Cambridge University Library

Readers' Newsletter No. 13


£6 million donation to the Library

Model of the University Library showing the projected north-west and south-west corners completed.

Thanks to a private donation of £6 million, the next phase of the Library's building development can go ahead.

In 1993 the University approved a feasibility study which envisaged major extensions to the west (Grange Road) side of the Library. These extensions were intended to be built in phases as funding became available. The first phases were completed in 1998, with the opening of the Aoi Pavilion and the basement bookstack, together with the new Exhibition Centre and refurbishment of the Entrance Hall. The next phase has now started, with reconstruction of the north-west corner of the Library providing enlarged and improved reading rooms for rare books and manuscripts and a photographic/digitisation centre. This most recent donation will allow a similar extension to be built at the south-west corner of the building, providing much-needed space for readers using the growing number of electronic information resources, an enlarged Official Publications Reading Room, and better facilities for users of microforms and items received on inter-library loan from other libraries. If approval from the various University and city authorities can be achieved in time, it is hoped that building work will start in 2000, with a completion date in late 2002.

The development and fundraising campaign, which has raised over £18 million since 1994, will continue, so that the remaining section, the five floor bookstacks and staff working-area between the two new corners can be completed before the Library again runs out of space to house its ever-growing collections.

New electronic services

A University Library subscription to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts' Complete Cambridge Sciences Collection makes available across the University a library of multidisciplinary scientific and technical bibliographic databases in a single resource on the Web. Offering over 50 databases, it is particularly strong in the fields of biological sciences, aquatic sciences, engineering and technology, environmental sciences, and materials science, and includes a range of abstracting publications. Its acquisition significantly improves research provision in these areas with notable databases including Metadex, NLM Toxline, Aids and Cancer Research Abstracts and Engineering Materials Abstracts. It also offers access to bibliographic information and abstracts in computer science (Computer and Information Systems Abstracts) marketing (Findex), linguistics (Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts) and social sciences (Sociological Abstracts). In addition to the databases there is also access to Environmental RouteNet and Water Resources RouteNet, Web gateways to impressive collections of online information in their fields.

Other new online services now accessible from the University Library to all parts of the University include UKOP Online, the complete catalogue of British Official Publications from 1980 to the present. An immensely valuable resource in a wide range of subject areas, particularly social and political sciences, it includes links to the full text of documents such as Acts of Parliament, where these are available electronically.

Access to all online databases, including individual titles in the Complete Cambridge Sciences Collection, is available via links on the Library's Information Services Web pages, A-Z list of databases (

Samuel Beckett's first published work

Beckett's postcard [Whoroscope - classmark: Syn.5.93.89]

In the tenth anniversary year of Samuel Beckett's death, the Library has acquired a major landmark of twentieth century literature, his first separate publication. Whoroscope was published in Paris by Nancy Cunard's Hours Press in an edition of 300 copies, 100 of them signed by the author, in August 1930. In its short existence between 1928 and 1931 the Hours Press produced 23 items (about half of them held by the Library) from an impressive range of authors, almost all either already famous or destined to become so. They were hand printed by Miss Cunard on a 200 year old Mathieu handpress previously used by the Three Mountains Press for an equally distinguished output. Its purchase price had included a supply of Caston Old Face type and Vergé de Rives paper, both of which were used for Whoroscope.

The publication originated in a competition suggested to Cunard by Richard Aldington, offering the equivalent of £10 for a poem of up to 100 lines on the subject of time. As the closing date of 15 June 1930 arrived, the quality of the entries had been dismal. At the last moment the contest was drawn to the attention of Beckett, an impoverished lecteur at the Ecole Normale, depressed by his estrangement from his mentor James Joyce over his fraught relationship with Joyce's daughter Lucia. Seeing an opportunity to put to remunerative use the research he had been conducting into René Descartes, Beckett dashed off a 98 line poem in an afternoon and evening, interrupted by `a guzzle of salad and Chambertin at the Cochon de Lait'. Cunard found the result posted through her door and had no hesitation in awarding it the prize and summoning its author to arrange publication, despite the tenuous connection between its cryptic retelling of Cartesian biography and the topic of time. She suggested only that some explanatory notes be added, a request Beckett acceded to not without a hint of satire.

