CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

ISSN 0307-7284    Edited by Kathryn McKee, Mary Kattuman, Lyn Bailey and Kate Arhel

Issue 74, Lent 2014: Library history



This issue of CULIB takes as its theme Library History. Cambridge possesses libraries with some very long histories, particularly amongst the colleges. Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence gives us a guide to writing the history of a Cambridge college library, taking us through the delights and pitfalls of the sources available. Even the most modern libraries still have history, and it can be of practical benefit to know about it. Katie Flanagan tells us how Brunel University Library's 40th birthday celebrations gave them an opportunity to engage with their users and raise the profile of the library. Paul Cooke gives us a useful overview of the UL's Library Science Collection and how that can contribute to our understanding of the history of our profession. Erika Delbecque of St Hilda's College, Oxford shares her experiences of undertaking library history research, while Matthew Baalham (formerly of Tyndale House Library) tells us the fascinating history of a very different library from those at Cambridge: that of Longleat House. If you're inspired by this to become involved in library history, we include a summary of organisations, publications, and other sources of information for would-be library historians.

For this issue's hobby piece, we relax in the company of Dominique Ruhlmann, who shares one of the most beautiful past-times we've celebrated in CULIB: Chinese brush painting.

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So you want to write the history of your library? Are you sure? Someone has probably already had a crack at it? But that might have been a long time ago and it might very well not be the last word on the subject.

If you write the history of your library who is going to read it, and why? There are many straightforward accounts of the administration of college libraries, which look for context no further than the history of the college itself, and this is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and might be exactly what the circumstances demand. On the other hand, the college libraries have great potential as historical sources with a wider context. A university education formed the minds of most of the nation's philosophers, writers, politicians, scientists and clergymen from the sixteenth century onwards. The records of the college libraries can potentially contribute a lot to any historical study of the formation of their thinking, and the history of the intellectual climate of the age can contribute much to enlighten the history of the college library.

The older colleges have one great advantage over many institutions when it comes to writing their history. The survival of buildings, archives and library books, in some cases from the Middle Ages provides a wealth of source material. However, this longevity also presents the historian with some problems. The first being that the skills required to deal competently with the sources for the earliest part of a college's history are not necessarily found in the same person who can write well about its most recent history.

Secondly, the college libraries have not always fulfilled the same function in the college, and to understand the nature of this over time it is necessary to understand the history of the university and the history of the book. Dedicated library rooms arrived only in the fifteenth century, containing a chained reference collection, while books were lent on an annual distribution much like that practised in monasteries, but unlike modern library lending. Library books were generally intended primarily for the use of senior members and were unlikely to include much, if anything, suitable for undergraduates. In the seventeenth century the subject coverage of the libraries' holdings tended to widen: since the advent of the printed book university studies had changed; new subjects, such as history, oriental languages and natural sciences were appearing and broad reading, as opposed to the intensive study of a smaller number of texts, had become a feature even of undergraduate tuition. Undergraduates, however, often did not acquire the formal right to use their college library independently until the nineteenth century. Only in the twentieth century did the primary function of most college libraries become the provision of texts for undergraduate study, in a complete reversal of their historical role.

Newer foundations were in quite different circumstances from the long established colleges and their aims and priorities in setting up their libraries were correspondingly different. For example, the women's colleges, establishing libraries in the nineteenth century, built up strong college libraries of their own, to compensate for their members not being allowed to use the University Library.

Histories of libraries dealing with the universities as a whole, routinely deal not so much with the history of the libraries, as the matter of the provision of books for members of the university. This is a useful approach: the history of a college library is incomplete unless the other sources of books which it complimented are recognised: private ownership; loans between individuals; books in coffee houses; news 'gazettes' in Combination Rooms.

This brings me to the matter of the archival sources for the history of the libraries, and to try to describe the place of the library within the college. The library traditionally occupied an ambiguous position in the college administration: some statutes mention them, one or two give quite detailed instructions for their management, but none authorises any expenditure on their management or books, which much reduces their visibility in the records. The system of collegiate governance by which Fellows shared out the various offices necessary to the running of the college also militated against records surviving: no detailed duties were laid down for most of these offices. Oversight of the library was a fairly trivial matter, compared, for example, with the running of the college estates, and was often carried out by a college officer who also had other, far more important responsibilities. Similarly, the day to day administration of the library was one of a number of tasks traditionally carried out by sizars. Their duties were not set down anywhere that has survived, and no money changed hands, so they remain almost completely invisible to the record until the end of the sixteenth century, when some of them began to be employed on a more formal basis, or the post was endowed as a form of Scholarship.

