CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

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

Issue 76, Lent 2015: Librarians and education



This issue looks at librarians and education. Many librarians find themselves undertaking teaching, both one-to-one and group sessions, giving informal and formal instruction, whether it be library inductions, information literacy skills sessions, tours and talks to visiting groups, or classes for schoolchildren. There are many options for acquiring the skills needed to do this effectively and several are described further here. The Cambridge Librarians-in-Training programme ran a teaching skills course last summer. Jo Harcus undertook a Level 3 Award in Education and Training. Emma Ettridge tells us about options available from the Higher Education Academy (the subject of a recent brown bag lunch).

Besides teaching face-to-face, librarians are also engaged in producing educational materials. Peter Monteith describes why and how King's College Archives have gone about producing an online resource to introduce GCSE and A level students to the use of archives. Suzanne Paul of the UL's Manuscripts Department and Orietta da Rold, English Fellow at St John's collaborated with colleagues at Stanford University to produce a free online course (MOOC) in manuscript studies. Suzanne explains what was involved.

This issue offers a wealth of practical ideas on how we can improve the education that we offer, but life outside the day job can be inspiring too. On being asked "What do you do in your spare time?", Richard Sellens tells us how his hobby landed him on national television.

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Increasingly, library and information professionals are becoming involved in teaching: whether that is teaching information literacy, research skills, or leading educational and outreach sessions with school and public groups visiting the library. Even a simple library induction session is, of course, a form of teaching, and requires library staff to have confidence in delivering information to our users clearly and effectively.

There are a few librarians with PGCEs, B.Eds, or other teaching qualifications, but there are also many others who have no formal training, but do a significant amount of teaching for their role. Within Cambridge, we have a great range of training and support opportunities, but there wasn't much focused on developing teaching skills. The Teaching Skills: Peer Support course, run over the summer of 2014, developed from an idea by Kirstie Preest, Librarian of Murray Edwards College, to fill that gap and provide some detailed teacher-training for LIS staff around Cambridge.

The planning team was formed of college and departmental librarians (and one communications officer): Kirstie Preest, Isla Kuhn (Medical Library), Catherine Reid (Lucy Cavendish College) and Ryan Cronin (St John's College). We also had assistance from guest speakers from other Cambridge libraries, ensuring a wide range of backgrounds, skills and teaching styles were represented. The course was to focus on how to teach and present ideas to an audience, as well as things like learning styles, handouts and feedback.

We all planned to give presentations on different topics, as we all had different skills to contribute, and we also managed to secure three guest speakers, all from other Cambridge Libraries. The course was envisaged to run for three sessions and also act as a pilot for future developments so as well as asking for feedback from participants, we made sure to evaluate our own teaching each day too. The culmination of all this training was for each participant to give a 'Nanoteach', a short 15-minute session to the rest of the group on a topic of their choice.

Unsure of how the course was going to be received, we advertised it on the various library mailing lists and made some posters to display, then we waited nervously. To great relief, a full 23 people quickly signed up, and went on to complete all three sessions. The course was all held at St John's, with many thanks to the catering crew for supplying us with a cornucopia of tea, coffee and biscuits.

The first day, we wanted to gauge participants' confidence in teaching, so that we could see if the course led to any measurable improvement. This was done using 'string theory': literally a long piece of string that people could put their names on to indicate their level of confidence and experience with teaching.

The rest of the day was spent looking at identifying who library users are and what we should teach them. Special guest speaker, Libby Tilly (English Faculty) linked this in to ANCIL and SCONUL information literacy ideas. We discussed the importance of learning styles in relation to how we teach, and how to ensure that there is something for everyone in our sessions (while remembering that our own preferred learning style can bias us in planning how to teach a session). One good exercise to help understand learning styles involved thinking about how you use a new phone: do you read the manual, ask a friend for help, dive right in and start pressing buttons? Different people learn in different ways, and so need to be taught in different ways too.

The importance of lesson planning came up as well, since there are few things worse than giving a taught session without any idea of what you want to say or do. Plans, as Catherine, reminded us, can also save time since you can re-use a standard lesson plan and just tweak it for a new group as required. Aims and objectives for planning, we learned, should be SMART: that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. All of these can be applied to the different teaching methods librarians might use in their daily work, from lectures and discussions to practical demonstrations.

The second day, based on feedback from the group, we assessed what types of teaching people were involved in, so we could try to tailor the rest of the course accordingly. Our 'teaching activity audit' allowed us to gain useful information about what Cambridge libraries are doing, which turned out to be a wide range of things from inductions and software demonstrations to research skills, referencing and subject-specific knowledge.

Ryan then led a session on the importance of handouts, as the 'lasting manifestation of your teaching', and part of the students' overall learning experience. Handouts can be referred to weeks or months after your taught session, so they need to stand on their own and be understandable. Please don't just print off your PowerPoint slides with no additional notes!

Design guru Edward Tufte's basic principles of design can be applied to handouts too: good design should be invisible, the content is the most important thing, and language should be kept plain. In the library world, we use a lot of acronyms: OPAC, RDA, LCSH etc. It can be easy to forget that non-librarians haven't a clue what those things mean.

