Readers' Newsletter


New University Librarian

Anne Jarvis
Anne Jarvis

Mrs Anne Jarvis has been appointed University Librarian, the first female to hold the post in its 650 year history.

Formerly Deputy Librarian, Anne replaces Peter Fox, who stepped down at the end of March after fifteen years in charge. “Cambridge,” she said on appointment, “is already one of the world's great research libraries. I look forward both to building on this success and to an exciting future in which the University Library will play a leading role in providing innovative services in a rapidly changing information landscape."

Anne has been Deputy Librarian at Cambridge University Library since 2000. Her main professional interests include emerging information technologies, succession planning, change management and digital preservation. As Deputy Librarian her role has been to ensure that future information trends are identified, future service needs anticipated and the highest quality service standards delivered. Key to this, she believes, is nurturing and developing a highly motivated, knowledgeable and skilled staff.

A graduate in history of Trinity College Dublin, Anne's library career began in special libraries and included posts in Ireland and the UK. Her career in academic libraries began at Dublin City University. She then moved to Trinity College Dublin where she took up the post of Sub-Librarian, Collection Management, before returning to the UK to take up her current post at Cambridge. During this period she also served for two years as Vice-President at Wolfson College, where she has been a Fellow since 2000.

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Oxford Scholarship Online a leap forward in electronic resources for learning

Through the generosity of a major donor the University Library has been able to take a significant leap forward in improving its support for undergraduate learningby acquiring access in perpetuity to all titles in the Oxford Scholarship Online collection of e-books published to the end of 2008.  The collection provides quick and easy access to the full text of 2,557 books published by Oxford University Press in a wide-ranging group of subjects from biology to religion, ranging through business and management, economics, classical studies, history, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy and political science.  It is widely viewed as one of the most impressive ebook collections available and one of the few to be aimed principally at undergraduate students.   Its acquisition helps to meet the fast growing demand for access to textbooks anywhere and at any time, relieves pressure on the most sought-after titles and complements ebook collections already in heavy use, including the Cambridge Companions Online and MyiLibraryOxford Scholarship Online is easy and intuitive to use and designed to make incorporation of its content into online reading lists and course packs as simple as possible at book and chapter level. 

Individual ebooks will be accessible from Newton.  The collection can be found at  It is accessible on campus without passwords and off-campus with a Raven Id and password.    

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Acquisitions budgets under strain

The recent financial turmoil unsurprisingly presents significant implications for the University Library, in particular for its acquisitions budgets.

As most readers will be aware, the University Library is able to request from its publishers a copy of any printed British or Irish publication, in accordance with the terms of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (and equivalent Irish legislation).To complement material acquired by Legal Deposit, the Library purchases not just printed publications from other countries, but also non-print resources – most notably the electronic resources that have transformed access to information for so many engaged in academic research and study.

Virtually all of the modern resources acquired for the Library’s collections – whether in digital or printed form – are either priced in foreign currencies or are supplied through companies that have themselves purchased them on our behalf in a foreign currency. Consequently, the purchasing power of the acquisitions budget mirrors the ups and downs of the pound against major foreign currencies (in the Library’s case, the US dollar and euro are especially important). Sterling is now worth approximately 28% less against both the dollar and the euro than in April 2007. Clearly, this has a significant impact on what the Library can acquire for the collections.

Given the current financial constraints the Library is doing all it can to ensure that purchasing decisions represent best value for the academic community. Subscriptions, for example, are regularly reviewed – just as they are even when there is less pressure on budgets – so that we can remain responsive to the needs of our researchers. In these times of reduced purchasing power, we will try to ensure that we can purchase essential printed and electronic resources and we hope our readers and academic colleagues will understand if/when we are unable to purchase items that they might recommend.

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News of the Arcadia Fellows

IRIS picture

Readers’ Newsletter 37 announced the birth of the Arcadia Fellowship Programme.
Further information can be found at:

The recent Fellows now report on their activities:

Lizz Edwards-Waller writes:

From January to April 2009 I’ve been working on IRIS, which stands for Inductions, Research and Information Skills. The project seeks to map the information skills and needs of undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge.

Open access publishing, online databases, social networking sites and e-books have transformed the digital information landscape over the past ten years, and the skills needed to navigate this effectively are changing too. In Cambridge, new students also have to get to grips with a tripartite library system, boasting over 120 libraries
within the city. Whilst this is a fantastic resource, it can be difficult to know where to start when seeking relevant information resources.

