CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

ISSN 0307 7284    Edited by Kathryn McKee, Aidan Baker, Sheila Cameron and Kate Arhel

Issue 63, Michaelmas 2008: Conflict



Conflict is not a theme we normally associate with libraries, places seen more generally as havens from the turmoil of the world where readers can focus on otherworldly preoccupations or solving the world's dilemmas in quiet detachment. And nowhere more so than in Cambridge where we experience libraries as settings for harmonious interaction. Perhaps that is why the editors have had to cast their net further afield for this issue exploring the theme of conflict and libraries.

CULIB has discovered that libraries play a vital role in upholding civilised values and human rights in times of devastating conflict or where social injustice would prevent many from bettering themselves or escaping from hereditary deprivation. The work of librarians can be subversive, as we illustrate in articles on the development of community learning centres in Nepal to promote the rights of Dalits and a project in Cajamarca in Peru to promote education among the rural poor of the Northern Andes. Lynette Cawthra tells of the documentation of struggle in Britain in the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. And how many are aware of the heroic activities of librarians at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast during the recent Troubles? Yvonne Murphy challenges preconceptions in her article on the Northern Ireland Political Collection. In her article on the impact of the English Civil War on cathedral collections, Sheila Hingley reveals that libraries can be great survivors despite political and religious upheaval.

And yes, we all have moments of difficulty with readers and colleagues. Tony Harper, Nicola Nye and Chris Petheram offer valuable professional advice on how to deal with these.

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My work includes promoting community learning centres and information services for the rights of Dalits in rural areas of Nepal. I made my first visit to the UK in June 2008, as winner of the Anthony Thompson Award. I participated in conferences and visited learning centres, libraries, archives, and rights-promoting agencies. We shared the experiences with each other and explored new ideas. My work in Nepal will benefit from the cross-cultural experience.

Nepal is a beautiful, special country, but marred by the many forms of discrimination that affect people there. Dalits are the people at the bottom level of the dominant society. They face discrimination and exclusion. Nepali Dalits are often unaware of their human rights and therefore unable to make demands which would improve their position. There are of course many alliances between Dalits and people of other castes. But it's a stark reality that most of the so-called upper caste people are not ready to share or relinquish power.

Nepal has been suffering from internal conflict for a prolonged period and this has further endangered human rights, political and civic rights, democracy and the economic development of the nation. One of the major reasons for the conflict is the lack of active participation of socially excluded communities such as the Dalits.

Against such a scenario it is hardly surprising that libraries were initiated much later than in other countries. The rulers of Nepal feared that the provision of information and education would provoke the people and undermine their absolute rule. The libraries which were opened in the 19th century, and so far are still running, exist for academic purposes.

Some initiatives in Nepal, such as Room to Read, have encouraged access to books and fought to improve literacy. However these are directed substantially towards people who are in the school system. Older members of the Dalit community, and those young people who have dropped out of school, do not have access to these initiatives. In addition, although the advance of the internet (introduced in Nepal in 1994) is seen as significant in improving access to information, rural, poor and illiterate Dalit people have almost no access to this revolutionary tool.

My own organisation, Jana Utthan Pratisthan (JUP-Nepal), has set up community learning centres, which are the first such facilities in Nepal specifically for the Dalit community. The centres have been providing a wealth of information in the form of books, pamphlets and bulletins on Dalit issues. Initially, the learning centres were aimed at the Dalit community, but they have proved popular with students, teachers, officials, professionals, and others who are conducting research on Dalit issues. In addition, the centres provide information that Dalit leaders and activists need in order to fight against caste-based untouchability and other forms of discrimination.

The learning centres also provide a base for other related programmes, such as literacy classes, press conferences, fact-finding, media training, documentary showing and volunteer mobilisation. JUP Nepal hopes to extend the network of learning centres across Nepal. They will be responsive to local needs, but all the centres will act as local information points as well as mediation centres where local issues or disputes can be resolved.

And here I come to my first area of learning from my UK visit. Britain's Open University provides an opportunity to people who have been excluded from the education system and cannot go to university because of their different problems. This can be copied in Nepal and has particular relevance for the Dalit community where drop out from education is very high. Although the Open University operates at the tertiary level of education, a Nepali adaptation could be in the form of open school in the rural areas for Dalit children. But there is a need for university level open study as so many people are excluded by lack of flexibility in the way they can study.

My second area of learning was in my visit to Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB). This organisation assists citizens to access information about their rights and responsibilities, supports them to claim their rights and challenges policies that are not in their favour. It is similar to JUP in that it particularly works for those members of society who are struggling to obtain their rights. CAB runs an impressive network of advice centres and many of the services are run by trained volunteers. This is a more sophisticated and structured model of service provision but very much mirrors the direction being taken by JUP.

Thirdly, the Peabody Trust, which promotes community learning centres for disadvantaged Londoners. Through its centres it provides training for jobless people, assisting them to develop their CVs. Their centres are also a place for children to do their homework as well as providing IT training for young people. The mix of services they provide gave me some very good ideas for JUP. Many Nepali Dalit parents, being themselves not educated, find it difficult to guide the education of their children at home.

Fourthly, the UK's mobile libraries, which I saw in Lincolnshire and Huntingdon. In Nepal, taking books to the community in vehicles would be much more difficult. Many villages are only accessible on foot and many of our audiences are illiterate. However, the mobile library made me realize that the idea can be promoted in Nepal in a different way. We can mobilise Dalit youth and provide them with information and documents to raise awareness in the rural communities. By undertaking this mobile information centre work the volunteers also can get experience, which will ultimately help them to find employment.

I met many, many inspirational people while in the UK. I learned something new everywhere I went and I am only sorry that I can only highlight here a few of those learning experiences. Thank you to all those who shared their time and experience with me.

Raj Kumar Gondharba
Jana Utthan Pratisthan

The Anthony Thompson Award is made by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and managed by the International Library and Information Group (ILIG). The Award is given every 2-3 years to fund a first visit to the UK by a library or information professional from the Third World, with preference given to applicants from the least developed countries.

Librarians wishing to find out more about ILIG's activities are welcome to join their Facebook group.

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Working people have always struggled to get their voices heard. The Working Class Movement Library in Salford is a collection of material that records over 200 years of organising and campaigning by ordinary men and women. Our collection provides a rich insight into working people's daily lives as well as their thoughts, hopes, fears and the roles they played in the significant events of their time. The Library is open to everyone, and we are keen to ensure that as many people as possible know of it and use it.