The libraries mostly lacked any real individual administrative status, until perhaps the nineteenth century, when library committees were instituted and the keeping of proper accounts became more widespread. This means that much of the archival material tends to be buried in the wider college archives. "Buried" can be the right word.

The library was unlikely to feature much, if at all, in the official accounts. These usually survive only in the official form in which they were audited, and therefore cover only the part of the college's activities which were deemed to fall under the terms of statutes and the financial support of its endowments. Very little of the activity surrounding libraries fell into this category, and as these accounts were not required to balance, it was easy to omit anything that seemed too laborious to enter, such as book purchases.

Colleges usually had a second accounting system, which covered all their domestic transactions which were not part of the foundation, or subject to the auditors. This included room rents, the running of the kitchens and dining in Hall, fuel, food, and so on. These accounts were not a single set of books but include records which would have been maintained by individual college officers and servants. Only scattered pieces ever survive, but it is here that most of the transactions concerning the library probably belonged, since most library funding seems to have been found by making various charges on college members, or using profits generated through the domestic accounts, for example from undergraduate room rents.

Some of the hazards of using college records as the basis of library history will be apparent by now. The chief difficulty is probably understanding that the archives are not a straightforward record of what actually happened, and that it is necessary to look below the surface and in documents that do not immediately seem relevant, and to understand the mechanics of contemporary college administration. The other serious problem for anyone writing the history of a single college library is that in nearly every college there are significant gaps in the surviving information. I discovered, for example, that I could not track the development of the book collections for any single library between 1550 and 1700 as there was invariably an awkward hole somewhere in the sequence of catalogues.

All the college libraries have one other excellent source of information: the books themselves and surviving buildings and furniture. At least two of the libraries are still in the same room they have occupied since before 1500; three colleges retain sizable portions of their medieval book collections. Book collections routinely survive in unbroken development from the sixteenth century onwards. From the seventeenth century buildings and furniture survive in proliferation. Every library also has at least something by way of old catalogues, shelf-lists and donations registers. Put together, there is a wealth of information available: about the shelf arrangement of the collection; past practices of labelling and binding; donors and donations. Computerised cataloguing is now greatly facilitating access to some of this information.

I have dwelt probably too long on early periods of history. The late twentieth and twenty-first centuries may yet provide the historians of the future with far more of a headache than any medieval booklist has succeeded in doing. The college library of today is a very different creature than it was even half a century ago. Undergraduate collections are often maintained in either a steady state or with limited allowance for growth, and out-of-date texts are ruthlessly weeded. There is nothing new there: in their own day the earlier collections were similarly treated, although the volume of books passing through the system is greater today. Catalogues are, of course, computerised, and unless copies are archived every now and again leave no record of the library at a particular date. Catalogues have been this ephemeral before: in the days of lecterns they were probably usually pasted to the furniture and have disappeared with it. The physical environment of the libraries has probably changed, and is changing, most rapidly at the moment, in common with every other academic library. All the colleges have had either new library buildings or significant extensions to the existing ones in the past few decades, to accommodate more readers reading more books. Computers demanded space in the college, sometimes in the library. Then they retreated, as networking reached student rooms. Now it looks as if the books may retreat too, to be replaced with electronic sources, which need not be used in the library at all.

Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence
Assistant Rare Books Librarian, Edinburgh University

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In December 2013 Brunel University Library celebrated 40 years since its new library building opened. Although there had been a library before that, this represented the start of a new phase at the university, with state of the art facilities in a purpose-built building. In the months leading up to the birthday a group of staff drawn from all parts of the library brainstormed ideas. The resulting celebrations ended up being far bigger than had originally been envisaged, after an evening reception with the Vice-Chancellor and local dignitaries was arranged to celebrate both the birthday and the library's achievements in the NSS and other awards.

Many of the ideas we came up with could be used by other libraries to celebrate their own birthday, and can be scaled up or down as appropriate. Social media, in particular, is a brilliant way of spreading the word and easily organising displays and activities. We made use of the library history collection, housed in Special Collections, and material from the University Archives, to create displays to stand in the library foyer, and a timeline to run along one wall, matching up dates in the library's history with significant historical events. Photographs of the site before it was a library, and showing stages in its development, were used. A hashtag was created (#library40), and used with a Library40 Pinterest board

This also resulted in former members of staff getting in touch to share their stories, and also to help us fill in gaps in our knowledge. Some of them also attended the evening reception, where a specially made cake in the shape of a book was cut by the Vice-Chancellor. The #library40 hashtag was used on Twitter to publicise the event, and also on Linked In, where alumni could share their memories of the library.

