CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

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

Issue 70, Lent 2012: Library systems



To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Voyager in Cambridge, this issue of CULIB focuses on automated library systems. To kick us off, Pete Girling reflects on the changes brought about in and through Voyager over the past decade. Looking forward, Alexandra Follett, Barbara Rad-El and Janet Lute describe Ex Libris' next-generation library services framework, Alma.

Belinda Roker and Catherine Williams from Buckinghamshire New University Library share their experience of using EDIFACT to improve their acquisitions workflow, while Hélène Fernandes describes the MML Library's implementation of a text-messaging service using JANET.txt.

Kathryn McKee tells us about the journey to get the catalogue records of many of Cambridge Colleges' unique and distinctive collections added to RLUK and COPAC.

The UL's Nicholas Smith shares his passion for historical printing presses, which got him a part in a recent film about the King James Bible.

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As we approach the ten-year anniversary of Voyager in Cambridge, it's a good opportunity to reflect on how it was before Voyager, how it is now and what the future might hold. As well as stealing and adapting the title of Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece, I'll be doing the same with the chapter headings as well. Plagiarism being the sincerest form of flattery and all that…

1) The Dawn of Voyager (or How it was before…)
First of all let me make it absolutely clear that I'm not implying that the pre-Voyager era was prehistoric!

It is fair to say however that it was in library systems terms a very different landscape. The library management system used by the UL and many departmental libraries for cataloguing, circulation and acquisitions and for cataloguing by the college libraries was an in-house system written and developed by Sam Motherwell and Chris Sendall. It was run on Alphas, machines that hid in the depths of the UL Computer Room. Getting hold of support when there was a system problem meant a short walk (or sprint) to someone's office to bang on their door. We co-existed in the same time zone. All development of the system was provided in-house by the same team that supported it. Getting new features or functionality added to the system was a question of getting local approval through the Automation Advisory Committee, asking the programmer and them doing it according to priorities set by the AAC or as soon as they could if it was minor. While some of us had experience of working with a commercial vendor from posts in other libraries, a lot of us hadn't (oh how naive we were…).

Then our "monolith" appeared, the thing that would force us to radically change and evolve – the decision to move to a system provided by a commercial vendor.

2) A major change/evolution
(Yes I know this section in the film doesn't have its own chapter but I'm taking a liberal amount of artistic licence with this). In our story this isn't an ape suddenly having the idea of using the jawbone of a dead animal as a weapon, but the decision to migrate to Voyager (although some would argue in Cambridge terms it was no less far-reaching and revolutionary).

It's not inaccurate to say it was a challenging implementation for both us and Endeavor – Cambridge is in many ways a lot more complicated than other University library setups, certainly in terms of its structure. Much like the apes, we all had to learn a great deal in a short space of time and radically change the way we thought about things and how a commercial system operated. In some situations it was a case of getting used to doing things differently and in others it was more about how the system could be configured to do what we wanted it to do in the way we wanted to do it. There were compromises and wins.

3) Voyager mission (the long voyage begins…)
While the astronauts of the "Discovery" didn't have any problems with their Hal 9000 computer until quite a way into the mission, it was during implementation that we realised that there were some major differences between the way Circulation worked in Voyager and how it operated across the University. If a borrower was registered in more than one library with the same barcode number then they were not able to log into Newton and see what books they currently had on loan, and they were not able to issue items to themselves using the Voyager self-issue client. In order to meet our requirements, Endeavor specifically wrote the Clusters module, which gave us the required functionality. This was delivered 9 months after Voyager went into production.

Within the libraries@cambridge team and the UL's Voyager support team it wasn't just the changes in the way the system worked that we had to get used to – there was also a major change in the culture in terms of support. It was no longer a case of walking/sprinting down the corridor or chatting to someone at tea about problems and development of the system. The Voyager support and development teams were now some five thousand miles away and five hours behind us in Chicago – while we are able to get someone out of bed in a dire emergency (and have done on several occasions), for "lesser" problems, speaking to a human being on the phone can't be done until the afternoon UK time and is not the preferred form of contact – use of an online help request system is. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the UL building unequivocally closes at 1900 (7pm), which means that the latest Chicago talk can to us is 1400 (2pm) their time. With most UL staff leaving work at 1730, this means that often there is no-one here for Chicago to talk to after 1230 their time. This makes scheduling conference calls challenging at times.

Getting changes or enhancements made to the system was also different and took us some time to get used to. Whereas before enhancements required agreement at a local level and the system developer having time to do them, there was now a complicated "enhancements process" in which our enhancement requests had to be submitted to a committee where they were considered along with all the other Voyager customers' requests which are then voted for by the whole user community. Those that passed this process were submitted to the vendor who would then consider them and then select the ones that fitted in with their product development plans. This model would be no different in any other commercial LMS.

As with any computer system, from time to time bugs would (and still do) appear. Whereas getting these fixed in the pre-Voyager system was again usually a process of alerting the relevant member of the Department to the bug and them fixing it as soon as possible, with Voyager the bug fix does not appear until the next release of the software. In getting responses from the vendor about a bug the phrase "fixed in a future release" is one that we soon got very used to. While at times this can be frustrating, we have learnt to work with it.

The manner in which we test new releases of the software has also changed. With our specific functionality and complex set with Clusters and Universal Borrowing, it became apparent early on that we needed to test each release and patch on a test server before making any changes to the production environment. This is now fully integrated in our work practice here at libraries@cambridge.

