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Readers' Newsletter

Number 1 (October 1995)



Welcome to this first number of the University Library's Readers' Newsletter, which we aim to publish about once a term. It will be available in all parts of the Library, including the dependent libraries and will also be circulated to members of the Friends of the Library.

The University Library's international renown is multi-faceted, based on its extraordinarily rich collections of both manuscript and printed materials, the dedication and helpfulness of its staff and its huge open-access collections (possibly the largest in Europe), not to mention its cheese scones! Through the medium of this Newsletter, we plan to inform interested readers and friends about new developments, major acquisitions and improvements to services.

As a new Librarian coming back to Cambridge last October after fifteen years away I had an unparalleled opportunity to look afresh at a library that I was familiar with. As a result, and with the hard work of a great many members of staff, a number of changes to our service to readers are being introduced this term. Perhaps the most significant is self-service photocopying, a feature common in most libraries for many years but, for complex reasons, only relatively recently introduced into the legal deposit libraries. By means of a new system of direction signs, to be introduced over the next couple of years, and a new Readers' Handbook, we hope to make the Library easier to use. The new Handbook sheets are now available, and thanks to the generous sponsorship of Cambridge University Press, we are able to offer readers a special binder for these sheets at a nominal price of 50p. This Newsletter is also punched to fit the binder, for those of you who wish to keep these publications together. Other changes that you will notice are the conversion of the Catalogue Room annexe into an IT Resources area, where CD-ROM services, datasets, etc. can be consulted, and a revised arrangement for the Pre-1978 Catalogue which will, we hope, make it easier to consult.

The Medical Library, Scientific Periodicals Library and Squire Law Library are also part of the University Library System, and the Newsletter will contain information about developments in these libraries too, the most important recent one being the move of the Squire Law Library into the magnificent new Law Faculty Building on West Road.

This first issue of the Newsletter is, in the nature of things, somewhat experimental, and we welcome any comments or suggestions about the contents or the presentation. Please send them either to me or to the Editor, Ray Scrivens (e-mail rs@ula.cam.ac.uk).

Peter Fox

Building developments at the University Library

The University has received a donation of £3 million from Mr Tadao Aoi, owner of the Marui chain of department stores in Japan. This donation, to improve facilities for users of East Asian material in the University Library, will allow us to create a new reading room and provide a major increase in stack space. Attached to the reading room will be offices for the Library's specialists in Japanese and Chinese and the new stack will allow collections which are currently dispersed to be brought together again. The extension, to be known as the Aoi Pavilion, will be attached to the west end of the Anderson Room and will be similar in concept, and provide architectural balance for the Rotherham Building, opened in 1994. Work is expected to begin in the spring of 1996 and take approximately eighteen months to complete. The first floor will be devoted to a reading room and offices, whilst the ground floor and basement will provide storage. For the first time, scholars will also have full access to the important Meiji microfilm collections, which contains 160,000 volumes spanning 1868-1912.

Approval has also been given for the building of a new basement bookstack to the west of the Library. This will be the first stage of a major extension which is planned, eventually, to extend to the full height of the building. We hope, also, to be able to create a new exhibition centre, off the Entrance Hall, and to remodel the Entrance Hall itself, with a new Admissions Office, to make the whole area more attractive and efficient.

If all goes according to plan, building work should start early in 1996, with a completion date of late 1997.

Self-service photocopying facilities

Self-service photocopying is being installed in the University Library during October: four photocopiers will be available in a new Photocopying Room situated at the end of South Wing 1 corridor, and a further two for copying unbound periodicals will be located behind the Periodicals enquiry desk in the West Room. When you are making copies please take particular care not to damage any of the Library's stock.

All of these photocopiers are controlled by rechargeable cards, which will be available from a dispenser in the Photocopying Room. The cards can be recharged using either coins or banknotes to a maximum value of £10. Charges for self-service photocopying will be 7p for A4 and 10p for A3 - lower than the present charges for operator service copying, which will remain unchanged.