The rest of the day looked at giving and receiving constructive feedback, as we really wanted to emphasise the 'peer-support' element of the course, and of teaching in general. Reflection and feedback from others is of course extremely valuable in developing our professional skills. Kirstie and Isla introduced reflective practices based around four questions: What went well? What went wrong? What could be improved? Why? In all cases, we wanted to emphasise constructive and specific feedback, such as "I thought x was good" or "x needed more explanation" rather than general "it was fine" sort of comments that don't give the recipient anything to build on.

The final day brought with it the moment every participant had been looking forward to and dreading in equal measureā€¦the Nanoteach. This was a short teaching session to be delivered to a group (we split into smaller groups so nobody had to address an entire room) on a topic of your choice. While some went for traditional library topics such as databases or referencing, others decided to go more left-field, with nanoteaches delivered on social activism, animal care and salsa dancing (with practical exercises)!

At the end, every participant was encouraged to do the string-exercise again to see if their confidence had changed as a result of the course. 20 out of 23 people said they felt more confident as a teacher after delivering their nanoteach. Each participant also received a certificate, that they could add to a portfolio or CV to demonstrate their training.

The anonymous feedback we received after the course was overwhelmingly positive, with participants saying they were "inspired" and "will definitely put the ideas into practice". One in particular said:

"I applied what I learnt delivering a course last September, and I was really happy to hear that attendees found the session clear and easy to follow".

Another participant wrote:

"Many thanks for my certificate. I did find the course quite useful, it was great to hear from a variety of people with different teaching styles. It was also great fun!"

We will be speaking about the course, and what we learned from designing and running it, at the LILAC conference 2015. The course was one of many professional development opportunities offered by grassroots projects like Librarians in Training at Cambridge, all of which are run by and for Cambridge library staff. They're free too!

Ryan Cronin (St John's College)
Isla Kuhn (Medical Library)
Kirstie Preest (Murray Edwards College)
Catherine Reid (Lucy Cavendish College)

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Last year I successfully completed a course at Cambridge Regional College (CRC) to gain the L3 Award in Education and Training. In my current role I work with the College Librarian to design and deliver information and research skills sessions to help users access the resources needed for their studies. But this was not the only reason I decided to undertake the course. There is a growing demand for teaching and training skills within our profession which is reflected in their inclusion in the new Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (CILIP, 2013) and job descriptions for academic librarian vacancies which increasingly ask for a teaching qualification.

Despite this, teaching and training skills are not currently taught on most LIS Masters courses and so in the absence of any formal teacher training we tend to teach in the way we've preferred to be taught ourselves. However, this may not suit the different learning styles of our users which means our teaching may not be as effective as it could be. Reading relevant books and journals, attending conferences and taking part in Librarian TeachMeets has helped me to collect examples of best practice and develop my presentation skills but I still felt I was lacking the pedagogical underpinning needed to become a better teacher. Having heard about the former PTLLs qualification at several CPD events, I decided to enrol on the new Level 3 Award course as it seemed to offer the basic teacher training that I'd been looking for.

Unlike the PTLLs qualification which you could achieve at Level 3 (roughly equivalent to an A-level) or Level 4 (equivalent to a certificate of higher education), this new course is only offered at Level 3. It won't give you qualified teacher status but is ideal for those new to teaching or wanting an introduction to what it involves. Courses are offered by various FE colleges and other training providers. They can be delivered in the classroom or by blended learning and can run over several weeks or just a few days. Fees vary but cost around £400.

The CRC course was classroom-based and ran for 12 weeks on Wednesday evenings. You don't need any previous teaching experience or to be in a teaching position to enrol. The lessons were very practical with an emphasis on group work although basic teaching theory was also covered in the lessons and in the accompanying textbook by Gravells (2013).

The content varies depending on the provider but the CRC course includes the following three units:

  1. Understanding roles and responsibilities in education and training: working professionally with others to support learners, keeping student records, understanding and complying with relevant legislation (e.g. health and safety, data protection, equality and diversity), learning how to promote and maintain a safe and secure learning environment
  2. Understanding and using inclusive teaching and learning approaches: planning, delivering and assessing a teaching session, using different teaching and learning methods to address visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning styles and different learning needs
  3. Understanding assessment: understanding the different types and purposes of assessment (e.g. diagnostic, formative and summative), the strengths and limitations of different assessment types and incorporating assessment for learning strategies into your teaching

Units one and three are each assessed by a 2,000 word essay. Unit two involves planning and delivering a 30-minute microteach to a group of fellow students which is peer, tutor and self-assessed. For me, the microteach was the most rewarding part of the course as it gives you an opportunity to be creative in your teaching in a safe and supportive environment. For my microteach I taught the group how to use Boolean operators using Pringles cans, a celebrity love triangle and Google's advanced search! Although there's a danger with peer assessment that classmates may be reluctant to be critical and that with self-assessment you may be overly critical of yourself, the objective feedback you receive from the tutor evens the balance.