Dealing with a large commercial vendor like Ex Libris (or Endeavor as they were in 2002) as opposed to a colleague within the same department was in itself a significant change for the libraries@cambridge team. Our relationship with the vendor has had its ups and downs, much the same as any customer's. At times it has been difficult for them to understand what it is we're asking for and why it is so important, especially with Cambridge doing things as differently as it does, but they have also introduced significant changes in functionality at our request, such as Clusters. Over the years, our relationship with colleagues at Ex Libris has developed and grown, and has become (well, certainly for us) positive, beneficial and constructive. Talking to colleagues in other libraries with commercial library systems we find we're often discussing the same points and experience the same problems they do with their vendors.

So, as we approach the latter half of our journey of using Voyager as our LMS, where are we at? Are we, like the astronauts of the Discovery, at the mercy of an unmanageable monolithic system?

While there are some problems that have yet to be resolved and some parts of functionality we don't yet have that we would like, Voyager does work for us. The Universal Borrowing functionality is an area that we do experience problems with, but it is the part of the system most prone to "breaking" (especially after a system upgrade).

With the development work Endeavor/Ex Libris have done on our behalf and with the greater understanding of the system that comes with continued use, Voyager generally works the way we need it to work in Cambridge with our complex structure and data of varying quality, something that many other systems that were around in 2002 would not have been able to do. Put basically it works as well as any system could with Cambridge.

When training new libraries in using the Voyager system I am often reminded of its shortfalls and the areas where it is not pretty, where aspects of the display or workflow are not logical and where it is clumsy, but it would be no different with any other commercial system and on the whole it gives libraries the functionality they need and the solution they are seeking.

4) Voyager and beyond the infinite (the future)
And so we come to the final act and the question of what the future holds. Unlike Stanley Kubrick, I can't end with a psychedelic light show (for a start it's the wrong medium but more importantly I don't have the budget), just an overview of where we might be headed.

Certainly there are some decisions we made when setting up the system back in 2001-02 that we would make differently now with the luxury of hindsight. Currently libraries are split into 8 databases. Over the years many have asked why this is and why all libraries weren't placed in one single database. Well, as the old saying goes, it seemed like a good idea at the time and was advised by the vendor. Endeavor had concerns about a single large database with 75 owning libraries and a large number of circulating libraries with their own rules and borrowing practices, and so the decision was made to split libraries up into separate databases. Moving to a single database (or at least reducing the number of databases) is something that we need to look at, if not in Voyager then in the next system we move to. It makes sense! Before we can do that there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the data in the existing databases to make this possible, including deduplication. Ex Libris tell us that the tool we need to do this will be available in a future release of Voyager.

Thus we come to the end of this odyssey. Like the film, a lot has changed in terms of the way we think of automated library services provision, and like the astronaut Dave Bowman, our eyes have been opened and our vision expanded from a local focus to the wider (library systems) universe and the role we can play in it.

Written by Pete Girling and edited by Lesley Gray and Patricia Killiard
Voyager Team, University Library

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by Alexandra Follett, Account manager at Ex Libris

Like other Library Management Systems that were developed in the 1980s, Voyager was designed to manage print material. If we think 10 to 15 years back, those systems were at the heart of library operations. Not any longer. Of course, print material is still important, and will remain so for a long time, especially for legal deposit libraries such as Cambridge University. However, in the changing informational landscape, where electronic and digital content is growing rapidly, for many libraries this content has overtaken print (at least in terms of expenditure).

There is a constant debate about how libraries should change what they do to avoid becoming extinct. As Debbie Shorley, Library Director at Imperial College London, said at the recent libraries@cambridge 2012 conference: "Libraries shouldn't just do the same things differently, but do different things." Ex Libris supports this view and believes its technology solutions should enable libraries to adopt completely different roles and ambitions. This is why Ex Libris decided to develop a new framework to address the full spectrum of requirements in today's libraries.

The first step in this journey was to address the needs of end users, by introducing a unified search interface for all the library's collections – the Primo® discovery and delivery solution. Complementing the goal of unifying the discovery experience for end users, our next step was to address the needs of the librarians.

We first introduced the concept of Unified Resource Management (URM) in 2007. Detailed conceptual design began in 2009 with our four development partners, and today Alma is in general release and being implemented by the pioneering institutions.

Alma is designed and developed with three key priorities:

  • to reduce dramatically the total cost of ownership by unifying and streamlining workflows
  • to invest in next-generation capabilities for e-resources, user-driven acquisition, and collaborative working
  • to empower libraries to extend their services beyond traditional information services, thereby demonstrating the library's contribution to core institutional objectives.

Optimize, Analyze, Utilize: How Alma makes Library Usage Data Valuable to the Institution
by Barbara Rad-El, Senior Librarian, Ex Libris Group

Among its many unified workflows, which eliminate the need to duplicate operations for electronic, print, and digital collections, Alma offers services that use data from the library's ongoing activities to facilitate management and operational decisions. In essence, Alma continuously recycles usage data to enhance the experience of both library staff and users. This article looks briefly at three areas in which Alma employs usage data for the benefit of staff and users: analytics, collection management and metadata management. The full version of this article can be accessed from

Academic libraries are home to a wealth of information about the research behaviour of the entire population of the institution – from the most senior faculty member to the newest undergraduate. As trends within research and learning change, libraries are continuously gathering and recording data on research interests, student habits, and favoured scholarly resources.

Under increasing pressure to demonstrate their value to their institution or consortium, libraries are always looking for more creative ways to improve efficiency and productivity. Powerful analytics enable libraries to put numbers on their value and to present tangible evidence of their leading role in the academic realm. Analytics shed light on the inner workings of the entire institution, not only the library.

Alma ejournal annual usage chart The Alma Analytics tool generates reports based on libraries' collection and usage data. These reports, which span over the entire library workflows, offer insights on trends and operational statistics, thus helping library managers make strategic decisions.

