr Jennifer Fellows
Editor, Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature
Cambridge University Library

Contact the editors if you would like to comment on this issue of CULIB.

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Summertime signals the arrival of new Graduate Trainees. (What is the collective noun for Graduate Trainees?) Christ's College welcomes Carolyn Keim, who has a degree in linguistics and experience in the UL's rare books department. The new trainee at Classics is Catrin Lewis, who comes to librarianship from teaching, and has an MA in the psychology of music from Sheffield University. Corpus Christi College has appointed its very first Graduate Trainee, ready for the move into its new undergraduate library: Liam Austin read Philosophy and History at Essex University, and has public library experience under his belt already. Raymond Harper, an English graduate of the University of Liverpool, is Emmanuel's latest trainee. New Hall's new trainee is Katy Makin, who graduated from Keele in 2007 in English literature and international relations. Newnham have appointed Hannah Wakley, who has a degree in modern languages from Durham University. St John's College welcomes Hazel Pointon, who has a degree in classical studies and English literature from Exeter University, and has previously worked as a teaching assistant at Comberton Village College. Liam Sims is Trinity's new trainee. Liam studied ancient history at King's College London, and has worked as a volunteer in the Library of the Department of Ancient Egypt and the Sudan at the British Museum.

We wish the departing 2006–7 trainees well in their future careers. Steven Archer and Rebecca Gower are both heading for UCL's MA in Library and Information Studies. Colin Higgins has been accepted on Aberystwyth's distance learning course, along with Charlotte Smith (née Cairns – we congratulate Charlotte and Lee on their marriage in June) who started the course in April. Naomi Herbert, Librarian's Assistant (and former Graduate Trainee) at St John's has also enrolled upon the Aberystwyth distance learning course this year. Sandra Cunningham is now studying finance and management with the OU.

Pembroke College now has an afternoon library assistant, Mariama Ifode. Mariama is a part-time PhD student at Peterhouse, writing on exile and the Spanish Civil War, and is also teaching during the summer on one of Pembroke's International Programme's courses.

Clare Chippendale, who works for the Medical Library at Addenbrooke's in the mornings, is now Emmanuel's part-time library assistant in the afternoons.

June Steele is retiring from her part-time post in the Medical Library after sixteen years. She looks forward to spending time with her family – her first grandchild is expected in January – and on her passions of antiques, crosswords, playing the piano and visiting France.

We wish Pam Johnson, part-time library assistant at St John's for two and a half years, a very happy retirement.

We congratulate Miriam Leonard of Queens's College and Chris Barker of Jesus College who have both successfully completed their MSc Econ in Library and Information Studies from the Univerity of Aberystwyth by distance learning.

News of the e-books@cambridge project:
To reflect the increasing levels of co-operation and contributions from both the University Library and the Department and Faculty Libraries, the project team has welcomed Hilary McOwat (Engineering), Julie Nicholas (SPS), and Patricia Killiard, Lesley Gray, and Gotthelf Wiedermann from the UL as members.

Readers at the UL may have noticed several changes in the Entrance Hall. Colin Hazel left at the end of January; shortly afterwards, Andrew Middleton retired and Mike Aston left for the Moore Library. Rose Giles, a graduate of Exeter, and Lizz Waller, formerly a Graduate Trainee at Essex University, joined the staff in the spring, with Sarah Hansen also beginning in May as Saturday assistant and Jeremy Smith and Claire Bonner as Saturday reshelvers. Chris Pascoe took up a new post in the Map Room in June and Oz Chapman resigned in July to spend more time with her little boy, with Hannah Mumby and Tim Arnold taking up appointments in the Entrance Hall in August to fill these vacancies. Tim comes back to the UL after spending four years in his native Pennsylvania completing a Master's in Library Science and working in academic and public libraries.

Members of staff were saddened to hear of the unexpected death on Sunday 22 April of Tony Rawlings, Deputy Head of the Map Department. Tony had been with Maps since 1983 and the large contingent from the UL attending his funeral bore witness to the high esteem and affection in which he was held by his colleagues. Yanning Rao was promoted to fill Tony's post from the end of July.

Ed Chamberlain came to Electronic Services and Systems in April from the Natural History Museum where he was Digital Projects Librarian, to take up the post of Systems Librarian with responsibility for meta-search platforms and helping out with Voyager. ESS staff Tomasz and Laura Waldoch were delighted to announce the birth of their son Oliver on 30 May. Lihua Zhu has been appointed to the post of Digital Library Services Officer from the beginning of July, and Huw Jones appointed to the post of libraries@cambridge System Support Librarian from the beginning of August.