The Library is a unique treasure house of pamphlets, leaflets, books, cartoons, banners, posters, badges and more. These tell the story of Britain's working classes from the earliest days of industrialisation to the present day. As such the Library could be said to have its roots in conflict, and to reflect conflict in its continuing work. We have information on:

  • poverty and social conditions
  • campaigns for change
  • women's struggles for the vote, and for equality in the workplace
  • trade unions

The emphasis of the collection is on British history, and in tribute to the role played by Salford, Manchester and surrounding towns in the shaping of industrial society and the creation of the world's first industrial working class there is a great deal of material directly relating to the region. The earliest items date from the 1760s. Peterloo massacre

The Library spans politics of all shades – our founders memorably described the collections as being "concerned with the activities, expression and enquiries of the labour movement, its allies and its enemies". It covers working and living conditions, education and agriculture; also local histories, reports of trials, biographies and autobiographies, novels on social themes and working class plays, poetry and songs. WCML is rich in material on topics such as Chartism, the Peterloo Massacre, the 1926 General Strike and the Spanish Civil War, as seen from the angle of "history from below". We are also very interested in more recent working people's campaigns such as those against pit closures and privatisation.

Ensuring we maintain the cultural alongside the political, we have for instance material from all aspects of Salford songwriter and activist Ewan MacColl's political and artistic life. We also house the archive of Jim Allen, the Manchester-born screenwriter who worked on Coronation Street and collaborated with film director Ken Loach.

In this 75th anniversary year of the Mass Trespass over Kinder Scout in the Peak District, which paved the way for "right to roam" legislation, it's also worth highlighting that the Library holds the Benny Rothman Archive, which includes fascinating material relating to the Mass Trespass as well as to other political and environmental campaigns in the region.

WCML contains more than 30,000 books and 200,000 pamphlets. The huge quantity of both pamphlets and archival material we hold has been largely hidden from view and is only now being catalogued, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. (We have chosen Adlib software for our online catalogue as users can cross–search both its library and archive modules without needing to have an understanding of how differently archivists and librarians approach the task of cataloguing!). Our archive material includes records from a range of unions covering textiles, clothing, engineering, shipping, woodworking, and white collar occupations, as well as all-but-obsolete trades such as those of keelmen and brushmakers. The records of the various brushmaker societies, deposited at the WCML by the GMB union, include some of the earliest trade union documents to have survived – dating from the 1820s.

The Library's own history is an unusual one. Edmund and Ruth Frow, who upon first meeting each other had discovered that they shared a love of labour movement books, founded the Library in their house in Old Trafford in Manchester in the 1950s. Both were active in the trade union movement, and the whole enterprise of collecting was rooted in their political conviction, and the need to understand history with a view to changing the present condition of society. Eddie died in 1997 but Ruth was still very actively involved in the Library's work until a mere 36 hours before her sudden death on 11 January this year.

In 1987 the library moved to its present home on The Crescent in Salford, Jubilee House, which was originally a district nurses' home. Visitors are very welcome, ideally by advance appointment; we are also very happy to offer group tours to see the collection. The physical proximity of the Library to other collections such as the People's History Museum and National Co-operative Archive means that researchers visiting the Manchester area have access to a rich array of material of radical, political and social interest.

Our enquiry service is free of charge: tel: 0161 736 3601; email: So too is access to the library reading room. Limited staff time means we are not able to undertake detailed research on behalf of family historians, for example, but anybody can come along to research for themselves.

Further details at – Lottery funding is also enabling us to redevelop our Web site within the next few months to offer more visual information about our collections, so do bookmark the URL for future reference!

Lynette Cawthra
Library Manager, Working Class Movement Library

Contact details

Working Class Movement Library, 51 The Crescent, Salford M5 4WX, tel 0161 736 3601, email

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High in the Andes of Northern Peru, centred in the historic town of Cajamarca, is a remarkable library project which has been in operation for 37 years. The Rural Libraries of Cajamarca cover an area of over 150,000 square kilometres of remote high Andean terrain (the size of Wales) in the rarefied atmosphere found at heights of between 10-12,000 feet.

The scheme was founded by the late Fr John Medcalf, Catholic priest working in the region during the 1970s. Faced with the enormous social, economic and political problems of the region he was heartened one day when a young boy came to his house late one night saying he had seen something that looked like a brick and made from wood which would help him to learn. John gave him a book on the history of the region and a pencil, and asked him to come back to let him know what he didn't understand. The boy, Leonardo Ereria, hammered on John's door at six the following morning. He had managed to read some of it and wanted to discuss it. He also wanted more books. This was the moment the Rural Libraries of Cajamarca were born.

The network of libraries is an organic structure and one that has grown to fit the needs of the peasant communities. From a central resource of books in Cajamarca a network of volunteer librarians fill their bright woven saddle bags with up to forty books slung over their shoulders and trek, usually on foot, to their remote communities, some three days' walk away. Each librarian keeps a stock of books at home, usually wrapped in polythene to protect them from the damp. From this supply, other librarians collect books and take them to more distant communities. And so the network goes on, mile upon mile across the mountains, reaching the most remote settlements. Rural library in Cajamarca

The Director of the libraries, Alfredo Mires Ortiz, has been co-ordinating the scheme for over 25 years since Fr John left Peru, with a team of three headquarters staff, forty area coordinators, five hundred librarians and many volunteers. The central office is very much a support system for the project, offering administrative and technical assistance. Administrators at the centre have records of all the books, and work with the rural librarians to plot their whereabouts. They also organise the acquisition and publishing of books. The centre also has a meeting room where librarians meet regularly to report and make decisions, and a dormitory for rest after their long and arduous treks. The librarians and coordinators are not paid for their time, but do receive small recompense for their travelling and subsistence expenses.

The librarians are elected by their rural communities. That results in more men (86%) being appointed than women; the posts are seen as prestigious and so usually given to the most influential and knowledgeable people. However, a librarian's family is generally involved in the process and it is recognised that the women and children play a major role in administration and distribution. Consequently, the current proportion of women volunteer coordinators involved in the rural scheme is 39%.

Today there are over 70,000 registered readers, of whom almost 50% are women. However, the impact of the scheme is far more widespread, given the aural tradition of the peasants. The number of "listening readers" peasant means that the total number of people benefiting is anything up to 300,000.

The libraries were formed to create an appetite for reading, to provide practical solutions to many of the problems of the peasants and to give them a sense and importance of their culture.

The range of titles is huge. On a practical note, there are books on all aspects of Andean culture from farming, bee-keeping, animal husbandry and adobe building techniques to midwifery and plant remedies. In fact one of the most popular books is Donde no hay doctor [Where there is no doctor], a vital information resource for such isolated communities.