Within the next few months a new-style reader's ticket will be introduced which will also carry a rechargeable magnetic strip for photocopying, thereby eliminating the need to carry two separate cards.

The operator service has been retained for those who do not wish to undertake their own copying or who have special requirements such as overhead projector transparencies or copying onto special papers. All copying from material belonging to restricted classes, i.e. maps, official publications, and other special collections which require authorisation before being photocopied, will still be undertaken by the operator service. The finished copies should be collected and paid for in the old Photocopying Room, which can be reached by going down the stairs outside the Rare Books Room, except in the case of copies ordered in the Manuscripts and Rare Books Room, which should be collected from those rooms.

The University reminds all users of self-service photocopiers (as well as those making use of the operator service) that they must comply with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, details of which are posted beside each machine.

The Squire Law Library

The new Law Faculty building, which houses the Squire Law Library, is at the centre of the Sidgwick Site, adjacent to the History Faculty. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, the building promises to be one of the most striking and innovative university buildings in the 1990s. The Law Faculty will now have a new focus since the Squire Law Library, five new auditoria, seminar rooms, common rooms, and administrative offices will be in one building close to the Institute of Criminology, the principal Arts Faculty buildings and the University Library, of which the Squire is a dependent library. The building is four storeys high with another two floors below ground level and is distinctive in the use of durable modern materials, in particular natural stone.

Natural light is used to dramatic effect, especially in the library which occupies the top three floors, where benefit is taken of the fully glazed north facing elevation. Working areas are designed to have views out over the gardens.

The new Squire Law Library has space for approximately a quarter of a million volumes.

In Michaelmas Term 1995, copies of the programs for software casebooks developed by the Law Consortium of the University of Warwick will be sent to all law schools in the UK. The material will initially cover six subjects and work on a further six subjects is in hand. The disc will be available for general use in the Squire. The hardware is quite simple and the program is user friendly.

Most of the work on the Ethernet connection from the Squire to the main University Library building has already been completed and the University Computing Service is providing guidance on the development of computing facilities within the building. We start from a low base in terms of existing machines, though we expect to grow quickly. A number of publicly-available machines will be available for word-processing and for accessing the Internet. World Wide Web home pages will be established for both the Squire and Faculty as soon as resources permit. In addition, an IP connection for library users with their own laptops is under investigation. As soon as the connection to the main University Library is completed, the networking of CD-ROMs and the provision of online access to databases and datasets will develop rapidly and the infrastructure will be in place to allow the Squire to offer a high-quality service to its users, regardless of whether they need traditional printed materials or electronic resources.

IT Developments in Cambridge University Library


Many television programmes, and nearly every newspaper, talk about the explosion of information available on computer networks. It is no exaggeration to say that we are experiencing a revolution in the way information is accessed and transported around the globe. This revolution is just as profound as the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century and will affect our lives in very many ways. In terms of teaching and academic research, the potential of these new networked services is enormous. It is this challenge that Cambridge University Library is now addressing. In a University-wide IT Workshop in March 1995, the University Librarian outlined his vision and spoke of his commitment to the development of IT-based information services' from Cambridge University Library. In this article, I hope to outline the major developments by which the Library hopes to meet that vision in the short term.

EMICS mail server

The University Library's Automation Office has set up an e-mail interface to its online circulation system for the issue and return of books. Cambridge University Library is the only legal deposit library in the United Kingdom which allows readers to borrow books. Users can send a message to the e-mail address emics@ula.cam.ac.uk with the single word HELP as the subject or text of the message. The full Help file is then mailed automatically by EMICS to the user. The Help file is freely available, but readers must then register with the server at an e-mail address before any further facilities can be used. The EMICS mail server went live in March 1995 and, to date, over 500 users have registered to use the services which EMICS has to offer. These can be described as follows:

The ability to have warnings of books about to fall overdue is a new service, which has not previously been available from the University Library.