I also found that learning about different learning styles has enabled me to move away from traditional presentations and to start using a wider range of multi-sensory teaching and learning methods to make sessions more interactive, fun and engaging. Learning how to use Bloom's Taxonomy to write SMART objectives and informal assessments to check that they've been met also helps me to evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching.

The emphasis on group work means that you learn a great deal from your fellow students. Those in my cohort had varying degrees of teaching experience and came from different educational and professional backgrounds including someone teaching art in a pupil referral unit, a former builder teaching bricklaying in a prison and a PR manager who plans to teach jewellery making in her spare time. This allowed a broader range of perspectives and experiences to be shared than you might get from a teaching skills programme catering specifically for LIS professionals.

Further details about the teacher training courses offered by CRC can be found at but if you have any questions about the Level 3 Award in Education and Training you are very welcome to email me at or tweet me @JoHarcus.


CILIP, 2013. My Professional Knowledge and Skills Base: Identify gaps and maximise opportunities along your career path [pdf]. London: CILIP. Available at: [Accessed: 21 February 2015].

Gravells, A., 2013. The Award in Education and Training. London: Sage.

Jo Harcus
Library and Information Services Officer Lucy Cavendish College

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How much teaching have you done lately? If you haven't given a formal session I would expect you would answer none and I think in many cases this would not be entirely accurate. Libraries offer one-to-one informal teaching all the time, showing somebody how to navigate the physical space or demonstrating how to use the online catalogue – to name just the easy ones. There will be other library staff, though, who would have done something a little more formal, such as spending half an hour with a student showing them how to use some referencing software, or giving a planned session to a group of clinicians about how to do a critical review.

Increasingly libraries across Cambridge are planning and delivering more teaching sessions than they once did. When I left Library school 5 years ago it never occurred to me that I would be in a role where I would be teaching, yet here I am with many others supporting the teaching and learning of our students and staff, and I do not have a formal teaching qualification. Which brings me to why I was sat in a seminar room at Engineering a few weeks ago. I was waiting to listen to Dr Meg Tait, Head of the Academic Practice Group at Personal and Professional Development talk about the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellowship. Meg is Cambridge's advocate for the HEA, and runs one of the few (and extremely popular) accredited HEA courses in the University – the Teaching Associate Programme (TAP) for early career academics. Meg was here to talk to a group who had come to the Brown Bag Lunch who wanted to hear what the HEA had to offer librarians.

The HEA is a publically funded (via the UK funding councils) body set up to enhance teaching and learning in higher education with the aim of improving the student experience. Through the use of the UK Professional Standards Framework UKPSF they accredit courses such as Meg's and in turn support individuals in using reflective practice to demonstrate that they have the skills and experience to be good (and great) teachers by conferring the HEA Fellowship to them.

The Fellowship consists of 4 layers:

  • Associate Fellow (AFHEA) for those who have a fairly circumscribed role or who are new to teaching and supporting learning;
  • Fellow (FHEA) for those with proven, continuous track records in HE teaching and might be looking to move into a more senior position;
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA) for those with a established, sustained track record in HE teaching and management and are seeking to progress into a leadership position;
  • Principal Fellow (PFHEA) for those with established academic career with substantial strategic responsibilities in HE working within the wider sector.

To apply for an individual fellowship you must use your experience and skills to show how they are applicable to the UKPSF which is divided into three areas of between 4 and 6 units. The first part 'Areas of Activity' deals with what you actually do, so asks you to talk about how you plan, teach, develop and support learning. The second is 'Core Knowledge' and looks more at the how, and asks about the knowledge and the theory that you use to underpin your teaching. And lastly, there is 'Professional Values' which is more about the why, focusing on the wider context of teaching and how you fit in to it. You have to prepare an Account of Professional Practice (APP) which you complete online that will cover the units you are required to address with a word count that increases the higher the fellowship. From Senior Fellow upwards you must also add case studies to your reflective commentary sections to demonstrate your organisation, leadership and/or management of specific aspects of learning and teaching provision. Your completed APP must be supplemented with statements from two referees, who are in a position to peer review your work and comment on how you teach or support learning. They must be in a position of experience and will need to become familiar with the UKPSF and your APP. There is also a cost involved, which if you are a member of the University of Cambridge does come with a reduction of around half, for Associate Fellows you pay £100 and Fellows pay £200. The good news is you only pay it once, there is not a yearly renewal and if you decide to upgrade your fellowship a few years later you only have to pay the difference in cost.

There is something of a drive amongst some UK universities to have an academic teaching staff that are not only qualified in their subject area but qualified to teach as well. That drive extends to non-academics too. Cambridge isn't approaching this in quite the same way: there is no declaration from up high that all teachers within the university need to have a qualification within a particular time frame. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't benefit from getting what we already do accredited officially. And as soon as I have the right amount of teaching under my belt I will be going for HEA Associate Fellow, to back up my teaching experience with something nationally recognisable and if I ever wish to move universities, there is a good chance that they may require me to have something like it anyway.

There are a number of people who went to the Brown Bag (and some not able to attend) who are hoping to apply for one of the fellowships. So if you decide this might be something you want to pursue it might be worth asking #camlibs on Twitter whether there is anyone out there who might want to meet up for a HEA fellowship inspirational drink, being a supportive bunch it makes sense to use the support that is out there.