As part of the IRIS project, students were invited to take part in an online survey about the information sources they use and asking from whom (if anyone) they seek advice about information. Over 1700 students responded, reporting a wide range of experiences and these were followed up through a series of focus groups. Librarians across the colleges, faculties and departments and UL also took part in a questionnaire about the type of inductions offered to new students.

I hope that the outcomes of this project will be useful in planning services for students in the digital age. If you’d like more information about the IRIS Project, or to read up on the latest results, please see the website at
Keren Mills writes:

M-libraries: Information use on the move.

I have undertaken a project to scope the information requirements of academic library users on the move in order to inform future development of library services to mobile devices.

The term 'm-library' now refers to library services delivered to, or accessed from, mobile devices such as phones. A literature review of m-library services developed so far by libraries around the world shows that little work has been done on user requirements to find out what sort of library services they would be likely to find useful when they're on the move. This project will scope the information requirements of academic library users on the move in order to inform future development of library services to mobile devices. These services could be of particular benefit to students because mobile access to library services could give them greater flexibility to study anywhere at any time. Deliverables for this project will include service recommendations for libraries.

For more information about the project see

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New look for the Newsletter

During the summer, consideration will be given to a redesign of the Readers’ newsletter, which has maintained essentially the same format since its first issue in 1995, and we should like to involve our readers in the process. Any suggestions for content or presentation would be very gratefully received. Please contact the editor, Stephen Hills ( by August 1st.

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Incunabula to appear in Newton

The editio princeps of Lactantius, printed in Subiaco, Italy, in October 1465.
The editio princeps of Lactantius, printed in Subiaco, Italy, in October 1465.

The University Library has received a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation for a major five-year project to catalogue its fifteenth-century printed books online.

Cambridge University Library’s celebrated collection of incunabula comprises some 4650 items. Its origins go back to the early history of the Library; the earliest printed books were given by Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England, who died in 1500. Subsequent donors include Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London, who gave the University its first Greek texts, and Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose gift of 1574 included a splendid copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle with hand-coloured woodcuts. The Library’s greatest benefactor was George I, who in 1715 gave the library of John Moore, Bishop of Ely, renowned throughout Europe for its medieval manuscripts and early printed books.

The collection was greatly enhanced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by Henry Bradshaw, Librarian from 1867 to 1886 and an influential scholar in the field, and benefactors such as Arthur Young (1852–1936), whose gifts included the editio princeps of Dante and the Library’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Numerically, books printed in Germany and Italy predominate; in terms of quality, however, holdings from the presses of England and the Low Countries are outstanding. The collection contains around 134 unique items, including quartos printed by William Caxton during his first years as a printer in Westminster.

With very few exceptions, there are no records for incunabula in Newton. A printed catalogue by J.C.T. Oates was published in 1954 and remains a classic in its field; however, it is itself now a somewhat scarce and expensive volume. The shelfmarks of the Library’s holdings and details of incunabula acquired since 1954 are recorded only in an annotated copy of Oates’s catalogue kept in the Rare Books Room. This renders an important part of the Library’s collections difficult to access in an age when scholars expect information to be instantly available on their desktops.

Inevitably, scholarship has progressed considerably over the fifty-five years since Oates published his work, and some of the descriptions stand in need of revision and expansion. The new online catalogue records will provide subject access to the collection for the first time as well as a full account of the provenance of individual copies, recording features such as inscriptions, illuminations, bindings, and the names of former owners. This is a welcome opportunity for the Library to fill one of the last gaps in the Newton catalogue, enabling the majority of our printed collections to be searched from any location via the web.

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The China Digital Library

Cambridge University Library now has access to one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese monographs following the gift of 200,000 electronic books by Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China, who visited the University recently as part of its 800th Anniversary celebrations. The gift is one of the largest single donations received in the University Library's 650-year history and almost doubles the number of electronic books at its disposal. The donation was presented to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, in a short ceremony before Premier Wen's delivery of the 2008-2009 Rede Lecture.

The 200,000 titles in the donation have been selected to complement the Library's existing Chinese holdings, and comprise books published since 1992 in the humanities, including classical and modern Chinese language and literature, history, geography, politics, economics, law, philosophy, religion, social sciences, military affairs, culture, education and art.