The Library blog (Bookmark Daily) and Special Collections blog were used for short articles about the library's celebration:

We promoted a Birthday Cake-Off, where everyone was invited to make a cake to share on 10th December, the day itself. On the day, all the cake was spread out on tables on the ground floor of the library (where cold food is permitted!), and an announcement went over the tannoy for everyone to come and share in the cake and sing Happy Birthday. We were quickly inundated. It is relatively cheap and quick to get a photo printed onto edible rice paper to go on the top of a cake, so this is what we did with one of the photos of the library, with the hashtag #library40 on the top.

A member of library staff composed a Library Song especially for the occasion, and this was filmed in various spots around the library the week before, featuring staff from all library departments. This can be viewed on Facebook (you don't need to be a member to see it):

Finally, an electronic timeline was also created, which has the advantage of longevity, as it will exist far beyond the date when the physical displays are taken down, and can also be added to should a former member of staff or a student provide us with new library history material. We explored various options for electronic timelines, and eventually created one with Dipity, which has a free basic version that can be easily embedded into blogs and webpages, as well as shared on social media. We chose it because it could cope with a range of date formats, from some entries where we only knew the year, to others where we knew the exact day. Dipity allows you to upload photographs, link to webpages, and add video clips, and individual date entries can be shared using social media too. It is also possible to zoom in and out of the timeline, so many entries can be added around a short period of time, if necessary The dates we chose to highlight included a variety of facts, such as the arrival of fax machines in the library, the existence of a "typing room", and my favourite, from 1985, when an online search could take up to 2 hours and involved a 30 minute interview with a librarian, who then conducted the search for you. Some of the facts are more likely to appeal to the library historian, some to the general library user. Sometimes we used a comparison to highlight particular features, such as in 1979/80 100 online searches were done in the library; by 2012/13 that figure was 4,250,826. Sometimes we used the information to promote our current services, such as the introduction of LibAnswers and LibGuides to the library.

So, even if your library is relatively young, you can still do a lot to celebrate its birthday. It's a great, and fun, way to engage with library users and promote the library.

Katie Flanagan
Special Collections Librarian, Brunel University

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As librarians, most of us see ourselves as preservers of written history, bound by a common cause to retain a record of established information. Therefore, we spend little time thinking about the history of our collections and practices. This is especially true at a time when technology and trends are as fast moving and important as they are today. However, through looking at our shared history we can realise both the scale of change we are witnessing and the age old conventions which we continue to observe.

This history is captured in the University Library's Library Science Collection, housed in the Commonwealth Reading Room. As with most collections it has its own history and is now promoted for its historical and contemporary attributes. What was considered cutting-edge and innovative many years ago is now of historical significance and provides insight into the development of the institutions we work in today. The collection has in the past been stored in the basement of the University Library and had no collection managers to direct its development and assess its weaknesses and strengths. The instalment of new collection managers and a new location both demonstrate the importance of studying librarianship and the increase in material being published in this area.

Libraries are not a modern invention and can be traced back for centuries, but the way we organise information and the technology we use today are the result of constant development. Classification is a prime example of this and demonstrates that theory and philosophy have contributed to the establishment of the way we organise information. S. R. Ranganathan was one of the forefathers of classification and set the foundations for many of the systems we use. His seminal work, Colon Classification, sits in the Library and Information Sciences collection as a reminder of the debate and philosophy which surrounded the organisation of information before digitisation and OPACs.

The history of the librarian also gives an interesting insight into our social history and reflects both the positive and negative aspects of the past. Sex Segregation in Librarianship, for example, explains the problems surrounding female acceptance in librarianship during the mid-eighties. Its author sets the scene of 20th century librarianship by explaining "Women have become locked into positions of high technical skills while men have had access to longer career ladders to permeate all levels of an organisation's hierarchy" (p.73). Further evidence is shown in Career Profiles and Sex Discrimination in the Library Profession which includes a study that "identified significant differences between the treatment of men and women in the library profession" (p.38) in America during the 20th century.

Libraries and their collections have also had to endure wars, censorship and funding cuts. Public Libraries in Nazi Germany, for example, gives examples of the censorship and restrictions imposed on collection development policies during this traumatic period of German history. More contemporary debates surrounding censorship and acquisitions can be seen in books such as Censorship and the American Library, which remind us of the importance of creating intellectually diverse collections.

The Library Science Collection also includes books that cover the technological developments which have helped and hindered librarians in recent history. Library automation and digitisation have undoubtedly been influential in developing our current working environment and are the result of continuous change. The Microform Connection gives an interesting view of the advent of this outdated technology as "unlike any other library media" (p.9) and documents how librarians might be wary of adopting this new and exciting format. This theme of cautious optimism due to new technology is continued in Automation, Space Management and Productivity, which explains that "automation is responsible for a noticeable increase in staff anxiety about their jobs" (p.11).