Emma Etteridge
Information Services Librarian
Department of Engineering



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In recent years, there have been concerns that undergraduates are ill-prepared for archival research. Many students don't use archives until they start their dissertation or even until they are postgraduates.

Prior to students reaching higher education, most of the experience they have of archives seems to focus on a) the difference between primary and secondary sources, and b) the interpretation of specific documents or classes of records. While such approaches allow direct links to curricula, we wanted to place a greater emphasis on skills, rather than a chosen collection of records.

An A-level student visited the archives to see the papers of E.M. Forster. Once we explained how to use archives, he was the model reader. This provided further inspiration to teach more young people the skills required for them to visit an archive independently, as a reader, not least because it demonstrated what young people are capable of when motivated.

Online guides to using archives have been produced by the University of Nottingham and more recently the ArchivesHub. These are fantastic resources but are aimed at a slightly older audience. We felt that the best way to teach research skills to a younger audience might be to create a similar online resource for GCSE and A-level students, preparing them for later studies. This would also mean that those who don't enter higher education also have the opportunity to gain confidence in using archives.

Although we wanted to focus on skills, we knew that we would have to illustrate these in order keep students interested and ensure they didn't consider everything to be too abstract and irrelevant.

King's College holds the papers of Rupert Brooke. These provided us with the perfect opportunity to make our introduction to archives relevant to English Literature GCSE and A-level students, as well as History students. The War Poets and the First World War are staples of the curricula for these subjects in Key Stages 4 and 5.

We decided to call our project 'Introduction to Archives: Rupert Brooke Case Study', as the name, like the other elements of the project, puts skills first.

The project website will take the form of a series of sections. Initially we called these 'lessons' but then we realised this term had too many connotations and the sections wouldn't be of equal length. The first few sections will explain what archives are and how to use them. The later sections will include a host of documents on the subjects of 'Grantchester' (local history), 'The Soldier' (military history and propaganda) and 'The Myth' (biography and the subjectivity of research), with interpretation activities designed to encourage students to think about both Rupert Brooke and what makes a good researcher. There is enough flexibility in the design of the site and the activities to allow teachers to use it in class or for individual students to use it at home.

A key aspect of the skills-based approach is the necessity of looking beyond our own four walls. The interpretation activities include documents from various repositories, including the Manuscripts department of the Cambridge University Library, the Cambridgeshire Collection and the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. We wanted to illustrate that effective researchers look for sources in a variety of ways and don't often find everything in one place.

Initially, we hoped to draft the website ourselves and commission an educational consultant to advise and edit. We applied for external funding towards the cost of the consultancy, school visits, movable exhibition boards to be lent to schools, the website design and the use of social media. Our application was unsuccessful but this simply steered us in another direction. We gave greater consideration to the resources which were available in-house, particularly through working with other departments, and stripped the project back to its bare essentials. Our priority had always been the website, as it would be sustainable and reach a wider audience than we could do face-to-face in a college environment.

One of the casualties of the stripping-back was the social media aspect, which would have helped us to promote the project. I gave a talk about the project to the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts, which afforded the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. It was recommended that I contact My Learning. Their website hosts educational resources and although we wanted to host our resource on the King's College website, this led to a spin-off. We launched a small First World War Centenary resource on My Learning entitled 'Two 1914-1918 War Poets', focussing on the comparison of the Kingsmen and poets Rupert Brooke and Ferenc Békássy, in January 2015.

I started drafting pages for our website in late 2013, as this project would have to be run alongside our daily duties and we'd have to allow time to get feedback and to clear copyright on numerous items. I tried to draft the site in such a way that it could easily be turned into Powerpoint presentations. I also contacted teachers from local schools, offering a school visit to the first school to respond. I suggested dates, stated the age of students we were offering this to and sent a proposed schedule. By reducing the burden to the teachers, we managed to get some positive responses. A less decisive approach might have made it difficult to accommodate them, as Colleges are at the mercy of the academic calendar. A visit was arranged straight away.

This first visit was invaluable, as it gave me a greater insight into our target audience. I had planned the day in such a way that in the morning they had talks on archives, followed by an exhibition of the papers of Rupert Brooke, and then in the afternoon they had interpretation activities. This group of GCSE students were very polite and well-behaved but it was obvious that I had over-estimated their concentration span and occasionally they seemed distracted. In the afternoon they were split into groups and given packs of facsimiles and a few questions to consider. We helped them to read any documents which were written in almost illegible early-twentieth century handwriting but soon realised we'd need to provide transcriptions in the future, while encouraging them to use the original if they could.

For subsequent visits, we took a different approach. I sought more help from the School Liaison Officers. They hold 'residentials', which give students from link areas a chance to visit the College, stay overnight, and find out more about student life in Cambridge. They suggested offering our programme as a residential. They contacted teachers and asked them to nominate a few English and History students for the event. We invited guest speakers to share their own experiences as researchers, included more activities and gave greater opportunities for dialogue. We had some concerns about how a group which was formed of students from various schools would manage to work together during the interpretation activities and feedback but actually found that they were less easily distracted and were keen to engage in open and friendly debate. I took further inspiration and gained constructive feedback. I was careful not to allow this potentially unusually gifted and talented audience to skew the website though, as I want it to be accessible to all.

