Readers' Newsletter


Map Department refurbishment

Before and after: the Map Room in its original state and an artist’s impression of the refurbished room.

In June the Library heard that its application to the Wolfson CURL Library Programme for funding towards the refurbishment of the Map Department had been successful.

The University Library moved into its present building in 1934 and the Map Department is still in its original accommodation, with most of the shelving and storage facilities in the Department dating from the 1930s. So although Library users have a world class and constantly expanding map collection at their disposal, the physical surroundings in which it is stored and used have failed to keep pace with developments and improvements made elsewhere in the Library.

The Map Department is situated on two floors of the Library’s North Pavilion. After the refurbishment the most visible changes will be apparent in the Map Room, the Map Department’s reading room, located on the first floor. This will be redesigned to present a less cluttered, better organised environment in which readers will be more able to choose and define the space best suited to their work. In particular, more satisfactory seating will be provided for readers studying large maps and atlases, and facilities for disabled users will be enhanced. The new furniture will include modern, easy-to-use, map-safe drawers, some of which will be stacked in mobile units to maximise flat storage capacity. In addition, the enquiry desk will be repositioned next to the entrance, where it will be more visible to readers and where communication between staff in the Map Room and in the adjacent office will be easier.

The refurbishment will also facilitate greater control over environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, thus enhancing conditions for staff, readers and the collections.

Detailed planning for the work is in its early stages and the precise timetable is still under discussion. T he work will start some time between June and September 2007 and will take about nine months. During the work the Map Department will temporarily relocate within the University Library and inevitably there will be times when Map Department staff will only be able to offer a limited service. We will provide as much advance warning as possible, but do bear this in mind if you are planning to make use of the Map Department in the near future. The latest news will be posted on the Map Department’s web pages at

The stated objective of the Wolfson CURL Library Programme is to improve access to library collections and aid their preservation for future generations. Their grant, combined with matching funding from Library resources, will certainly achieve these objectives.

Top of document

The Sandars lectures 2007

This year’s Sandars lectures will be given at 17.00 on 5, 6 and 8 March in the Morison Room at the University Library by Sarah Tyacke, CB, FSA, FRHistS, Hon. DPhil. Formerly the Chief Executive of The National Archives, and previously Director of Special Collections at the British Library, Dr Tyacke is now Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, Royal Holloway, and Distinguished Senior Research Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The overall title of her lectures is Conversations with maps: world views in early modern Europe. The first lecture concerns the essential ‘conversation’ between past and present and deals with the history of cartography in the 20 th century as it applies to the early modern European expansion or encounter with other places and peoples in the world. The second reflects on the ‘conversations’ amongst early modern practitioners and addresses what they thought they were doing in making maps and charts of the world. The last lecture and third ‘conversation’ relates to the changing picture of the world over time from the perspectives of the early modern European protagonists and what if any relationship it had to the places and people they met and to their changing audiences.

Top of document

DiscoveryGate – a major new resource for chemistry

 The Library recently subscribed to Elsevier MDL’s DiscoveryGate service for chemistry, giving researchers access to more than 20 million chemical structures, 11 million reactions, and over 350 million associated calculated and reported properties. It includes the CrossFire Beilstein and Gmelin services to which the Library already provided access but adds a further 15 databases covering bioactivity, pharmacology , metabolism, toxicology, physical properties, chemical sourcing facts and material science. DiscoveryGate links to authoritative major reference volumes that review over 26,000 synthetic methods and provide information on their scope and limitations.

Top of document

Bequest to Library Staff Development and Welfare Fund

In the Readers’ Newsletter of April 2001, we announced that Professor Norman Pounds, Emeritus Professor of Geography and History at Indiana University, had made a very generous donation of £10,000 to establish a new 'Library Staff Development and Welfare Fund'. He did this in order to recognise and thank all the members of Library staff who had gone out of their way to help him over the many years that he had been using the Library - he started as a reader over 70 years ago, when the Library was still in the Old Schools. The fund was established to assist Library staff who are pursuing training in librarianship, information studies or related professional work such as binding or conservation, and to assist any member of staff who faces hardship as the result of an accident, illness, etc., and who is not adequately covered by other sources of support.

Professor Pounds died in March at the age of 94 and left the munificent sum of £150,000 to the fund that he had established. He hoped that the existence of such a fund would encourage further donations from readers who wished to recognise the help they have received from Library staff. Anyone who would like to contribute to this fund is invited to contact the Librarian.