Looking ahead, we plan to incorporate some exciting functionalities in Alma's releases during 2013. For example, Alma will load purchase recommendations from vendors for consideration by library staff, who may choose to approve the recommendations, reject them, or defer the decision to a later date. To facilitate usage-based decisions, Alma will display the history of these decisions when subsequent recommendations for the same resource are under review.

Among other valuable features planned for the future is an option to publish recommendations in the discovery interface. When a resource that is currently under consideration appears in a list of results for a user with the appropriate authorization, that user can place a purchase request. The request will create a fast-track acquisition order and deliver the resource to the user when it is received.

Collection Management
Alma contains a suite of collection-development functions for both the initial selection of electronic resources and their evaluation. Through trial and evaluation workflows, libraries can receive recommendations from staff, faculty, and end users. Purchase and renewal decisions are made easier with enriched data stored by Alma, such as complete metadata, usage and cost-per-use information, overlap analysis, and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) impact factor of specific journals. Ex Libris is also exploring opportunities to connect Alma to third-party resources that will help librarians evaluate and make decisions about new and ongoing subscriptions.

Alma automatically prompts library staff to evaluate current subscriptions for electronic resources, such as journal and e-book packages, both annually and prior to subscription end. On the basis of usage data, staff can make informed decisions about whether to renew or cancel a subscription. If staff members decide to renew, Alma automatically extends the activation period for the resource.

Metadata Management and Inventory
The Alma metadata management system merges centralized and local approaches to library cataloguing. The system is divided into two parts: a Library Zone and a Community Zone.

Similar to a traditional catalogue, the Library Zone is composed of local catalogues over which individual institutions or consortia maintain stewardship.

The Community Zone consists of a central catalogue of bibliographic and authority records that the whole community accesses and manages. Up to now, libraries across the world have been describing and managing many of the same resources, but the cataloguing environment has required each library to download and manage the records locally.

With Alma's metadata management system, bibliographic data becomes an ever more powerful and vibrant tool to support the objectives of both the library and the institution. By reducing duplication and enhancing the depth of available information for all users, the system embodies Alma's commitment to the sharing and strengthening of data.

To find out about Alma, visit: or register for the Alma customer story series:

Image reproduced with the kind permission of Barbara Rad-El

Alma – The Voyage Continues
By Janet Lute, Integrated Library System Coordinator, Princeton University Library

In 2002 when Voyager first made its way to Cambridge University it was a radical departure in terms of library automation. For the first time the essential services were in one place. Even for a library system such as Cambridge, which by its nature is diversified, Voyager brought a unification of functions hitherto unknown. In the library world Integrated Library Systems such as Voyager were state of the art, but as we know, nothing stays state of the art for too long.

Electronic material proliferation has probably had the greatest direct impact on the library world. There were definitely E journals, E journal packages and databases in 2002, but their numbers were still relatively small and for a traditional library like Cambridge print still ruled. These were the days of "electronic free with print". Voyager was not designed to fully handle electronic resources and so for quite a few years many functions were managed in the same way as they were for print. E books were almost unheard of in 2002 and I don't think we could envision their popularity partly because there were no ebook readers and even laptops were not as pervasive as they are today. Sitting on a plane in 2012 and looking around every second person has some kind of handheld device, many of them capable of holding books "checked out" from our libraries.

Voyager is a valiant work horse; it does what it was designed to do very well. There have been enhancements and upgrades over the years, some directly influenced by the work at Cambridge. The OPAC especially has changed enormously with the introduction of a new interface and the ability to provide mobile environments. I think with a major anniversary of any kind it is inevitable that we look forward to the next 10 years. It is impossible to predict with any precision what technology will be like in 2022. But there are some clues to what we can expect to see more of. The Cloud is growing exponentially and I don't mean the rain clouds over Cambridge or the lack of them. New cloud-based services are going to allow us move away from the client server environment and harness the internet even more than we do today.

The next few years will also introduce a number of new products into the library world. Primo began the move to splitting the front and back offices but new unified resource management programmes like Alma will allow us to handle print, electronic and the fast growing digital world within a single infrastructure. Alma, which Princeton University Library is currently testing as part of the Ex Libris Alma Development Partner programme, represents a new paradigm for library automation and will likely have as significant an impact on the future of our library services as Voyager has had over the last decade. As we prepare for our next odyssey in libraries, may the best of Voyager functionality live on.

From a fellow ivy-covered university across the pond, I offer you my congratulations on this 10th anniversary.

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Gateway Library at Buckinghamshire New University's High Wycombe campus In May 2010, the Library at Buckinghamshire New University (Bucks) embarked on an ambitious project to overhaul its acquisitions workflow by automating processes and introducing shelf-ready supply (Roker, B. & Williams, C., 'Achieving more with less: acquisitions in hard times', SCONUL Focus 52, 2011, pp. 34-38). This was a symptomatic response to a reduction in staff, campus consolidation, budgetary constraints and an outdated acquisitions workflow that needed to catch up with a changed workplace. This is a very familiar scenario that many higher education institutions have had to face. As we investigated shelf-ready acquisitions and looked at acquisitions developments achieved by other higher education institutions, we realised that the options available to achieve our goal and deliver improvements were many and that we would need to make decisions on which course to take.

9xx versus EDIFACT
We began by looking at 9xx ordering which is a US-based standard. This ordering method allows libraries to create orders on a vendor's website which are then loaded into the library management system by the 9xx ordering programs with the order data embedded in the MARC record. It's a tried and trusted method of placing orders supported by the major UK book suppliers. However, it's not an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standard. We knew that 9xx ordering would streamline our workflow and deliver improvements but the cost of purchasing the additional software module from Sirsi Dynix proved prohibitive for us at the time. So we turned our attention to the Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT).