On 10 April, we hope to hold one last event. We will use the same programme as the residentials but offer it to nominated students from various local schools. In addition, as a result of feedback from our last event, we've decided to offer a limited number of those students a special reading room session the following day. To make this manageable, they will be asked to sign up for a set time period, with just 5 or 6 in the reading room at any one time. They will also be encouraged to look at the catalogues of selected collections of personal papers in advance and select a limit number of items.

The website will be launched on 23 April, the centenary of Rupert Brooke's death. I've used what I've learnt from our events to amend my draft pages and am currently preparing additional pages such as a glossary and teachers' notes. I'm liaising with the Webmaster, who is developing the site. Wireframes created using the Moqups website have allowed us to plan and discuss the overall appearance of the site. His knowledge of online user expectations and the multiplicity of browsers and their pitfalls is invaluable, as is his ability to comment on the site from the perspective of a non-archivist.

We hope that this resource will engage more young people and give them the confidence to visit an archive as a reader. We're also glad that this has led to greater co-ordination of our own goals with those of other departments within the College and led to closer working relationships within the College.

Peter Monteith
Assistant Archivist
King's College

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Digging Deeper is an online course, led by Professor Elaine Treharne, the Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities at Stanford University, in collaboration with Dr Ben Albritton, formerly a colleague of mine on the Parker on the Web project at Corpus and now Digital Manuscripts Project Manager at Stanford, Dr Orietta Da Rold, newly appointed to the Faculty of English and St John's College, and me. The course aims to introduce the general public to the rich manuscript culture of the medieval period, and is funded by Stanford University.

All of us have plenty of experience of and enthusiasm for using manuscripts in teaching and are well aware of what a difference it can make to students to study medieval manuscripts as unique physical three-dimensional objects. The injection of millions of manuscript images onto the web has created a real interest in the medieval book. We wanted to offer some open access training to allow web users to understand a little bit more about what medieval book culture is and how it can help to open up new windows onto the middle ages. We also know how privileged students in Cambridge are to have access to such a wealth of libraries and special collections. Students elsewhere often study medieval literature or history without seeing a manuscript close up. And of course, interest in manuscripts isn't confined to those studying relevant subjects – and even the most generous library's access policies don't often allow members of the public to look at manuscripts outside glass cases. But would studying manuscripts on-screen be of interest? Could we give participants an insight into what manuscript scholars do and what it's like to consult a manuscript in the reading room?

Filming took place in Cambridge in the summer of 2014. As well as the four presenters, the team included a course producer, Colin Reeves-Fortney, and a project manager, Dr Kenneth Ligda. Approval was granted for a week's filming in the UL. Along with Colin and Kenny came a vast amount of professional filming equipment which transformed the Keynes Room into a studio. Disaster almost struck on the first morning when our pieces to camera were disturbed by the sound of workmen drilling on the roof outside. Being in the room next to the Librarian's Office was a distinct advantage in making the noise go away!

We filmed intensively for eight hours a day – while one or two of us were being filmed, the others were preparing what to say next. Our only interludes were a trip to the Wren to interview Sandy Paul and an interview with UL conservators Jim Bloxam and Shaun Thompson. About thirty manuscripts from the UL collections were filmed or photographed. At times the whole process became a blur of chainlines and manicules and forked ascenders; Colin the Camera was immensely patient as we fluffed our lines over and over, while Kenny's array of spreadsheets kept track of the hours of material we generated.

Filming in the Green Library, Stanford Filming in the Green Library, StanfordIn the autumn I spent a week in Stanford filming additional sequences in the Special Collections Department in the Green Library. Enormous relief when the filming 'wrapped' quickly dissipated when we realised how much more there was to do to put the course together. It was not just a case of editing the videos and uploading them to the course platform, OpenEdX, there were also graphics and animations to be designed and incorporated, plus self-test quizzes and practical exercises to be created. The Online Learning division at Stanford has plenty of experience of this – though mostly gained working with science and technology professors – and we were able to call on designers and online learning specialists.

We had enough material filmed for two six-week courses – the first an introduction to the making of manuscripts and the second, a more detailed look at how to interpret the evidence that one finds when looking at manuscripts. The first course was launched on 22 January with much trepidation on our part. Publicity had gone out to everyone who'd previously taken a Stanford online course – over a million of them. Would anyone who'd taken 'Databases 101' or 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' really want to learn about manuscripts? Perhaps even more effective in spreading the word to likely participants were Facebook, Twitter and simple word of mouth.

Screenshot from the Digging Deeper course, featuring Suzanne PaulThe course was published one week at a time, each focusing on a different subject from 'materials' to 'scribal practice'. Every week also included a practical palaeography transcription exercise moving from Caroline minuscule to Gothic textura. Judging from the comments in the course discussion forum, this seemed to be a particularly popular element – though there were some howls of frustration over tricky abbreviations or long-forgotten Latin. Now that so many medieval manuscripts have been digitised, the question is regularly asked, 'What next?'. This course is one answer, demonstrating how manuscript images can be incorporated into online teaching resources. In addition, one of the aims of the course was to give some guidance and encouragement to people in finding and working with digital manuscripts; one exercise asked participants to visit and assess digital repositories.