Although these books may be a cause for reflection, the Library Science Collection is about more than nostalgia. What we have in this collection is a history of the technology, theories and working conditions of our libraries which demonstrates both change and continuity. It is important because it can help us understand why we must continue to uphold the values of freedom of information, and it also reminds us that many of the operations we conduct today are the result of an on-going debate. Above all, the collection holds a brilliant selection of both classic and contemporary work and is an asset for anyone studying relevant courses.

Paul Cooke

Cohen, E. (1982). Automation, Space Management, and Productivity. Bowker. New York. (9851.b.223.1)

Folcarelli, R. J. (1982). The Microform Connection. Bowker. New York. (9851.b.252.1)

Irvine, B. J. (1985). Sex Segregation in Librarianship : Demographic and Career Patterns of Academic Library. Greenwood. Westport. (9851.c.234.2)

McCook, K. (1983). Career Profiles and Sex Discrimination in the Library Profession. American Library Association. Chicago. (9851.c.230.3)

Ranganathan, S. R. (1960). Colon Classification. Asia Publishing House. Bombay. (9851.c.254.4)

Robbins, L. S. (1996). Censorship and the American library : the American Library Association's response to threats to intellectual freedom, 1939-1969. Greenwood Press. Westport. (9851.c.212.7)

Stieg, M. F. (1992). Public libraries in Nazi Germany. University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa. (9851.c.270.56)

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Whilst best known today for its lions and a host of other exotic animals which roam freely around its famous safari tourist attraction, Longleat House in Wiltshire also preserves one the finest private libraries in the country, built up by the Thynne family since the 16th century. Sir John Thynne, who acquired land from the dissolution of the monasteries and built the house which still stands today, drew up a catalogue of his books in 1577. It remains in the archives today and lists eighty-five books, both printed and manuscript. Many can be matched with books still retained at Longleat, such as the first book printed in English, William Caxton's 1475 Recueil of the History of Troy. An intriguing manuscript by John Bellenden, recorded as 'A skottishe cronickll wrighten in skottishe in wrighten hande', refers to the book which Sir John Thynne acquired as plunder whilst fighting the Scots in Edinburgh in 1544. Sir John inscribed the flyleaf with the rather innocently sounding 'Founde in Edenburgh at the wyninge and burninge thereof'. In 1611 another significant Caxton work was most probably added to Longleat's collection on the death of Sir John's cousin, Francis Thynne. Francis' father, William Thynne, had used Caxton's printed translation of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy as a basis for his own edition of Chaucer's works published in 1532. The Caxton, alongside a manuscript miscellany, which includes four Chaucer poems, were both used as printer's copies for the work, and are in the library today. Clearly a scholarly man, with a taste for early texts, William Thynne appears to have also left, through his son's death, what now forms a significant bulk of Longleat's medieval manuscripts collection.

In 1549 Sir John Thynne describes his collection of books as being found in a 'closett', but as developments in the house pushed forward through the 17th century, we find evidence of the first 'library' being installed on the top floor in 1687. This was due to the designs of the recently ennobled Thomas Thynne, First Viscount Weymouth. He only inherited Longleat due to his flamboyant cousin's untimely assassination in 1682 (another Thomas Thynne), but his era was certainly the most significant for the library, and through his efforts, the collection expanded enormously. What is now called the Old Library, the only interior in the house to retain its distinctive 17th-century flavour, is filled with books which the First Viscount collected and had bound. Indeed many binder's bills survive in the archives which demonstrate the amount of activity going on in the library, and which hint at the scale of purchases. One such bill for 'Books bought at Venice', include as many as seventy incunables. His preference for editions not just texts, show the First Viscount to have been a sophisticated early bibliophile. He collected his own medieval manuscripts, such as a miscellany owned and signed by Richard III, which was used in a recent exhibition at Longleat only last year, marking the discovery of the king's remains. But he was a prolific collector of contemporary material too, and has left a particularly rich collection of bound pamphlet volumes ca. 1640-1714, a significant number of which are proving to be potentially unique, during current cataloguing endeavours. The Civil War and Commonwealth periods are well represented, and it is known that the First Viscount was offered the Thomason Collection at one point, though he declined it, suggesting he had already obtained a notable collector's reputation. He was encouraged in his scholarly activities by Thomas Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells, and a friend since their Oxford days. Following the advent of William and Mary, Thomas Ken was deprived of his see as a non-juror and came to live at Longleat for the remainder of his life. He brought many books with him, and on his death left any titles to the First Viscount that he did not already have. Suffice to say, most of the books went to the library at Wells Cathedral, but around 120 printed books have been identified today as belonging to Ken, and the list is growing as the cataloguing of the library continues.

