Cambridge University Library

Readers' Newsletter No. 9


The new entrance hall and exhibition centre take shape

Work on the entrance hall and the Library's new exhibition centre will be completed shortly after the end of this term. The redesigned entrance hall will have a central circular desk, combining the services currently provided at the entrance hall level and at the borrowing desk on the first floor. In order to provide the more detailed statistical information on use patterns that is being demanded of the Library, readers will need to show their reader's tickets on entry and exit.

The first exhibition in the new exhibition centre will be entitled Cambridge University Library: the great collections. It will be a celebration of some of the Library's treasures and will be closely linked to a new book with the same title to be published by Cambridge University Press. The exhibition will be opened by Mrs Anne Campbell, the MP for Cambridge in late July and will run until late October. Opening hours of the exhibition centre will be the same as for the Library and it will be open free of charge to all, whether or not they have a reader's ticket.

Re-arrangement of the open-access collections

The recent moves of Chinese, Japanese and Korean books into the Aoi Pavilion give the Library a long-sought opportunity to improve the presentation of its open-access collections.

The Library is unique among comparable research libraries in Europe in placing such a high proportion of its stock on open access, and its staff are often told by readers of the benefits of browsing in these areas. Unfortunately pressures on shelf-space, arising from the constant need to make important new material readily available, have led to overcrowding and dislocation of materials which make the open stacks less efficient and pleasant to use than they once were.

The emptying of the East Asian books from two floors of the North Front gives us room into which to expand; on the other hand, to comply with fire regulations many of the wooden cases erected over the years to provide additional space must now come down. The enormous task of re-arranging more than two million books can only be worthwhile if we are left with reasonable expansion space for new publications wherever we need it, and this consideration has led to the decision by the Library Syndicate to withdraw from open access some older periodical material (chiefly class Q1-Q996, which needs more protection for conservation purposes), together with pre-1950 monographs in subject areas (chiefly scientific) where they are little used. These books will be moved into the new West Bookstack Basement, scheduled for completion in May, and will then be fetched on request to the reading rooms. Parts of the Giles Gilbert Scott building currently closed to readers will be opened up as bookstacks, including an area providing access at sixth floor level between the north and south sides of the Library.

Work on the necessary bookmoves will begin shortly and will continue throughout the summer. We apologise for the inconvenience these moves will cause and assure readers that disruption will be kept to a minimum. We intend to display details of moves in progress as prominently as possible, so that readers can find the books they need without undue difficulty. This will be the first wholesale re-arrangement of the open library for more than twenty-five years. By the start of the new academic year readers should find the open-access collections arranged throughout the Library in a logical and consistent sequence.

Aoi Pavilion and East Asia Reading Room now open

The Aoi Pavilion opened to readers in March and the move of the Library's Japanese, Chinese and Korean collections into this area is now complete. On the main (first floor) level, the Pavilion contains the East Asian Reading Room, with its reference collections around the walls, a seminar room and an IT room, together with the offices for the staff of the Library's Japanese and Chinese departments. On the two lower floors are the stacks containing the East Asian collections, most of which are on open access to readers. The bookcases on the lower floors are mobile stacks and readers are reminded to take great care when using them. A new leaflet in the Readers' Handbook series, B10: East Asian Reading Room, gives more details.

The Aoi Pavilion will be formally opened in June by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Alec Broers, in the presence of Mr Tadao Aoi, the Japanese businessman who donated 3 million towards the cost of this extension and after whom it is named.

IT developments

The Library's continued activity in national and international co-operative projects provides scholars and students with an ever increasing range of electronic information services.

Through its membership of the Research Libraries Group (RLG) based in the USA, the Library is able to support an extended trial of DIALOG@CARL, a major new gateway providing free end-user access to an unprecedented number of information sources. DIALOG@CARL offers around 300 separate bibliographic, directory and full-text databases, covering all subject areas.

From a single point of entry you can find:

Business information from Asia Pacific Business Journals, Disclosure, Standard and Poor's Daily News, Kompass, Wall Street Journal.

News from Times/Sunday Times, Independent, New York Times, Reuters, AP News, Agence France Presse.

Arts and Humanities information from Art Literature International, Architectural Database, Humanities Abstracts Full Text, Philosopher's Index.

Social Science information from Applied Social Science Index and Abstracts, ERIC, British Education Index, Education Abstracts, Econbase, PAIS International, PsycINFO:Psychological Abstracts.

Biomedical information from CAB Health, Mental Health Abstracts, Toxline, Cancerlit, Lancet.