It's difficult to assess the success of the course yet as it only finished on 6 March. However, more than four thousand people signed up from over 100 countries. We had learners as young as nine years old taking the course with their families and generally the feedback on the forums and in person(!) has been very positive. I particularly appreciated how learners shared new information and perspectives with us and other participants. As is always the case with online learning, the number of people who actually completed every single exercise is much smaller than the number who signed up.

From my point of view, it's been an incredibly successful learning experience. It was a great opportunity for me to 'dig deeper' into the UL's medieval manuscripts collection and present it to a much wider audience than can possibly visit the reading room. Collaborating with a team of professionals from so many different disciplines was also really rewarding – and lots of fun. The second course, Digging Deeper: The Form and Function of Manuscripts, runs from 21 April to 6 June. If you're interested, do sign up and have a look (no need to have done the first one). And I would love to hear feedback or ideas from anyone for future online endeavours.

Suzanne Paul
Medieval Manuscripts Specialist
Cambridge University Library

Images reproduced by kind permission of Suzanne Paul

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The Library Team at Christ's are pleased to announce the availability of their new exhibition "Betwixt Truth and Truth": Debating Science and Religion at Christ's College, Cambridge, which will run until 29 May 2015. Further information is available at The exhibition is open to the public without appointment on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons during Lent Term, and we would be delighted to receive visitors.

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We are very sad to report that Steve Hills and Ray Scrivens passed away last year. Both were integral to the UL for many decades, and were deeply engaged in building up impressive collections for the UL. They are hugely missed.

Steve Hills served the UL for four decades having joined us after a double first from Cambridge. He went to library school in Sheffield, and happily for us, returned to the UL. It was here that he met his future wife, Helen. He was Deputy Head of the Cataloguing Division and later Head of English Cataloguing and Cataloguing Policy. He painstakingly built up the library's impressive collection of English and American literature. He trained generations of UL staff, and staff from other Cambridge libraries, in Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and Library of Congress Subject Headings. Steve maintained the local classification scheme, and always ensured that others benefitted from his professional expertise. In an obituary in CILIP Update, Hugh Taylor recalled how Steve's analytical mind coupled with his profound knowledge of cataloguing rules led everyone who had cataloguing problems to turn to him. Steve was deeply committed to the UL and its rightful place as one of the great libraries. Steve had many deep interests and strengths. He was a great music lover and had a marvellous collection of music. His witty speeches will be much missed in the UL. Hundreds mourned his passing at his funeral. He leaves behind his wife Helen and their two children Jim and Elinor, and countless colleagues and friends whose lives he has enriched.

Ray Scrivens first joined the UL in 1969, and served the UL for the next 40 years, bar breaks for VSO in Kenya and library school in Sheffield. It was at the UL that he met Nikki, whom he married in 1977. The vast majority of Ray's career was spent in the field of Slavic bibliography, first as assistant to Piers Tyrrell, the UL's first Slavonic Specialist, and then as his successor following Piers' retirement in 1982. Ray made huge contributions not only to the UL's collections but also to the wider Slavonic library community, and continued to do so after his own retirement from the UL in 2009. His dedication to his profession was as characteristic as the great kindness and lovely sense of humour which always accompanied it. He was a keen squash player and gave a huge amount of his time to coaching young talent at the Comberton Squash Club. In deep appreciation, they held a memorial tournament in his name. At Ray's funeral, hundreds of friends and colleagues from all parts of Ray's life joined Nikki and their daughters Laura and Joanna to remember him.

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'What do you do in your spare time?' It's the question that would cause even the most stolid person to desperately rack his brain for an arguably interesting hobby, situated somewhere between the simple and often truthful 'watching TV' to the impressive, blatant lie of 'playing chess with the underprivileged of inner-city Norwich'. Such a question causes the listener to vividly recall the sheer panic faced as a student in his French oral exam, where the only valid response would be 'J'aime aller au cinéma', regardless of the frequency of his visits to the picturehouse. A question so unashamedly bold that it can only be answered with a stumbling prologue clarifying that the speaker is not nearly as interesting a person as the questioner may have been led to believe and ending with an apology for all of the time wasted.

Then again, I've always been an inwardly dramatic person.

Indeed, this is far from a hindrance in the world of choral singing, one in which I've been involved for many years, from my first cherubic warbles in the primary school hymn choir to my most recent venture of competing in the National Choir of the Year Competition 2014 with Northern Spirit Singers, a relatively small chamber choir comprising of university students and young professionals from Durham and the surrounding area. The choir had previously entered the competition and reached the finals in 2008 and so we decided it was time for another go!

