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  • Having Information to Hand: Research Support Handy Guides

    If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last few years of training library staff it’s that they really love a handout! Whether it contains extra information or a copy of the slides, in print or as a digital document, they really want something tangible to take away from a training session and refer back to. However I’m also a realist and I know that many of these handouts end their lives in a desk drawer never to be seen again so I wanted to create something that would be both attention grabbing and useful. Our series of Research Support Handy Guides were born as a result.

    These short, four page guides are designed to be used as mini-booklets which summarise complex topics related to scholarly communication in an accessible way. They all follow a fairly consistent format with an eye-catching cover, a short synopsis of the topic, a list of factors to consider and links to further information. Having a page limit means that only the most important information can be included and this forces me to think about what people really need to know about a topic. It also means that I need to use clear language rather than lots of text which really helps me to distill a topic to its most important point. Although the guides are aimed at library staff we have discovered that they have other uses. All of the guides are made available under a CC-BY 4.0 licence on our website so that people can adapt the information as needed and we have added downloadable versions upon popular demand. Library staff are able to print these out or add them to their own websites as resources for researchers which saves them time having to come up with similar content from scratch and reinventing the wheel. The guides are also available via the online publication tool ISSUU which opens them up to a wider audience and makes them interactive. It doesn’t hurt that all of this provides a bit of stealth advocacy for the OSC either! I designed the guides using Canva. If you have never come across this site before I thoroughly recommend checking it out as it makes designing good looking materials really easy. I often have an idea in my head of how I want something to look but I can never quite seem to translate that to the (digital) page. Canva provides lots of support, graphics and importantly templates to help you create really engaging materials. I simple chose an appropriate template, uploaded some (CC0) images, edited the colours to reflect our palette and added the text.

    So far there are eight guides in the series covering topics from data management plans to peer review. The guides are often created in direct response to a need identified by our library community – something that often happens when someone starts a sentence with the phrase “I wish I knew more about…” Some guides are created to tie in with an event such as Open Access Week or the recent Fair Use Week. One topic which is particularly suited to this format is copyright and there are currently three guides where it features heavily: Academic Social Networks, Anatomy of a Creative Commons License and the Fair Dealing Fact Sheet. This last title covers a topic that often causes confusion for both researchers and librarians and has been particularly useful to produce in our recent information sessions on copyright Based on the positive reaction I have received both in person and online I think more copyright related titles will definitely be added to the series!

    If anyone else is thinking of using something similar I would definitely say give it a try. The guides have proved popular with both the Cambridge library community and those further afield and there have been over 3000 hits across all titles so far plus it’s always useful to have something ready to hand out at events or to point to when asked a question. Although much of the information has been adapted from existing information on our webpages the guides offer a much more accessible and visually appealing format that reading pages of dense text. There are lots of different design tools available to help and of course you might just have more talent than me! Creating something that looks professional is surprisingly easy and can really help to engage users in complex topics and potentially be used as a way to start a longer conversation – and you never know where that might lead.

    Published 19 March 2019
    Written by Claire Sewell

    This blog was originally published on UK Copyright Literacy, 15 March 2019

    Timestamp: 19 March 2019 - 2:47pm
  • Hans Keller 100: the view from Another Place

    Hans Keller and Haydn were sitting together in the Ambrosia Café in Another Place enjoying a cup of Viennese coffee and a gossip. “Happy Birthday old man”, said Haydn pushing a roughly-wrapped package across the table, “this is for you”. … Continue reading →
    Timestamp: 19 March 2019 - 2:40pm
  • Futurelib: In-depth research with disabled students at Cambridge

    Since the last update here on our work focusing on accessibility and inclusivity, Futurelib have been conducting in-depth research work with disabled students at the University of Cambridge, during Cambridge Lent Term, January – March 2019.

