Readers' Newsletter

South-west corner reading rooms open to the public

As we go to press, the public areas of the new south-west corner extension are becoming available for use. The Inter-Library Loans Department was the first to open, on 27 February, and this will be followed by the Digital Resources Area, the Official Publications Reading Room and the Microfilm Reading Room. These rooms are characterised by spaciousness and high standards of construction, and significantly enhance the facilities available to their users.

Inter-Library Loans

(Floor 1. Opening hours 09.30-1850 Monday-Friday; 09.30-12.45 Saturday)

The Reading Room, with 20 seats including those at 8 microform readers, is situated next to the staff office and enquiry point and provides for the first time a single area in which all material received on loan from other libraries, whatever its format or date of publication, can be consulted. The proximity of the relevant staff also permits much more immediate responses to enquiries about this material.

Digital Resources Area

(Floor 1. Opening hours 09.30-18.50 Monday-Friday; 09.30-16.45 Saturday)

Positioned beyond the Inter-Library Loans Reading Room, this is an area dedicated to providing access to the Library's collections of digital resources, greatly extended beyond previous provision. There are 60 reader places, 48 with workstations. Access is available to electronic journals and books, online databases, CD-Roms, both networked and stand-alone, and digital images. Facilities available from the workstations include Microsoft Office software and networked printing.

Official Publications Reading Room

(Floor 3. Opening hours 09.30-18.50 Monday-Friday; 09.30-12.45 Saturday)

The Official Publications Department returns to its familiar site on the third floor of the south-west corner, but in greatly enlarged premises. There is seating for 48 readers with provision for PCs, and an induction loop is installed. The Department's reference collection will be available in one sequence around the room, together with the complete Hansard. Exhibition cases will be used to mount displays of new accessions or matters of topical interest. A separate annexe is provided for IT resources and a self-service photocopier. Improved staff accommodation ensures full back-up to the enquiry point.

Microform Reading Room

(Floor 4, but access via the Official Publications Department, floor 3. Opening hours 09.30-18.50 Monday-Friday; 09.30-12.45 Saturday)

The Microform Reading Room is entered by a staircase in the Official Publications Reading Room (but special arrangements can be made for disabled users). It contains 18 microfilm readers in carrels which have bookshelves and power-points for laptop computers (one carrel is specially adapted for wheelchairs). There are 5 microfiche readers and 2 readers for microprint (an obsolete medium still significantly represented in the collections). All this equipment is new and housed for the first time in an area specifically designed for its use. There is a separate area with 3 reader-printers where prints can be made from microfilms and microfiches. Less visible but equally important is considerably increased storage space for microforms.

The enquiry point in the new Inter-Library Loans Reading Room

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Members of the Darwin Correspondence Project, whose main base is in the University Library, visited Buckingham Palace to receive the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, the announcement of which appeared in our last issue. From left to right: Sarah Davis, Melanie Keene, Sadiah Qureshi (students in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science), Andrew Sclater (Darwin Project, CUL), Duncan Porter (Project Director), Anna-Katherina Mayer (formerly of the Project), Paul White (Darwin Project, CUL) and Francis Reid (Department of History and Philosophy of Science). Professor Porter is also shown receiving the award from HM the Queen.

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Provisional periodical subscriptions

The University Library has taken out a provisional subscription, for one year, to the following journals, and the level of use will be monitored in order to ascertain whether a more long-term subscription is justified. They are displayed in the West Room in a specially designated section of the pigeonholes between those with numbers prefixed by 'O' and those prefixed by 'P'. Pigeonholes containing items on provisional subscription are not numbered, but labelled with the titles of the journals.

Archeologia viva
Etruscan studies
Grey room
Journal of historical pragmatics
Journal of logic, language and information
Journal of the history of Sufism
Metaphor and symbol
Research policy.

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The Squire approaches 100 and the e-future

As it approaches its centenary in 2004, the Squire Law Library is celebrating its past and addressing its future. Its outstanding collections and international reputation grew up in an era of shelves and printed material - the book, the journal, the law report and the statute. In the last 15 years, however, the character of the library has changed with the electronic age. Catalogue cards have been replaced by electronic records, commercial publishers have created on-line and CD-ROM services and the Internet has exploded onto the scene.

Having embraced each change in the way library users access legal information, the Squire is now faced with the broader concept of the complete digital library. The Squire's second century will undoubtedly see the development of an all-encompassing interactive electronic library service: the emergence of the e-Squire.

The ways in which the e-Squire will interact with the traditional Squire are still unclear. Electronic and print formats are collected jointly at the moment. The former allows more efficient access by multiple users, has cost and space-saving advantages and can be accessed remotely. Electronic services such as Lexis and Westlaw UK are already complementing and superseding traditional methods of legal research. There is no firm answer to the critical question of whether printed books and journals will be completely replaced, but some legal journals are already published in digital format only and the transition from the print-based library has begun.

While there will always be a place for the time-honoured printed collection, it is inevitable that the Squire's 'e-strategy' will become increasingly important. It will address electronic book and journal collecting and the ever-increasing array of web-based resources and database services. It will tackle the digitisation of collections and explore digital preservation. It will adapt the role of the librarian to the changes in research and teaching techniques.