Rather confusingly, our journey started with the regional auditions at the Warwick Arts Centre (the original North-Eastern audition had been cancelled) on Saturday 10th May, which meant an early morning coach ride, the perfect place for last minute rehearsals. We were joined by 20 other choirs, all of whom were visibly excited to be there and put on a great performance. Of the choirs competing that day, three, including us, ended up going through to the next round, which proved to be a benefit in that we knew what competition we would be facing as well as having formed a bond of camaraderie with the singers who'd been through exactly the same experience as us so far. We returned to Durham in a haze of merriment, though I'm sure in the back of our minds we already knew of the hard work we'd face in the coming months.

Northern Spirit SingersThe second round, the Category Finals, wasn't until Sunday 19th October, which meant we had plenty of time to fret about exams and enjoy a (relatively) well-earned summer holiday. Unfortunately for us, Durham University term times, and therefore our rehearsals, didn't start until the beginning of October. Additionally, the timing meant that some of us, myself included, had in fact left the city for pastures new (or flatter if you really want to put Durham and Cambridge into direct comparison) and therefore we were faced with an intensive weekend of rehearsing the week before the finals. Having been sent my music a few weeks before and diligently practised it to the semi-quaver (or, having looked at it upon arrival and desperately crammed it on the train journey up – you may choose what to believe) it was a joyous prospect to return to my old city, especially knowing that I had a full weekend of singing to ease my vocals back into action.

Little did I know that a whole summer of virtually no singing had left them rustier than a sailor's compass and so I spent most of the weekend, as we singers call it, 'marking' the notes in preparation for the big day. Nevertheless, I had a great time and couldn't wait for the following Sunday. This time we were visiting London, which meant a speedy 50-minute train journey for me and an arduous 6-hour coach journey for the Durham-ites (only made worse by the fact that they faced the same journey twice in one day); voyage inequality aside, we all arrived in high spirits and prepared ourselves for the Royal Festival Hall. The evening was being recorded for BBC Radio 3's The Choir, a daunting prospect in itself that meant we were sound-checked, which isn't quite as fun as it sounds but something I can at least put on my CV. As our turn came up, I couldn't tell you what I was feeling but it was likely a cocktail of nerves, excitement and adrenaline that was shared across the choir. As it turns out, it was the right cocktail and we left the hall as Adult Choir of the Year with a place in the Grand Final!

By now, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this story has the essence of a fairy tale; the feisty underdogs exceeding expectations to fly to victory. Unfortunately, the ending isn't quite so perfect but I can honestly say, as can the majority of the choir, that as we entered Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on Sunday 7th December we were simply happy to have made it this far. To win wasn't our priority now, it was to simply enjoy ourselves and show what we had to offer. After another intense round of rehearsals, we'd been rewarded with singing in a TV broadcast, which was just as exciting a prospect as winning. It also offered us a backstage look at what it takes to film a programme, which is certainly not as smooth an operation as you'd think. The many cutaways and links must be timed meticulously, balances must be checked, audience reactions must be controlled and lighting has to be on point at all times. Despite not winning, I feel that we gave the best performance we could offer and one that made us proud of what we'd achieved. After a celebratory cluster at the end of the evening we returned home, already looking forward to our next singing venture.

So, what do you do in your spare time?

Richard Sellens
Graduate Trainee
St John's College

Image reproduced by kind permission of Richard Sellens

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We congratulate CULIB co-editor, Kate Arhel and family on the birth of Joseph Peter Arhel, who arrived on 7 December weighing 6lb 14oz.

Gill Cannell has retired as Sub-Librarian at the Parker Library, Corpus Christi after over 30 years, in which she has overseen major changes (computerisation, digitisation, and the conversion of the Reading Room and Vault). In retirement, Gill has already started volunteering at the archives at Woburn Abbey, where she is making order from chaos. We wish her a happy retirement. Steven Archer has now become Curator and Digitial Projects Librarian and has been joined by a new full-time Assistant Librarian, Beth Dumas, formerly from the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh.

Edward Cheese of the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium has moved to the Fitzwilliam Museum. Bridget Warrington has taken over his role managing the conservation workshop. Fran¸oise Richard starts as their new conservator on 2 March.

At the start of November 2014 Dr Iman Javadi took up the post of 'Munby Project Cataloguer' at King's College for eleven months on a fixed-term project to work on online cataloguing of the John Maynard Keynes Collection of rare books.

At Churchill, Manuel del Campo has been appointed Project Cataloguer with particular responsibility for upgrading Voyager records.

Congratulations to Tom Sykes, Deputy Librarian at the Jerwood Library, Trinity Hall, on achieving his Postgraduate Diploma in Library and Information Management from Northumbria University.

Several Cambridge library staff have been busy writing lately. On the professional front, Colin Higgins, Librarian at St Catharine's College, has just had Cataloguing and managing film collections using MARC21 and RDA published by the American Library Association ( The library treasures of St John's College, Cambridge, edited by Mark Nicholls and Kathryn McKee has been published by Third Millennium. Copies are available from St John's Library. Aside from the library world, Sarah Stamford, formerly librarian at Selwyn College, has just published an edited version of her 1971 diary 1971 : the secret diary of a BBC secretary. Details are available at A selection of work by poets Adam Crothers and Rebecca Watts (both of St John's Library) will appear in Carcanet's New poetries VI anthology, to be published in May

In the Faculties and Departments Dan Crane has joined the Department of Engineering library as Research Support Librarian and is looking forward to working with the Engineering team and developing this exciting new role. Dan was previously working at Imperial College on the UK Research Reserve project.