A visit to Brunel University in August 2010, proved useful in showing us how the quotes method of ordering, supported by the EDIFACT standard, would also enable us to streamline our acquisitions workflow. Most importantly, this could be achieved without needing to purchase additional software as our library management system, Sirsi Dynix's Symphony, already had the reports that would run the EDIFACT messages to manage the communication of bibliographic order data between book suppliers and Bucks. Financial constraints coupled with the need to maximise resources we already had led us to opt for quotes ordering using EDIFACT. With the appointment of our Systems and Research Librarian, Elizabeth Chamberlain, a month earlier, so started a closer look at Sirsi Dynix's EDIFACT user guide and the reports that would need setting up to run behind the scenes to achieve the acquisitions workflow we desperately needed. We had been sending orders via EDI to vendors for more than 7 years but now needed the additional messages for bibliographic order data to flow seamlessly between the vendor website and our library management system. For the whole process to work, we also partnered Dawson Books and Sirsi Dynix in some developmental work to enable quotes ordering with them using the EDIFACT standard.

So for the past 18 months, we have been running a suite of timed reports in Symphony which turn quotes or proposal orders on the book suppliers' websites into firm orders. Once the proposal orders or quotes are placed on the vendors' bibliographic databases, a file of these is made ready for our EDIFACT reports to pick up. We run the EDIFACT file ftp retrieval and EDIFACT file receiving reports to collect the order files and arrange the proposals by vendor. Then the EDIFACT book quotes report converts the quotes into order data in Symphony giving the orders system-generated order numbers. These orders now have bibliographic data, holding codes, funds, quantities and in-house classmark notifications. We run these 3 reports in quick succession twice daily at 8.20am and 3.25pm. The EDIFACT standard presents all this bibliographic order data in a specific way ready to send back to the vendors as firm orders.

020: |a0071411712
100: |aNadel, Barbara A
245: |aBuilding security : handbook for architectural planning and design:|nc2004
250: |a1
260: |aNew York, NY :|bMcGraw-Hill,|c2004
999: |hHWBK7D
.ORDR_ID. |aBNU-2200499

.LINE_ITEM_ID. |a164566-1001
.LINE_TITLEID. |a9780071411714
.QLI. |aOA4031347/001/033
.NOTE. |a*690.22 NAD* nis

EDIFACT book quotes report lists all loaded bibliographic records and order data. The standard also supports notes fields so specific information such as special classmark requirements can be sent back to the vendors in the firm EDI order. MARC record and classmark requirements are sent as a Note in the order record to the vendor.

We run the EDIFACT file transmission report daily at 10pm which picks up all firm orders made ready that day and sends them by EDI to the vendors.

Belinda Roker and Catherine Williams opening their first box of shelf-ready books EDIFACT Book Orders and Beyond
Phase 2 of our acquisitions project has seen the automation of invoicing and order responses using the EDIFACT standard. We no longer manually input invoices into Symphony for payment or update order records with status reports. Invoices from vendors are now picked up and loaded into Symphony using the EDIFACT book invoices report. The invoices are then ready for review and then payment. In a similar way, files of order response reports are picked up by the EDIFACT book orders report and display as status reports in the relevant orders. The automatic updating of outstanding orders with their new order status has saved time and manual input.

We have one final piece of EDIFACT message work outstanding which will then see the completion of phase 2 and our acquisitions project. We are currently working with our Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) book suppliers to deliver automatic receipt and loading of book orders. We anticipate that this EDIFACT message will save time as we currently manually receipt and load every book and will impact on both our Acquisitions and Cataloguing teams. New acquisitions will arrive with their orders already received on Symphony and with item barcodes loaded.

The success of our acquisitions project to automate our acquisitions workflow and introduce shelf-ready supply has been achieved by a number of inter-related factors. We owe the benefits of our automated processes to the co-operation of our book suppliers, the technical expertise of key individuals at Bucks, Sirsi Dynix and our book suppliers and the combination of the right people being in the right place at the right time and asking each other the right questions. EDIFACT, as the underlying standard, has also enabled us to achieve the tall order of overhauling our entire acquisitions process without needing to invest additional monies. The careful timing and sequence of these EDIFACT reports has enabled us to maximise our technical and human resources at Bucks, which at a time of continuing economic constraint, has been very beneficial.

Belinda Roker and Catherine Williams
Acquisitions Librarians, Bucks

Images reproduced with the kind permission of Catherine Williams and Belinda Roker

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The Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) Library started using JANET.txt, the text messaging service provided by PageOne, at the end of September 2010 following a visit to the Marshall Library of Economics. Simon Frost, the Deputy Librarian there, mentioned how the text messaging service they had been using for a while had markedly improved their library service; his quick demonstration of it made a big impression.

We implemented it in just three days. Setting up an account was remarkably straightforward: having contacted PageOne (, we selected the two-way texting account at £20 a month, which allows readers to reply to our message, over the free one-way texting account where we would only pay for the text messages themselves. We bought our first 5,000 text messages (£200 excluding VAT), the smallest bundle available, and activated our new master and two-way accounts.

Half a day of reading through the documentation and experimenting was all that was needed to set up JANET.txt for MML; half an hour of training the other staff and we were all ready to start using it.

The master account allows you to create up to ten "Smartgroups" of your choice, to monitor the number of messages left, and generally to manage the dependent accounts. We decided that simplicity was the way forward so our groups are defined by expiry dates, the idea being that we can delete a whole year group at a time after graduation and create another group for the next batch of freshers.