    An online survey was sent via the University of Cambridge Disability Resource Centre (DRC) to all students who have registered with the Centre as having a disability. The survey questions were broad and open, seeking qualitative responses:

    • What do you enjoy most about studying at Cambridge?
    • What do you find most frustrating about studying at Cambridge?
    • Please describe your experiences of using Cambridge library buildings and the spaces within those buildings:
    • Please describe your experiences of using Cambridge library resources, i.e. printed and electronic books, journals and other similar content:
    • Please describe your experiences of using Cambridge library websites:
    • Please outline any ways in which Cambridge libraries are currently failing you:
    • Please outline, in as much detail as possible, any ways in which Cambridge libraries could improve the accessibility and inclusivity of their services:

    We received over 90 responses to this survey, many of which went into a deep level of detail. Respondents were asked to include their HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) disability code (this was optional) and almost all did, which showed us that responses had come from students with a wide range of disclosed disabilities: physical impairments and/or mobility issues; sensory impairments; mental health conditions; long standing illness or health conditions; specific learning difficulties; social/communication impairments, as well as from students who identified as having a disability not currently covered by the HESA codes.

    Click here to access the list of HESA codes for disability.

    We also conducted a two-week digital diary study with nine student participants, and are currently completing a number of in-depth interviews. Again, the range of experiences and circumstances represented by students who participated in these exercises was wide and incredibly useful.

    The insights these in-depth methods have uncovered have been at points revealing, enlightening, challenging and saddening. By exploring what people at Cambridge experience day-to-day we can learn to work towards supporting and working with them more effectively and productively.

    As always, a full findings report will be disseminated open access soon, along with a prototype ‘Accessibility and Inclusivity: Cambridge libraries toolkit’ that the project team, along with input from groups such as the DRC, Estates Management and the University Information Services, are currently developing within Cambridge LibGuides.

    Some of the insights from our work so far include:

    • The importance of an inclusive approach to resource access provision; many students mentioned the value that electronic resources bring, whilst also stressing that this provision should not be seen as ‘good enough’ for disabled library users.
    • A range of needs and experiences in terms of physical study spaces, including the impact of social dynamics on a space and user needs related to sensory aspects of space such as noise, light and heat.
    • A frustration from students that, in and outside of libraries, ‘unseen’ disabilities are often not given the attention and respect that they deserve.
    • The fact that students will need to learn and access content in different ways and through a variety of different media.
    • The importance of appropriate signposting and guidance, in both physical and digital environments.
    • The fact that ‘library anxiety’ can often be significantly exacerbated for disabled people, whether that be due to mobility issues, specific learning difficulties, or mental health.

    The Futurelib team has found the work conducted during this project so far incredibly eye-opening and educating. We hope that, when released, the project outputs will also be of use to staff working with library users across, and beyond Cambridge.

    David Marshall, Futurelib Programme

    March 2019




    Timestamp: 19 March 2019 - 11:21am
  • Europresse

    The University of Cambridge now provides access to the news media of continental Europe and beyond

    Through a new subscription to EUROPRESSE members of the University now have access to a wide range of European newspapers, including the French national and regional press (e.g. Le Monde, Le Figaro), news magazines, the international press (New York Times, Guardian, and many more), professional publications, news agencies, and TV and radio transcriptions.

    Access is restricted to 2 concurrent users – please remember to log out from your session. If you are unable to gain access – il vous faudra patienter un peu.

    Access is available on or off campus via the following link:-

    Thematically, Europresse titles cover the Humanities and Social Sciences, Politics, Law, Economics, Finance, Science, Environment, IT, Transports, Industry, Energy, Agriculture, Arts and culture (Lire, Le Magazine littéraire, World Literature Today, Télérama, Rock and Folk), Health, and event Sports (L’Équipe, France Football, Sport 24). It also includes some TV and radio transcripts, biographies and reports, images, audio and video content.

    Timestamp: 18 March 2019 - 12:17pm
  • Times Higher Education

    The University of Cambridge now has an institution-wide licence to the Times Higher Education (THE).