CD-ROMs and Datasets

Cambridge University Library has set up a CD-ROM server and is making available 23 bibliographic CD-ROM titles (as of 1 September 1995) to users in the Library. CD-ROM is an ideal format in which to make available reference material and the full text of books and journals. Results can be downloaded onto floppy disc and taken away for later printing or for incorporation into a personal database.

One of the most popular titles on the server is the MLA Bibliography. The MLA International Bibliography database contains citations to critical documents on literature, language, linguistics and folklore.

Two of the most ambitious CDs, in terms of coverage, are from the Cambridge firm Chadwyck-Healey. These are the Patrologia Latina and the English Poetry databases. The English Poetry database contains the full text of significant English poetry from A.D. 600 to 1900, being based on the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. The Patrologia Latina database represents the electronic text of John Paul Migne's Patrologia Latina, the full text of the writings of the Latin Church Fathers. The printed version of the Patrologia stands in the University Library Reading Room at R144.2. It is a nineteenth century publication and very difficult to use. The Patrologia Latina CD, however, enables readers to undertake the kind of keyword searching that would not be possible in the printed edition without reading the whole set of volumes - all 226 of them! Do you want to know the meaning of justitia (righteousness) in the thought of Martin Luther by reference to the writings of the Early Church Fathers? Then it is to the CD version of the Patrologia that you should turn. Potentially, use of the CD could revolutionise research in patristic studies.

Surfing the World Wide Web (WWW)

Throughout 1995, Cambridge University Library has devoted considerable resources to the study and use of WWW technology. WWW is an invisible web of information servers which span the globe. WWW is rapidly establishing itself in the academic community as a means by which information can be made available to all interested parties on the Internet, the world-wide network of networks. The results of the University Library's work in this area will be seen in Michaelmas Term when a series of web pages will be made available on the University's central WWW server (URL: http://www.cam.ac.uk/Libraries/). This is a significant development, replacing the information which the University Library has hitherto made available as part of the central University gopher server. These new web pages will form the principal electronic gateway to information about the Library's stock and services, both for users in Cambridge and further afield in the United Kingdom and beyond. At the time of writing (1 September 1995) the date of release for the Library's web pages is imminent. The principal categories of information to be made available are:

  1. Cambridge University Library - Services and Facilities
  2. Cambridge University Library - Gateway Services
  3. News of current developments
  4. Faculty, Departmental, College and Other Libraries in the University of Cambridge
Section 1 includes the electronic text of the new Readers' Handbook, and a Virtual Tour of the University Library building. Section 2 provides a central gateway to bibliographic services available on the Internet, including the BIDS datasets and the OCLC FirstSearch suite of databases, access to which is funded by the University Library for all members of the University. Section 3 comprises an online Bulletin Board for new services and developments in the University Library. The final section consists of an electronic overview of over 100 libraries in Cambridge. The launch of Cambridge University Library's web pages therefore represents a significant development in the availability of electronic information in Cambridge.

The future

The one certain thing about Information Technology is that it is constantly developing! Further developments and enhancements to our IT Services are planned in the coming months. News of these developments will be announced in the pages of this Newsletter. If you have any comments or questions about IT Services from Cambridge University Library, please e-mail library@ula.cam.ac.uk.

Paul Ayris
Head of IT Services

HEFCE funds humanities collections

As part of the non-formula funding for specialised research collections in the humanities, the University Library has been allocated nearly £1.75 million over five years by the Higher Education Funding Council (England). The largest grant is for cataloguing and preservation work on the Royal Commonwealth Society Library and the related Rosenthal Africana Collection. The catalogues of some of the Near Eastern collections, principally those in Arabic and Indic script, will be converted to machine-readable form. The Taylor-Schechter Unit has received funds to continue work on its world-famous collection of Judaeo-Arabic manuscripts. Cataloguing and preservation of a number of manuscript collections are to be funded: Darwin papers; English legal manuscripts; Stokes, Kelvin and Clerk Maxwell papers; Mayo and Templewood papers; music manuscripts in the University Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum; Gerhardie papers; Buxton papers; the Exhibita Files from the Vice-Chancellor's court; as well as the Michaelides collection of papyrus fragments.

