Readers' Newsletter


The Vanneck and Arcedeckne Papers from Heveningham

The University Library has recently purchased the substantial archive of the Vanneck and Arcedeckne families. These papers, formerly kept at Heveningham Hall in Suffolk, were deposited on loan in the University Library in 1973. Their owners offered them for sale to the Library through their agents Christie’s in 2004, and the Library has been able to acquire them using the Commonwealth Library Fund. In this way, an important archive will remain intact and be permanently available for research in Cambridge.

One section of the archive consists of papers of the Vanneck family, including manorial and estate papers concerning their properties in Suffolk going back to the Middle Ages. Among the family papers are correspondence of Edmund and Anne Bedingfield, 1578-80, and of Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice. Political papers are well represented, with correspondence of Gerard Vanneck, MP for Dunwich from 1764 to 1790.

The second section of the archive concerns the Arcedeckne (normally pronounced ‘Archdeacon’) family. Here the most interesting material is undoubtedly the papers concerning the management of the family’s estates in Jamaica, which were worked by slaves and where the main crop was sugar. There is extensive correspondence with the agents who were responsible for looking after the estates. The principal agent was Simon Taylor, and there is a long run of letters from Taylor dating from 1765 to his death in 1813 (although there are few letters after 1803). These vivid letters have been described as ‘the most important collection of private correspondence on the political history of Jamaica in the period they cover’. The earlier letters, addressed to Chaloner Arcedeckne, have been published by Betty Wood in the Royal Historical Society’s Camden Series (2002), while Adam Matthew Publications are planning a microfilm edition of all the Jamaican estate papers.

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A scene from The life of an actor by Pierce Egan, London, 1825 (Syn.5.82.77). From the Library's new exhibition.

A scene from The life of an actor by Pierce Egan, London, 1825 (Syn.5.82.77). From the Library's new exhibition.

Electronic resources news

The University Library recently took out subscriptions to two landmark titles in electronic publishing, The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Both have attracted enormous interest from a wide range of researchers and general readers and are invaluable resources for historians.

The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 at makes available the searchable full text of The Times newspaper, including features, editorials, business news, letters to the editor, photographs, and advertising, delivering scanned versions of the original layout to the viewer. 160 references to Cambridge University Library from September 1845 to April 1983 can be discovered, for example, readers’ obsessions with the first cuckoo can be traced from 1864, or the newspaper can be browsed issue by issue or by selected date

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography at, edited by Professor Brian Harrison, is reputed to be the largest reference project ever undertaken in the humanities, comprising 50,000 biographies and 10,000 portraits or likenesses, and represents the work of over 10,000 specialists, amongst them many members of this University. Several members of University Library staff contributed biographies to this work, the printed version of which was also received under legal deposit on the day of publication. As an interesting comparison, this weighs over 120 kilograms and occupies some 150 inches of shelf space. In its electronic form, as well as the ability to search for individuals, the dictionary offers the facility of browsing by theme, e.g. Archbishops of Canterbury, Nobel Prize winners, or Poets Laureate, and by place, field of interest, dates and religious affiliation. One can discover, for example, that 860 scientists with Cambridge connections feature in the dictionary.

A welcome development this term has been the expansion of off-campus access to electronic resources for staff and students. Through a collaboration with the University Computing Service, Raven passwords can now be used for access outside the university domain to fourteen databases, including EconLit, the Philosopher’s Index, PsycInfo, and GeoRef. In all, over 160 databases, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and around 3,000 e-journals are currently available off-campus to members of the university holding Athens passwords. Work continues to provide access to the remainder, irrespective of the user’s location. To obtain Raven or Athens passwords, please contact Reader Services staff at the University Library Reading Room, the Central Science Library (City Centre), the Medical Library (Addenbrooke’s Site) or the Betty and Gordon Moore Library (West Cambridge) in person or by post (application forms may be printed out from the Library web site,

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Space and strategic withdrawal

Both open and closed storage areas of the University Library are very close to being full and the situation on some floors of the open Library has moved conspicuously beyond that point. Five floors of closed-access bookstack will become available with the completion of the Phase 5 extension in 2005, enabling the withdrawal of vulnerable or less-used material from the open shelves. This will allow the recent publications most in demand to be made readily and clearly accessible on open access for the foreseeable future. While considerations of preservation dictate the removal from open shelves of most remaining nineteenth-century items, various approaches to the selection of other material for withdrawal are possible and criteria may vary from subject to subject. Consultations will take place with Faculties and Departments to ensure the broadest possible consensus for the strategy.