But not all knowledge from outside is relevant. It is important that these remote communities should share and keep alive their own history and culture, in order to create a sense of local identity and self esteem. With this in mind, the peasants are encouraged to write their own books (or dictate them) for the purpose of sharing skills or to record events and stories. These are then published by the Rural Libraries and added to stock. It is also a priority of the scheme to provide books for children which stimulate reading for pleasure as well as for educational needs.

Books on law and constitutional rights also appear on the shelves in distant farmsteads and have proved invaluable on occasions when their land has been under threat. However, some disputes are on-going and unresolved. For example, the problems caused by gold mining in the area1 – cyanide seeping into the water supply, crime from the influx of job seekers – have had a big impact on the local community. The Rural Libraries, as an organisation representing a large number of communities, has a voice and can therefore be perceived as a political force in the region. This can work both for and against them. As Jose Maria Arguedas, one of Peru's most influential writers and champion of its indigenous people, said, "An Indian who can read is a dangerous Indian." A Peruvian librarian

How well does the model work elsewhere? Attempts to set up similar schemes were tried in other towns in Peru, including Arequipa and Cusco, but for various reasons did not last. Related projects in Nicaragua (set up by Fr John) and Ecuador failed due to war or other circumstances. However, a project in the Pervian town of Tambogrande has survived, with the help of municipal funding. Alfredo Mires Ortiz went to Ethiopia in 2001, when a scheme in Ilubabor was being mooted; this year, he went to Colombia where there is also interest in the project. Representatives of communities in Mozambique have visited Cajamarca in recent years to see if they too can adopt the scheme for their own use.

And what of the future? The Rural Libraries have never received any help from the Peruvian government and have survived thanks to voluntarism and international solidarity. Their financial resources have always been scarce, and this year their funds from international agencies have ceased altogether. The aims of such agencies have changed and the Rural Library projects do not fit current trends. At the moment they are existing only on individual contributions of a small and more erratic nature from supporters overseas.

In the meantime, the difficult socio-economic conditions of the peasant communities are getting worse and the challenges for the Rural Libraries are growing. To date, the biggest threat to the survival of peasant communities is, without doubt, the extension of mining . This has increased poverty, corruption, environmental damage and community disorganisation. It has also devalued agriculture as a way of life, and increased the dependency on money in populations that have hitherto been self–sufficient and reliant on solidarity and support within communities.

I have visited the libraries on two occasions in the last eight years, and have nothing but admiration for the whole organisation and the people involved. The last time I visited, in 2002, not one book had been lost since the beginning of the scheme, a record that can never be matched by libraries in the UK. I saw the pride taken in the project by the peasants whose vital work enables the scheme to operate, and I also saw men, women and children whose lives have been changed by something that we, in the developed world, take for granted.

If you want further information please contact the libraries' website at:

If you wish to support the scheme financially or in any other way then please contact me via


Kathy Doust
John Medcalf Publications

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I cannot better anything that Robert Marshall taught us during his excellent Conflict and Negotiation Course that was run at UL recently. I offer a personal view of conflict, from a Reader Services perspective, which may amuse.

You need plenty of practice to become good at resolving conflict. And Reader Services provides exactly that: readers challenge the regulations, they challenge the staff, they act aggressively toward each other, and sometimes staff have their own difficulties to resolve. I often get called in to arbitrate or make a decision in these matters. Nietzsche's axiom: "Out of life's school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." is the quotation that often springs to mind.

My working practice was greatly influenced by the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) concept of "being in a resourceful state" as the key to success. The resourceful state for me is when I am relaxed, alert, positive and free from anxiety. Imagine two similar staff, one of them knows everything about a topic, say fire procedure, and another person knows only half of that. If the knowledgeable member of staff gets into an anxious state in an emergency, then much of their knowledge will be worthless if they cannot use it because poor emotional states leave them unable to think clearly. However, the member of staff who can stay calm and positive in an emergency will be able to use their limited knowledge to far greater effect. And this concept, of the resourceful state, underpins much of the way in which I handle conflict.

Most of our life is some sort of conflict or competition. We were in conflict with our siblings in the nest; we fight for a mate, for food, for a job. When we drive we fight for space on the road. At home we dispute with our neighbours. Our departments compete with each other for resources and we compete with other staff for promotion. So, why are we not used to it by now? Indeed, why are we not good at this conflict thing?

Actually, I think that we are good at it, but I suggest that the problem is managing conflict at work where the rules of engagement are very different. In the wild, that is at home or at leisure, there are known rules of conflict and clear signals of levels of threat. These signals, such as tone of voice or body language, have a scale of value that is gradually climbed until, finally, threats or violence are used to resolve the dispute. But take us out of our natural environment and put us in the theatre of work, where we may not use threats, strong language, or be anything but polite, under pain of losing our means of livelihood; and now the contest is quite uneven if our antagonist is inclined to use such means in the furtherance of the dispute.

So often, we enter the conflict area at work with a burden of emotional baggage: fear that it might go wrong, fear of embarrassment, fear of violence, fear of our superiors receiving letters of complaint, etc. Or we might approach it driven by desires such as, I need success in this dispute, or I want a quiet life and to avoid this unpleasantness; even the desire to maintain one's authority can distract us from a natural interaction. And these fears and desires lead us to anxieties which stifle our naturally good performance.

I think we all have the innate skills required to resolve conflict if we don't hamper those abilities with emotion. We know what good customer service is like, and what we would expect from a service. We have all been victims of excessive bureaucracy and know how bad that feels. And we all know how to hold a decent conversation and listen. So we know what our client expects. If you can meet them as naturally as possible, somehow it all works out well.

The trick is to arrive for the conversation in a relaxed state. Give yourself a few minutes to prepare (whatever your thing is – deep breathing, relaxation, visualisation, prayer, etc.). Stay calm during the interview. Take time out, if you feel unpleasant emotions arising (excuse yourself for a few minutes to recover). If you honestly cannot resolve the matter, ask for more time and make an appointment to meet again.

Previously, I might have suggested that one way to buy some time, in order to calm down during a dispute, is to make the excuse of needing to visit the lavatory. In the quiet of the solitary chamber, the composure is restored and clarity of mind returns. This failed spectacularly during one staff dispute, when one of the parties followed me into the Gents and continued to harangue me over the partition of the cubicle. It was a learning experience.

N.B. None of the above applies when dealing with the clinically insane. But that is not always obvious on the first meeting. In these circumstances, my technique consists of keeping out of striking range, having a witness, and summoning the Security Services.

