CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

ISSN 0307 7284    Edited by Kathryn McKee, Mary Kattuman, Charlotte Smith and Kate Arhel

Issue 65, Michaelmas 2009: The book



This issue of CULIB takes as its theme 'The Book': a traditional subject for librarians perhaps, and one which we might be too inclined to take for granted, but what is a book in the 21st century? It can be anything from an historical artefact to a digital object with no physical manifestation.

Deirdre Serjeantson, former Munby Fellow, gives an historical perspective on books and their readers in early modern England, highlighting fascinating Cambridge examples from her research on editions of Petrarch. Stewart Tiley also focusses on the history of individual volumes with a discussion of provenance and why it matters. David Butterfield, winner of the Rose Book Collecting Prize, describes the thrill of collecting antiquarian classics books.

Whilst there is clearly still both an academic purpose and pleasure to be had in using physical books, increasingly students expect to be able to access the content of scholarly works online. Caren Milloy, e-books project manager for JISC, gives us the latest news from the e-books Observatory Project: the largest study to date of the use of e-books in HE and the implications of e-publishing for students, libraries, and publishers (NB Caren's article appears only in the web version of CULIB.) Michael Popham, head of the Oxford Digital Library, tells us about Oxford's collaboration with the internet giant Google, mass digitisation broadening access to the print collections of the Bodleian way beyond the library's walls. [Note: Since this article was commissioned and written, Google's digitisation plans have hit the news, specifically in relation to copyright material and exclusive rights (neither of which applies in Oxford's case). Following the Open Books Alliance's objection to Google's proposed Digital Rights Registry deal the US Justice Dept has urged a New York court to encourage all parties to continue negotiating to address concerns raised regarding class action, copyright and antitrust law. At time of writing, the issue is unresolved. More details on the story may be found in Library & information update, October 2009, p.4.] This part of our discussion concludes with Frances Pinter's presentation of the publisher's perspective on the transformation of scholarly publishing in the digital age.

Some might have feared that the internet would spell the end of the book in hard copy, but many now turn to the internet in search of cheap new paperbacks, delivered direct to the door. Amazon is the big player in personal book supply, but is not the only option. Aidan Baker discusses the pros and cons of some of the alternatives.

We conclude this very full issue with a review of volume 6 of The Cambridge history of the book in Britain, and our usual People pages, including a tribute to a much-missed colleague Roger Fairclough.

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Among the rare book collections held in the libraries of Cambridge are some extraordinary treasures. Elizabeth I's copy of John Udall's Certain Sermons (1596), bound in crimson velvet and embroidered with the queen's arms, is held by the University Library; Newton's scientific texts are housed in his own college, Trinity; and among the 3,000 volumes in Magdalene's Pepys Library sits the famous Diary. However, despite the claims of these and unnumbered other volumes to grander provenance or greater scholarly significance, there can be few books in Cambridge with a history as dramatic as that of CUL Y.8.60, a 1544 edition of Petrarch's Italian poetry, printed in Venice, with a commentary by Alessandro Vellutello.

Another work from the same editor – Vellutello's edition of Dante's Commedia, printed in the same year and the same city – appears on the University Library's 'Featured Book Archive' [] where the impeccable detail of its illustrations and binding can be admired. Its sibling, the Vellutello Petrarch, does not show up well beside it. It is plainly bound, and a little shabby; the elaborate title page is torn. The text itself, moreover, is not uncommon: in a century which saw scores of Petrarch editions issue from the presses, Vellutello's presentation of Petrarch's sonnets was the most popular. A dozen copies from the various printings survive in Cambridge alone.

Inscription by Paul YueWhat makes this copy extraordinary is the set of inscriptions on the final page, where a sixteenth-century reader recorded in Spanish, French, Latin and English how he came by this book. In English, he says,

This booke was gotten at the wynninge of sainct Domingo in America in the yeare 1585 & geuen me by my brother William Yue the yong[er].
                                                                          Paul Yue.

Santo Domingo, now in the Dominican Republic, was, in the January of 1585/6, a prosperous and well-defended Spanish colony. Sir Francis Drake's unexpected defeat of the garrison, and his methodical destruction of the town while holding it to a ransom of a million ducats (of which he eventually saw only 25,000) caused panic among the Spanish territories in the Caribbean, and was one of the factors which led to the attack on England by the Armada two years later. There are contemporary accounts of English sailors looting the town: it seems that this copy of Petrarch was among the spoils, and was carried on the English ships first to America, where Drake visited the English colony at Roanoke in North Carolina, and then back to Portsmouth in July 1586.

A book which sailed with Drake; which survived the voyages and the burning of a city; which was conveyed from Italy to Spain to the Americas and then to England, all before the close of the sixteenth century, has some curiosity value. In terms of my research as this year's Munby Fellow in Bibliography at the University Library, it has still more to say. It is well established that Petrarch's writings, and particularly his sequence of sonnets, the Canzoniere, were one of the most significant influences on English writing of the early modern period. He was translated, imitated and parodied by the greatest, as well as the minor, poets of the age: Romeo and Juliet, for instance, is built on his imagery of beloved enemies, and Satan in Paradise Lost notoriously coaxes Eve to taste the apple by using all the rhetorical techniques that Petrarch had once tried (with less success) on his beloved Laura. However, although Petrarch exerted a shaping force on the English literary imagination, we know little about the form in which his work was read by his admirers. There was no English edition, and since the editors of contemporary editions tended to rearrange and reinterpret his poems in highly individual ways, our understanding of English petrarchism would be much enhanced by a sense of which versions were in use.

