Cambridge University Library

Readers' Newsletter No. 10


New public Exhibition Centre opens

Mrs Anne Campbell, MP, officially opened the Library’s new Exhibition Centre on 24 July. The first exhibition, ‘Cambridge University Library: The Great Collections’, shows a selection of rarities acquired over the past 500 years, including the fifth century Codex Bezae, one of the earliest texts of the Gospels in Greek and Latin. Also on display are inscribed Chinese oracle bones dating from 1400 BC, a fifteenth century Gutenberg Bible (the first book printed with movable type), and Isaac Newton’s personally owned and annotated copy of his masterwork Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

The exhibition includes a case devoted to the Oriental collections, which features an Egyptian horoscope written on pottery which dates from 18 AD, and a South Asian palm leaf manuscript of the Buddhist text ‘The perfection of wisdom in 8000 lines’ of 1015 AD. Bede’s eighth century Historia Ecclesiastica is numbered among the medieval manuscripts, while another case reserved for gospel manuscripts displays the ninth century Book of Cerne.

A case dedicated to Charles Darwin exhibits his own copy of the first edition of The Origin of Species, a geological map of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, a notebook sketch of ‘the tree of life’, showing some of his first speculations on species theory, and correspondence with his family while he was aboard HMS Beagle.

More recent treasures include the original typescript of A Brief History of Time by Professor Stephen Hawking, who is, like Isaac Newton before him, the University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

The Exhibition Centre has been built with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It boasts state-of-the-art facilities including interactive displays, and meets the highest conservation standards. A new exhibition is planned every six months.

The Exhibition Centre gives the Library the opportunity to show the general public for the first time some of the treasures that are housed here.

Associated with the exhibition is the volume Cambridge University Library: The Great Collections, edited by Peter Fox and published by Cambridge University Press. Price £45 hardback, £16.95 paperback.

Making best use of the Library catalogues

Training in the use of the Library’s catalogues, both old and online, will be offered to readers throughout the Michaelmas and Lent terms by staff of the Cataloguing Department. The weekly introductory sessions will take place on Wednesday mornings at 09.30 in the Library’s Morison Room (entrance via the Exhibition Centre). They will run from 14 October to 9 December 1998 and from 13 January to 17 March 1999. Sessions are freely available to all Library readers and no prior booking is required for individual participants, but if you are thinking of sending a group please notify Tony Harper, Head of Reader Services (

A private arrangement: private press publications in the University Library

In 1852, Charles Henry Olive Daniel, then aged 16, printed a Christmas tale by his uncle W.C. Cruttwell on a small Albion press at the family home, Trinity Parsonage in Frome. A copy of this publication, Sir Richard's Daughter, was purchased by the Library in 1984. In 1983, Mr John Dreyfus donated a significant number of publications of the Limited Editions Club of New York. Since 1979, the Printing Group of the British Printing Society has distributed its monthly bundles of contributions by members to the Copyright Agency for deposit in the legal deposit libraries. Just three examples of the Library's holdings of what are generally referred to as Private Press books.

Books of this genre are traditionally difficult to define. Some are sumptuous and obviously expensive volumes; others are unpretentious pamphlets or even single sheets. They may range in size from the large folio to the miniature. A Private Press book will probably describe itself as part of a limited edition; conversely, many give no indication of the size of print run. Some are produced by traditional hand-printing methods, others by desk top publishing packages. Some presses adopt a house style; the style of others is infinitely variable. Some presses begin life as hobby presses or teaching presses in technical colleges or universities and develop into commercial publishers; others remain purely amateur in spirit, though not necessarily in practice. Some publications are intended for sale, others for private circulation. The subject matter leans towards well-established literary classics as well as new and often experimental forms of poetry. The common factor is the inherent individuality of each book, which can be appreciated only by seeing and touching. All Private Press books feature at least one element of design, production or content which attempts to communicate more than just the text: choice of paper (often handmade), illustrations, material and style of binding, and choice of type-face combine to make a particular statement about the book as physical object.

Private Press books have found their way into the Library's collections by various routes over the years. A combination of legal deposit material, donations, purchases and bequests has resulted in an extensive collection which grew almost unnoticed for most of this century until the early 1960s. Then, a decision was made to attempt to identify Private Press material acquired by legal deposit and keep the publications of each press together. Private Press books are predominantly (though not exclusively) a product of the English-speaking world, and for the last twenty years the range of the Library's collection has been extended to include samples of Antipodean and North American presses, as well as some from mainland Europe. The arrival of the Morison and Broxbourne collections has added much ephemeral material that might otherwise have been lost. Donations, such as the Dreyfus volumes, have inspired new directions for collection expansion. Finally the purchase of material from second-hand booksellers and publishers fills gaps in the holdings and introduces new presses. Unfortunately Private Press books are not always cheap, but the collection has benefited greatly from the generosity of the Friends and the American Friends of the Library.