When the First Viscount died in 1714, Longleat was inherited by his great nephew, another Thomas Thynne. There is no evidence of substantial change in the library during this Second Viscount's custodianship, nor during his son Thomas' (later raised in the peerage in 1789 to be styled Marquess of Bath), which ended in 1796. The library was reorganised however, so that a good proportion of the pre-1800 volumes include both new bookplates pasted over the First Viscount's, and now obsolete shelf-marks. A trickle of books appears to have entered the library through the First Marquess' wife, Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of the Duke of Portland, including the Boke of cokery, printed by Richard Pynson in 1500. The book is now the only surviving copy and the earliest known book published on the subject of cookery in English. Furthermore, it is bound using a fragment from another 1500 publication as endleaves. The traduction [and] mariage of the princesse concerns a reception for Catherine of Aragon prior to her marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales in 1501, and survives in three fragments divided between Longleat, the British Library and Bodleian Library, identified finally only in 1990.

The Second Marquess of Bath, yet another Thomas Thynne, inherited the library in 1796 and began early on acquiring more books on a lavish scale. He also did much to change the look of the library, having many books rebound and placed in a newly furnished room, now known as the Green Library. It retains its Regency gentleman's feel today. Many of the more valuable early books were rebound, some in an elaborate Gothic style, such as those by the bookbinder Thomas Whittaker. The bindings are beautiful, but clearly there was no care taken to preserve the originals.

The expansion of the library collections continued throughout the 19th century under the Fourth Marquess of Bath, who inherited at the age of six (his father, the Third Marquess, occupying the title and Longleat for only three months). He too added new interiors for his books, the Ante and Red Libraries, which also showcased the fine Italian art works he was so fond of collecting. Both rooms were designed by John Dibblee Crace in the 1870s, and with their embossed wall coverings and gilt ceilings, are today the mostly sumptuously decorated of Longleat's libraries. The Fourth Marquess' chief interests lay in books on the Ottoman Empire and 'Eastern Question', fine arts, and the French Revolution. The latter contributed a notable collection of pamphlets from the 1780-1790s, though the Fourth Marquess stood firmly on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

The Fourth Marquess died in 1896 and after this time, Longleat experienced a gradual decline in its fortunes. The then four libraries survived the First World War, though the family's heir did not, and the house was turned into a military hospital for convalescent soldiers. They also survived the Second World War, when the house was used by girls from the Royal School near Bath, after its own buildings were requisitioned by the government. And yet by 1946, the position of the Longleat's library and collections generally were looking very uncertain. Henry Frederick Thynne, the new Sixth Marquess, faced huge financial challenges, with, among other things, large death duties to pay. However, rather than giving up on the four-hundred-year-old estate, to ensure its continued survival he decided to open it to the public in 1949 on a fully commercial basis. The library stayed, but also continued to expand. The Sixth Marquess, in line with the family tradition, became a large book collector in his own right. Rather than focusing on the existing strengths of the collections, he chose his own interests. Victorian and Edwardian children's books (including original illustrations) form a good part of his library, which contains a rare 1865 first edition of Alice in Wonderland, most other copies of which were immediately recalled by Lewis Carroll at the time and destroyed. His other main collecting area lies in the history and politics of the first part of his life. The Abdication Crisis, Churchill, even Hitler are well represented, including first editions of nearly all the published works of those two giants of the 20th-century stage. While he did not collect older books, he did inherit in 1941 the entire library of Beriah Botfield, the great 19th-century bibliophile, who considered himself part of the Thynne family. While this collection has brought yet more richness to Longleat's library, and claimed yet another two rooms for its display, not all of its contents have been able to survive recent necessary auction sales. For a while, through the Botfield bequest, Longleat could boast not one but two of Caxton's Recueil of the History of Troy, but alas, no longer.

Today, Longleat House still contains no fewer than seven libraries, each with their own character and style, lined with books and largely unchanged from the time of their inception. Since 2006, work has been underway to catalogue all of the library's printed books, music manuscripts and prints electronically for the first time. Relevant holdings are being reported to ESTC, ISTC, RISM, and soon, it is hoped, HPB. Such a process is inevitably revealing more and more about the collection's history and make-up year upon year.

Matthew Baalham
Assistant Librarian/Rare Books Cataloguer, Longleat

Further reading: John Collins. A short account of the library at Longleat Library. London, 1980.