There are inevitable resource implications in this strategy and in the maintenance and expansion of the traditional services of the Library. One method of contributing to the future of law at Cambridge and helping to build on the successes of the last hundred years is to join the Friends of the Squire. Details are available from David Wills, Librarian, Squire Law Library, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ (

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Legal deposit of non-print materials comes closer

The Legal Deposit Libraries Bill, championed by Chris Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich, completed its second reading in the House of Commons on 14 March. It proposes the extension of legal deposit legislation to enable the six legal deposit libraries (of which Cambridge University Library is, of course, one) to collect and preserve for the national archive non-print materials such as CD-ROMs and on-line resources. More than 60,000 such items were published in the UK alone last year, with the prospect of a five-fold increase by 2005. Failure to preserve such resources was characterised by Mr Mole in the Commons as potentially the sign of a 'cultural dark age that failed to archive a substantial and vital part of the nation's published heritage'. His speech, made with the authority of a former British Telecom researcher reliant on material available only in electronic form and a former council leader with understanding of the importance of local and national archives, gave several examples of material at risk. This ranges from directories, electronic research reports and journals, to the raw material of social research to be found on websites. Losses already include a collaborative 'e-novel' initiated by John Updike and records of events such as the petrol blockades.

The British Library and other legal deposit libraries will continue to work with publishers' representatives to smooth the passage of the Bill through the remaining stages before it can become law. The next is the committee stage, in which it will be subjected to detailed discussion.

Cambridge University Library is grateful to everyone who contacted MPs in support of this measure. This was very significant in achieving all-party support for the Bill.

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On 22 January 2003 the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Zha Peixin, visited the University Library with his wife, Madame Zhang Xiaokang, Minister-Counsellor at the Embassy. Mr Charles Aylmer of the Library’s Chinese Department is seen with the visitors, examining items from the Chinese collection.

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The Friends of Cambridge University Library

Forthcoming meetings, to be held in the Morison Room, University Library:

Wednesday 14 May at 17.00
Jean Chothia
'Staging Shakespeare: the late Victorian-Edwardian debate'

Saturday 24 May 2003 at 11.30
Karl Miller
'Literary journalism'

Saturday events are free of charge to Friends. Members wishing to attend weekday evening meetings pay at a special rate of £2.50 a head. Non-members are welcome at all talks; the admission charge is £3.50. All talks are free to junior members of the University of Cambridge. Tea is served at Wednesday evening meetings from 16.30.

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Vandalism on display

An unusual exhibition in the cases in the North Front corridor draws attention to the varieties of vandalism that the collections are subjected to by some readers. Marginalia & other crimes will contrast our efforts to conserve the collections and make them available with the efforts to destroy them from our most selfish users.

Many readers will be surprised by the amount of damage caused by spilled water from the ubiquitous plastic bottles beloved by youth at the UL (although forbidden by the rules), and the damage caused by one Post-It note will frighten those of us who use them. Amazement will be generated by the baby-chewed tome, the texts high-lighted with fluorescent pens by academics with acute attention-deficit syndrome and by the materials with which volumes risk being spattered. Many will be shocked by the obscenities (tastefully censored to protect our more delicate visitors) scrawled in learned texts.

The exhibition describes our activities to catch and punish these miscreants, and the penalties imposed. It ends with some suggestions as to how this situation might be improved and it invites all readers to contribute to the debate on how to eradicate this selfish destruction that will cause future generations to deplore in bafflement the depredations of our own.

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Unfolding Landscapes: Maps of Cambridgeshire from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II

According to a contemporary document, it was in 1573 that Thomas Seckford, a wealthy Suffolk man and member of Queen Elizabeth I's government, commissioned from Christopher Saxton a set of maps of the whole of England and Wales. The result - our first national atlas, and the first detailed delineation of the whole country - was published in 1579. Although he would have had available to him some detailed maps of certain areas and estates, Saxton needed to undertake a considerable amount of original survey work. It is remarkable that in an age without motor vehicles, air transport or satellite technology the atlas was produced so quickly.

Saxton's map of Cambridgeshire is the first item on display in the new exhibition in the Cambridge University Library Exhibition Centre, which traces the key events in the mapping of Cambridgeshire from 1573 to 2003. Many of the maps subsequently published of the English counties were based to some extent on Saxton's groundbreaking work. In fact, John Speed acknowledged his debt to Saxton and others when he stated in the introduction to his 1612 atlas of Great Britain: I have put my sickle into other mens corne, and have laid my building upon other mens foundations. His magnificent map of Cambridgeshire is illustrated here.

Another major milestone in the mapping of the County, and indeed of England, was the survey of the roads undertaken by John Ogilby. The resultant strip-maps, published in 1675, are remarkably detailed and on display is the route from Oxford to Cambridge. Otherwise, except for parts of the Fens where drainage projects required detailed maps to be compiled, very little new survey work was undertaken in Cambridgeshire between the time of Saxton and that of Richard Baker, who published a map of the County of Cambridge and Isle of Ely in 1821. Baker's map, as with most of its predecessors, had been privately financed.

The final sections of the exhibition look at the work of the Government-funded Ordnance Survey from their early nineteenth-century mapping of Cambridgeshire to the digital maps of today.
The exhibition demonstrates the richness of Cambridge's cartographic history. Not only are the maps beautifully crafted works of art in their own right, but they also tell us an enormous amount about past landscapes and the society for which they were made.

Opening times: 30 April to 18 October 2003 but closed 25 August and 16-23 September inclusive. Mon-Fri 09.00-18.00, Sat 09.00-16.30. Admission free.

Cambridgeshire described by John Speed, 1610 (proof copy) from Speed's atlas published 1612

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Editor: Stephen Hills ISSN:1360-9033