Until this extra storage space is available, several tactics are being employed to mitigate the problems of severe overcrowding. Recent arrivals of monographs on French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literatures had overflowed onto tables on North Wing 3 in large quantities. To enable this recent material to be stored accessibly and systematically, older, less used books have been moved from the shelves to the tables where, because their numbers are not increasing, use of the space can be maximised. The space released on the shelves now accommodates the newer material in good order. Because it will no longer be possible to work at the tables on this floor, the chairs have been removed and readers are requested to use the tables on neighbouring floors.

Potential relief for similar overflows on North Wing 1 has been provided by new shelving in the North Reading Room Corridor (running between the Reading Room doors and the North Wing). All sizes and subdivisions of class 725 have been moved there and the continuation of the classification sequence from the North Wing proper to the North Wing corridor now starts conveniently at 724. Work is continuing on the respacing of books on North Wing 1, to incorporate overflows.

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Library services co-ordinator appointed

Lesley Gray

Lesley Gray

A new half-time post has been created to investigate and promote greater co-ordination among the University’s libraries (faculty and departmental, as well as the University Library and its dependent libraries) and possibly including the colleges. Lesley Gray of the University Library’s Electronic Services and Systems division has been appointed for nine months from January 2005. She will continue to devote the rest of her time to her responsibilities as Union Catalogue Project Administrator.

Between January and September she will review and investigate current schemes and services, hold consultations and discussions and prepare a report and recommendations for future planning and co-ordination of Cambridge library services to be presented to the General Board Committee on Libraries. Her concerns will include acquisitions, services and potential areas for savings. Some specific investigations will be into co-ordination of subscriptions to, and cancellations of, journals and electronic resources, sources of funding for additional electronic resources, co-ordination, between libraries on adjacent sites, of services such as lending and access, possible space savings through relegation or disposal of duplicate or little-used material and improved library support for teaching and learning. Information on national schemes and initiatives will be gathered and disseminated. Lesley can be contacted at, telephone (3)39942.

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The Sandars lectures 2005

This year’s Sandars lectures in bibliography will be given by Dr Paul Needham, Librarian of the Scheide Rare Books Library at Princeton. His lecture series is entitled 'Fifteenth-century printing: the work of the shops'. The individual lectures, all at 17.00 in the Morison Room, Cambridge University Library, are on April 26th and 28th and May 3rd.

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Open-access to Wellcome-Trust-funded research

Regular readers of the Newsletter will be aware of the current crisis in scientific publishing and the problems faced by libraries all over the world in providing the information necessary to support their users’ teaching and research needs in the face of grossly excessive rises in journal prices. Open-access publishing is one means of ensuring that the results of research are made widely available, and one of the objectives of the University Library’s DSpace project is to establish an open-access institutional repository for the scholarly output of the University.

The Wellcome Trust, which provides grants totalling around £400 million every year for research in the biomedical sciences, has recently announced that it will become a condition of receiving a Wellcome grant that the grantees’ peer-reviewed articles must be deposited in PubMed Central, the free-to-access digital archive of biomedical and life-sciences journal literature, no more than six months after their date of publication. In order to encourage the publication of articles in open-access journals, the Trust will also provide grantees with additional funding to cover the costs of page-processing charges levied by open-access publishers, on the basis that once these charges have been paid, the article is then freely available to anyone with Internet access, and no traditional subscriptions have to be paid to these journals. The researchers will still be able to publish in commercial journals if they wish, but the requirement to deposit with PubMed Central will apply. Further details of this initiative were distributed in a circular to universities on 2 November and a summary is given on the Wellcome Trust website:

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Map Department web pages

The web pages maintained by the Map Department of Cambridge University Library have been expanded over recent months. The Home Page at is designed as a quick reference page providing basic information on opening times and contact details. Links are provided to other useful Library pages such as Admissions, Imaging Services and the Readers’ Handbook. Another series of pages provides more detailed information about the Map Department catalogues – both the card catalogue and Newton. Of particular use may be the page on searching Newton for maps ( and the explanation of a project to convert more of the card catalogue entries to digital form so that they can be accessed through Newton.