Signing up for this new library service is optional, as the "mobile phone number" field on our amended registration form makes very clear. Students who registered with the Library before we started offering this service have the opportunity to give us their mobile number when placing a recall. All readers still get the automatic email notices generated by Reporter, so those who opt out of this service are not penalised – aside from receiving the information the next morning as opposed to within twenty minutes of the item becoming available for them, that is.

Adding contacts onto JANET.txt manually is very easy; we, like Economics, enter the reader's University Card barcode immediately after their first name. This has proved very valuable in the surprisingly common cases of homonymous students.

Screenshot of JANET Contact manager page
Establishing our policy regarding the use of text messages as a library service
From the start we made a conscious decision to limit our use of this new service to "item available for collection" notices, as we were wary of antagonising our users. Admittedly most of them are regularly asked for their mobile number in banks, shops, or at the hairdresser's, so were happy to provide us with it, however roughly 10% of our user population opted out, or in a few rare cases didn't own a mobile phone.

We also chose to switch to JANET.txt when contacting our invigilators in a crisis. Our experience has since taught us that both students and invigilators respond better (and faster!) to text messages as compared to email.

How it works
Again, simplicity of use dominates here: we select the desired customised template, enter the classmark of the item in hand, then send out the message. It literally only takes seconds, and the process was quickly integrated into our workflows.

Screenshot of JANET recalled item available page
The outbox has a helpful traffic light system which allows us to check that the text message has been delivered to the mobile phone. Most of the time the light will be green, which means the reader has received our message. An amber light usually means the phone is switched off (oh yes, some students do switch off their phone during lectures and seminars! Unless it simply means that the phone's battery has run out, of course…). The occasional red light nearly always indicates that we mistyped the phone number when originally inputting it.

Pros and cons
The feedback we received since implementing this new service has been overwhelmingly positive and JANET.txt is proving to be a popular feature at MML. Most readers come to collect their reserved books within a couple of hours of being informed of their availability and clearly appreciate these few extra hours with popular resources. It has definitely helped maximise the efficiency of our recall system and has enhanced our library service as a whole.

One major drawback is the dangerous ease with which anyone can accidentally delete a whole 'Smartgroup', or in our case, an entire database of contacts. Thankfully the option of exporting the data from each group to Excel files makes it very easy to back up regularly and the contacts were soon restored, but this remains a concern.

Our main issue with the service, however, stemmed from a misunderstanding. We had been told that we could simply carry over any unused text messages at the end of the year and assumed we would only need to purchase another bundle when we ran out. Imagine our dismay (and panic, having grown rather reliant on Janet, as 'she' is affectionately known in our library) when a year to the day after we started using the service, we suddenly discovered we had no available messages left. 'But we had 4,498 available yesterday, I assure you we didn't use them all up overnight!' 'Ah, but you needed to have told us at least a month ago you wanted to carry them over, AND have purchased an additional bundle of 5,000 texts, in order for your anniversary to pass smoothly!' went our conversation (in a nutshell). As no amount of arguing made the slightest bit of difference… we caved in and bought another bundle.

Our future with Janet
As a result, we are now exploring further potential uses for this service: could we help the Faculty by letting them use our database of contacts, whilst raising the Library's profile at the same time? Could we use the diary function to send out block messages to whole year groups, advertising timetabled events such as training courses, information skills sessions, or induction tours? We are also investigating the possibility of sending out overdue or recall notices by text, depending on whether JANET.txt could link up with the Voyager Library management system.

We are aware it still offers many more possibilities, although having monitored the use of the two-way function, we are also seriously considering downgrading to the (free) one-way option, at the risk of upsetting the one and a half student a month who does text us back and will no longer be able to do so.

We will certainly use Janet if the library has to shut at short notice – due to bad weather for example… snow anyone?

And finally…
In the eighteen months since we implemented it, Janet has become a firmly established service in MML. It has gained the enthusiastic support of our students: during our unexpected downtime in October 2011 for example, dozens asked why we had stopped offering this valuable service and when we would resume offering it. We found it very easy to implement for a relatively low cost. For all these reasons, we consider JANET.txt to be good value for money.

We are always happy to demonstrate how we use this service or answer any questions about it, just contact us. Oh, and to any other libraries using Janet in Cambridge: we'd love to know more about how YOU use it!

Hélène Fernandes, Deputy Librarian
MML Library

Images reproduced with the kind permission of Hélène Fernandes

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Back in the early 1990s, various of the College and Departmental librarians raised the question at the Union Catalogue Steering Group (forerunner of CULAG, forerunner of L@CAG) of why the University Library's bibliographic records were contributed to CURL (now RLUK) when the rest of Cambridge's records were not. Discussions of the pros and cons of wider Cambridge contribution bounced along for several years before being kicked into the long grass. It is not difficult to see why, at the time, the idea did not receive wide support. Colleges' collections contained multiple copies of the same core textbooks. There was no benefit to the UK academic community to know that 31 copies of Stryer's Biochemistry were held by Cambridge Colleges who did not admit external readers. The Union Catalogue at that time contained many short records which would not enhance the CURL database. Proposals to extract only records of a certain standard foundered on the question of how to define an appropriate minimum standard. This was long before the days of the bibliographic standard. By the mid 1990's, when CURL itself faced difficulties – ultimately resolved by the move to Manchester – the idea had been dropped.

The Project
Roll on to 2009 and St John's had completed an ambitious project to catalogue the 30,000+ rare books which made up its historic Upper Library and was engaged in still more rare books cataloguing of its Lower Library's special collections. High quality bibliographic records, including provenance information and copy-specific detail so valued by researchers could now be accessed online. Online, yes, but only visible via the Colleges P-W database of the Newton catalogue. Unless a researcher knew already that St John's owned a copy, it was effectively invisible. Cataloguers using the Cambridge Voyager system could download MARC records, but those undertaking retrospective cataloguing of pre-1800 materials elsewhere in the country could not benefit from the huge amount of work done at St John's. This tremendously rich resource was available only to the few in the know.