My project this year has been to trace the history of the ownership of early-modern editions of Petrarch held in Cambridge libraries, guided by a few clues. Sometimes, but very rarely, there will be an English name on the flyleaf, as here, but in most cases, there is nothing. Instead, I have been looking at three sonnets in the Canzoniere which were censored in 1569 by the Roman Inquisition for their criticism of the papacy. The sonnets are crossed out in many copies from Catholic countries, with greater or lesser degrees of enthusiasm – many censored copies are held in Cambridge libraries. There are also many copies in which the censor has been defied: one book in Pembroke College has the poems supplied in manuscript above the scored-out lines of the print. Comparing the numbers allotted to the sonnets in the various editions in which they appear, with references to them in English works of the period, I have been able to build up a picture of which editions were open on the desks of English writers, even if the author's copy of the book itself no longer survives. So, Satan in Paradise Lost, for instance, matches the numbers and other notes in the 1581 Basle edition of the poems, although Milton omitted to leave his name on any copy of that edition that I have yet uncovered. Paul Yue did not leave any such literary monument behind (although he did write a tract on 'The Practize of Fortification', illustrated with diagrams of siege warfare). Nonetheless, he knew about the banned sonnets. Whereas most readers note them to cross them out, Yue's edition has them highlighted in his hand for careful reading. He and the earlier Spanish owner of the book might have shared an appreciation for Petrarch, but the squiggle in the margin tells us that their view of the Inquisition was very different indeed.

Dr Deirdre Serjeantson
Munby Fellow 2008-9

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I'm reading my Auntie Pam's Bible at the moment, because all I can remember from school is begatting. I know it's Auntie Pam's because there's a prize bookplate inside the cover with her name, and opposite there's an address, "Pamela May Tiley, 40 Winchester Road, Bristlington, Bristol 4". Apart from a couple of wedding photos, and memories of my Nan talking about her, that's all I've got really. She died of cancer at 23, just before I was born.

On Saturday we went to the Book Barn at Farrington Gurney whilst visiting my parents, and leafing through the second-hand stuff, there's loads of it. Inscriptions, prize plates, letters, concert programmes, library marks, newspaper cuttings, endless little bits of life stuck to the pages of all these books. Not your pristine, flawless information, that slews seamlessly through the ether. This is pawed, handled, re-read and dribbled upon, with blood and coffee stains. Books are dirty things you want to touch and interact with. And all that dirt is what makes up provenance. And provenance is the sort of copy-specific information that marks out rare books cataloguing, which records books not as mere conduits for texts, but as artefacts in themselves.

Why bother? Recording the odd scribbled autograph might seem fairly pointless. I mean my Auntie Pam's address touches me, but it means nothing to anyone else. And surely that's the same for all marks on books no matter who made them. Wordsworth's signature is only interesting because he's the bloke who wrote the daffodils poem. Is it really of any more consequence, except to those with an unhealthy obsession with celebrity?

It's probably entirely unhelpful to compare rare books cataloguing to archaeology, particularly as all I know about archaeology I've learned from Time Team, but I'm going to anyway. I've already described provenance as dirt, and I'm supposing that most excavations involve sifting through a lot of that. Archaeologists might sometimes come across something that is of obvious interest, a mosaic or something. This happens in rare books cataloguing, although usually these things are already known about, but not formally recorded. For instance, St John's College houses a copy of the Great Bible published in 1539 for Henry VIII, printed on vellum with hand-coloured woodcuts. It appears to be one of two specially-made copies mentioned by the publishers in a letter to Henry's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, one intended for himself, the other for the King. So this volume is positioned at the beginning of the English Reformation with a connection to its two main architects. And because it was specially coloured, the woodcut title page, a graphic statement of the King's increasing power (a tiny God at the top, completely overshadowed by an enormous Henry passing on commandments through bishops and nobles to the commoners at the bottom) is enhanced, making even more of an impact. No wonder Simon Schama used it in his History of Britain. Many Cambridge libraries have equivalent volumes. Take for example Trinity's copy of the first edition of Newton's Principia, complete with all his revisions that went into the second edition.

But most provenance information is old classmarks, or obscure names in corners. So why bother with that? This is recorded for much the same reason archaeologists record shards of pot, or pollen from food crops. Of itself it is not necessarily very interesting but taken en masse gives a range of insights into social, cultural and intellectual history.

One use of provenance information is the reconstruction of libraries of particular people. Currently the British Library is running a project to locate and identify the enormous library (40,000 books) of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The aim is to "reveal a great deal about the use and transfer of scientific information, about book trade networks, and about the acquisition and organisation of a large private library"1. Sloane purchased entire libraries belonging to others, and provenance research can track the movement of books between owners, through time and space, revealing much about social history. Striking examples from St John's are the several volumes that belonged to Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, Prince Bishop of Wurzburg, whose palace was looted by the Swedish army in the Thirty Years War. His library was carted back to Sweden, and duplicates sold off. Richard Holdsworth, a Fellow of John's, was at the sale and distributed his purchases across Cambridge. That libraries were fair game is also demonstrated by the amount of thieving that went on. John's has relatively few volumes from the libraries of two notable alumni: John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's astrologer, and John Williams, who financed the Old Library building. Many of Dee's books have ended up in the Royal College of Physicians, as, during his sojourn demonstrating spirit communication on the continent, his house was broken into and raided, probably by a former pupil, and member of the College. When Williams was put in the Tower, his books were pilfered by superintendent at his palace in Buckden. These examples of misappropriation give a glimpse into the value and status of books in the past.

Insights can also be gained into the way people interacted with books, and with others through those books. A 16th-century merchant resident in London, Pierfrancesco di Piero Bardi, had a vision which inspired him to compose a cryptic message to Henry VIII in the margins of a psalter, asking him to intervene in Florentine politics. There is no evidence that Henry ever read this message, but that Bardi thought this was a fitting way to approach the King shows that intense relations with books were part of this world. They still were two hundred years later, when the impoverished collector, Thomas Baker, purchased cheap, damaged copies of desirable items and supplied missing pages in his own hand, often replicating substantial chunks. When he lost his fellowship at John's for refusing to take an oath of abjuration, he went through every single volume of his collection noting that fact.