My personal journey began with Richard Sorabji, in an article from the THE (Times Higher Education), – 13 June 1997 – by Lucy Hodges – with the title: Tense, nervous headache? Take Stoics. But that's another story...

You can read her article online at:

Tony Harper
Head of Reader Services
University Library

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Nicola Nye and Chris Petheram

How do you deal with unacceptable or challenging behaviour? Staff in the Learning Centres at Exeter College, Devon, have developed a toolkit of responses that will defuse potentially explosive situations.

Much work on the toolkit was done by Nicola Nye, a Senior Learning Centre Assistant at Exeter College, and Chris Petheram, Head of Foundation Studies. Nicola's interest grew from her own experience of supervising students. Chris works with students who have a wide variety of emotional and behavioural problems and had just finished a Masters in Special Educational Needs with a focus on Behavioural Modification Techniques (BMT). Chris was very interested in adapting techniques used in the classroom to the library setting.

Before we explain the techniques we use, reflect on your own experiences of behavioural management at school or at college. Depending on your age, your own experiences may bring back such severe memories as physical punishment, humiliation or embarrassment. This was the way that people controlled behaviour in the past. When you try to correct others behaviour, do some of those techniques reappear? If they do, it is probably because that is the only way you ever knew of correcting behaviour. But ask yourself, were these experiences good for you? If they weren't, we can all agree that those types of techniques should not be used. Anything that humiliates or ridicules is off our list. Now get ready for some new ideas that really do work!

As part of our training, we ask people to list the main behavioural issues that, on a daily basis, cause them the most concern. Consider what your "gut reaction" might be if you encountered these issues in your library. By "gut reaction", we mean what you might say in reaction to the behaviour without thinking. Here are some examples you may be familiar with, or may have heard from others:

"Stop playing computer games!"

"Stop eating!"

"Stop messing around!"

"You're being too noisy"

Often those approaches lead to answering back or repeated behaviour that can be perceived as a way to annoy and make a personal attack on you. They can lead to a huge debate along the lines of "It's not me", "Oh yes, it was", panto style.

No one is suggesting that the behaviour doesn't happen, but let's stop and just think about the approach. Take a look around your library and focus on the signage. Is it negative or positive? Does it say "No eating or drinking in the Library", or does it say "Food can be eaten outside of the Library. Thank you"? Do you have a notice that says "DO NOT USE MOBILE PHONES IN THE LIBRARY", or do your signs say "Kindly use your mobile phone outside the library. Thank you"?

We hope you can see where we are going with this. Firstly, we're using positive language. We're stating what we do want the learners to do, not what we don't want them to do. Also, we're refraining from using the word "please". Implying that there is a choice may open up a confrontational discussion. Instead we use "thank you", which implies that our request will happen and closes the conversation.

One very useful technique to consider is remaining focused on the primary instruction and not getting dragged into a secondary argument. We have all probably been there. You ask a student to use their phone outside the library, and you get some rude comment directed at you, muttered under their breath. What do you do?

The natural reaction is to bristle and say "What did you say about me?" This starts the tennis match of accusations and denials, which often escalates into a row. But if you remain focussed on the primary reason for your approach to the individual and don't get side-tracked by the mutter, you are reducing the potential for direct confrontation. Besides, if they are in the library, using your IT systems, it's not going to be that hard to trace who they are and inform their tutor of their abusive behaviour. By remaining focused on the primary behaviour, you are reducing the potential for direct confrontation in your library.

One problem that occurs again and again is when there is a group of students in the library who are being unruly, loud and disrupting others. Does this sound familiar? Our advice is, do not approach the group as a whole and address them. This will start the group denial and pack mentality. Let's look at why they react like this by turning the tables.

Imagine you are sitting in their place, having a bit of a laugh – young adults with this driving need to bond with each other and be popular and cool. Then the older librarian approaches the "lions den" and tells everyone off, you (or one of your mates) probably won't be able to help yourself returning a smart comment or a denial (= a point on the cool score board).

But what if the member of the library staff observes who is making all that noise, trouble or disruption and then picks off the individual?

There are two ways of doing this. One is to wait until the individual moves away from the group. But that may not happen. Another way is to move in to the individual. To their side, all smiles, and speaking in a very quiet voice, so only he/she can hear you. This removes the coliseum type scenario where all the spectators are ready to put their thumbs up or hold them down. You are effectively excluding the audience. The conversation may go a little like this.

Librarian: Hi! [Big smile and talking just above a whisper.]

Student: Hello! [Shocked that such an old person should be so close and talking directly and so quietly at them.]

Librarian: I wanted to remind you that phones are used outside of the library [or whatever the rule reminder is]. Is it an urgent call?

Student: Yes. [Probably telling a white lie.]

Librarian: Ok, I tell you what I can do. Make the call outside and I will reserve this computer [book etc.] for you so it's still here when you come back. Thanks! [Huge smile, turn and walk away.]

What will happen is, either the person will leave and make their call, or know they have been clocked by you. But because the librarian was so polite and helpful (for such an old person) they will, with a bit of luck, stop using that phone (or whatever the issue may be). It is important always to give people "take-up time". Rather than give an instruction and then stand over them until they put that phone in their bag, you should walk away, etc. Give them some dignity time to comply with your request.

Of course, they may not follow explicit instructions, and then you may need to give what we call "directed choices". Move in as mentioned above, but this time you are going to offer two choices. One might be, "I see you are using your phone [making a lot of noise/using chat sites etc.], so you will need to decide if you want to work here now, as everyone else is working quietly, or I'll book you a slot later this afternoon and you can come back onto the computers when there are fewer people around [smile]. You decide. I'll be back in a few minutes to see what you want to do". Then walk away and give take-up time. Of course, if things don't improve, you will need to follow through with the choice. From our own experiences, this is usually quite rare.

We have to acknowledge input from training courses run by COFHE Mid–West and UC&R BBO. We would also like to acknowledge the work of Bill Rogers, a behavioural expert whose findings helped to form the backbone of this piece of work. Although here we are only able to skim the surface of behavioural issues, please do look up any of his books in your own libraries. He goes into detail in many different types of scenario, which you may find useful in your own working environments and may resonate with some of the behaviours that challenge you regularly.

Chris Petheram & Nicola Nye
Exeter College

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Entrance to Linen Hall Library Linen Hall Library: cultural hub Founded in 1788, the Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast and the last remaining subscription library in Ireland. Established by radicals and revolutionaries who were influenced by the liberal and egalitarian principles of the American and French revolutions, it is an independent, self-governing and charitable body. Our second librarian, United Irishman, Thomas Russell, was arrested in the Library in 1796 and later executed as a rebel. Always forward-looking, women were admitted to membership as early as 1793.