Funds have been provided to add to the online catalogue records for two of the major microfiche sets, German Baroque literature and Early American Imprints. The project for the creation of Japanese character records is also to be supported.

New staff

Tony Harper, the new Head of Reader Services at the University Library, began his career with Surrey County Library. After working briefly as a children's librarian he spent the next nine years in medical libraries, making good use of his university training in biochemistry and bacteriology. He subsequently worked at Oxford Polytechnic as Science Librarian for four years before moving to Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England) to gain more management experience.

Tony writes of his new post at Cambridge: "The report of the Library's Working Party on Reader Services struck me as brutally honest in describing some of the problems facing a large and complex organisation during a time of rapid technological change. However, acknowledging that a problem exists is the major step towards solving it, and I believe that as I learn more of what the needs of the readers are we will be able to satisfy more of them, more often".

The Friends of Cambridge University Library

The Friends of Cambridge University Library is a society founded to foster contacts between the Library and those interested in its collections, its history, its current activities, and its future development. The Friends' principal aims are to raise funds for the purchase and conservation of significant additions to the Library's collections, and to assist the Library to acquire such items by gift or bequest.

Besides the satisfaction of contributing to the Library's collections, Friends receive several important benefits in return for their subscriptions. A programme of meetings, outings, visits to Library departments and talks on varied topics runs throughout the year, and members are most welcome to attend regular, exclusive, private views of new Library exhibitions. The Bulletin of the Friends, containing articles and notes about both Library and Society, is distributed regularly to members, who also receive copies of the Library Syndicate's annual report to the University. Most Library publications are available to individual Friends at a discount, and no fee for the issue of a Reader's Ticket is payable by Friends who qualify in the normal way for admission.

For a membership application form and any further details please contact the Honorary Secretary, Mark Nicholls (telephone: 333147; e-mail: mn@ula.cam.ac.uk).

OMNI: Organising Medical Networked Information

The University Library, through the Medical Library, is one of seven UK partners collaborating in the OMNI project and the lead organisation is the MRC National Institute for Medical Research. OMNI is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) under the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib). The aim is to facilitate easy access to networked biomedical information, which has been identified, described and evaluated. The emphasis will be on discovering UK resources.

A basic service will be launched this November in London at the First Annual OMNI Seminar "Integrating Medical Information on the Academic Network - stop surfing and come aboard the OMNI Launch". This event will be followed by a series of workshops for OMNI contributors and end users. The paramount importance of the OMNI project, which includes a catalogue of resources, browse and search facilities, documentation and training, lies in the quality of the total service.

Further information is available on the Internet: URL http://www.nimr.mrc.ac.uk/OMNI/

Wendy Roberts
Cambridge University Medical Library

Tel: 336756 Fax: 336709
e-mail: fwr10@cus.cam.ac.uk

Printing classes

A series of classes in hand printing will be held in the Morison Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 17.00. The first class will probably be on 10 October.

Places on the course are limited, and anyone interested should first contact either Nicholas Smith (Rare Books Room - 333122) or Colin Clarkson (Reading Room - 333016).

Bibliographical seminars for Research Students

Two seminars will be held during the Michaelmas Term:

For further information contact Bill Noblett (333138), Colin Clarkson (333016), Stephanis Macek (334522).

Current and forthcoming exhibitions (Main Library)

In the Exhibition Corridor (outside the main Reading Room)

In the Entrance Hall

Pictures from the Newsletter


If you have any questions, please e-mail library@ula.cam.ac.uk

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