China's provision of electronic publications is one of the most comprehensive in the world. The digital publishing and e-book technology used in the digital library platform presented to Cambridge were developed by Founder Apabi Technology Ltd of Peking University.

The Chinese collection of Cambridge University Library includes inscribed oracle bones dating from the 13th century BC, over 100,000 printed book titles, the earliest of which dates from the 12th century AD, manuscripts, paintings, rubbings and other artefacts. The first Chinese book entered the Library as early as 1632. Significant additions to the Library's Chinese holdings were made in the years immediately following the Second World War and systematic purchasing of new Chinese publications has continued ever since. Generous gifts from China have also continued down the years. The latest gift from Premier Wen Jiabao, however, eclipses all previous donations of Chinese books. It has increased the number of Chinese book titles available to members of Cambridge University by two-thirds to over 300,000, the largest number of any library in the UK and among the largest outside China.

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A voyage round the world

Henslow’s inscription on the flyleaf of Humboldt’s Personal narrative, from the Darwin Library.
Henslow’s inscription on the flyleaf of Humboldt’s Personal narrative, from the Darwin Library.

The University Library’s next major exhibition, opening in July, will be devoted to Charles Darwin and the Beagle collections in the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge University Library houses the world’s major archive of Darwin manuscripts, books, and letters. This exhibition explores the Beagle voyage as a pivotal experience in Darwin’s life; his journey was born out of his studies at Cambridge, and his specimens and notes were sent back to Cambridge and disseminated from there. The exhibition will reunite manuscripts and specimens from the University’s collections, many of them not seen in public since the voyage, and show how Darwin’s experiences on the Beagle played an essential role in the formulation of his theories throughout the rest of his life. The exhibition will be co-ordinated with temporary and permanent exhibitions elsewhere in the University, and together these will provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore Darwin’s life and work.

Among the exhibits will be the letter that first offered the 22-year-old Darwin a place on board; field notes and specimen lists, together with some of the plant, animal and mineral specimens they describe; geological maps and cross-sections; a detailed scale model of the Beagle herself; contemporary sketches made by the Beagle’s artist, Conrad Martens, and some of the books that Darwin took on the voyage with him and kept for the rest of his life. The title for the exhibition comes from an inscription inside one of these books (illustrated), given to Darwin by the University Professor of Botany, John Stevens Henslow, shortly before the Beagle sailed: “J.S. Henslow to his friend C. Darwin on his departure from England upon a voyage round the World”.

For further information please contact the exhibition curator, Dr Alison Pearn (01223 339770,, or the Library’s Joint Exhibitions Officer, Mr John Wells (01223 333055,

6 July – 23 December 2009 (closed 31 August and 14–19 September inclusive), Monday–Friday 09.00–18.00, Saturday 09.00–16.30. Admission free.

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Cataloguing harmony in Oxbridge

Harmonia Mundi, a 14-month pilot collaborative project, has been embarked upon by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will investigate the best way to provide online access to catalogue records for the printed music collections of Cambridge University Library and the Bodleian.

The combined collections of printed music comprise one of the most valuable resources not only for music researchers and performers, but also, increasingly, for researchers in other fields, such as social historians. Access to these rich resources by international researchers is limited, however, because only a small proportion of these printed music collections appears in the online catalogues, and only very basic searches are possible via the existing finding aids, mainly card catalogues. Since the 1780s the two institutions have received a large quantity of identical printed music by Legal Deposit, and a shared cataloguing project will achieve efficiencies that would not be possible by individual action.

The pilot project team, which includes Richard Andrewes, Head of the Music Department at Cambridge University Library, and Michael Jones, Project Officer, who has been based here since November 2008, is completing a detailed analysis of the existing finding aids and the two collections themselves to determine their relative strengths and map the points of overlap. They are also developing a harmonized cataloguing workflow and testing this in a sample cataloguing project. The results of these investigations will be presented in a report to the Mellon Foundation. It will include a recommendation of how best to achieve full access via the Web to information about the printed music collections held by both institutions.

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The Friends of Cambridge University Library

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

Saturday 2 May 2009, at 11.30

Margaret Jull Costa
‘Translation: is being faithful enough?’
Margaret Jull Costa, whose translation of The Maias by Eça de Queiroz won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Award and the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize in 2008, discusses the translator’s many ways of being faithful.
Friends and junior members of Cambridge University free; others £3.50.

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Editor: Stephen Hills ISSN:1360-9033