So provenance research can reveal what and how people read, what they did with books, how they obtained them and how they were dispersed. It can track invisible networks of ideas and possession through time. It can give insights into what type of person owned books. What were women reading in the 18th century? Was it very different from what men were reading? Did the lower classes own books and to what ideas were they exposed?

But perhaps the moments of intimate connection with those people confined to the margins are what stay with you. A graffito of a copulating couple, only apparent when held to the light, because someone of delicate sensibilities has pasted over them. A minister's prayer for deliverance from 'the palsy'. Is Mrs Mary Field being sarcastic, or boastful when writing that she is "wife to ye valient Paresmenos Prince of Thebs…" on a popular romance? And there are always bored schoolchildren copying out their addresses:

'This book my name shall ever have,
Till I am dead & in my grave,
The gredy worms my body eat,
Then you may reat my name compleat.
Joseph Jenoure is my name,
England is my nation,
Bigwoods is my dwelling place,
& Christ is my salvation'.

Stewart Tiley
Sidney Sussex College

1. Walker, Alison, 'The Sloane Printed Books Project' in Rare Books and Special Collections Group Newsletter, 84

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My academic research lies in the domain of Classical scholarship, a disconcertingly large field that demands coverage of a large range of printed matter. A well-stocked library is therefore a necessary preliminary for any serious work. Although the Classics Faculty Library in Cambridge has the great virtue of being open 24/7, it lacks many of the books central to my current studies; the University Library, by contrast, has the majority of these books but proceeds to operate within its venerable but niggardly opening times. To address this shortcoming, the majority of my time over the last five years, in the hours when I have not been working through Classical texts and commentaries or straining to hit upon a plausible and textual emendation by conjecture, has been devoted to collecting second-hand books of Classical interest (specifically concerning the literature and languages of Greece and Rome and the history of Classical scholarship). My library contains items dating primarily from the mid-late nineteenth century, although hundreds of volumes date from earlier and over a thousand instances from later. My collection, begun five and a half years ago, now contains some 4,500 volumes in the field and continues to grow apace. It was therefore a pleasure and a delight to have my collecting efforts commended in early 2007. For that year saw the awarding of the first Rose Book Collecting Prize, open to all undergraduates and graduates of Cambridge University. I was fortunate enough to win the prize for my entry of an annotated bibliography of one hundred important items from the centre of my collection, under the grandiose title 'Landmarks of Classical Scholarship'. As a result of this success, my entry was forwarded into the international competition hosted by Fine Books & Collections Magazine (based in America). Having added a few thousand words of supplementary material and answered a good number of interview questions, I was delighted to be adjudged the winner of this international arm (into which another forty Universities and Colleges entered their winning students). The subsequent trip to Seattle allowed me to claim and dispatch instantly my prize money, since I bought at a concurrent book fair the second oldest book in my library (about which a little below). It is however gratifying to have the opportunity to say a little more about my collecting in this newsletter.

Although I have had a fascination with antiquarian books since my early teenage years, it was only on my arrival at Christ's in 2003 that I began collecting books concertedly, as opposed to purchasing them on a whim. The rich second-hand scene in Cambridge introduced me to a diversity and volume of books that I had not yet experienced and I began collecting rapidly. As a Classicist, my interest in collecting was continually spurred on by the intrinsic academic content of the books I sought out, alongside their more obvious aesthetic and historical charms. I am one of those lucky book collectors whose scholarly as well as literary interests coincide very strongly with my bibliophilic tastes. One of the earliest and most interesting items I own is the second Aldine edition of Lucretius (1515). Not only does the book have an interesting provenance (Cardinal Dominico Passionei, the famous librarian – and notorious biblioklept – of the Vatican) but it also signifies one of the most important advances in refining the text of Lucretius' De rerum natura, the work on which my research focuses. From the year prior to this I own the first commentary on this poet since antiquity, Pius' handsome and earnest folio commentary (Paris, 1514), happily acquired in Seattle. Alongside over one hundred editions and commentaries of Lucretius, other areas that I collect with some fervour are books by and relating to the trio of Cambridge Classical scholars Richard Bentley (1662-1742), Richard Porson (1759-1808) and A.E. Housman (1859-1936), books to teach or display Latin and Greek verse composition, so-called 'association' copies (i.e. books that have passed through the hands of distinguished scholars) and manuscript material of eminent past Classicists, primarily epistolary but occasionally draft notes. The central core of the library is essentially a working one, numbering around 2,000 items, but there are many subcollections that have been created by virtue of minor interests I have.

Many things make book collecting a great pleasure for me: the thrill of the chase, the sheer uncertainty of what book may appear on the market, the uniqueness of annotated volumes, the discovery of an exciting provenance, prize bindings, not to mention the ever-present, though increasingly rare, possibility of a bookseller's underpricing a true gem. Percy Muir was right once to observe that book collecting 'is less a matter of money than of method', a statement whose truth Cambridge booksellers, primarily David's, still tend to support. A challenge perhaps equal to seeking out well-priced books, however, is now finding sufficient shelf-space for my collection in Cambridge, as a good portion of the floor has come to play a role for which it was never intended!

Entering the Rose Book Collecting competition allowed me to structure, catalogue and discuss an important part of my collection, pleasurable activities for any bibliophile. It is exciting that Cambridge has instituted the first book collecting competition in the world outside North America. Future such competitions may encourage more people to realise the prima facie surprising truths about antiquarian books: they are better made, very often cheaper to purchase and (at the risk of offending some) typically more interesting in content than their modern counterparts.

David Butterfield
W.H.D. Rouse Research Fellow
Christ's College, Cambridge (b.1985)

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Reports on the findings of the JISC national observatory project have been published and are available at Information from the focus groups, in which Cambridge University participated, reveals much about staff and student attitudes to ebooks and how they are used for study.