Following a departmental reorganisation at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Heather Lane has moved to the post of Keeper of The Polar Museum. Jeremy Wong is currently Acting Librarian. Rebecca Stancombe has also moved from her post as Library Assistant to become General Office Administrative Assistant.

Architecture and Art's Library Assistant Veronica Phillips left in December to move to a job as Senior Library Assistant at the Medical Library. Her former job-share partner, Abigail Rose Sarony, has now been made full-time Library Assistant.

The Whipple Library warmly welcomes Clare Matthews who is with them as Library Assistant until the end of 2015, covering for Dawn Moutrey's maternity leave. Clare joins the Whipple from KCL, where she worked part-time for KCL Library Services alongside studying for an MA in Classical Archaeology. Many congratulations meanwhile to Dawn and her husband Simon on the birth of Jax Kingham on 20 January 2015, weighing an impressive 9lb 11oz. Best wishes from us all.

At the University Library, the Reader Services Department welcomed Claire Sewell as their Deputy Team Leader.

Jade Notley left the Legal Deposit department after 13 years in the UL, to study history at Bangor University. Megan Green has filled her post.

Materials Processing welcomed back Yanning Rao after maternity leave. Jasmina Makljenovic, who had been filling the post, has now left to concentrate on her Masters dissertation.

The Music department bid farewell to Diana Wood who had been seconded there till the end of 2014. They welcomed Kate Crane as temporary library assistant.

Andrew Alexander rejoined the Map Department after an 8 month secondment to the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. While at CCI he had developed plans for a new library due to open at the end of 2015 in the Conservation Campus. Agnieszka Kurzeja who had been filling his post, has moved to Collection Management.

Congratulations to Hannah Haines on the birth of her son Wilfred Samuel Haines on the 5th December, and to Yanning Rao on the birth of her son Edward Alexander Rao.

The Bindery welcomed Fay Humphreys as their new Book and Paper Conservator. Lucy Cheng is now the Exhibitions Conservator and Loan Registrar.

Zvi Stampfer has joined the Genizah Research Unit as the Bonita Trust Genizah Research Associate. Special Collections bid farewell to Chip Coakley.

In Operations Francesca Harper has taken on the role of Communication and Events Co-ordinator.

Digital Services bid farewell to Tony Stevenson, Tim De Groote, Stephanie Saunders, Nicolaas Matthijs and Simon Gaeremynck.

Mark Cox has joined the Digital Content Unit as Digitisation Technician, and Scott Maloney as Digitisation Assistant.

Lei Zhang has joined the Digital Library Program as Software Developer. Henry Blackburn is now Senior Software Developer.

Laura Greenfield is the new Associate Director of Fundraising. Laura brings with her over a decade of fundraising experience, and will be involved with fundraising for the UL and its affiliated libraries.

Sally Barker is the new LMS Programme Manager who will be managing the replacement of Cambridge's current library management system. Jennifer Digby is the LMS Project Co-ordinator.

Dr Danny Kingsley is joining the UL as the Head of Scholarly Communication. She will be responsible for establishing the Library's Scholarly Communication Office, and will work with the Research Office and the wider academic community to address the significant changes currently underway in scholarly communication. The office will support Open Access, Open Data, Open Science, Research Data Management, IPR and copyright and bibliometrics among other initiatives. Danny has been involved in the Open Access debate for a number of years and was the Executive Officer of the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG).

Boris Jardine is the new Munby Fellow. After completing his PhD in History of Science he worked as a curator in the Science Museum in London. His research interests include science and politics in interwar Britain, and the craft, trade and use of scientific instruments.

The Medical library welcomed Veronica Phillips. Before joining the Medical Library she had been working in three Faculty libraries simultaneously! Together with Eleanor Barker she will be expanding the reach of information skills teaching, and reinvigorating the social media profile of the library.

We bid farewell to Peter Brightwell, who has now moved to Munro Building Services.

Bill Noblett has retired after more than 32 years as head of Official Publications. He first came to the UL as a graduate trainee, and after library school returned to the UL. After a year in the Official Publications Department he joined the then Scientific Periodicals Library, and then returned to OP. Happily for us, he plans to continue his involvement as a volunteer, working on a collection in the Manuscripts Department.

Peter Morgan joined the Periodicals Department in the University Library in 1973. In 1975 when the Medical Library was looking out for a librarian to organise their library, Peter stepped in, and has taken the library from strength to strength since. Peter took over the management of the University's two main science libraries as well as the Medical Library. He directed the project that created and established the University's institutional repository, and grew to be the Library's expert on Open Access. More recently he led a project on open bibliographic data and chemistry research data. He has been a long-time member and supporter of EAHL and became the President in 2013 and continues to contribute to the group. We wish him well in his retirement which he plans to fill with bird watching, painting and travel.

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