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Chained Library at Guildford Royal Grammar SchoolWhen I was studying for an MA in Library & Information Studies at UCL in 2011-12, I did not have to look far for a topic to write my master's dissertation on: at Guildford Royal Grammar School, just a few yards from where I lived, hundreds of antiquarian books rested on the heavy wooden shelves in the Chained Library, which was constructed towards the end of the sixteenth century. These books have been accumulated since the school's foundation in 1509, and they include eighty-three volumes that were donated by John Parkhurst (1511/12-1574/75), bishop of Norwich, which formed the focus of my study.

Parkhurst's collection formed the perfect material for a comprehensive, small-scale research project. Most of Parkhurst's books were still in their original bindings, and the collection had been spared from the overzealous 'conservation' efforts of Victorian librarians, which led to the destruction of much historical evidence from early printed books in many other libraries. Furthermore, although nothing had been written yet about Parkhurst's library, the availability of a wide range of primary sources that I needed for my research made my project attainable within a one year time frame.

These sources included Woodward and Christophers' catalogue of the Chained Library of the Royal Grammar School in Guildford 1, which includes a transcription of the earliest surviving catalogue of the collection, drawn up in 1596 by George Austen, the then mayor of Guildford. Apart from the books themselves, I also made use of contemporary sources to contextualise Parkhurst's book collecting and trace the history of his library. His correspondence survives in the so-called 'Zurich Letters', held in the archives of the Swiss city, comprising the correspondence between continental Reformers and English clergy during the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, as well as in his Letter Book, which Parkhurst compiled in the 1570s in an attempt to organise his personal administration. Both of these sources have been published 2. Parkhurst's only publication, Iohannis Parkhursti Ludicra siue Epigrammata iuuenilia, a collection of short poems that includes references to printers, authors and booksellers, had been digitised and was available through Early English Books Online. Finally, I made use of Parkhurst's will, in which he bequeathed his books to the school. This document had been digitised by the National Archives, and could be downloaded from their website for a small fee. The rare wealth and availability of the primary sources that documented the development of Parkhurst's library made it possible for me to re-construct the history of the library of this sixteenth-century bishop.

The bibliographical study of the collection in Guildford RGS formed the basis for my investigation into the history and development of Parkhurst's library. I paid particular attention to the contemporary bindings: through analysing the tool groups that were used to decorate them, I was able to trace where, and in many cases also when, Parkhurst had his books bound. This enabled me to discover how his interests as a book collector developed. Alongside the development of his library, I studied Parkhurst's correspondence, which abounds in references to printers, booksellers and contemporary works and authors. I found that Parkhurst was deeply involved in the dynamics of early modern print culture, and that he sought to contribute to the dissemination of Reformed theology through his bequest and through facilitating the exchange of books between England and continental Europe. Parkhurst's collecting habits and his involvement with the publishing world were deeply influenced by the religious views he developed as a result of the close relationships he had formed with the continental Reformers of Zurich.

Whilst undertaking this project, I came up against some common challenges that await those who venture into library history research. The accessibility of many historic collections is limited. For example, the Chained Library at Guildford Royal Grammar School is now the headmaster's office, which meant I could only come in to study the collection when the headmaster was not in. Furthermore, the originality of library history research is also one of its pitfalls: because you don't know what you are going to find when researching books that have often remained unstudied for centuries, it is very difficult to plan ahead. Starting early and building flexibility into your schedule is key. Nevertheless, I found library history research to be immensely rewarding. It is an opportunity to make an original contribution to our knowledge in this field: so much of the history of libraries is still uncharted territory, so many historic collections are full of evidence waiting to be interpreted. The interdisciplinary nature of library history makes it a fascinating field to work in; it touches on intellectual history, political history, book history, the history of reading, and theology, philosophy or literature. The written or the printed word, as carrier and transmitter of human knowledge, has been central to our civilisation for millennia. Studying the history of a library enables you to find out who collected these emblematic artefacts, to what purpose, and how they were used. In this way, each surviving collection or catalogue can offer us a glimpse of the cultural life of a society long gone.