During the Victorian and Edwardian era, the period of linen, shipbuilding and associated commerce, the Library thrived and during this period especially built up fabulous collections on Irish history and Belfast and Ulster printing. Today the heart of the Linen Hall is still its great collections, Irish and Local Studies, Genealogy, Language, Literature and Theatre. The Library boasts an extensive general collection which is used primarily by its 3,500 members and offers a free reference service to the public. A cultural hub, it serves as the meeting place for myriad organisations, hosts a varied programme of cultural events, whilst its coffee shop is a popular social meeting place.

Perhaps surprisingly for a Library whose history dates back to the 18th century, its most heavily used research collection is one that is barely forty years old. As the story goes, former Linen Hall Librarian, Jimmy Vitty, was handed a civil rights leaflet, while having lunch one day in a Belfast pub at the very outset of the Troubles. Making the radical decision that the Library should record what was happening in the city at the time, Library staff were dispatched around the barricades to collect all the street literature they could find. They came back laden with material, barricade bulletins, magazines, posters, handbills and leaflets and the Northern Ireland Political Collection was born. The collections date back to the 18th century Civil Rights publication

Often regarded as a charismatically challenged profession, I love the image of my predecessors clambering over smoky barricades, boldly going where no librarians had gone before, to collect material. Much collected material was seditious and some of it illegal. The Library was fortunate that its contacts in the Unionist establishment helped it acquire a dispensation to allow it, officially, to circumvent the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland), 1922. At the same time, some Library members were collectors of street literature, and even publishers and distributors of banned newspapers. As in 1798, political events on the streets of Northern Ireland in 1968 were often shaped by political changes on a world stage which in turn were precipitated and facilitated by the revolution in communications technology.

From the late 1960s onwards, empowered by its independence, the Library has sought to collect all printed material relating to recent Northern Irish politics. In the intervening four decades, over 300,000 items have been amassed. The Collection documents the activities of all parties to the conflict, from paramilitaries to government. It covers publications by organisations on the margins of the direct political process and those concerned primarily with social issues. The literature ranges from collections of books, pamphlets, manifestos, press cuttings, photographs and audio-visual items to ephemeral collections of posters, leaflets and Christmas cards. The enormous range of periodicals, over 2,000 different titles, includes both single issues and complete runs of enduring journals of record. A large proportion of these items is held by the Collection alone.

Fire bomb planted in error The pro-active nature of the relationships forged ensured that Collection staff were never intimidated or harassed, even in the most bloody and violent days of the early 1970s. A fire bomb planted in error in the Library by members of the IRA on New Year's Eve 1993 elicited an unprecedented three apologies in the War News columns of Sinn Fein's An Phoblacht magazine and was an acute embarrassment for the republican leadership. It was a reminder to the Library that one of the challenges of archiving an ongoing conflict was the threat of losing the entire archive to the conflict. But, in general, the biggest threat to the burgeoning collection throughout the 1980s and early 1990s was the more mundane one of how to fund it.

By documenting the conflict and making the material available, without fear or favour, the Library aims to play a vital role in contributing to a better understanding of the conflict. Staff joke on occasion that we have enough to offend everyone but that we try to offend everyone equally. More seriously we are proud of the pioneering work of the Library. As far as the Library is aware, no other institution in a localised conflict anywhere else in the world has systematically collected material from all sides, much less collected it in the field and often literally across the barricades. Now we are the premier resource for all aspects of our ongoing peace process.

The Collection aspires to be a world class information resource for the international community who want to learn more about the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process but more especially for our own community who have lived through the conflict, were part of it and suffered because of it. While our work is focused on the Irish conflict, we are used increasingly as an exemplar by other parts of the world that have experienced conflict or who are undergoing peace processes and want to document the experience. Collection resources are consulted daily by students, politicians, the media, community and church groups, ex–prisoners and many individuals who have lost loved ones during the conflict. People come from five different continents to study in the Collection's Reading Room. Thousands more access our resources remotely via our website and electronic catalogue. The American actor, Brad Pitt, spent three days with us carrying out research for the film The Devil's Own.

Nothing sums up better our stance of "engaged neutrality" than the Troubled Images project. Inspired by the world class collection of posters on 20th century conflict held by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, in 2001, the Linen Hall produced a CD–ROM of 3,400 posters and images of the Northern Ireland conflict with 200,000 words of explanatory text. To the delight and relief of all involved with the project, the CD–ROM and accompanying exhibition were enthusiastically received by the local community and attracted major international media interest, including a two page spread in Time magazine. Soon venues all around the world were asking to host the exhibition. Translated into Arabic and Euskara, it has now toured in three continents, whilst the CD–ROM has been sold worldwide, bringing in much needed revenue. In 2007, the Library published a book for young people based on Troubled Images and tailored to the new Key Stage 3 school curriculum on the Troubles.

 Linen Hall Library representative with President Bush at the White House Troubled Images has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the team that worked on it and provided the Library with an enviable platform to promote its work. Notably, the project was runner up in the CILIP Awards for Outstanding Works of Electronic Reference in the United Kingdom in 2002 and the following year it brought the Library the prestigious Christopher Ewart Biggs prize for promoting understanding between Britain and Ireland. In 2005, Library representatives were invited to attend a private audience with US President George Bush at the White House. Most recently, the Library has advised on devising a draft curriculum for information specialists throughout the Middle East and on documenting native Hawaiian experience.

The Northern Ireland Political Collection tells our community's story and none of the accolades heaped on the Collection mean more than the impact of our work on our local community. Watching people from all walks of life and from across political divides come to see the Troubled Images exhibition when it was on display in Belfast, it was evident that the posters were not only the visual signposts of the last 30 - 40 years of the conflict, but symbols of our community's collective memory of a very deep hurt. For many who came to view the exhibition, it was a cathartic experience.

By having the courage to document what was happening on our doorstep, which was our unique responsibility, the Linen Hall has created a collection which is not only central to the record of life in Northern Ireland during one of its most tumultuous periods, but a resource of international significance and one which grows ever more relevant. As the Northern Ireland Political Collection celebrates its 40th anniversary in October 2008, I salute my fellow librarians, past and present, who nurtured the Collection, fought to ensure its survival, walked the streets to collect for it, made friends and built relationships right across the political spectrum, inspired by the vision that our story should be a complete one and that our history should not be laid on separate tracks.