The Library's copy is not numbered, but inscribed `for Edward Titus, Samuel Beckett, July 1930' - pre-publication, therefore. Someone (in all likelihood the author) has deleted a supernumerary question mark on page 2. It is accompanied by a postcard written by Beckett in 1974, explaining his relationship with Titus (1870-1952), whose publishing activity owed much to his being (precariously) married to the cosmetics magnate Helena Rubinstein. A typescript of the translation of Rimbaud which Beckett believed lost, incidentally, turned up miraculously preserved inside a copy of the Oxford book of French verse which survived a fire in the library of his friend Nuala Costello, and was published in 1976.

American studies

The Library has established a new post in American studies for two years, thanks to a generous private donation. The purpose of the post is to build up the Library's American studies collections, principally in the history of the United States. The Library already receives by legal deposit many publications from major publishers based in the USA, because they are distributed widely in the UK or are published jointly with a British publisher. Many other books published in the United States are purchased by the Library, some as a result of readers' recommendations, but most after selection by Library staff.

Jayne Hoare joined the staff on 6 September in this new post and is based in the Accessions Department. Her role is to improve coverage by selecting more books for purchase, especially in those areas of research interest to members of the University working in a number of different Faculties and Departments. She is also processing the orders and will, in due course, deal with their receipt as well. Jayne is a graduate of Birmingham University, in American Studies and English.

The Library will of course continue to welcome recommendations for the purchase of books in American studies from readers. Jayne can be contacted on telephone (3)33101, email

Changes in the Anderson Room

The Anderson Room is now operating with extended opening hours. The room is open from 9.00 to 18.45 (12.45 Saturday), and the Enquiry Desk is staffed from 9.30 to 17.10 (16.50 Friday, 12.45 Saturday). Reserved materials may be consulted only during this period, though arrangements can be made for their transfer to another reading room.

The main Music card catalogue has been moved into the Anderson Room, as has the music in class M200-M250 (including all collected works of individual composers and historical and monumental series) which are now housed on the 17th-century book presses (given to the Library by Sir John Wollaston in 1649) at the far end of the room.

These changes represent an important, but not the final, stage of the refurbishment of the South Pavilion. Future plans involve the opening of an additional area of open stacks on the Ground Floor of the Pavilion, probably in about two years' time.

Provisional subscriptions to periodicals

The University Library has recently taken out a trial subscription to the following periodical titles for one year only and renewal of the subscriptions beyond the first year will depend on the level of use. The titles can be found in the West Room in the pigeonholes indicated in the list below, and readers are invited to sign the sheet attached to each issue whenever they consult the periodical.

Interface: forum for theology in the world A.144
Journal of computational intelligence in finance 143 (ask at Periodicals desk)
Journal of higher criticism A.154
Linguistics and education W.215
Mediation quarterly C.373
Mediterranean journal of education studies D.247
Social sciences (Russian Academy of Sciences) C.94

In addition, the Scientific periodicals Library has taken out provisional subscriptions to the Journal of combinational chemistry (including Web access) and Technology review (MIT).

Research Support Libraries Programme

The library's earliest printed book, a Chinese translation of a Sanskrit Buddhist text, printed in 1107, which is included in one of the RSLP projects.

The University Library is involved in a wide range of collaborative projects in forming part of a programme funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils to improve information about and access to research collections in academic libraries around Great Britain. The projects are listed below, together with the name of the member of staff who is acting as the Cambridge contact for the project.

North-west corner redevelopment and temporary arrangements for the Manuscripts and Rare Books Reading Rooms

Building work for the north-west extension of the Library has now begun and will continue until autumn 2001. During this period most classes of material normally fetched to the Manuscripts and Rare Books Reading Rooms will be read in a temporary Manuscripts and Rare Books Reading Room situated on the first floor of the south-west extension.

The Acton Library, Cambridge dissertations and all items received on inter-library loan are now consulted in the Official Publications Reading Room. Other temporary adjustments to bookfetching are shown on the Online Public Access Catalogue and in a new Finding List and Readers' Handbook.

