Readers' Newsletter


Refurbished Map Room opens

The University Library Map Room – home to over one million maps and several thousand atlases and books – reopened to readers on 31 March in its newly refurbished accommodation. Anyone who was familiar with the old room will notice a dramatic change. The predominant colour in the old room was green, and, although a green theme has been retained, the overall impression is much lighter due to the oak furniture and pale-coloured shelving.


The Map Room operated temporarily from the south end of the West Room in very cramped conditions – we thank our readers for their forbearance. In the refurbished room there is plenty of space to spread out at either high benches or at ordinary tables. For those who wish to trace maps, one of the tables includes a light box.

The security of the collections has been enhanced by the installation of CCTV and there is also a staff-controlled entry/exit barrier similar to those in some of the other Special Collections reading rooms.

One of the objectives of the project was to bring storage facilities up to modern-day standards and to this end 704 metal map trays, or drawers, in which maps can be stored flat have been installed. Whilst some of these drawer units support the work benches, others are stacked 40 high in rows in the mobile stack area. Mobile storage is used widely in the Library since it increases capacity enormously, but this is the first time it has been used here for drawers rather than shelves.

Some additional pictures of the refurbished room can be seen on the Map Department web pages at where you can also find out more about the project and the Map Department collections themselves.

The refurbishment was part-funded by the Library and part by the Wolfson CURL Library Programme, which supports projects that have the objective of improving access to library collections and aiding their preservation for future generations. The change is certainly dramatic and the Wolfson objectives have undoubtedly been achieved.

New Ordnance Survey digital data system

Since 1998 the University Library, along with the other legal deposit libraries, has received from Ordnance Survey of Great Britain (OS) an annual snapshot of its large scale map data, i.e. data originally surveyed at scales of 1:1,250, 1:2,500 and 1:10,000. Mapping at these scales was originally received under legal deposit in paper form and then microfilm, resulting in comprehensive collections of these detailed maps in the libraries. Since 1998, however, prompted by the shift at OS away from the conventional printing of maps at these scales towards a print-on-demand service from digital data, OS have voluntarily deposited annual snapshots to enable the legal deposit libraries to continue to maintain their valuable mapping archive in the digital age.

From 1998 to 2005 the map data was received in OS Land-Line ® data format, a format based on ‘tiles’ (squares of varying extent, similar to conventional map sheets). Since 2006, however, the Library has received it in OS MasterMap® data format. This is a much more complex data format based on features (buildings, roads, railways, etc.), which required the development of new software for viewing it – a collaborative venture between the legal deposit libraries.

Following the signing of an important agreement with Ordnance Survey, t he new software – Ordnance Survey MasterMap Viewer – has recently been installed in the University Library’s Map Room, as well as the other legal deposit libraries. This also makes it possible to view, via the same viewer, detailed Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland mapping, of which several snapshots have been received since 2004.

The data can be viewed on a dedicated PC in the Map Room and it is possible to take a limited number of customised A4‑sized colour printouts (on A3 paper), which can be centred on any location with portrait or landscape orientation. It is also possible to add your own title. The printouts cost £1 each and must be for private, non-commercial purposes. It is possible to search for an area by zoomable map, or place-name gazetteer or by grid reference. It is also possible to compare two maps of different date side by side, to zoom and pan, to turn contours and grid lines on or off and to measure distances.

Further information on the data and the viewer can be found at


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Love at a high altitude

The University Library Tower Project, the inception of which with a million-dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was reported in Readers’ Newsletter no. 33, has recently passed the milestone of the 40,000 th title in its aim of providing online catalogue entries for the nineteenth-century non-academic titles received by legal deposit and stored on the upper floors of the Library tower.

Valentine’s Day was chosen as an opportunity to publicise the value to the scholarly community of the greatly increased access thus provided to material formerly given only rudimentary entries in the handwritten sheaf catalogues. While incidentally deflating the myth that the tower was stocked exclusively with vintage erotica, attention was drawn to the newly revealed treasure trove of source material for those interested in the social life of the Victorian age. In this instance, courtship customs and guides to personal relationships and marriage were highlighted. Books such as A golden guide to matrimony, Flirting made easy and The lover’s guide to courtship reveal the pressures to marry and the appropriate behaviour of each gender. Help of varying degrees of practicality is offered by John Heywood’s Oracle of 1889, using predictive tables to answer such questions as “Who loves me?” and “What is my best feature?” and by The letter writer for lovers (1879) which includes a template for women offended by their correspondent’s last missive.