This situation might have persisted, were it not for the fact that my husband got tired of hearing me bewailing and administered a sharp kick (I mean gave me supportive encouragement) to stop moaning and do something about it. Conscious that St John's was by no means alone in having undertaken major cataloguing projects, and that the Cambridge College Libraries Forum had an excellent track record in successful collaborative projects, I first raised the idea of a project to make our records accessible via RLUK and COPAC at a CCLF meeting. It was immediately apparent that at least a dozen colleges who had catalogued special collections or aimed to do so would be interested in broadening access to their collections. A paper was accordingly presented from the CCLF to the Libraries@Cambridge Advisory Group. Much had changed since efforts to get Union Catalogue records onto CURL in the 1990s. The bibliographic standard meant that record quality could be guaranteed. The proposal was just for records for unique and distinctive materials to be contributed, rather than the multiplicity of undergraduate textbook collections.

RLUK was in the process of encouraging further libraries with special collections to join, so welcomed our approach. Technical difficulties could also be overcome. The Libraries@Cambridge team had developed great expertise in extracting record sets from the Voyager databases, uploading and downloading records between systems, and managing error reports. While the Colleges raised the idea, Faculty and Departmental libraries were also interested. A committee was formed with representatives from Colleges, Departments, and the Libraries@Cambridge team. While establishing a committee can be a way of delaying action, that was not so in this case, as all parties had an interest in making the project work. The will was there amongst contributing libraries, at RLUK, and in the Libraries@Cambridge team. Technical issues were speedily resolved by RLUK and L@C staff. As long as collections could be readily identified and extracted in an automated way, by location, classmark range, or other unique identifier, a mechanism could be put in place to contribute them. Pragmatic solutions were found to the more political questions. Rather than trying to agree a definition of what constituted 'special collections', each library identified what they regarded as 'special', namely anything that they considered would be of use to researchers or re-cataloguers, particularly material which was not well represented on RLUK or COPAC. This has meant that more unusual collections such as Homerton's children's literature could be included, although they would not fall into a standard definition of 'rare books'. (It is interesting to note that since we embarked upon the project, RLUK themselves have adopted the term 'unique and distinctive' in preference to 'special collections'. ) It was agreed that loads should be monthly and that error reports should be the responsibility of the individual contributing libraries.

The Outcome
Two Departmental libraries and ten Colleges are now contributing records for their special collections to RLUK and COPAC, with a further College on track to join shortly 1. Protocols are established to extract all new and amended records for the collections in question from the Voyager databases on a monthly basis for upload to RLUK and COPAC. Such records are identified as 'Cambridge University, Colleges (Special Collections)' to distinguish them from University Library records. Error reports are distributed to the contributing libraries for local correction following each load, though the workload is very small as errors are few. New libraries can readily be included in the project, as further collections are catalogued. Successful collaboration between libraries across the University and Colleges, the Libraries@Cambridge team, and RLUK has enabled us to take advantage of existing systems to broaden access to a range of collections for the benefit of the research and library communities.

Kathryn McKee
Sub-Librarian and Special Collections Librarian
St John's College

1. A full list of Cambridge libraries with records on COPAC can be found at (this includes some additional libraries who participated in an RSLP project to add records for 19th century pamphlets).

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The University Library's Historical Printing Room I want to introduce one of the least-known of the Library's collections to a wider audience. Some people may be aware, from exhibitions or from the Library's home pages, that we hold a number of collections of both printed and archival material of typographical interest. Foremost among these is the Morison collection of books and papers, the library of Stanley Morison, probably the most famous twentieth-century British typographer, but there is also the collection of Allen Hutt, historian of journalism and newspaper design, and the Broxbourne collection. Among archival sources the Cambridge University Press collection is probably the largest, but the Curwen Press and Nonesuch Press collections are also significant. But I want to write about the physical artefacts connected with printing, which we hold and which deserve to be better known.

The genesis of the Library's holdings can be found in the decision in the early 1970's to set up a bibliographical teaching press in the University Library on the lines of those already existing at the Bodleian and elsewhere. The impetus for this plan came from the late Philip Gaskell, then Librarian of Trinity College. In 1953 Gaskell had established the Water Lane Press in the cellars of King's College, and he continued his interest in printing at Glasgow University Library where he took charge of the rare books section. On his return to Cambridge he combined the task of writing his New Introduction to Bibliography (1972) – still a standard work – with the establishment of a press for teaching students practical printing. The main aim of his classes was to enable students of literature to understand the practical details of hand composition of type and of printing on a hand-press, and thus to appreciate the manifold ways in which both conscious decisions and accidents in the printing-house could affect the accuracy of a text.

The equipment for his classes came from a number of sources. Most important was a full-size replica of an early nineteenth-century wooden hand-press which was built to his designs in the workshops of the Engineering Department. This was joined by two presses of his own. The bulk of the type was cast by the University Press, again supplemented by Gaskell's own. Quite fortuitously the auction of a small printing business in Gloucestershire provided a fine Albion royal hand-press (for £30 – a bargain even in those days!) and a considerable quantity of wood-letter in remarkably good condition.

On this basis printing classes began in the Library in 1974, and have continued ever since. For the first year Dr Gaskell himself acted as instructor, but then I took over, at first with David McKitterick, now himself Librarian of Trinity, and later with Colin Clarkson. The presses and type had been set up in a room which was then named the Morison Room, since it also housed Stanley Morison's library, donated by Sir Allen Lane. With the creation of the new Exhibition area the equipment was moved to a room near the Locker Room. There are normally only six students in each class, since we have six pairs of cases of text type. Over the years some additional equipment was received, including an 'Arab' treadle-driven press which had been used for the Library's internal printing for many years, and a Columbian press and a copperplate printing press (designed to print from etched or engraved metal plates), both donated by Dr Frederick Ratcliffe, then the University Librarian.