In order to provide space for the temporary reading room and also to house some staff from the area that is to be demolished, it has been necessary to turn the corridors parallel to the main Reading Room into offices. We regret that this will complicate movement around the first floor of the Library for the duration of the building works.

The Library's Photography Department is also displaced by the building works. As a result, the self-service photocopying room has moved to the north side of the building, remaining on the first floor. The staffed photocopying service has moved to the former location of self-service photocopying on the south side, close to the new temporary reading room.

There will inevitably be some noise from the building works, particularly during the demolition phase and later when the new extension is connected to the original building. The noise is, of course, likely to be most troublesome on the north side of the building and we apologise in advance for any disruption it may cause to readers' work.

Divided and reunited

Pamphlet sent to Cambridge by the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in East Berlin in 1969, seeking support for its campaign to recover nearly two million volumes lost to the West after the War.

The exhibition to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Goethe's birth, displayed outside the Reading Room during the early part of 1999, drew largely upon the Library's antiquarian holdings. Another aspect of the German collections is revealed in the forthcoming exhibition in the Exhibition Centre, Divided and reunited: the making of modern Germany, to be opened by the German ambassador on October 25th. This is the first exhibition to be mounted in the new centre which draws solely upon the acquisitions of the last 50 years, and it uses resources from almost every department of the Library.

1999 is the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic and the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is impossible in a small exhibition to offer detailed coverage of the complicated history of the two Germanies. Rather an attempt has been made to seize upon a few key aspects of modern German history, and to illustrate these by showing not only academic monographs but also an array of pamphlets and printed ephemera. Exhibits include leaflets dropped by the RAF and the Luftwaffe, magazines issued by the British and American occupying forces, propaganda produced by the German Communist Party and disguised with false covers, and a surveillance notebook mislaid by East German secret service agents or `Stasi'. Wherever possible strong visual images and English language materials have been used, to make the exhibition's appeal as wide as possible.

The exhibition also celebrates the generosity and vision of some of the Library's many donors, a number of the items on display having been acquired through individual and corporate gifts. One of the most interesting exhibits - a news digest produced in Flensburg by a section of the German Admiralty in June 1945 - was presented to the Library in 1947 by Leonard Forster, later Schröder Professor of German. Professor Forster continued to donate material over the next four decades, culminating in the presentation of his own library in 1994. It is hoped that visitors to the exhibition will agree that such personal donations play an important part in enhancing the diversity and distinctiveness of the Library's collections.

Web of Science to replace BIDS ISI databases

Through a new agreement with UK universities the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) databases, which have been available for a number of years via BIDS, will be replaced by the ISI's Web of Science. The new service, which will be hosted by the JISC-appointed service provider, MIMAS, includes all of the current databases - the Science, Social Sciences, and Arts & Humanities Citation Indexes and the Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings - with an improved interface and search facilities, as well as Journal Citation Reports for Science and Social Sciences. Its introduction will be phased in over the next year and it will finally replace the existing service on 1 August 2000.

For further details of these and other electronic information services contact

Forthcoming exhibitions at the University Library

Exhibition Centre

Divided and reunited: the making of modern Germany

26 October 1999 - 26 February 2000

Monday - Friday09.00 - 18.00
Saturday09.00 - 13.00

Closed from 24 December 1999 - 3 January 2000 inclusive

South Front Corridor

Goethe: a celebration
Another chance to see the exhibition originally mounted in the Lent Term

24 September - 30 October 1999

Adam Mickiewicz and Alexander Pushkin: a bicentenary exhibition

November 1999

The Friends of Cambridge University Library

Forthcoming meetings

Monday 25 October 17.00

Opening of Special Library Exhibition
Divided and reunited: the making of modern Germany

Friends only

Saturday 30 October 14.30

Annual General Meeting

Dr Stella Panayotova
Illuminated manuscripts in Cambridge University Library

Dr Panayotova is currently preparing a catalogue of the Library's illuminated manuscripts.

Saturday 20 November 11.30

(Coffee will be served from 11.00)

Dr Glen Cavaliero
Walter de la Mare and the supernatural

Dr Cavaliero is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, poet, and author of a number of books on twentieth-century English literature.

All meetings will take place in the Library's Morison Room. Admission free.

Editor: Ray Scrivens ISSN:1360-9033

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