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As I am sure many readers of CULIB are all too aware, holding collections of international importance represents both a tremendous privilege and an immense challenge. Balancing the competing demands of scholars who seemingly want direct, 24x7 access to anything and everything that we have, against the necessarily limited resources made available to us to house, catalogue, care for, and support access to these materials, is what makes our working lives so interesting (!). When Sir Thomas Bodley set out in 1602 to establish a library that would enable a 'Republic of Letters', he could hardly have imagined that four centuries later the founders of Google would found their enterprise on a similar mission 'to organize the world's information and make it accessible and useful'. In the intervening period the scale, scope, and complexity of the problem has grown but the essential desire to enable greater access remains the same.

In recent years, digitization and the ubiquity of the Web have combined to offer new potential entry points to libraries' holdings, and we have been keen to exploit these transformative technologies as they have emerged. There have been dozens of digitization projects – both small and large – across the institutions which comprise Oxford University Library Services (OULS), and one objective of establishing the Oxford Digital Library was to attempt to coordinate such endeavours. However for the most part such in-house digitization was, and indeed remains, relatively slow and expensive to do – and there has been an understandable desire to appeal to funding bodies and the more 'serious' end of the scholarly spectrum by selecting rare and significant items from our Special Collections, rather than digitizing the more mundane items which actually comprise the vast majority of our holdings.

Entering into a digitization partnership with Google offered the prospect of a radically different approach. Instead of concentrating on highly selective (so-called 'boutique') digitization, Google brought the resources to undertake mass digitization – analogue-to-digital conversion on a scale that was far beyond anything we could accomplish using OULS' own resources. Whereas we had previously thought in terms of hundreds or perhaps thousands of individual page-images, Google were proposing that we digitize hundreds of thousands of volumes. Moreover, the emphasis would be on providing access to intellectual content – helping readers to identify books that might assist them with their research (whatever that might be, and wherever they were based in the world) – rather than attempting to create digital surrogates that readers would be encouraged to use instead of consulting the original analogue items.

Following extensive negotiations that lasted almost two years, in December 2004 OULS joined five other major research libraries as a founding partner in the Google Book Search Library Project (see Where Oxford differed from some of the other institutions – most notably the University of Michigan – was in our decision to limit the scope of the project to our 19th-century, out-of-copyright materials. Yet the word 'limit' takes on a different meaning in this new era of genuinely mass digitization, since we estimated from our catalogue records that in excess of one million items from OULS' collections would fall within scope of the project using this simple principle of selection. Of course there were other factors that underpinned our decision. This was effectively the first time that we had ever allowed an external agency to undertake digitization on such a large subset of our holdings, and although we had every confidence in the scanning technologies that Google proposed to adopt (handling the material in a sympathetic, non-invasive, non-destructive fashion) it clearly made sense to test the end-to-end processes with material that was likely to be in reasonably good condition, and drawn from parts of our collections where any one item was likely to be of low economic value. Moreover, we needed to be able to guarantee the supply of large numbers of items to achieve the economies of scale that made the project viable for Google – and whilst we were conscious that the catalogue records of our 19th-century collections might not conform to the latest standards, we were reasonably confident that any disparities between our records and actual holdings were just as likely to add to the overall number of items as to reduce that figure.

The final decisions about the selection of material for inclusion in the project rest with OULS. In practice, this has meant that condition is the key factor; in the initial stages of the project OULS' then Acting Director, Ronald Milne, proposed the rule-of-thumb "if a book is fit to be read, it's fit to be scanned" and this has proved a simple but effective measure. No other overarching selection criteria are applied, and so if their physical condition is good enough items are taken for scanning regardless of their language, subject, content, or relevance to the teaching priorities of Oxford. Both Oxford and Google are keen to stay on the right side of UK copyright legislation, and so considerable care is taken when selecting material to try to ensure that only out-of-copyright items are considered for scanning. However, undertaking an endeavour on this scale has also served to highlight the gaps in our knowledge of 19th-century authors, and the urgent need for the relevant Authority Files to be updated as soon as new information becomes available.

Although our partnership with Google was a long time in gestation, now that the first phase of the project has been completed the transformative possibilities of digitization on such a scale are starting to become apparent. Whilst the logistics of identifying, picking, assessing, scanning, and re-shelving items on this massive scale have undoubtedly presented challenges to both parties, we have established extremely effective workflows such that sometimes an item can appear in Google Book Search ( even before we have returned the physical volume to the shelf. And whereas the book-on-the-shelf can meet the needs of a lone scholar working in Oxford, its digital counterpart is freely available to be used simultaneously by any number of readers with access to the internet.

What does Oxford get out of the partnership? Contrary to some of the myths surrounding the project, Google have not bought the exclusive right to digitize our holdings, nor does Oxford receive any income from the advertising that Google sells. Our arrangement with Google is entirely non-exclusive, and so should someone else wish to digitize any of the same material, we would consider each proposal on its own merits. First and foremost, what OULS gets is a significant tranche of our 19th-century holdings made more easily findable and searchable by all – which will not only ensure that these items are better-known and (perhaps) more widely used, but will also help readers to assess material before they put in a request to have it brought up from the stacks. Moreover, if the digital versions available online prove to be adequate surrogates for most readers' needs, this may give us greater scope in the management of our physical stock. Lastly, under the terms of our agreement with Google we receive a copy of the digital images derived from our holdings, which we can exploit and repackage for the benefit of readers and researchers in ways that we are only just beginning to explore.

Michael Popham
Head of the Oxford Digital Library

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Why don't publishers sleep well at night?

That was the sub-title of a talk given by Dr Frances Pinter to the inaugural Arcadia Seminar on 10 February in Wolfson College. Any account of how the book, as a form, is doing will stumble upon that question sooner or later.

Dr Pinter herself is a successfully innovative publisher. At the age of 23, she became the first woman to set up her own publishing company in the UK, and she ran it for 21 years. She is now a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Publisher for Bloomsbury Academic. The big news about this imprint is that it will make all its research-led books available online free of charge on Creative Commons licences.