Paper mould from William Morris's Kelmscott Press In the 1980's however, the continual development in printing technology meant that the Cambridge University Press decided finally to abandon the use of letterpress in favour of computer-generated typesetting and offset lithographic printing. Much of the type and machinery was sold or scrapped, but we were given the opportunity to acquire many founts of type, blocks and some machinery, notably a Monotype keyboard and caster. Even more welcome was the Press's decision to deposit in the Library most of their collection of historic printing material. These included the surviving punches made by John Baskerville in the 1750s, which had been sold after Baskerville's death. Later the punches passed to the Didot family, then to A. Bertrand and finally to Deberny & Peignot; Charles Peignot generously donated them to Cambridge in 1953. At this time there were 2750 punches, about three-quarters of which were considered to be original. Equally important is the material from William Morris's Kelmscott Press; the punches & matrices for his Troy, Chaucer & Golden types, cases of type for each face, two of the paper moulds made for Morris's use and a small stock of his 'Flower' paper, named from the watermark which appears on each sheet. After Morris's death his executors deposited the woodblocks of illustrations, ornaments and large initial letters in the British Museum; the remaining material was bought by the University Press in 1940, through the good offices of Sir Sydney Cockerell, the surviving executor.

Other material from private presses includes punches, matrices and brass patterns (from which punches could be made mechanically) from the Golden Cockerel Press, the 'Brook' type from the Eragny Press, punches for the Subiaco and Ptolemy types used by the Ashendene Press, punches, matrices and bookbinders' tools from Count Harry Kessler's Cranach Press, and punches for Eric Gill's Perpetua and Joanna. This collection was later supplemented by the donation by James Stourton of the matrices for Gill's Aries, used exclusively for many years by the Stourton Press, together with some Aries type and a pivotal typecaster. We also acquired a large number of printing blocks from the University Press, in various forms – original woodcuts and wood-engravings, metal blocks, and copper & steel engraved plates. Among these are a large number of ornamental blocks (mostly from the nineteenth century), many university, college and other coats of arms, and illustrations from books printed at the Press. The woodcuts and wood-engravings include work by Gwen Raverat, Reynolds Stone, Peter Reddick, Agnes Miller Parker & others. A particularly interesting group are wood-engravings prepared for Willis & Clark's Architectural History of the University of Cambridge (1886). The steel and copper plates are predominantly views of Cambridge, though to date no attempt has been made to identify the artists involved.

Nicholas Smith as Robert Barker, the King's Printer As part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011, Colin Clarkson and myself were asked to demonstrate the wooden replica press as it might have been used in 1611 for a film by Scottish company 1A Productions 1. The press was designed to be dismantled and moved, and this was shown to be feasible when it made a brief trip to the Parker Library at Corpus for the Audit Feast. After some uncertainty as to the venue for filming, we finally loaded the press up into a hired van and set off for Haddon Hall in Derbyshire – a house that served for quite a few different locations in the film. We set the press up, and then discovered that most of an actor's time is taken up in waiting for something to happen! The idea was that we were busy printing the Bible when the King turns up unexpectedly, picks up a newly-printed sheet and discourses eloquently about his pet project. We did so many takes that we ran out of the paper we had brought and started to print some on the second side. At last the director was satisfied, and we could clean up the press, dismantle it, load it into the van and head back to Cambridge. Colin Clarkson as Robert Barker's Pressman

It is unfortunate that the collection is little known except to a few specialists, and one reason for this is that the Library has no opportunity to display the contents. I hope that this brief account will do something to publicize the existence of the material, and would end by saying that we are always prepared to show items from it to those who may be interested, given a little advance warning.

Nicholas Smith
University Library
(A revised version of an article originally published in the Bulletin of the Friends of Cambridge University Library, 22, 2001.)

Images reproduced with the kind permission of Nicholas Smith

1. KJB – The Book That Changed the World (2011), directed by Norman Stone, Nicholas Smith played the role of Robert Barker, the King's printer, and Colin Clarkson played the role of his pressman.

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Congratulations to Marjolein Allen, the new Acting Head of Reader Services and to Clive Simmonds, the new Acting Head of Legal Deposit. Clive continues to be the Head of Periodicals.

English Cataloguing welcomed back Angela Fitzpatrick after her secondment to the Judge Business School Library. She returns to her old post as Authority Control and Cataloguing Specialist. Fiona Grant returned to her post of Senior Cataloguer. Richard Johnson from Manuscripts and Katherine Sendall from Rare Books joined the department as Junior Cataloguers.

In European Cataloguing, Lawrence Brooks left to take up a position at the Natural History Museum. He has been replaced by Christopher Greenberg, a modern languages graduate of Oxford University who did a graduate traineeship at the Bodleian. Warm congratulations to Leo Miguet on the birth of her daughter Marie. Katherine Dicks is covering her absence as Chief Library Assistant.

The Near East Department welcomed Nermin Minter as their new part time Library Assistant.

The Tower Project bid farewell to Helen Jones who left to take up a permanent post as Cataloguer at the Wallace Collection library in London. The project welcomed two new Senior Cataloguers – Danielle Spittle from Legal Deposit and Robert Rumble who had been cataloguing the M & S company archive in London.

In Rare Books, Emily Dourish is back from her maternity leave, and Katie Birkwood who was covering for her as Rare Books Specialist has now taken up her new post as Temporary Exhibition Project Officer.