The Map Department’s series of Information Sheets, available in the Map Department in printed form, can also be accessed from the Home Page. If, for example, you want to buy current mapping or need to know where there are other map collections, there is an Information Sheet for you. Other Information Sheets compare ways of accessing detailed and current Ordnance Survey mapping (Digimap and the Ordnance Survey digital data available in the Map Department), explain how students and staff of Cambridge University can register for Digimap, and present a miscellany of various cartographic research tools (major reference books, web sites, etc.).

The Map Department Links Page at (which is accessible from the Home Page) provides direct links to web and other resources useful in cartographic research – other map libraries and their catalogues, gazetteers (including the Columbia Gazetteer of the World On-line and the GEOnet Names Server, which provides access to 3 million place names outside of the USA), information on map scales and projections, map producers and dealers, on-line maps and data, map societies, email discussion groups and the major Gateway Sites.

All of these resources are utilised by members of staff to answer remote and personal enquiries, and it is hoped that members of the public find them useful too. Keep an eye on them because they are always changing!

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Eastern England, from a nineteenth-century map game (Maps.18.G.79.1-2), an example of cartographic material to be seen in the Library’s new exhibition of works donated by or purchased with the assistance of the Friends of Cambridge University Library.

All Good Friends

The Library’s Exhibition Centre reopens on 25 January with a display celebrating the contribution made to the Library by its Friends over the quarter-century since their foundation.

The Friends of Cambridge University Library were founded in 1980 with the aim of fostering contact between the Library and those interested in its collections, its history, its current activities and its future development. From the start, a key objective of the Friends has been to raise funds for the purchase of printed and manuscript material of research importance, and to help the Library to acquire such additions by gift and bequest. The new exhibition, ‘All Good Friends’, will provide an opportunity to view some of the most important, interesting and representative examples of these gifts.

The sheer variety of the material that has entered the Library through the Friends will be apparent in the display. There are of course splendid examples of printed books, from Italian incunabula to the work of American private presses of the twentieth century, and with subject areas ranging from early medical and scientific textbooks to accounts of fantastical travels and racy illustrated fictions of the English theatre in the Georgian age. Important manuscript contributions include a twelfth-century translation of the ‘Liber Almansoris’ of the Persian physician Rasis, certainly the product of an English scriptorium and possibly written in East Anglia, which formed part of the medieval library of Clare College and spent a long sojourn in Helmingham Hall in Suffolk before returning to Cambridge with the help of the Friends in 1993. More recent archival documents include letters from Lionel Dunsterville (the model for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Stalky’), and one from Isaiah Berlin to Herbert Butterfield expounding ideas on the writing of history. The Friends have also assisted the Library in building its musical and cartographic collections, and items on display will include the only known manuscript of Christiano Lidarti’s oratorio ‘Ester’, and maps ranging from a sixteenth-century survey of a Suffolk estate to a plan of the lava flows from eruptions of Etna in the nineteenth century. The Friends’ assistance takes the form both of outright donations and contributions towards very substantial acquisitions. They were early subscribers to the appeal to raise the funds to purchase the Macclesfield collection of scientific papers in 1999, and sheets in Newton’s autograph acquired from this source will be on display.

The exhibition will run until 4 June, and is open between 9.00 and 18.00 Mondays to Fridays and from 9.00 to16.30 on Saturdays (closed on Sundays, and from 25-28 March inclusive). For further details contact John Wells in the Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, (3)33055 or

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The Friends of Cambridge University Library

Forthcoming events, to be held in the Morison Room, University Library, except where stated:

Wednesday 23 February, at 17.00

Ben Barkow
‘The Wiener Library: a German Jewish response to the Holocaust’

Wednesday 2 March, at 17.00
Alison Pearn
‘“You can’t get there from here”: editing the correspondence of Charles Darwin’

Wednesday 16 March, at 20.00
A piano recital of works by Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin will be given in Trinity College by Lindesay Dixon. Details are available from the Secretary (

Members 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 will be served at 16.30 before the meetings of 23 February and 2 March.

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Editor: Stephen Hills ISSN:1360-9033