    Staff and students keen to keep up to date with developments within the higher education sector can do so courtesy of a new institutional subscription to the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine.

    The University has signed a three-year deal that enables staff and students to read the magazine online. Faculties and departments are therefore requested to cancel any subscriptions that they may have with the THE to reduce overall spend across the institution.

    This licence allows all staff and students to access a range of editorial services, including:

    • regular newsletter updates
    • weekly digital editions of THE magazine
    • unrestricted access to THE online and via its app.

    Individuals can find details on how to create their account on the University Library’s THE page here:

    They can also access this subscription off-campus and overseas, and THE can be accessed via the app on iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire devices.

    Staff and students may also be interested to know that the University has an institutional subscription to the online version of the Financial Times. More information can be found on the University Library’s webpages here:


    Timestamp: 18 March 2019 - 11:54am
  • New Europresse subscription: online access to (French) newspapers and magazines

    After receiving very positive trial feedback and approval of the Cambridge University Library Accessions Committee, we are now subscribing to the academic version of Europresse, an aggregator which allows online access to many French and Francophone national and regional newspapers and magazines … Continue reading →
    Timestamp: 16 March 2019 - 8:00am
  • Sepolcro

    Last week my colleague, Justin, happened across a musical genre, sepolcro, that no-one in the Music Department here at the UL, had seen before. The timing of this find couldn’t have been more appropriate as it happened to be Shrove … Continue reading →
    Timestamp: 15 March 2019 - 8:45am
  • Cambridge Elements; “a dynamic reference resource for graduate students, researchers and practitioners”

    Back in May 2018 the ebooks team@cambridge team first posted about the then newly emerging Cambridge University Press Elements titles. This publishing programme has now officially launched and the amount of available titles are steadily increasing, with 76 Elements now hosted and accessible on Cambridge Core and searchable in iDiscover.

    Cambridge Elements are a new concept in academic publishing and scholarly communication, combining the best features of books and journals. They consist of original, concise, authoritative, and peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific research, organised into focused series edited by leading scholars, and provide comprehensive coverage of the key topics in disciplines spanning the arts and sciences. This innovative format takes just 12 weeks to publish, and the born-digital titles are between 40-75 pages long. There are over 70 series already under contract, with another 30 in the planning stages. Two hundred titles are expected to be published in 2019, and CUP expect to standardly publish in the region of 250 titles per year.

    Elements are organised in series within the following subjects.

    All of these Elements titles in all of the series will be available for University of Cambridge registered students and staff. Catalogue records for newly published Elements will be added to iDiscover on a monthly basis, alongside the monograph and coursebook title records.

    Click on the book covers below to connect to a selection of Elements titles on Cambridge Core. Please note: some of these titles are “coming soon” and some Elements are published Open Access.



    If you have queries about any of the Elements titles please contact the ebooks@cambridge team at

    Timestamp: 14 March 2019 - 3:39pm
  • Discovery: 200 Years of the Cambridge Philosophical Society

    Coming into the Cambridge University Library entrance hall visitors encounter three objects: a wall-mounted cast of 565 million-year-old sea-creature fossils, a plastinated pitcher plant, using the technique developed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens of Bodyworlds fame and ‘cuddly microbes’. What do these three objects have in common? Each is used by a Henslow Research Fellow (named after naturalist John Stevens Henslow, 1796-1861) and supported by the Cambridge Philosophical Society to communicate their research. The Cambridge Philosophical Society is celebrating its 200th anniversary, marked by an exhibition in the Milstein Gallery at Cambridge University Library: Discovery: 200 years of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, open between 8 March and 31 August 2019.

    Isaac Newton: Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica (London: 1687 – CUL Adv.b.39.1)

    Drawing on some of the themes developed in a new book by Susannah Gibson, The Spirit of Inquiry: How one extraordinary society shaped modern science (OUP, 2019), the exhibition highlights episodes from history of the Society from the earliest times until the present day.