Dr Pinter's Arcadia talk examined some of the trends in the transition from the print-based model of academic publishing to what is now possible with the internet, and offered some thoughts on likely futures. The print-based model had the publishers as both the 'gatekeepers' – accrediting and branding the quality of what was published – and the 'bankers', financing the costly processes of production and distribution. In that situation, content was scarce, and so content by itself was where the value lay.

The digital world of multiple versions and formats, on the other hand, often put publishers' editions in competition with 'free' (in the sense of bearing no cost for the reader) versions of the same material, and there was much uncertainty as to who should be expected to pay whom for publishing. In this situation, content became abundant, and readers would pay only for value added to that content. Therein lay a lot of the rub. Publishers knew well enough how to break down the costs of the £15 book; the costs of adding saleable value to online content, less well.

Much of the talk explored possible models for online publication. An existing model put free basic content alongside 'premium' content that the user could be charged for. A possible inversion of that model would make the premium content free online, but surround it with things charged for – services, activities, the content in a print version. Another would have the premium content charged for at a premium rate, other content charged for at one or more lower rates, some content available at no charge, and other things going on around all those – blogs, wikis, community sites &c.

And those last two models have a bearing on what Dr Pinter is doing at Bloomsbury Academic. The model with free online premium content, surrounded by charged-for services and activities, and with the charged-for print version not far away, is where Bloomsbury is now, with its Creative Commons licences. What Bloomsbury hopes to do in the future is a combination of the two models. Blogs, wikis, community sites, free content, and content charged at different rates, will surround a core of premium content – and that premium content will be free. And one of the first publications from Bloomsbury Academic was Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy by Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons.

The discussion that followed the talk was alive with the question marks that these developments throw over the future of certain professions. Dr Pinter reckoned that libraries were likely to survive, on account of the preservation advantages inherent in the print-on-paper book, and their role in helping readers navigate through content. She was asked whether the growth of self-publication would spell the end of the professional publisher. Her reply was that what troubled her most about such a scenario was the risk that valuable skills might thereby be lost to the world. Prof. John Naughton, Academic Adviser to the Arcadia Project, pointed out, in his Chair's closing remarks, that similar things could be said about another profession, that of journalism. The printed newspaper was on its way out. What mattered was not newspapers but journalists, and the role they play in a democracy. The role publishers played in academia, he implied, had that kind of importance.

PowerPoint slides from Dr Pinter's presentation, setting out the case in greater detail, are available here with her permission.

Aidan Baker
Haddon Library

Frances Pinter's talk was given as the inaugural presentation from the Arcadia Programme – a three-year programme, funded by a generous grant from the Arcadia Fund to Cambridge University Library, to explore the role of academic libraries in a digital age. The Arcadia Programme's home page is at

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The online bookseller Amazon was declared the UK's third favourite retailer at the beginning of 2009, behind John Lewis and IKEA. The survey was conducted by the consumer research organization Verdict, and no other bookseller made it into Verdict's top ten. Verdict's senior consultant, James Flower, said Amazon was the top-placed internet player, mainly because it made life easier for its customers1.

But some customers remain doubtful. Maybe you don't want to give too much of your personal data to a firm. Maybe you're bothered by the allegations about Amazon's union-busting2 and poor working conditions3. Maybe you think fondly of the experience of going to a bookshop in person and browsing real shelves for books to hold in your hands. Or maybe Amazon doesn't have the book you're looking for.

There are many reasons why individuals should seek books elsewhere than from Amazon. Most CULIB readers, being library and information professionals, will be familiar with some alternatives already. My starting-point for this exploration was an article in Ethical consumer 4. That magazine rates enterprises with regard to the following areas of concern: animals, environment, people, politics, and (a catch-all) "product sustainability". Its report on booksellers gave Amazon at the very bottom ranking, a score of 6/20.

With individual book-buying in mind, rather than library supply, I checked out the suppliers that scored highly in 'Ethical consumer'. I compared how each supplier coped with a semi-random selection of twenty titles that my wife and I had recently acquired, whether by gift or purchase. The benchmark was the experience of ordering from Amazon. The exercise stopped short of placing orders, but I believe it told me enough.

John Smith's Bookshops
John Smith's Bookshops scored highest in Ethical consumer's report: 11.5/20. Nineteen of the twenty sought books were available here. I had already, before the systematic checking for this article, ordered a gift from John Smith on the assumption that the firm could be treated as a straightforward substitute for Amazon, albeit without the gift-wrapping and the retention of multiple delivery details. I was wrong. The present was delivered to the recipient with an invoice enclosed.

Amazon-type facilities I did find on the John Smith website included the "Look inside" and the "Customers who bought this also bought…" information.

Two firms scoring as highly as John Smith in Ethical consumer's report – Wesley Owen and The Book People – are not covered here, because they make no claim to cover the full range of published books. Wesley Owen restricts itself to Christian material, and The Book People offers popular titles at discount (not including any of my twenty).

Blackwells' score with Ethical consumer was 11/20. The site offered all twenty of my wanted books, in every case both direct from Blackwell's and from a linked supplier.

I didn't see a "Look inside" for any of the sought titles. Alternative delivery arrangements extended to the facility to show a second address – a long way short of Amazon's address book for recipients of gifts. I found details of related books displayed alongside those of sought books, and an offer to send personalised book recommendations as emails in response to stated preferences from a menu. The Amazon equivalent is to find oneself welcomed, on returning to the site, with details of books related to those in one's previous searches.

Book Depository
This firm has an Ethical consumer score of 10.5/20. It offered all of my twenty titles.