Top of document

Grant for the Darwin Project

The Darwin Correspondence Project has been successful in a bid for a major grant from the John Templeton Foundation. It will receive £592,000 over three years. In addition to supporting research and editing work on the Project's definitive edition of Charles Darwin's letters for the next three years, the Foundation is providing funds to create a major ‘Darwin and Religion’ web resource and to commission a dramatisation of letters exchanged by Darwin and Asa Gray, Professor of Botany at Harvard and a devout Presbyterian. The launch of the website will coincide with the premi è re performance of the dramatisation in Boston in the spring. More details will appear in a later issue of the Readers’ Newsletter.

Top of document

University Library user surveys

During July and August 2006, the University Library surveyed the opinions of library users who were visitors to Cambridge. We are grateful to the 150 readers who gave us their time to respond to the questionnaire.

The survey methodology was developed by LibQUAL+, who process the statistics for us. We took part as one of a group of UK university libraries organised by SCONUL, and the national results will be available early in 2007. The LibQUAL+ service is described on their website at

At the end of the 2007 Lent term the University Library will run a similar survey for members of the University: both those who regularly use the UL and those who do not. A sample of our readership will be sent an email inviting them to take part and there will be paper copies of the survey available in the Library. The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, with 22 questions and an unlimited comments box.

When we have the results from that survey, we will compare the opinions of readers from the University of Cambridge with those from our visitors. We will then use the information to align our services more closely with readers’ needs.

If you have not already done so, you might like to register your email address with the Library. Not only will that make it possible to invite you to participate in the survey, it will also allow you to receive notifications of new book requests, overdue reminders, recall notices and advance warnings that loans are due back soon – by email. The Entrance Hall staff can add your email address to your account, or you can send it to with a request for it to be added.

Top of document

Cantus, songs and fancies, to three, four, or five parts. 3 rd ed. Aberdeen: printed by Iohn Forbes, 1682. (MR280.d.65.1) Melodies and words of 55 songs and 15 part songs in English and Italian. From the new exhibition described on page 4.


Following ‘a fashion not likely to last’: the archive of the Cambridge Greek Play Committee

The year 2007 will no doubt prove to be full of incident, but for many people one of the highlights will be the Cambridge Greek Play in October. The Cambridge tradition of producing an ancient Greek tragedy or comedy in the original language began in 1882 and its development can be traced in the material held in the Archive of the Greek Play Committee. The archive is deposited in the University Library and can be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room. It consists mainly of programmes, photographs and reviews of the productions and posters concerning them, with some correspondence and records of the committee's proceedings.

Set design for the Cambridge production of Aristophanes’ "Lysistrata”, 1986.

Set design for the Cambridge production of Aristophanes’ "Lysistrata”, 1986.

There are also copies of many of the acting editions and musical scores. The archive includes creative work by artists and composers, translators and choreographers as well as members of the University. More recent material includes audio and video tapes of several productions, providing valuable evidence of choral singing and speaking of Greek as well as staging design.

From the beginning the Greek play consisted of far more than a small group of undergraduates putting on a play, and for that reason it's particularly interesting. Over the years the casts included Rupert Brooke, who played the non-speaking part of the herald in the 1906 production of Eumenides and was described by The Times as ‘exceedingly beautiful’, and John Barton who played Oedipus in 1949. Composers include Vaughan Williams, C.V. Stanford and Hubert Parry.

The archive provides the answer to a whole range of questions, and in turn raises a number of new ones because it traces the history of our relationship with Greek drama. Oliver Taplin has written that the ancient Greeks created a dramatic tradition that tried to explain their very existence, ‘to make sense of chaos’. This is still a powerful motivating force for the performers who take part in the plays and for the audiences who see them.

In October 2007 Euripides’ Medea will be directed by Annie Castledine at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, in ancient Greek with English-language surtitles.

Full contact details for the archive may be found on the University Library Manuscripts Department website at:

Top of document

Explore the 19 th century online

A group of electronic resources which the University Library has recently made available to the University could transform research on Britain, its foreign relations, and the empire in the 19 th century. The acquisition is particularly timely in view of the Tower Project to catalogue online the Library’s non-academic Victorian collections.

The House of Commons Parliamentary Papers online, published by ProQuest, provides access to the full text of papers for the entire 19 th century, with extensive search facilities and the ability to browse by subject from ‘Central Government and Administration’ through ‘Law and Order’ to documents on foreign affairs and diplomacy. It offers an unprecedented tool for exploring society in the 19 th century. A personal archive can be created within the resource for ease of reference. The House of Commons Parliamentary Papers are available at

The Library has also acquired access to the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals online ( containing material from 1824-1900. It identifies the authors of articles within 45 major Victorian periodicals, and provides a bibliography for each contributor. Any and all aspects of contemporary thought were represented through this burgeoning medium, from which many eminent novelists and journalists emerged.