Science and Technology information from AGRICOLA, BioCommerce Abstracts, Current Biotechnology Abstracts, INSPEC, GeoRef, NTIS, General Science Abstracts/Full Text.

DIALOG@CARL is located at Passwords are not required to use the service from machines within the domain. Trial access to DIALOG@CARL will continue until the end of August 1998.

A further collection of research orientated databases hosted by RLG is also available across the University through the EUREKA web interface. Covering a wide range of subjects, this service includes English Short Title Catalogue 1473-1800, History of Science and Technology, FRANCIS, the French interdisciplinary database and the RLIN bibliographic database. EUREKA databases are located at

Other new networked databases made available since the publication of the last Newsletter include World News Connection (WNC) and JSTOR. WNC contains translated and English language full text summaries of newspaper articles, broadcasts, reports and proceedings compiled from thousands of non-US media sources.

JSTOR complements electronic access to current electronic journal titles by providing a digital archive of academic scholarship. It offers access to complete runs of journals dating in some cases from the 1800s, up to a moving "wall" of between two and five years. JSTOR includes core academic journals in many subject areas including economics, history, education, mathematics and politics and new titles and subject areas are planned to be added on a continuing basis. Some titles included in JSTOR: Journal of Economic History 1941 - 1992, Econometrica 1933 - 1991, Ecological Monographs 1931 - 1995, Renaissance Quarterly 1948 - 1993, Quarterly Journal of Economics 1886 - 1992.

Details of these and all currently available databases and electronic journals can be found on the University Library Website at Further information is available from Michael Wilson, Scientific Periodicals Library (

Islamic Bibliography Unit

Like most great libraries, the University Library serves as a transmitter as well as a repository of knowledge. One way in which it does this is by serving as a base for bibliographical projects, derived wholly or partly from its holdings and accessions in particular fields. One such field is Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, established in Cambridge since the early seventeenth century, and now burgeoning everywhere because of the increasing political, social and economic importance of Muslim countries and communities.

The Library's Islamic Bibliography Unit, part of the Division of Oriental and Other Languages, was established in 1983, primarily to continue the compilation and publication of the Index Islamicus bibliography. This is a record of current European-language books, articles and reviews in the whole field of Islamic studies, broadly defined. It was started in the 1950s by the late Professor J.D. Pearson, then Librarian of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. He was a Cambridge man, and had previously served on the staff of this Library. After his retirement in 1979 he returned here, and three years later handed over responsibility for the Index to the Library. The Unit employs two full-time compiler-editors (at present Dr Geoffrey Roper and Heather Bleaney), whose salary costs are financed from the Library's share of the revenue from the sales of the published work.

The Index Islamicus provides access to details of publications on all aspects of Islam and Muslims, past and present. Since Muslims currently number about 1,025,000,000 - nearly one fifth of the world's population - this is a sizeable field of inquiry, and the task of recording it is not a light one. As Islam relates to all spheres of life, not just to 'religion' in the narrow sense, so the Index includes material on a complete range of human activities where Muslims are involved. These include such subjects as education, law, bibliography and scholarship, libraries, philosophy, natural and applied sciences, arts, architecture, geography and travel, social sciences, archaeology, history, economics, politics and current affairs, as well as religion and theology. The whole of the Muslim world is covered, from Mauritania in the west to Indonesia in the east, and from Kazakhstan in the north to the Comoros in the south, as well as the important Muslim minority communities in Europe, America and elsewhere.

Index Islamicus appears as an annual bound volume, preceded by three advance issues in the course of each year. It is a classified bibliography, with sections covering the main subjects and areas enumerated above, as well as full subject and name indexes, and a separate section listing reviews. It can be found in the main Reading Room at R620.300.

One of the first tasks of the Unit in 1983 was to computerise the compilation and indexing of the bibliography; in the summer of this year it will also be published as an electronic database, on CD-ROM. This will provide unified access to all the data back to the year 1906. The publishers, as of the printed volumes, are Bowker Saur.

Although the Index Islamicus has been and will remain the principal task of the Unit, its position in the Library offers considerable scope for widening bibliographical knowledge of the Islamic heritage. One subsidiary project, for example, which it recently carried out for Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation of London, was the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (London 1992-94). This is a large four-volume survey and directory of collections of manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other Muslim languages throughout the world, and their catalogues. This can be found in the Manuscripts Reading Room at A220.9.

There is also some interest in historical bibliography, and the study of Arabic printing history, although the resources available have not permitted any systematic work in this field. The Library's rich collections of early Islamic printed materials include Arabic documents from as early as the tenth century CE, and many rare editions of Islamic texts from Europe and the Middle East (see illustration).