A guide to courtship practices from the 1880s: Flirting made easy.
Many other strands of nineteenth-century life and literature are being similarly illuminated as the tower’s secrets are gradually revealed. The books listed above can all be found via the Newton online catalogue. For more information about the Tower Project, contact Vanessa Lacey (

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Zodiac to Amnesty

As the result of a project part-funded by a grant of $25,000 from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, greatly improved access is being provided to archival material relating to University societies from the eighteenth century to the present. Documents held within the collections of the Library’s Manuscripts Department, and described generically in its catalogues, are being transferred to the University Archives and catalogued in much greater detail on Janus (, the Internet resource for catalogues of Cambridge archives.

The oldest archives are those of the Zodiac Club, probably founded in 1725 for purposes its twelve members (each taking a sign of the Zodiac as an alias) were forbidden to reveal but which seem to have included conviviality and mutual self-advancement. The documents do not shed much further light on these activities, being of an administrative nature, but do confirm the importance of senior members in many of the earlier University societies. There is then a jump in the collections so far catalogued to the early nineteenth century, with the Garrick and Ray Clubs, for thespians and scientists respectively, and the University Musical Society. The later nineteenth century offers a considerable variety of sports and recreational societies, from the new craze for bicycling to the long-established art of change ringing, and the documentation of University activities continues almost to the present, with the records of Cambridge University Amnesty International, starting in 2004.

These archives provide important insights into the life of the University over the centuries. The minutes of the Chit-Chat Club (1860-1897), a similar institution to the better-known Apostles with some overlap of membership, reveal what were the favoured topics of the ‘rational conversation’ it was founded to promote. They also demonstrate how many societies went into decline on the departure of prominent members (in this case, M.R. James, Provost of King’s). Interestingly, a prospective member of the Friday Club, a senior members’ dining society, was refusing to join even in 1868 because the club permitted smoking. To counter any impression of the exclusively sybaritic, inspection of the papers of the Cambridge University Social Services Organisation will reveal many of the voluntary and charitable activities undertaken by students in the 1970s under the aegis of this co-ordinating body.

Cross references are provided to the complementary collections of printed ephemera housed in the Rare Books Room and, as yet, listed only in card indexes.


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The Timothy Moore papers

The papers of the composer Timothy Moore (1922-2003) have been given to the University Library by his nephew. These comprise autograph manuscripts of over 100 compositions, some sound recordings and a small miscellany of letters, programmes and photographs. Most of these have now been catalogued and can be found on Newton. They join the Library's existing holdings of the papers of his father, the philosopher G.E. Moore, and his brother Nicholas Moore, the poet.

Timothy was educated at the then newly founded Dartington Hall School in Devon. He won a scholarship to read moral sciences at Trinity, his father’s college. His studies were interrupted by wartime service as a conscientious objector. On his return he also studied music, having organ lessons with Robin Orr, and took a double first in moral sciences and music. He spent a year as a composition scholar at the Royal College of Music under Herbert Howells and Edmund Rubbra, and worked as a jazz pianist, including a stint in Humphrey Littleton’s band. Private lessons with Tippett followed, and through him he joined the choir at Morley College. Here he met Walter Bergmann, through whom he had his first compositions, for recorder and piano, published by Schott.

In 1950 he returned to Dartington Hall School as Director of Music, and became an inspirational teacher, choir conductor, and jazz band leader. After he retired in 1982 there was a steady stream of new compositions every year to join the relatively few written during his thirty year teaching career. There are sonatas and chamber music for various ensembles, some with humorous titles (Dialectic, Quirky, Quodlibet, Sincerest flattery ,Three-piece suite), and several songs, including settings of Frances Cornford.

A renewed contact with a Russian-born school friend, Diana Miller, led to his organising exchange visits between the (British) Composers’ Guild and the Soviet Composers’ Union in the late 1980s. As a result of these contacts, Moore visited Russia himself, and his trumpet concerto, composed in 1948, was given a renewed lease of life by the brilliant Soviet trumpeter Timofei Dokshitser. Indeed, his music was more widely heard on the radio and in the concert hall in the USSR than in Britain.

His musical style is strongly melodic, tonal, very rhythmic, and influenced by Hindemith, the English madrigalists, and jazz and popular music. Some of his music is available from publishers and the Library hopes that the availability of the archive will encourage the publication of more.


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139 years of Nature now available online

The University Library has purchased the complete Nature Archives (1869-1996). The archive provides online access to the original journal articles previously only available in printed form. This complements the University's current subscription to Nature online and gives access to articles from 1869 up to the current issue. The Nature Archives have been purchased at a cost of over £100,000 with the help of a benefactor to the University Library.