Erika Delbecque
Assistant Librarian, St Hilda's College, Oxford


1. Gwendolen Woodward and R.A. Christophers, The Chained Library of the Royal Grammar School Guildford: Catalogue (Guildford: Royal Grammar School, 1972)

2. The Zurich letters, comprising the correspondence of several English bishops and others with some of the Helvetian reformers, during the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, ed. and trans. by H. Robinson, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1842–5) ; The Letter Book of John Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, compiled during the years 1571-5, ed. by R.A. Houlbrooke (Norwich: Norfolk Record Society, 1975)

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The Library & Information History Group of CILIP is probably the obvious starting point. CILIP members may join as one of their two free groups, or as an additional group for £10. For non-CILIP members, all special interest groups now cost £39. The Group's website includes a blog, calendar of events (including relevant events run by other organisations), current and past editions of its newsletter, links to other useful sources, and discussion forums. You do not have to be a member of the LIHG to register on the site to participate in discussions. The group runs events in London and regionally, holds an annual conference, and administers awards. Twitter @CILIP_LIHG

The Historic Libraries Forum is an independent organisation with an interest in historic libraries of all kinds. It acts as a watchdog for libraries under threat, and provides mutual support, advice and training for those working in historic libraries. Membership is free.

The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) provides a global network for those engaged in book history and related fields. It has a useful mailing list for research queries and for disseminating information about events and funding. Membership is $55. Its annual conference alternates between North America and Europe.

The Bibliographical Society (membership £33) promotes the study of the book and its history. It has a journal, runs meetings, and provides grants for research. Its journal the Library is available online in Cambridge as well as at the UL.

The Cambridge Bibliographical Society (membership £15) has a similar focus and holds meetings (many of which are at the UL), publishes a journal and occasional monographs. Back issues of its Transactions are available via JSTOR.

The Centre for Material Texts, based in the English Faculty, fosters research into the physical forms in which texts are embodied and circulated, and the ways in which those forms have interacted with literary cultures and historical contexts. The CMT has a mailing list if you would like to be kept up to date with relevant news and events.

The Institute of English Studies runs a monthly seminar series in the History of Libraries, jointly sponsored by the IES, the Institute of Historical Research and the Library & Information History Group. Seminars are usually (but not always) held at Senate House at 5.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month and are free for anyone to attend. Details at:


The Cambridge history of libraries in Britain and Ireland is a substantial three volume compendium of British library history, with chapters written by experts in the field. It's an excellent starting point for overviews of the history of different types of library. Those with access to Cambridge e-books can access it online.

Library and information history (formerly Library history) is the key UK journal in the field. Available in the UL at L876.c.141 (pigeonhole Y.67)

Information & Culture (formerly Libraries & the cultural record) is available online in Cambridge via Project MUSE.

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The first comprehensive, scholarly history of Trinity College Library Dublin, written by Peter Fox, is due to be published by C.U.P. in May this year. The book will cover the whole 400 years of the Library's development, including its buildings, funding, treasures, and the individuals who have influenced its history. It will also discuss legal deposit and draw parallels with the development of other libraries in Oxford and Cambridge.

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From Corpus Christi College, Chapter Book 8, p.435

28 Oct. 1904

Agreed that during the revision of Nasmith's Catalogue of Abp Parker's MSS by Dr M.R. James, the Librarian be allowed to remove books from the cases and to replace them without the attendance of a second Fellow or Scholar.

We thank Elisabeth Leedham-Green for sharing this little gem.

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Following Charlotte's departure, we have a vacancy on the CULIB editorial team, ideally for someone working in a Faculty or Departmental Library. CULIB is edited by a team of four. Kate Arhel is responsible for the online version, Mary Kattuman oversees printing and compiles the UL's People information, Kathryn McKee compiles the College People, and we have a vacancy for a Dep/Fac rep. The editors take it turn to be responsible for editing an issue (i.e. each does one every two years), though all contribute ideas for themes and articles and approach contributors. The workload is shared, and it's a great way to network with librarians in Cambridge and beyond. If you'd like to join the team please contact the editors at ucam–

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Chinese Brush Painting: How to Hold the Brush Over twenty years ago I went to a Chinese painting evening class and loved it. I have been doing East Asian painting ever since. Settling down to a blank sheet of paper and concentrating on the flow of ink from the brush onto the page is a wonderful antidote to the stresses of the day!

All you need for Chinese painting is the "four treasures of study": some Chinese brushes, an ink stick, an ink stone and some handmade oriental paper. These are the simple tools used for centuries by the Chinese "literati", or scholar painters, for calligraphy, poetry and painting. Before you start you need to grind the ink. This is a slow, almost meditative, process which helps to focus the mind. The ink stick is held upright and the tip is ground on the ink stone with a little water to create a thick black ink. This can then be diluted with water to create different shades, or "colours", of ink.

Chinese Brush Painting materialsUsually you begin the session with some calligraphy. Calligraphic strokes are the basis for brush painting and form a good training for handling the brush. It is important to sit up straight with both feet squarely on the ground to allow the "chi", or energy, to flow freely through your body onto the paper. The brush should be held upright with the shaft between the thumb and first and middle fingers. This allows you the freedom to paint a variety of lines by moving your fingers, wrist or even your whole arm. The thickness of the line is controlled by the amount of pressure you apply to the tip of the brush and you can also create broad strokes by using the side of the brush.