Yvonne Murphy
Librarian, Northern Ireland Political Collection & Director of Development, Linen Hall Library

References and Further Reading

Bell, Robert. Northern Ireland periodicals 1966-1992: a bibliography of the holdings of the Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Belfast: Linen Hall Library, 1994.

Bell, Robert. 'The Northern Ireland political collection at the Linen Hall Library'. In: History Ireland, Spring 1993, pp 47-51.

Gillespie, Gordon. Troubled images: the Northern Ireland Troubles and peace process 1968 – 2007. Belfast: Newtownards: Linen Hall Library; Colourpoint, 2007.

Gray, John. 'Documenting civil conflict: the case of the Linen Hall Library, Belfast'. In: Disaster and after: the practicalities of information service in times of war and other catastrophes, ed. Paul Sturges and Diana Rosenberg. London: Taylor Graham, 1999.

Killen, John. A history of the Linen Hall Library 1788–1988. Belfast: Linen Hall Library, 1990.

Murphy, Yvonne, Allan Leonard, Gordon Gillespie and Kris Brown (ed). Troubled images: posters and images of the Northern Ireland conflict from the Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Belfast: Linen Hall Library, 2001. (CD–ROM & book)

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In an issue on conflict I thought I would draw your attention to a new harmonious initiative. So if you are interested in meeting some new colleagues, getting out of the office and flexing the little grey cells while eating (multi–tasking all round) then why not join us for a networking lunch. Libby and I heard this idea at the last CILIP Umbrella2 conference and decided to try it in Cambridge.

The conference raised many interesting ideas but as often happens when you are back in work and Michaelmas Term is looming there seems little time for something new. However, this idea stayed with us and at the start of this year we thought we would give it a try. We emailed ucam-lib-discuss3 to advertise the first meeting in February at Classics. We used the "brown bag" term that the UL have used for lunchtime sessions in the past as we wanted people to bring their lunch and not miss out. To my surprise other librarians turned up and we had an engaging discussion (despite the article not being that good now I try to read them in advance). After that we decided to fix the event as the first Wednesday of each month so that people could diarise it.

We have had 6 meetings now on a variety of topics (although themes on user education and delivering services have featured heavily) and a mix of library staff from colleges, faculties, departments and the UL have attended. The lunch-time discussions have led to further meetings on specific topics (recently on Web 2.0 in libraries and hopefully later in the year on surveys) and more importantly to developments on ways to communicate between ourselves. As a result we have a Cambridge Librarians site on camtools and Facebook where we advertise the lunches, along with ucam-lib-discuss, and have further discussions.

I know many library staff are not on the email list so I am writing this to draw your attention to the lunch-time meetings and to the new networking sites where you can be involved even if you can't make lunch.

You can register with ucam-lib-discuss.

Join our Cambridge_Librarians site via Camtools. It is an open site so can be searched in joinable lists or send Libby or me your CRSID and we can add you directly.

Join the Facebook Group - Cambridge Liibrarians. You need to be on the Cambridge network to join this site so if you are registered on Facebook with a non-Cambridge email then you need to either create a "work" persona or in your account register yourself with a second network. This group is moderated so once you ask to join you will need to wait for one of the administrators to accept you.

Please feel free to drop into one of the lunches – it doesn't have to be a regular commitment and it can be thought-provoking, fun and interesting with so far no signs of conflict. It is open to staff at any level so spread the word and just turn up.

We are also happy to hear from anyone who would be willing to host it (it just means booking a room for discussion and giving directions) or has come across an article for discussion. We have the rule that articles must be available online either free or through one of the University's subscriptions so that everyone has easy access to it but the topic choice is your own. You can also offer to host it without having to come up with the article. Hope to see some of you on the first Wednesday of the month.

3. Joining instructions at

Lyn Bailey, Faculty of Classics      Libby Tilley, Faculty of English

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As a former cathedral librarian I have learned one thing above all: cathedral libraries are great survivors. Many times in their long histories – most date their foundation well back into the medieval period – they have survived conflict and in 2008 most are still here. In particular 1540 to 1700 saw a series of dramatic changes following religious and civil conflict. A lot of attention has been focused on the upheavals caused by the Reformation, but little on the effects of the Civil War. At the Restoration in 1660, cathedral chapters were faced with library buildings which had been damaged or completely destroyed and their contents dispersed or disposed of. The story of the libraries' revival after 1660 is a fascinating one but for this article I will briefly sketch the effect of the conflict in England in the 1640s and 1650s.

In 1643 a parliamentary ordinance called for the removal from all churches "of all monuments of superstition and idolatry" – specifically altars, and altar rails, crucifixes, crosses and images of the Trinity, Virgin Mary or other saints. In April 1649 another ordinance formally abolished deans and chapters. For many cathedrals, the latter confirmed a fait–accompli, since many chapter estates had already been sequestered in 1643 and their churches and precincts vandalised.

The contemporary accounts of the iconoclasm of the 1640s are graphic and use wonderfully intemperate language. But can we trust them? Do they help us to find out what happened to cathedral libraries? In most cases they were written to bolster a political argument, but it is possible to confirm their veracity by looking at the cathedral buildings themselves, and the records of reconstruction in the 1660s.

What these contemporary accounts show was that the destruction carried out in cathedrals was not indiscriminate (in most cases) but that there was extensive collateral damage. There were "hit lists" of objects and decorations to be destroyed, and these can be closely linked to the 1643 ordinance. First to go was usually the altar, moved to the east end of the church under Laud's reforms. Next were the hated Laudian altar rails, then any religious images in glass, stone, wood or textiles. Then there were the musical appurtenances – the organ, the songbooks and the robes of the choir. Finally, the only books that seem to have been targeted consistently, the service books, and sometimes the Bibles kept in the church.

When turning to the fate of individual cathedral libraries, Canterbury is a good example, as, just as in the Dissolution in 1540, it was one of the first cathedrals to be targeted for plunder and was damaged even before the 1643 Parliamentary ordinance was passed. In August 1642 Thomas Paske, a prebendary, wrote a letter of complaint to the Earl of Holland. In it he described what was to become a familiar story. Soldiers under Colonel Edwyn Sandys had unexpectedly arrived in Canterbury. They entered the church, went first to the east end where they turned over the altar and smashed the altar rails and then they attacked screens, sculptures, tombs and monuments. The bronze eagle lectern was used to force open the cupboards of the singing-men, and their surplices, gowns and bibles were removed. Some were "rent" and others carried away. The soldiers then "mangled all our Service–books, and Books of Common–Prayer; bestrewing the whole with leaves thereof". They finally took pot shots at the figure of Christ over the main gates into the Precincts.