For further information contact Geoffrey Roper (

Project CEDARS

The University Library and Computing Service will have a major role in a three-year project to examine aspects of digital preservation, in collaboration with Leeds and Oxford universities. The Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL), of which the University Library is a member, bid successfully for funding from the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) to investigate the issues involved in ensuring the long-term preservation of digital information, resources on which university libraries, including Cambridge, increasingly rely.

Project CEDARS will investigate methods appropriate to a range of digital material including World-Wide Web pages, electronic journals, online databases and CD-ROMs. The University Library will contribute images from its own manuscript digitisation programmes to the project and will collaborate in looking at a range of problems from copyright management to selection of material for preservation. The University Computing Service already has considerable experience in archiving electronic material and will make its Pelican archive store available to test strategies for the long-term storage of very large amounts of data, as well as providing advice to the project on technical issues.

The aim of the project is to identify techniques for preserving digital resources and to develop guidelines and cost-models for their management which will be of benefit to other CURL libraries and the wider academic community.

Further information may be obtained from Patricia Killiard, Head of IT Services

A new catalogue of illuminated manuscripts

The University Library has received a generous grant from the Cambridge University Development Office in the United States to enable a catalogue of the Library's collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts to be prepared. The $130,000 grant was made possible by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation of New York.

The Library has been acquiring illuminated manuscripts since the fifteenth century, if not earlier, and it has possessed a collection of international importance since the early eighteenth century. Among the manuscripts are the Book of Cerne, generally dated to the early ninth century, which contains four magnificent full-page miniatures of the Evangelists, the sumptuously illustrated Hours of Alice de Reydon of 1320-1324 and Matthew Paris' Life of Edward the Confessor, one of the finest English works of art from the thirteenth century (and now available in digitised form on the World-Wide Web as reported in the last Newsletter. Over four hundred manuscripts, with provenances from most areas of Latin Europe and dating from throughout the Middle Ages, are eligible for inclusion in the catalogue.

The grant will enable the Library to appoint a research associate for three years to prepare new descriptions of the manuscripts, concentrating on their illumination and decoration. The catalogue will be published both as a book with a substantial corpus of illustrations and in electronic form (probably via the Library's World-Wide Web site).

For further information contact Patrick Zutshi, Keeper of Manuscripts (

Greensleeves Project to continue

The success of the Greensleeves Project, which has as its objective the conversion of the Library's guardbook catalogue records and their incorporation into the online catalogue, has been confirmed by the allocation of continuing funding from the General Board of the University. Thanks to this funding, the project will be able to continue on a larger scale, enabling the contents of more guardbook volumes to be made available online each year. The conversion of the guardbook is a huge task, since the catalogue comprises 1,234 volumes containing nearly two million printed slips.

During the initial pilot project, University Library staff have developed a method of in-house conversion which combines the detailed copy-specific information in the guardbook catalogue with data from external sources, such as subject headings. Our main concern during this time has been to maintain a balance between the speed of conversion and the quality of the catalogue records produced.

In order to assist with the prioritisation of the conversion, faculty boards were invited to contribute to the funding of the project, and at the same time to nominate particular sections for conversion. So far, the Faculty of Classics has "sponsored" conversion of works by Virgil, with Cicero, Homer and others to follow in subsequent years. The Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages has chosen Goethe, Heine and Brecht, all to be converted during 1998. The Faculty of Music has selected Mozart, Haydn and the Bach family, while the Faculties of Philosophy and Law have made donations but left the selection of material to the Library.

In addition, a generous grant from the Isaac Newton Trust has set the project on a sound financial foundation for the next few years. Such contributions are doubly valuable in that the General Board has undertaken to match any money received from Faculties or elsewhere. The University Library is grateful to all these bodies for their support. This continuing commitment to retrospective conversion means that the Library's most important collections will eventually be catalogued online, providing an invaluable resource for researchers both in Cambridge and world-wide.

The volumes of the guardbook catalogue where all the records have been converted are marked with a green dot.

For further information contact Vanessa Lacey (

The Friends of Cambridge University Library

Forthcoming meetings

Wednesday 22 April 1998 at 17.45

in room I6, Corpus Christi College

(tea will be served at 17.15)

Mr John Murray

Two centuries of a publishing house: the firm of John Murray

Friends 2.50; others 3.50

Saturday 9 May 1998 at 11.30

in the Chadwick Room, Selwyn College

(coffee will be served at 11.00)

Professor Sir Alan Cook, President of the Friends

Peregrinations to European Archives

No charge