Periodicals welcomed Yanning Rao from the West Room as their new library assistant.

The Entrance Hall bid farewell to Sara Fletcher and welcomed Angeline Lile and Zoe Boyce-Upcraft as their new part time library assistants.

ESS welcomed Fiona Marshall as their new temporary part time PrePARE Project Officer. Andrew Corrigan has joined the Foundations Project and the Darwin Correspondence Project.

Warm congratulations to Sophie Defrance on the birth of her baby, Alexandre on 23rd Oct, to Annette Brighton on the birth of her son, Niven Harvey Oakes on 10th April, and to Megan Cooper on the birth of her baby, Arlo George on 30th Dec. Congratulations to Megan Gill on her wedding to Dan Green on October 12th.

Dr. Mark Curran is the newly elected Munby Fellow. Over the past five years he has been working on The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769-1794, and this has resulted in a database providing remarkable insights into the Francophone book trade of the late-eighteenth century. During his tenure as Munby Fellow, Dr Curran will pilot adding other kinds of sources to the database.

We have had four new Arcadia Fellows. Prof. Helle Porsdam of the University of Copenhagen will be engaged in examining how Copyright affects creativity and innovation. Helen Webster and Katy Wrathall will be looking at strategies for implementing the curriculum for information literacy. Helen Webster is currently working on the Transkills Project in CARET. She used to be a medievalist who later qualified as a teacher. Katy Wrathall had 15 years of experience in the IT sector before entering the library field. She was Project Manager on the Study Methods and Information Literacy Exemplars (SMILE) blended learning project. Oszkar Nagy's project will be on student reading in theory and practice. He currently works for CARET on academic social networking projects.

Last autumn the UL had occasion to wish happy retirement to some colleagues of long and exemplary service. Nick Smith who joined the UL 46 years ago in the Special Cataloguing Department (the precursor of today's Rare Books Department) retired as the Department's Deputy Head. He had earlier worked briefly in English Cataloguing and had also held responsibilities for the Bindery Office and Catalogue Maintenance. He has been involved with the Historical Printing collection and printing classes since 1975 (you can read more about this in his article in this issue of CULIB). We are glad that he will continue in Rare Books as a volunteer, and will continue to lead printing classes. Tony Harperjoined the library as Head of Reader Services 16 years ago and in his time oversaw the introduction of the University ID card and the new Entrance Hall and Exhibition Centre. Roger Fensom retired after 15 years of service in the Entrance Hall. He has always been a great help to the Staff Club. He has been a University Constable for some years and will continue in that capacity. Bob Cunningham retired as Security Patroller. Flora Dutta retired after 31 years. She had worked in Duplicate Maintenance before moving to English Cataloguing. Emma Merrett left after 23 years of service. She started in Inter-Library Loans before moving on to English Cataloguing. Linda Newboult started in the Entrance Hall 23 years ago and then moved to the Library Offices. In her retirement she plans to volunteer with the National Trust. Jenny Hoyos joined the UL 49 years ago intending to stay for only a year! She started off in the Periodicals Department and then moved to Foreign Cataloguing before settling in what became today's Printing Department (which prints CULIB, by the way). She had been managing the department from 1983. She intends to devote more time to her volunteer work with Girlguides UK. We wish them all the very best in their new endeavours.

Tyndale House, one of the University's affiliated institutions, bid a sad farewell to its Librarian, Dr. Elizabeth Magba, who retired in January after more than 12 years' service. She is looking forward to having more time to devote to her linguistics research and writing. Her successor, Simon Sykes, joined Tyndale in February from Tresham College of Further and Higher Education. Temporary Assistant Librarian (and CULIB editor) Kate Arhel was made permanent.

Social and Political Sciences Library (SPS, renamed back to this from PPSIS in August 2011) has seen a few staffing changes in recent months: the Librarian Julie Nicholas succeeded with her application for Voluntary Severance and retired at the end of September 2011. Following this, Ivana Chilvers is acting up for the Librarian's post. Janet Morgan and Jenni Skinner are together acting up for Senior Assistant. Steven Campion was upgraded from a part-time Junior Library Assistant to a full-time Library Assistant while his former counterpart in the Junior post, Takveen Bashir, who was on maternity leave from November 2010 to November 2011 decided to give priority to care for her beautiful daughter rather than juggling child care arrangements alongside work.

The English Faculty Library would like to send their hearty congratulations to Assistant Librarian Niamh Tumelty on the birth of her son Rory in December. David Rushmer is now Acting Assistant Librarian. The EFL welcomes Isla Woodman to the team as their new Library Assistant. Isla has moved to Cambridge from St. Andrews where she completed her PhD in Medieval university education and worked as a Library and Archival assistant with the special collections department.

Half way through December 2011, Diane FitzMaurice moved from the Engineering Department, where she had worked as Assistant Librarian for just over two years, to Experimental Psychology, where she is Senior Library Assistant, with responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Library.

Amelie Roper joined Christ's College in late September 2011 as College Librarian, having previously worked at the Royal College of Music and the British Library. Steven Archer joined as Assistant Librarian in November 2011, having previously worked at the London Library. Steven was a graduate trainee at Trinity, and studied at Magdalen. He replaces Naomi Tiley, who is now Assistant Librarian at University College, Oxford.

Tim Eggington has moved from the Whipple Library to become the new Librarian at Queens' College. His successor at the Whipple will be Anna Jones, currently Lee Librarian at Wolfson College.

Simon Morris, the Library Assistant (mornings) at Churchill College, no longer works at the Faculty of Philosophy on Saturdays but is instead a Library Assistant (afternoons) at the Marshall Library of Economics.

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