In the next year Richard Culmer, a local Puritan minister known as "Blue Dick of Thanet", arrived with an official commission. His account of his exploits is justly famous - he describes ascending the sixty step ladder from which he destroyed the window above the Martyrdom "the superstitious glory of that cathedral". His splendid phrase – "rattling down proud Becket's glassy bones" – has been quoted by many historians. In addition he boasted of the toppling of the previously-damaged figure of Christ from above the outer gates to the Precincts. The library at this point was not touched.

As in many cathedrals, the library at Canterbury had recovered somewhat by 1634 from the dispersal of its medieval collection. Printed books had been acquired to replace the lost library of over two thousand manuscripts books. In 1650 by order of the Committee for Compounding, the books were sent to London into the care of Mr George Griffith, the Minister of the Charterhouse. They went by road and then by river to London, in four barrels, a hamper and a box. The library room had been built in the 1440s above the thirteenth-century Prior's Chapel but during the 1650s the Chapel and the medieval library above were destroyed and a new library had to be built in 1664.

Bruno Ryves, a royalist writer, first published his account of iconoclasm in various cathedrals in December 1643 under the pseudonym of Mercurius Rusticus. Following his account of Sandys's work in Canterbury, he described Sir William Waller's depredations at Winchester and Chichester. At Winchester in December 1642 troops marched into the cathedral with colours flying, drums beating and accompanied by cavalry who rode into the church on their horses. The Chapter Clerk, John Chase, made heroic efforts to save what he could of the library after Waller's visit. Some books were sold in London but these were recovered and restored to the Library shelves in 1677. Other books, including the Winchester Bible, were given temporary shelter at Winchester College from 1652 and these too were returned at the Restoration. Sir William Waller and his soldiers also visited Chichester in December 1642. The Dean, Chapter and Bishop were declared delinquent and their library books were dumped in the roofless Deanery in 1650. The county committee for Sussex asked permission to sell those books not too badly damaged in 1651. Only one book from before 1660 is now in the Library and it was bought from this book sale. A new library room was built after the Restoration.

Durham Cathedral lost fewer books at the Reformation than almost any other cathedral, and again during the 1640s and 1650s did not suffer as much as others. Some books were taken by individuals and some destroyed by the Scottish prisoners kept in the cathedral but unlike Canterbury, they disobeyed the government's order to send their books to London in 1646. The remaining Cathedral library books became the library of the short–lived Cromwell's College, a university established in the precincts 1657-60.

Some cathedrals were caught up in the fighting. At Lincoln the church and precincts were battered as the city changed hands several times in the Civil War. The cathedral library in 1640 was in disrepair after a fire in 1609 in which some books were lost. Despite a story that the books were removed to the city and lost in flooding, about six hundred volumes were returned to the Cathedral in 1662 by the City Council from the Greycoat School. The medieval library building was restored in 1668, but in 1675 the magnificent new library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren was built over the cloisters.

The books in the library at Wells Cathedral suffered a similar fate to those at Lincoln. Books were obviously removed for safe storage to a local church during the 1640s and in 1661 about two hundred books were given back to the Chapter. The medieval library was restored in the post–Restoration period and the stock expanded with gifts from Dr Richard Bussby.

At Exeter the library building in 1640 was in a state of disrepair and the transfer of medieval manuscripts to the collections of Matthew Parker and Sir Thomas Bodley had diminished its contents. But disaster struck in the 1650s when the cloister, above which the library was built, was demolished, the site being sold for use as a market. The books were dispersed but a good number were saved by a local physician Dr John Vilvaine who furnished the Lady Chapel as a library out of his own pocket.

Lichfield was situated at the heart of the fighting in the Midlands. Its precinct was walled and moated and made a perfect defensible position. Lichfield was besieged more often than any other cathedral except Carlisle. In 1642, after a long siege, Puritan soldiers demolished the magnificent west front with its one hundred and thirteen statues then burned the books in the cathedral library, with the exception of St Chad's Gospels and a few other precious volumes, which had been smuggled out by the precentor.

Two libraries were the exception, showing almost no losses during the whole Civil War and Commonwealth periods. York was the biggest cathedral library in England and in 1640 the medieval library was still in use and flourishing. The church was damaged in the siege of York in 1644 and some items were removed, but the Minster had a friend in Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander of the Parliamentary armies. The library continued to function throughout the Commonwealth period. Hereford's main cathedral library remained virtually untouched in the Lady Chapel for the whole period of the Civil War and Interregnum.

This then is a brief sketch of how some cathedral libraries managed to survive the conflict of the 1640s and 1650s. Cathedral libraries rose phoenix-like after the Restoration. The period from 1660 to 1750 is regarded by most as their golden age. New library buildings were constructed, large numbers of donations and purchases made and librarians were employed who created catalogues and opened up the libraries for the use of scholars. Cathedral libraries in this period provide a shining example of how libraries can survive and even grow as a result of conflict. I fervently hope that this continues to be the case in the 21st century.

Sheila Hingley
Head of Heritage Collections
Durham University Library

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At the University Library, Andrew Alexander has been promoted to Deputy Head of the Map Department. Robin James has returned to English Cataloguing as a Team Leader during the absence of Céline Carty on maternity leave, while Chris Bell replaces Robin as Chief Library Assistant in Legal Deposit. Congratulations to Céline on the birth of her second daughter Tess (Thérèse Juliana) on 11 May. Angela Fitzpatrick has been promoted to Senior Cataloguer in English Collections following the retirement of Valerie Phipps at the end of April after many years' service that has included the management and follow-up of the Annual Inspection. Valerie is now working as a volunteer one day a week. Also in English, Charlotte Smith has been appointed Senior Library Assistant.

Richard Short left European Collections at the end of August to finish his Ph.D. and Joanne Koehler left at the same time to begin her maternity leave. Jessica Salmon has been appointed to take Joanne's place.

The Tower Project continues to attract new staff with a fascination for Victoriana. Penny Granger was appointed Senior Cataloguer from mid-July. In September, James Harmon moved from Rare Books to take up the post of Junior Cataloguer and Katie Cranston began work as a Senior Cataloguer. Katie has just finished the MA in Librarianship at University College London; before that she was a graduate trainee at Liverpool University Library. Susannah Crockford resigned her Senior Cataloguer post at the end of August to move to Amsterdam to study for a master's degree and was replaced by Rhonda Arnold.

Godfrey Waller retired from Manuscripts on 29 August as another of the longest serving members of the UL staff. Dr James Coakley has joined MSS and Grant Young has been appointed Digitisation and Digital Preservation Specialist in the Special Collections Division.