Following the retirement of Gerry Bye at the end of April, Donald Manning was appointed to the post of Head of Imaging Services. Don comes to the UL from PandIS (the Photography and Illustration Service) based at the University's Computing Service.

In Collection Development and Description, Elizabeth Johnson left European Collections in August to take up the new dual role of Authority Contributions Coordinator and Printed Collections Officer with responsibility for the management of the open library and the annual inspection. Azar Semmence took early retirement from Materials Processing at the end of March, while Robin James was appointed from the beginning of May to fill Céline Carty's post as English Cataloguing Team Leader during her maternity leave and Chris Bell was promoted to fill Robin's post. Mary Kattuman left English Cataloguing at the end of July for the other Cambridge in Massachusetts, where her husband, an economist, is spending a year's sabbatical. We look forward to having Mary back with us again next summer. John Cardwell is a new member of the Tower Project retrospective conversion team, while Sam Kuper, Elizabeth Smith and Henry Cowles have joined the Darwin Correspondence Project and Shmuel Glick has joined the Genizah Unit. At ABELL, Anne Keith, formerly Deputy College Librarian at Christ's, is standing in part-time for Lucy Lewis, whose son Robert Hughes was born on 29 July.

Michael L. Wilson has moved from the Central Science Library, where he was Head of Science Libraries, to take up the post of Collection Management Officer within Special Collections and Collection Management at the UL.

Kirsty Amies of Periodicals decided not to come back to work after the birth of her baby, while Hazel Murkin left Labelling in May for a new job at Cambridge Regional College and has been replaced by Megan Gill.

At the beginning of June, staff were very pleased to congratulate Deputy Librarian Anne Murray on her marriage to Dr David Jarvis, Dean and Senior Tutor at Wolfson College.

Wedding congratulations are also due to Alice Hine, Senior Library Assistant at the Divinity Faculty Library, who was married to Geoff in Great Saling, Essex, on 1st September, and returns to Cambridge as Alice Hinkins.

At the Judge Business School, Jane Kennerley leaves after ten and a half years to take up a post as full-time mum in Harrogate. She reckons, modestly, that she is likeliest to be remembered for her role in a Spice Girls video at a Judge Christmas Revue. Andy Priestner will take Jane's place as Librarian on 29 October. For the past 12 years he has worked for Oxford University, most recently as Senior Information Officer at the Saïd Business School. He is currently Chair of the British Business Schools' Librarians' Group.

Sandra Cromey – "a pearl among librarians", according to one satisfied reader3 – has left the English Faculty Library. Sandra's achievements include overseeing the library's move to new premises in the summer of 2004.

Moving to new premises this year is the Centre of African Studies Library. It is now at the Mond Building in Free School Lane – the one guarded by a brick crocodile – just a few yards from where the Centre was before. The move is still a work in progress, and Marilyn Glanfield can tell you more.

And a merger. The Physiology and Anatomy libraries on the Downing site are merging to form one library for the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. Both libraries are closed while that is going on. The Newton records for the holdings of the Anatomy library – currently in Departments and Faculties A-E – will be merged into the holdings of the new joint Physiology, Development and Neuroscience library, which is in Departments and Faculties O-Z. Librarian Margaret Wilson hopes the new joint library will be up and running for the start of the term.

After five years, Robert Gwilliam has left the Engineering Department Library to work at Thurston Community College, near Bury St Edmunds.

Frank Bowles, who has appeared on this page before, returns to Cambridge work in October. He will be the Documentation Assistant for the JISC-funded Freeze Frame Project, cataloguing the Scott Polar Research Institute's collection of negatives.

The Education Faculty Library has taken on Sarah Norman for three months, to cover for sick leave.

Congratulations to Clair Castle of Zoology, on revalidating her MCLIP qualification. An arduous business, that. Clair was responsible for the 2004 Report to the General Board Committee on Libraries on library staff development ( so she's been practising what she preaches.

Finally, a postscript to the obituary of Fotini Papantoniou, which appeared in CULIB 60. Mariella Pellegrino and Chris Roberts-Lewis went to the Greek School of St Athanasios to hand over the money that was collected in memory of Fotini – £201 in all, to be spent on the pupils' library that Fotini had organized.

3HALL, A.P.H. 2004, p. 9. The meaning of elf and elves in medieval England. Ph.D., Glasgow University,

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