Japan Day (1)Chinese painting should incorporate "chi yun shen tung" or life, movement, spirit and resonance. Traditional painting falls into two styles, "gongbi", or meticulous style, and "xieyi", or spontaneous style. Both styles depend on a total mastery of line. The main categories of Chinese painting are all drawn from nature: flowers, birds, animals, figures and landscapes.

The composition of East Asian painting is quite different from Western painting. It is often asymmetrical, with the blank areas as important as the painted ones, and the elements of space, shape and movement are in delicate balance. Western devices of modelling using shadow and of a fixed perspective are not present. Instead lighter and darker tones are used to give depth to the painting and moving perspectives are used to give the feeling that you are taking a walk through the landscape. Often the subject seems to float on the page, or there is a pleasing movement through the composition, creating a fresh and dynamic look which is very appealing.

Japan Day (2)The techniques of East Asian painting can be challenging at first but are easy to pick up with a good teacher. Day and evening classes in East Asian painting are available in Cambridge. On Saturday 8 March a group of painters will be demonstrating some of the techniques during Japan Day at the Kaetsu Centre. Why not come along and try your hand at painting bamboo, orchid or pine? You might just find that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dominique Ruhlmann
Trinity Hall

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Helen Murphy has left Trinity Hall after four years as Deputy Librarian to take up her new role as Assistant Librarian at the English Faculty Library. Colleagues were sad to see her go but wish her well in her new job, and are delighted to welcome Tom Sykes as the new Deputy Librarian of the Jerwood Library.

Congratulations go to Julie Beaumont, Deputy Librarian at Clare College, on her marriage to Gary Hope at Christmas.

We wish Sarah Stamford, Librarian of Selwyn College, all the very best for her retirement from the end of the Lent Term 2014.

Meg Westbury took up the position of Lee Librarian at Wolfson College in November 2013.

Alys Butler has joined the staff at Homerton Library as part-time Library Assistant.

Rowland Thomas retired in June 2013, after 20 years at the Marshall Library. Leaving the UL and the Pendlebury Library of Music as their Deputy Head of Music, Clemens Gresser has followed in Rowland's big footsteps since December 2013.

At Divinity, Dr Darren Bevin left in November 2013 to take up the post of Librarian at the Jane Austen Library in Hampshire. His replacement as Senior Library Assistant at Divinity is Matthew Patmore, who has come from the post of Library Assistant at Architecture & History of Art.

Georgina Cronin left the Scott Polar Institute in January to take up the delightfully named post of User Experience Librarian at the Judge Business School.

At the UL, Reader Services welcomed Julie Allsop, and welcomed back Holly Ryder after the birth of her daughter Imogen. Congratulations to Lizz Edwards-Waller on the birth of her twins – Enid and Griffin, who arrived on the 2nd of October 2013. English Cataloguing welcomed Graham Levene as a part time library assistant while Katherine Sendall was promoted to Intermediate Cataloguer.

The Near and Middle Eastern department welcomed Asma Rezaei and Hagar Ben Zion as their new library assistants.

The Genizah Unit bid farewell to Daniel Davies and Nadia Vidro.

In the Operations Department Jack Kelly has been promoted to Operations Services Co-ordinator.

Melanie Turner is the new Accounts Clerk at the Library Office, a post created by the departure of Jeremy Lewis.

The Bindery welcomed Rebecca Goldie and Mary French as their new Book and Paper Conservators.

Digital Services welcomed Maarten Bressinck and bid farewell to Daniel Perry, Anne Clarke and Verity Allan. The Systems Librarian Ed Chamberlain left to take up a position at UEA, Norwich.

The UL also lost Emma Coonan, Research Skills & Development Librarian, to the UEA. She has taken up the post of Information Skills Librarian there.

Imaging Services bid farewell to Les Goodey, who left after thirty-three years of service. He was the Deputy Head of Photography and later, the Deputy Head of Imaging Services. He was Acting Head for a short while before Don Manning took up the post of Head of Imaging Services. Don retired recently after about six years of service at the UL. They also lost Virginia Apuzzo, Ruth Long, Nicola McDermott and Lynda Unchern, who between them have served the UL admirably for decades. Nanhua Feng after 21 years in the Chinese department decided to call it a day. We wish them all the very best in retirement.

The CULIB team would like to thank Charlotte Smith for all her hard work and enthusiasm over the past three years as she now steps down as editor.

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