Re-arrangement of the open-access collections

The open-access areas of the Library are currently being re-arranged, so that their contents progress through the building in a logical and consistent sequence, according to the Library’s classification scheme. As we reported in Newsletter Number 9 (April 1998) this re-arrangement has been made possible by the move of the East Asian classes into the Aoi Pavilion and by the withdrawal of some classes to closed-access areas.

The sequence begins on South Wing Three, which also contains Official Publications materials; books and periodicals on theology and philosophy (1-199, P1-P198) and will be found on floors Three to Five of the South Wing, and works on the social sciences - sociology, political science, economics, criminology, education (200-240, P200-P243) - on floors Five and Six.

Musical scores and books on music already occupy South Front One and the adjacent corridors, but a new area will also be opened up for them on the ground floor beneath the Anderson Room. The sections on family and social customs and on law (244-299, P244-P250) will move to South Front Two. Medical and scientific materials (300-380, P300-P381) will occupy floors Three to Five, while works on natural history and zoology, the fine arts and technology (382-431, P382-P431) will be found on the South Front Six. This floor now includes an area of the Library Tower formerly closed to readers, which will allow access between the north and south sides of the building on this level as well as on floors One and Four.

North Front One now contains further technical material (432-449, P432-P448), and floor Two holds biography, anthropology and archaeology (450-472, P450-P468). The history collections will begin on floor Three and fill the remainder of the North Front (474-663, P474-P662), with the older classification RA-RH on Floor 4; they will continue on North Wing Ground and One (664-689, P664-P689), which will also contain geography (690-699, P690-P696) and the beginnings of the literature classes (700-759, P700-P759), which spread up to North Wing Four. Philology and linguistics (760-799, P760-P778) follow on floors Four and Five, with our holdings of Oriental and other languages (810-849, P810-P848) and our general collections (900-911, P900-P996) on floors Five and Six. Arabic, Persian and Turkish books in classes Moh and E10-E999 are on North Front Six, while bibliographical periodicals will be restored to open access on North Wing One Corridor.

As in the past books and monographs on the same subjects will usually stand in two separate blocks on each floor, but in some instances the periodical sequences are one floor above or below the equivalent monographs.

We apologise for the length of time which these complicated bookmoves inevitably take and for the temporary disruption which they cause. We hope that everything will be in place by the end of the year. Please consult the notices displayed throughout the Library (most prominently on the boards at the top of the stairs leading up from the Entrance Hall), which will give up-to-date locations for material which has been moved.

ATHENS passwords introduced

Many of the networked databases, electronic journals and other information services supported by the Library require passwords. A new national system of passwords known under the banner ATHENS has replaced the established username/passwords with the prefix ‘icam’ originally introduced for the BIDS databases in the early 1990s. The ATHENS system of user authentication is an integral part of the Joint Information Systems Committee’s national strategy of providing managed access to a wide range of services for the UK higher education community. This co-ordinated strategy, the distributed National Electronic Resource, requires a flexible system of end user authentication.

Users will be provided with a new ATHENS username and password - based on their departmental or college affiliation. This will provide access to many existing networked services - such as the ISI citation indexes, EMBASE and BIDS Journals Online. The ATHENS username and password can also be converted into a personal account through a simple self registration process. ATHENS passwords are distributed from Reader Services staff at the University Library Reading Room and from the Scientific Periodicals Library, the Squire Law Library and the Medical Library. Further information may be obtained from these service points, by e-mail to or from Services/ATHENS.html

Evidence to the Low Pay Commission

Through the good offices of Professor William Brown of the Faculty of Economics, the Library has recently received a full set of the evidence submitted to the Low Pay Commission. The Commission - of which Professor Brown is a member - was established in July 1997 in order to recommend to the Prime Minister the initial level at which a national minimum wage might be set. The report was published on 18 June 1998. The evidence, from over 450 individuals and organisations, has not been, and will not be, published. A handful of sets have been placed in selected libraries; this Library’s set can be consulted, along with the report, in the Official Publications Department.

Landolt Bornstein New Series acquired

The Scientific Periodicals Library has recently acquired more than 140 volumes of Landolt Börnstein Numerical data and functional relationships in science and technology: New Series to bring up to date its holding of this immense compilation of evaluated data. Originally published as one volume of 261 pages in 1883, Landolt Börnstein New Series is divided into seven sections covering elementary particles, nuclei and atoms, modules and radicals, condensed matter, physical chemistry, geophysics, astronomy and astrophysics, and biophysics. The now complete set is shelved in the Reference area of the SPL on the first floor at classmark Ref QC61.Z3.

For further information on collections and services to support science and technology contact SPL’s Librarian, Michael Wilson, at

IT developments

New subscriptions to online services include Dissertation Abstracts International, the Official Index to The Times 1906-1980, Periodical Contents Index, and Teatro Español del Siglo de Oro, a full text database containing 800 important dramatic works of sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain. All are available from workstations throughout the University. The following CD-ROMs were recently added to the collection: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Catalogue général des imprimes des origines à 1970, the Index Islamicus, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, the Journal Citation Index and the Bibliography of Nineteenth-Century Legal Literature.