The Book Depository was founded by Andrew Crawford, former Senior Operations Director at Amazon5. It links to Amazon, and, according to its website,

"We are not in competition with Amazon, we complement Amazon by providing books which have poor availability, offering considerable discounts on certain titles which Amazon are unable to. On the other hand, we recognize that our customers want books quickly and, so, if we do not have stock – or if Amazon is considerably cheaper – our customers are able to order direct from Amazon via a link from our website."6

The Book Depository's main selling point is that it offers free delivery to most countries of the world. I didn't see a "Look inside" feature on its website, but I did see a possibility to add multiple delivery addresses, albeit without gift-wrapping. And details of sought books are accompanied by invitations to click through to details of other titles under the "Other people who viewed this bought…" tab.

Purchase direct from publisher
This gets only a passing mention in Ethical consumer's article, but it was an option for fifteen of the twenty books. Publishers' websites offered services within the range already discussed – "Look inside", storage of multiple delivery addresses, notification of similar works.

It might be expected that purchase from publisher would be the cheapest option for some books. It was so only in the case of one Facet title with a reduced rate for CILIP members. For sixteen of the twenty books, the lowest price for a new copy was via Amazon – whether direct from Amazon itself or from a supplier selling via Amazon. Evidently, in any quest for alternatives to Amazon, cheapness cannot be the main consideration.

Local independent retailer
This is Ethical consumer's best buy, but, like other ethical choices, it requires time and legwork. A variant, for book-buyers who are daunted by the requirements of shopping locally, is that of the local bookseller reached online.

Amazon users will be familiar with the facility to place an order, via Amazon, with some other bookseller. Blackwell's website is another offering this facility, and others include the Amazon subsidiary Abebooks and Localbooks, which is owned by The Book Partnership.

With Abebooks, I found second-hand copies of all twenty of the wanted books, and I was also able to search for local booksellers by name.

Localbooks' online catalogue is slightly clunky in operation, but I found nineteen of my wanted books there. As in other online ordering environments, I filled a "basket" with my wants and then proceeded to the next stage – not a "checkout" but a list of booksellers in my chosen area. For each bookseller there was a link either to the shop's website, or to a form enabling the buyer to place an order or enquiry by email.

Bookshops selling via Amazon told me of the fine balance between the benefits and the risks from that relationship – benefits in terms of visibility, costs in terms of Amazon's 15% fee and its tendency to make unilateral changes in software systems and participation agreements. The booksellers did not rate Amazon's resistance to unions as their most serious concern with the company.

But this brief survey has been from the buyer's point of view. How do the Ethical consumer's listings measure up?

Avoiding Amazon, like projects such as cutting car use or buying Fairtrade, gives a sense that one is forgoing convenience for the sake of benefits that aren't immediately visible. The costs include higher prices, for many of the books; loss of facilities such as multiple stored addresses and gift-wrapping; and a lowered expectation that a book will necessarily be found.

Against that, I would set several benefits from the wider search, in addition to the contested benefit of supporting trade unions. It exercises the buyer's skill and persistence in book-hunting; it builds up the buyer's repertory of places to hunt; and it spreads the business around. Amazon needs the competition. I see myself returning to local independents now.

Aidan Baker
Haddon Library

1.Bookseller. 2009. 'Amazon is UK's third favourite retailer.' Bookseller, 15 January.

2. Farrar, S. 2008. 'Americans move in to stop unions.' Sunday times, 4 May.

3. Newell, C. & Foggo, D. 2008. 'Revealed: Amazon staff punished for being ill.' Sunday times, 14 December.

4. Hunt, T. 2008. 'Reading between the lines.' Ethical consumer 115, November/December, p. 12. Also online at

5. Bridge, R. 2007. 'Former employee who took a leaf out of Amazon's book.' Sunday times, 18 November.


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The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 6, 1830-1914. Ed. by David McKitterick
Series: 'The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain'
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009 ISBN 9780521866248

The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, 1830-1914 is the sixth volume of a monumental series that will count seven, and the fullest account ever published on the nineteenth century revolution of the book. At 808 pages, of which more than 50 of bibliography, and with 26 contributors, this publication is a tour de force, and a challenge to summarise. This review is therefore but a quick glimpse in an essential work that seeks to address and update the history of the creation, production, dissemination and reception of texts.

The twenty chapters of the work represent the desire of offering a treatment of widely disparate fields of inquiry as much as to encourage new works. As the editor, David McKitterick, clearly states in his preface, the volume is tentative in many aspects: due to the wealth of evidence left by nineteenth-century sources, it cannot reach the comprehensiveness of the earlier volumes of the series. In addition, and although the book is entitled history of the book in Britain, other studies should be read alongside it, notably those dealing with Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In spite of this forewarning, the volume in itself seems to answer to the William St Clair's suggestion to book historians, in his personal reflexion on the continuation of his book The Reading Nation in the Romantic period (2004) to "widen their ambitions" (p.705).

After two initial chapters dedicated to the material revolutions that led to the recognisable modern form of books, a full chapter is dedicated by Catherine Seville to the British domestic copyright laws, which, as shown by William St Clair in the Reading Nation allow to draw conclusions about the very essence of culture and politics1, as the sometimes surprising conservatism of readers and societies ("copyright", pp. 214-37). Besides authors, the former stars of the book history, here studied by Patrick Leary and Andrew Nash ("authorship", pp. 172-214), new actors find their place in this study: cultural middle-men, such as "travelling salesmen, bookstall clerks, booksellers' assistants and newsboys", (" Distribution": Stephen Colclough, pp. 238-80), as well as this scourge of the Librarian, the rogue marginalia writers (" Reading": Stephen Colclough and David Vincent, pp. 281-323). Four "mass-markets" (religion, education, children's books and literature) are studied in detail. The chapter on education (Christopher Stray and Gillian Sutherland, pp. 359-381) takes in the development in secondary education as well as in elementary education and interweaves questions of social class and gender in a synthesis rarely seen in a sector of studies usually limited to elementary schools. The narrower market of scientific publishing is explored ("science, technology and mathematics", pp. 443-75), as are other aspects of the developing influence of publishers in other varied sectors such as leisure activities and the professions. The chapters on "organising knowledge in print" and "the information revolution" are specifically designed to be read together: the former by David McKitterick, contains informative pages on the development of public libraries. The latter, by Aileen Fyfe, provides a fascinating discussion on the importance of the cultural prominence of information – the true revolution, maybe, before the increasing use of electronic computers. A penultimate chapter explores, almost day by day, four seasons of publications in all their ramifications ("A Year of publishing: 1891", pp. 674-704).