A third related resource is the Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue. This defines the printed record of the English-speaking world from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the First World War, comprising more than 1,200,000 records drawn from eight legal deposit and research libraries. Access is available at

Top of document

New fire doors  

As the result of a fire risk assessment carried out in 2004, new fire doors have now been installed throughout the main University Library building. Eighty-two doors have been replaced across the Library. All of them contain transparent view panels. In an emergency, these help ensure that one does not enter an area at risk. They are also for the everyday benefit of those readers using wheelchairs.

Top of document

Keeping the score

An alto part book, probably copied in East Anglia, ca. 1525-1530. (MS Dd.13.27)

An alto part book, probably copied in East Anglia, ca. 1525-1530. (MS Dd.13.27)

From sixth-century treatises to contemporary pop songs, the University Library holds over half a million volumes of printed and manuscript music scores and texts on music. A new exhibition, opening on 18 January, reveals the great variety of the collections, and displays just some of the Library's musical treasures

Arranged in a broadly chronological sequence, the exhibition starts with the Library’s earliest music and theoretical treatises. Amongst these, the famous classical author Boethius features both in a magnificent 12 th-century manuscript of his treatise De musica, and in the musical settings of the poems (metra) from his De consolatione philosophiae, found in an Anglo-Saxon compendium from the priory of St Augustine in Canterbury. His treatise still influences the two incunabula books on music by Spadaro and Podio.

Early choral church music is represented by a great choir book from the time of Henry VII with a mensural canon to the words of ‘Regina coeli’ that still eludes transcription and resolution, and one of the earliest manuscript part-books, unusually richly copied with gilded capitals.

The earliest printed music on show is a Salzburg Missal of 1507 that includes the first example of printing lines and musical notes from movable type. From the time of the Reformation we have Martin Luther’s own musical setting of the Lutheran mass in German (1526), and John Merbecke’s music for the first communion service in English (1550).

The high renaissance is represented by chansons of Lassus, beautifully printed by the Parisian printers Adrian le Roy & Robert Ballard (1571), and a unique part-song by William Byrd printed on separate sheets by Thomas East (1589).

One of the Library’s greatest treasures is the collection of nine lute manuscripts in the hand of Matthew Holmes (d.1621), containing over 900 pieces, including much by John Dowland, the greatest master of the instrument. Five of these are on display, including the four part-books for broken consort. As a counterpoint to this, there is the extraordinary roll of lute music from the Tang court (AD 618-907) copied in Japan in 1567 for performance in the Kikutei (Chrysanthemum Pavilion) in Kyoto.

Cambridge music is also featured in manuscripts of Odes composed for the Installation of the Chancellor by William Boyce in 1749 and Charles Villiers Stanford in 1892, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ autograph MusD exercise.

From the mid-19 th-century onwards the Library has received a great variety of musical gifts and acquisitions from many different sources, many of which are represented in the exhibition. Two important collections of older materials came from A.H. Mann (organist of King’s College), which included a collection of autograph manuscripts by the Norwich born composer James Hook; and from F.T. Arnold, containing chamber music and theoretical works related to the art of improvised accompaniment from a bass line. Other later collections are of the complete papers and manuscripts of the composers William Alwyn, Doreen Carwithen and Peter Tranchell, and the émigré writer on music Hans Keller. Smaller musical collections include scores belonging to Louis Macneice’s wife, the cabaret singer Hedli Anderson (including autograph manuscripts by Britten and Walton) and the conductors Norman Del Mar (a Stravinsky manuscript) and Eugene Goossens (music for the silent film The Epic of Everest).

Keeping the score: music in the University Library. 18 January to 30 June 2007, closed 6-9 April inclusive. Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 18.00; Saturday, 09.00 to 16.30. Admission free.

The Friends of Cambridge University Library

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

Saturday 3 February 2007, at 11.30  

Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey
‘The photographic book: a new area for book collectors’
Sir Charles will give an illustrated talk on ‘photobooks’, a relatively new field of book production combining images, typography and design, and will show examples from his personal collection.  

Friends and junior members of Cambridge University free, others £3.50.    

Saturday 3 March 2007, at 11.30  

Lisa Jardine
‘When the fuss has died down: what happens to the rediscovered Hooke Folio now?’

Professor Jardine, Director of the AHRC Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, will talk on the recently-discovered Robert Hooke manuscript, its return to the Royal Society and the work of the Centre in bringing it into the public domain.  

Friends and junior members of Cambridge University free, others £3.50.

Top of document

Back to Newsletters

Editor: Stephen Hills ISSN:1360-9033