At Fitzwilliam College, Marion MacLeod has retired after nearly 32 years' service. Marion has written, at our request, a short retrospective on her long career in Cambridge. She will be much missed by the College, and by colleagues in the Cambridge library community, and we wish her well in what looks like being a very busy and interesting retirement.

Her successor is Chris Roberts Lewis, who moves from Sidney Sussex Library. Stewart Tiley leaves St John's College to step into Chris's shoes at Sidney Sussex.

We congratulate Paul Everest, Register Project Assistant at St John's College Library, and his wife Clare on the birth of their son. Aidan William Everest arrived on 2 July, weighing 7lb 8oz.

Charlotte Smith, Temporary Library Assistant for 2007-8, moves from Newnham to take up a position as Senior Cataloguer in the English collections at the UL.

Summertime brings a new batch of Graduate Trainees, eager to embark on careers in libraries. We wish the departing trainees well. Liam Sims and Hazel Pointon of Trinity and St John's respectively both have places on the MA course at UCL. Catrin Lewis is not actually departing, moving into the role of library assistant at the Classics Faculty from August. This seems to be a common theme this year, as at Corpus, Liam Austin also becomes library assistant. Carolyn Keim moves from Christ's to become Senior Library Assistant at the Seeley Library, whilst studying for her MS in Library and Information Studies by distance learning at Florida State University. Katy Makin leaves Murray Edwards to take up the post of Archives Assistant at Warwickshire Record Office, with a view to eventually qualifying as an archivist. Looking back to a previous year, Steven Archer, Trinity's 2006-7 trainee, who returned to Trinity in 2008 in a part time capacity whilst studying at UCL, takes up a new position as Chief Library Assistant at the London Library from September.

Among the new arrivals, St John's welcomes Laura Steel, who has a history degree from York University. Alex Devine is another York graduate, with a master's in medieval English literatures. Pursuing an interest in rare books from involvement with York Minster's Library and Conservation Studio, Alex takes on the traineeship at Corpus. The Newnham Graduate Trainee for 2008-9 is Lucy Campbell, who has a degree in American Studies and History from the University of Sussex. Christ's new trainee is Sophie Fisher, who graduated from the University of East Anglia in 2007 with a degree in Sociology and History. Sophie previously worked at the Meridian Primary School as a teaching assistant where she gained experience of a school library. Helen Murphy takes up the traineeship at Murray Edwards, having studied theology at St Andrews and recently completed a Master's degree by research in political ethics at Edinburgh University. Trinity's new trainee is James Freeman, who has just completed an MPhil in medieval history at Corpus.

At FAMES, two moves and two professional successes. Miki Jacobs has moved to Asian and Middle Eastern Studies after a year in the UL's Tower Project, and has also become the proud owner of a City Guilds qualification in Information and Library Services. Catherine Sutherland has been promoted to Senior Library Assistant and gained an M.Sc. in Library and Information Studies from City University -- with a distinction for her dissertation.

In Classics, Alicia Periel produced a baby in March: name of Antonio. Alicia's job is being kept warm for her by Nancy Bouidghaghen. Staff at the Pendlebury Library have welcomed back their Librarian, Anna Pensaert, after her maternity leave. The Pendlebury's Senior Library Assistant, CULIB editor Kate Arhel, has moved to the English Faculty Library to take up the post of Assistant Librarian after Shyani Siriwardene's move to Sri Lanka.

The Education Library has two new assistants: Liz Careless, who joins with several years' experience of public library work in Dudley, and Heather Smith, a recent Essex graduate.

Janice Chambers is the new Deputy Librarian of Social and Political Sciences. This is a new part-time post and Janice is deputising for Librarian Julie Nicholas on the days when Julie is not there. Janice moved across from the Materials Science and Metallurgy Library, where she was librarian for nearly 5 years; her place there has been taken by Alan Stevens, in a move from Engineering.

The Whipple Library has had an enviable expansion. It has taken over the old Heycock Lecture Theatre. The library's existing space is to be shared between the library and the Whipple Museum. The work (principal architect Steve Giles) is expected to be complete by the time CULIB goes to press, and librarian Tim Eggington invites all readers to come and see what a splendid job has been done. Meanwhile, pictures of it are available online at

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The Past

Marion came to Fitz in August 1976, thinking that three or four years out of big cities (London, New York) would be a change. From time to time she made a bid to escape. Some jobs she decided not to take (better the devils you know); two jobs she really wanted she didn't get. She became her worst nightmare: 'That Miss MacLeod is nice but quite batty – she's been here for year and years you know'.

Her time at Fitz could be used as a lesson in the History of Library Systems, especially of loan systems. Firstly a ledger – Eng. lit. only borrowable in Term. Then loan slips with about seven sections to be filled in by the borrower – all literature now borrowable. When Social Sciences joined in, MacLeod devised a cunning system of different-coloured slips for each day in an attempt to speed up the search for overdues.

By about 1984 the NatScis and CompScis and Medics wanted to borrow books legally in Term. 'Brown' cards would be the answer. Several undergrads (with more or less illegible handwriting) wrote out c. 30,000 cards and folded and glued the pockets. Alas, that gallant band were not the only sticky–fingered library users.

October 1991 and Fitz installed an automated loanstation, after nearly three years of the Library staff bashing 'short records' into LibBASE, and primitive printers growling and grinding out rolls of barcodes. Overdue notices spewed from the printer weekly; end of Term recalls now took half an hour (plus pigeon–holing time) instead of over 10 hours' staff time. But wonderful wee LibBASE was DOS–based and was doomed.

The Present

In 2005 we installed Liberty3, a web–based system where loans are recorded instantly in the catalogue database and email overdues take seconds to send. Younger colleagues take web-based systems for granted; they learn about them at their library school lecturer's knee. Older librarians who are about to become, in E. Dudley's words, 'retired layabouts', have had to learn on the job.

The Future

In Retired Layaboutland I'll be spending more time with my recently widowed Dad in Largs on the Clyde coast, and with great nephews on Hayling Island. I'm polishing up my rusty Russian, and teaching Scottish Gaelic again. In November I'll be making a fifth trip to India, hoping to visit places I've never been to and also meeting up with old friends.

College Librarians do depend very much on each other. I'd like particularly to thank the other Grumpy Old Librarians on the Hill and the Liberty Bodies (you know who you are) for friendship, help and moral support. Chris Roberts Lewis my successor will take Fitz Library into its new building in 2010, and I wish her all success. MM

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