    The Society seal, bearing an image of Newton, 1832 (Courtesy of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, CPS 1/3)

    We take for granted the diversity of scientific research, laboratories, technical facilities and information available in Cambridge today, but at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Cambridge was a scientific backwater. In the early nineteenth century the Cambridge curriculum was dominated by the Mathematical Tripos. Examination candidates were ‘coached’, ‘wranglers’ (the highest placed candidates) were celebrated; the senior (first-placed) wrangler carried triumphantly through the streets of Cambridge. This tradition emphasised a Newtonian curriculum based on the mathematical principles developed by Newton in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). Newton’s own annotated copy of the first edition of the Principia is on display in the exhibition. His image was used on the Society’s seal in 1832, invoking tradition as well as invention. Newton’s work was interpreted for Cambridge students through texts such as an English translation of Dutch mathematician S’Gravesande’s Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy, which laid the foundation for teaching Newtonian mechanics through experimental demonstrations.

    Professorships in scientific subjects were inaugurated throughout the eighteenth century. Some of these such as the Lecturer in Chemistry, William Farish provided experimental demonstrations as part of their course (For example, see A plan of a course of lectures on Arts and Manufactures, more particularly such as relate to Chemistry CUL UA O.XIV). Professors were responsible for purchasing their own equipment and student attendance was voluntary. There was no institutional support for experiment in the university. In addition, the mathematical techniques exemplified in Newtonian ‘fluxions’ (a method of calculus) were considered outdated compared to those employed in Europe. Mathematician Charles Babbage, a founding member of the  CPS, campaigned through the Analytical Society to modernise the Cambridge curriculum, through instruction in French mathematical methods (Memoirs of the Analytical Society, Cambridge 1813, Hh.12.88;) as well as to reform the national organisation of science (Reflections on the decline of science in England, and on some of its causes, London: 1830, M.24.2). Not for the first time, or the last, Cambridge looked to other places, from the continent to the capitals Edinburgh in the north and London in the south for how modern mathematical, experimental and field science might be conducted. The idea of the CPS was conceived on a field trip (to the Isle of Wight) by Adam Sedgwick, professor of geology and Henslow, professor of botany. They needed somewhere to deposit the geological samples collected, information gathered and maps drawn and to discuss their findings. In other words, they needed a museum, a library and a meeting room.

    Geological and fossil samples collected by Adam Sedgwick on the Isle of Wight trip, with Sedgwick’s hand-written labels [collected 1819]. Courtesy of the Sedgwick Museum

    An image of the CPS lecture room showing museum specimens and debating gentlemen from the London Illustrated News of 1845 is displayed on the exhibition wall. However, their first meeting was held in what was then the University Library, now the Old Schools (The first entry in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s first Minute Book, announcing the creation of the Society 30 October, 1819 Cambridge Philosophical Society, CPS 3/1). The CPS library, acquired by purchase of the latest works as well as international journal exchanges, is the basis of the university’s scientific library collections today.

    The CPS was a lively focus for discussion of the latest findings by far-flung scientists. Charles Darwin complained in a letter from South America to his sister Catherine that extracts of his letters to Henslow penned on the Beagle expedition were read at a meeting of the CPS then published by the CPS without his permission (Charles Darwin to Catherine Darwin, 3 June, 1836 CUL DAR 223: 35). Similarly, the fellows obtained news from astronomer at the Cape Colony John Herschel via Trinity College fellow, later Master William Whewell (who coined the word ‘scientist’ in 1833) about observations of barometer readings around the equator, which Herschel attributed to trade winds.

    Astrophysicist Arthur Eddington reported his findings to a sell-out audience at the CPS from the 1919 Principe expedition off the coast of Africa to observe the ‘bending’ of starlight during a total solar eclipse, providing experimental evidence for Einstein’s theory of relativity. (Arthur Eddington to Albert Einstein, [Cambridge], 1 December, 1919, facsimile reproduction, National Library of Israel). With its meetings, library, museum and publications notably the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society where many scientific discoveries were first published, the CPS established itself as a clearinghouse for scientific information.