The first issue of Nature was published on 4 November 1869, and the 384 volumes include many of the original reports of twentieth-century scientific research, including the discovery of nuclear fission and the structure of DNA. J.D. Watson and F.H.C. Crick's article ‘Molecular structure of nucleic acids: a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid’, can be found online in Nature, 171 (25 Apr 1953), 737-8.

Nature is available via the ejournals@cambridge portal ( or directly from the Nature website at Access to the resource is available to all staff and students of the University within the cam domain and off campus via a Raven login .


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The Exhibition Centre and other exhibitions

‘Living at This Hour’, the major exhibition commemorating the quatercentenary of John Milton’s birth, continues in the University Library’s Exhibition Centre until 12 July. Opening hours are: Monday to Friday 09.00-18.00, Saturday, 09.00-16.30. Open to all and admission free.

Forthcoming exhibitions in showcases along the North Front 1 Gallery of the University Library (leading from the Catalogue Room towards the Tea Room) include: a celebration of the centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming (April to June); ‘Politicians Write Fiction’, an exploration of politicians as novelists (June to September); and ‘Szirtes at Sixty’ (September onwards).
The illustrated Milton birthday book. (London, ca. 1887)

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Rose Book-Collecting Prize winner 2007–2008

The winner of the University Library’s Rose Book-Collecting Prize for 2007-8 is Daniel Hagon for his collection Primary sources in the history of mathematics and physics. Daniel is a third-year undergraduate at Hughes Hall reading Computer Science. His collection includes books from the early eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Among its strengths are: early Greek mathematics; mathematical analysis; optics and its relation to electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and relativity; Newton; and the manufacture of optical instruments. Many of the authors and works have a Cambridge connection, such as his copy of Cambridge problems: being a collection of the printed questions proposed to the candidates for the degree of bachelor of arts, at the General Examinations, from the year 1801 to the year 1820 inclusively (London 1836), a later issue of the questions for the Senate House examinations that would become the Mathematical Tripos.

The Rose Book-Collecting Prize was established in 2006 by Professor James Marrow and Dr Emily Rose in honour of Dr Rose’s parents, Daniel and Joanna Rose. The annual competition is open to all current Cambridge students, and collections are judged on their originality, intelligence and cohesion, regardless of size or monetary value. Daniel wins a prize of £500 and 10 years’ membership of the Friends of the University Library. His collection will now go on to compete in the international Fine Books & Collections Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship, which was won last year by the Cambridge entrant.


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Good news from around the world

A subscription to the Dow Jones Factiva service is providing access to a greatly improved range of both newspapers and business resources. UK broadsheet titles are joined by a selection of French, German, Russian, Spanish and Italian newspapers and some Indian, Japanese and Chinese ones. Titles include Die Welt, Le Monde, Corriere della Sera, Izvestia, El País, and Nikkei. US titles which have long been in demand are now available, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek. There is a choice of nine language interfaces.

Financial and business information is the backbone of the Factiva service. Market information covers current and historical information on stocks, funds, and currencies. Coverage of companies includes financial results and balance sheets, stock price activity, latest news and a comparison with companies with peer groups. Industry reports provide analysis and opinion from the world’s top financial and brokerage experts. Financial sector news is provided by The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.

Factiva complements the comprehensive collection of UK national and regional newspapers available through LexisNexis Butterworths and listed in ejournals@cambridge.

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Explore the 20th century online through Parliamentary Papers

One of the most important collections of resources for the study of the 20 th century has gone online with the addition to ProQuest’s House of Commons Parliamentary Papers of the papers from 1901 to the present day. From the petition of Boer War prisoners to the debate on a constitution for Europe, 5.5 million pages cover the years between 1901 and 2004. Bills, drafts of legislation, reports of committees, command papers, and statistical accounts make up this remarkable and unique body of evidence. The inclusion of 20 th century papers in the collection finally completes the coverage of the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, which now include over 200,000 searchable sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688.


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The Friends of Cambridge University Library

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

Wednesday 21 May 2008, at 17.00  

Michael Twyman
‘The long-term significance of printed ephemera’ Neglected until recent times, ephemera provide a wealth of evidence about the past: events, customs, products, language and reading, in addition to design and printing. All will be discussed in this fully illustrated talk.  

Friends £2.50, others £3.50; junior members of Cambridge University free.    

Wednesday 11 June 2008, at 17.00  

Gordon Campbell
‘Milton in Cambridge’ John Milton’s experience of Cambridge from 1625 to 1632 was very different from that of the modern undergraduate and postgraduate. Professor Campbell’s talk will explore how Milton chose his college, how he was taught and how he lived.  

Friends £2.50, others £3.50; junior members of Cambridge University free.


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Editor: Stephen Hills ISSN:1360-9033