It seems impossible to find an aspect of the book history left untouched by the contributors – the only thing the volume might be wanting is a summarising conclusion, if only to recapitulate the wealth of information and details provided. This could be a first step on the way towards the "short simple guide for scholars and students that would enable them quickly to understand the material component of the literary system from author to reader and back", as defined as a priority by William St Clair (p. 734) in his final discussion.

St Clair also urges book historians to create a strong, scientific methodology drawing on an interdisciplinary perspective, lest it becomes unnecessarily limiting and appears to centre on the book as material artefact. There was certainly no case for fear with the sixth volume of the Cambridge History of the Books in Britain, which is, together with the five precedent works in the series, a landmark contribution to a "holistic view of the book as a means of communication"2. It is a tremendous achievement touching on all aspects that could interest those interested in the history of the book, and beyond.

Sophie Defrance
Cambridge University Library

1. Leslie Howsham, "What is historiography of books? recent studies in authorship, publishing and reading in Modern Britain and North America", The Historical Journal, 51, 4, 2008, p. 1094.

2. Darnton, R. "What is the history of books?" in Davidson, C., (eds.), Reading in America: Literature and social history, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, p.30.

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Roger Fairclough, Head of Cambridge University Library's Map Department from 1958 until his retirement on 30 September 1997, passed away peacefully at his home in Inverness on 13 February 2009, aged 75.

Roger loved maps and was always ready to impart his great knowledge to colleagues and visitors to the Library. He would tell with great joy stories of how he had acquired some of the treasures of the Map Department, one story involving a visit (unknowingly) to a dubious magazine shop to negotiate the acquisition of a large number of railway maps.

Having attended Morecambe Grammar School, Roger came to Cambridge in 1951 to read for a degree in Geography at Fitzwilliam House. Two years of National Service followed, after which he began his career in librarianship at Glasgow University Library. Early in 1958 he moved back to Cambridge to take up a position in the Copyright Department of Cambridge University Library. He was promoted to Assistant Under-Librarian in October 1958, becoming, at the same time, Head of the Map Department upon the retirement of Mr Howard Mallett (aged 70).

Roger loved acquiring material, both antiquarian and modern. Indeed, under Roger's custodianship the map collection doubled in size, to a little over one million items. The number and quality of the items he acquired considerably increased the value of the collections as an academic resource. Very appropriately, in May 1992, he was appointed Senior Under-Librarian in charge of the Accessions Division, continuing with his duties as Head of the Map Department.

Roger was a great spokesperson for the profession, and was a very valued and astute member of the British and Irish Committee for Map Information and Catalogue Systems (and its predecessors), where his opinions were much respected.

In 2001 Roger and his wife Eleanor moved to Inverness, where he continued to pursue his interests in cartography, geography and politics through the University of the Third Age, the local branch of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Inverness Field Club.

Roger was great company and he will be missed by his many friends and by the cartographic community at large.

Anne Taylor
Head of the Map Department
Cambridge University Library

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Kate Arhel with son Benjamin First things first. Congratulations to CULIB editor Kate Arhel, who brought Benjamin into the world on 2 July! 7lb 8oz, no less.

During Kate's maternity leave, her place at the English Faculty Library is being taken by Angela Pittock, seconded there from the libraries@cambridge office. Most CULIB readers will have had emails from Angela in that capacity. See elsewhere on this page for what libraries@cambridge is doing while she's away.

Maddie Brown At Architecture and History of Art, Maddie Brown has retired as Librarian after twenty years – one or two of them pretty tumultuous. She is now going to undertake a Fine Arts degree at Anglia Ruskin University.

The Union Society has a new Librarian/Alumni Research Officer. As if that combined, full-time role were not enough, Catherine Wise also runs her own business as a bookbinder and book and paper conservator. The Society's Senior Librarian Pat Aske says that in five months Catherine has already transformed the library and helped with alumni re-engagement – as well as painting and decorating!

A bigger transformation is under way at Classics, in an extension to the building that will give the library added space for shelves and rolling stacks. Classics' new Graduate Trainee is Bridget McVennon, a history graduate from Newcastle. Away from the library, Bridget's interests include playing the recorder and clog-dancing.

Liz Careless, after many years in libraries, both public and academic, has left the Education Library to retrain as a teacher. Her place has been taken by Wolverhampton Film Studies graduate Emma Hutchings.

Another who has swapped libraries for teaching is Valérie Malard, who until recently was at the African Studies Centre Library. Her replacement is Rachel Malkin, who is working on a PhD on American literature.

At the Casimir Lewy Philosophy Library, Gorazd Andrejc has left to do a PhD at Exeter. He will be succeeded by Eoin Devlin.

At Divinity, Alice Hinkins moved on from the position of Senior Library Assistant at the end of May (after 3.5 years) to the post of Reporter Editor in the Old Schools. Her replacement is Dr Darren Bevin, who comes from Exeter University and takes up the post in September.

Engineering has a new Assistant Librarian. Diane FitzMaurice has replaced Louise Yirrell, who has returned to further education. Diane was formerly part-time Deputy Librarian at the Jerwood Library, where her contribution over the past four academic years has been outstanding. She will be much missed by the students and staff. Trinity Hall is delighted to welcome Helen Murphy as her replacement. Helen joins the College after a year as Graduate Trainee at Murray Edwards.