The electronic journal collection has been expanded to over 700 titles through the addition of journals published by the American Chemical Society, Karger, Blackwell Science, and Blackwell Publishers.

Readers who would like to be kept up to date with new electronic services as they become available can register to receive regular e-mail bulletins listing recent subscriptions to online datasets, CD-ROMs, and electronic journals by sending a message in the form:

subscribe FirstName LastName

Formal opening of the Aoi Pavilion

The Vice-Chancellor was present when the Library celebrated the opening of its new Aoi Pavilion on 8 June with a reception for the donor, Tadao Aoi. The Pavilion houses one of Europe’s finest collections of East Asian material. Mr Aoi was accompanied at the opening ceremony by his wife, who is a scholar of Japanese literature. It was her initial interest in the University Library’s holdings, together with the encouragement of Professor Richard Bowring, Professor of Modern Japanese Studies in the University, which led to Mr Aoi’s generous donation.

The Library Syndicate celebrates 250 years

On 11 June the Library Syndicate celebrated its 250th anniversary with a reception in the University Combination Room. The Syndicate was established by the University for three years in 1748 and confirmed ‘in perpetuity’ in 1751.

The Syndicate is best thought of as the Board of Trustees of the Library within the University constitution. The Statutes specify that the Librarian is responsible for the management of the Library under the direction of the Syndicate. In former times, before the advent of the profession of librarian and the complexities of running a modern library, the Syndicate was much more involved in day-to-day business, but its role now is more that of a body of trustees to whom the Librarian reports as its chief executive.

The members of the Syndicate (‘Syndics’) are appointed by the Council and the General Board of the University, by the University officers in the Library (two places) and by co-option (including two junior members). The Chairman is the Vice-Chancellor, or a deputy appointed by him. Meetings are held twice a term, and as necessary.

Through its sub-syndicates for Science, Medicine and Law the Syndicate devolves part of its responsibilities for the Scientific Periodicals Library and the Medical and Squire Law Libraries.

Dr A.W.F. Edwards is standing down after five years’ dedicated service as Chairman of the Library Syndicate, and is succeeded from the beginning of the Michaelmas Term by Professor Malcolm Schofield, Professor of Ancient Philosophy.

Current and forthcoming exhibitions (Main Library)

In the Exhibition Centre

Cambridge University Library: the great collections

until 24 October

Armistice Day: memorials and memories

10 November 1998 to 10 April 1999

Opening hours:

Monday - Friday 09.00 - 18.00
Saturday 09.00 - 12.30

The Exhibition Centre is open to the public and admission is free

Genizah lectures

To mark the centenary of the official presentation of the Genizah Collection to the University of Cambridge by Dr Solomon Schechter and Dr Charles Taylor in October 1898, a series of five lectures, sponsored by the University Library, the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the Corob Charitable Trust, will be given in the Michaelmas Term by an international group of speakers. The overall theme of the series will be “The Contribution of the Genizah Collection to the Study of Medieval Jewish Culture”. The lectures will be delivered in the Morison Room of the University Library’s new Exhibition Centre and will be open to all. Each lecture will commence at 17.00 and will be preceded by tea at 16.30.

15 October The contribution of the Genizah to studies of Aramaic Bible translations and commentaries
Professor Michael Klein of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem

20 October The contribution of the Genizah to the history of Jewish female literacy in the Middle Ages
Professor Joel Kraemer of the University of Chicago

5 November The contribution of the Genizah to our understanding of medieval Jewish marriage and the family
Professor Mordechai Friedman of Tel Aviv University

19 November The contribution of the Genizah to the chronicling of Jewish/Muslim relations in the medieval Mediterranean area
Professor Paul Fenton of the Sorbonne, Paris

30 November The contribution of the Genizah to the study of Talmudic law and Rabbinic custom in the Middle Ages
Professor Neil Danzig of the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York

The Friends of Cambridge University Library

Forthcoming meetings

All talks will take place in the Library’s Morison Room

Saturday 24 October at 14.30


Mr Arthur Tillotson

‘1934: The Two University Libraries’

Arthur Tillotson was Secretary of Cambridge University Library from 1949-1975

No charge

Tea will be served after the meeting

Monday 9 November at 17.15

Opening of Library Exhibition Armistice Day: Memorials and Memories

by the Earl Haig

Earl Haig is the son of Field Marshal Haig and is himself a former soldier

Friends only. No charge

Wednesday 18 November at 17.45 (tea will be served at 17.15) Jill Paton Walsh

Taking to Crime

Jill Paton Walsh is the author of numerous crime novels and children’s books

Friends £2.50: Others £3.50

Wednesday 2 December at 17.45 (tea will be served at 17.15) Dr Frances Wood

Distance and Doubt: Marco Polo and his followers’

Frances Ward is Keeper of the Chinese Collections at the British Library

Friends £2.50: Others £3.50

Editor: Ray Scrivens ISSN:1360-9033

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