Trinity College has seen some major changes in the last few months. Joanna Ball has left Cambridge to become Research Liaison Manager at the University of Sussex Library at Brighton. Sandy Paul is promoted to the post of Sub-Librarian. Ben Taylor was appointed Assistant Librarian in May. Trinity's retrospective cataloguing project, which began in 1995, finished in August 2009. Cataloguers Richard Robertson and Tessa Smart have now left. Tessa has moved to Hereford where she is about to begin cataloguing the Cathedral's rare book collection. On the personal front, we congratulate Sandy Paul and his partner Iain Mitchell who entered into civil partnership in April 2009.

Alison Wilson, Librarian of Murray Edwards, will be retiring in January 2010. She will be staying on at the College as a Fellow for a while to write a biography of Dame Rosemary Murray, the College's first president.

Allen Purvis, Rare Books Cataloguer at St John's since 2001, is spreading his talent a little more widely. From the autumn of 2009 while continuing to work at St John's for three days a week, he will also be cataloguing rare books at Peterhouse for the other two days.

Sidney Sussex has a new mornings assistant, Alison Beaumont. She replaces Rachel Malkin, who is now at the African Studies library.

It's that time of year when it's all change for Cambridge's Graduate Trainees. The new Graduate Trainee at Murray Edwards is Elizabeth Allen, a graduate in English at the University of Leicester. Victoria Gregson returns to Christ's as their new trainee two years after graduating in mathematics. She is especially interested in map librarianship and has spent the last year studying cartography and mapping at the University of Glasgow as well as volunteering in the library there. Her predecessor, Sophie Fisher is starting work as a Team Librarian (Information and Local Studies) at Central Bedfordshire Libraries, whilst studying part-time at UCL. Trinity's Graduate Trainee for 2009-10 is Annelies Borsboom, who moves from the Tower Project at the UL. Their 2008-9 Trainee, James Freeman will be staying in Cambridge to begin a PhD. Laura Steele heads off to Sheffield to do her MA in librarianship, and her place at St John's is taken by Laure Cinquin. Laure has an MA in English literature from the University of Lyon II, which included an Erasmus year at the University of Reading. She has worked in her university library in France and as a language assistant at Ackworth School, Pontefract. At Newnham, Lucy Campbell moves on to full-time study for the MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies at UCL. Her replacement is Sarah Fletcher, who has recently completed her BA in history at the University of York.

At the University Library, two Arcadia Fellows were appointed for the Easter term. Stefanie Hundsberger from John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester, was working on 'Foreign language learning in Web 2.0, with particular reference to Second Life and its potential for Higher Education'. The other Arcadia Fellow was Huw Jones, System Support Librarian, from the libraries@cambridge team. His project was 'An investigation into issues surrounding the production or adoption of a standard notation for reading lists in Cambridge.' Angela Pittock stepped in to cover his absence. Angela has since been seconded to the English Faculty Library. Paul Johnson arrived at Electronic Services and Systems (ESS). Beauty Bapiro joined as Senior Computing Technician. Rachel Marsh moved from European Collection and Cataloguing to ESS as Senior Library Assistant.

Our congratulations to Merina Tuladhar who became the proud mum of twins Neal and Ryan on 8th April 2009. Tomasz Waldoch took over as Computer Officer to cover her maternity leave. Congratulations also to Laura and Tomasz Waldoch on the birth of their baby girl Clara on July 11th.

The Genizah Unit bid farewell to Ludmila Ginsbursky. The Darwin Project bid goodbye to research editor, Kathleen Lane; and Periodicals saw the departure of Amanda Dixie.

We were very happy to welcome back Céline Carty and Carmen Cheung after maternity leave. English Cataloguing saw a series of moves which resulted in some temporary vacancies. Angela FitzPatrick was appointed Senior Library Assistant (Authority Control) and Wendy Stacey stepped in to replace her as Senior Cataloguer. After Charlotte Smith left Mary Kattuman filled in another Senior Cataloguer post. Claire Sewell from the Tower Project and Rob Coulson were appointed Intermediate Cataloguers. Rob Coulson later resigned to embark on a PGCE at Keele. Penny Granger returned to English Cataloguing after a stint as Senior Cataloguer in the Tower Project. Clara Panozzo Zenere has joined Foreign Cataloguing.

Liz Rouncefield (Senior Cataloguer) left the Tower Project to take up an Information Officer post at the Royal College of Nursing in London. Megan Cooper will be working part time for the Tower Project while she studies for an MA in Library Science at City University, London. Benjamin Davenport has joined Entrance Hall.

We have bid farewell to quite a few senior members at the UL this year. Adrian Miller (Under Librarian, English Collections and Cataloguing) decided to call it a day after 46 years in the UL. He had started off as a Rare Books cataloguer and then moved into English Cataloguing, and finally to Automation (now ESS). Adrian had always been closely associated with Cataloguing and was always the first port of call for all cataloguers struggling with IT problems. His expertise and cheerful disposition will be sorely missed. Richard Andrewes (Under-Librarian, Head of Music) said his farewells having been at the helm of the Music Department for 18 years. Brian Jenkins (Senior Under Librarian, Head of Special Collections and Collection Management) retired after nearly four decades in the library. He was in charge of the Rare Books Department most of his time here, but later as Head of Special Collections and Collection Management, held responsibilities well beyond Rare Books. In the summer Sheila Cameron (Assistant Under Librarian, English Collections and Cataloguing) retired from library work after 16 years in the UL. She was associated with the cataloguing of specialist collections, such as the Cam collection. She will soon be busy as Priest-in-Charge of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Dunbar in the Diocese of Edinburgh. Ray Scrivens Under-Librarian, European Collections and Cataloguing), who built up the library's Slavonic collections over four decades, retired. We are much the poorer for the departure of these stalwarts. We are very grateful to all of them for all their contributions and wish them the very best in the future.

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