    The lecture room of the CPS (Illustrated London News, June 28, 1845, CUL NPR.C.313)

    One discovery published in the Proceedings in 1912-14 (William Lawrence Bragg ‘The diffraction of short electromagnetic waves by a crystal’ CUL Q340:1.b.23) was on the refraction of X-rays by a crystal. This was the first articulation of work by William Henry Bragg, a wrangler trained in the Cambridge mathematical tradition, and his son William Lawrence Bragg for which they won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1915. X-rays were often thought to be particles, but their experiments showed the diffraction of X-rays from crystals, arguing they were short electromagnetic waves. It opened up the powerful technique of X-ray crystallography used to explore the structure of materials and molecules. John Kendrew’s 1956 model of the muscle protein myoglobin is shown in the exhibition (Courtesy of the LMB archive, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology).

    Despite its outdated appearance in the 1820s to critics like Babbage, the curriculum evolved to apply mathematical techniques to new physical problems arising from Britain’s industrial society, for example in heat, electricity and magnetism. Other changes were taking place in the Cambridge curriculum. In 1866, the Natural Sciences Tripos was introduced and in 1872 pioneer of electromagnetic theory, James Clerk Maxwell became the first Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics with his own university laboratory. Practical classes became part of the curriculum. The second Cavendish Professor John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh (Lord Rayleigh), Senior Wrangler, and in 1904 Cambridge’s first Nobel Prize winner (for study of the density of gases and the discovery of Argon) extended this tradition of mathematical physics and experiment. A special feature of this exhibition are the instruments he used including hand-crafted bird whistles and apparatus to detect ultrasonic waves and specimens he studied such as butterfly wings and iridescent beetles in his experiments on light waves. These were carried out in the 1880s in his private laboratory on his estate, Terling, in Essex, which, despite the reforms at Cambridge was better equipped for his research than the Cavendish. Rayleigh’s laboratory is still preserved on the estate by the current Lord Rayleigh, who kindly loaned items to the exhibition.

    Lord Rayleigh’s samples of iridescent carapaces, courtesy of the current Lord Rayleigh

    The Society hosted experiments such as those of the Cambridge Anthropometric Committee. As the CPS membership grew, a programme of human measurement between 1884 and 1904 used instruments designed by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company. Measurements were carried out in the CPS Library by the Librarian. Index cards recording measurements and family histories of patrons from the physicist Ernest Rutherford to economist John Maynard Keynes are displayed in the exhibition.

    Anthropometric card of physicist Ernest Rutherford who joined the Cavendish Laboratory as an Advanced Research Student in 1895, courtesy of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, CPS 12/1

    In all, 11,000 personalised cards were collected. Similar techniques were deployed by Cambridge anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon in a pioneering anthropological expedition to the Torres Strait in 1898, combined with a wide range of cultural, sociological and psychological studies. With its interest in human measurement, the CPS was again at the forefront of emerging disciplines in this case anthropology. Anthropometry as a significant indicator of human characters was discredited by World War Two, not least due to its association with eugenics inspired by values of racial and class superiority. However, questions of human measurement and difference remain at the forefront of many of the human sciences.

    Until 1976 when the CPS library transferred to the University, practically all scientists in Cambridge needed to become members to use the library, in the days before ubiquitous online publication of journal articles. Many of Cambridge’s most famous scientists, like Stephen Hawking who joined the CPS as a research fellow in 1970, were members. In 1979, Hawking became the seventeenth Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and commenced work on explaining modern cosmology to a wide audience. An early typescript draft dated around 1985 of A brief history of time published in 1987 is on display (CUL MS Add. 9222). It sold more than 10 million copies and remained in the Sunday Times best-seller list for 237 weeks.

    The CPS did not admit women as fellows until 1929, earlier than the University admitted women to degrees in 1947. Even the well-known and respected mathematician, astronomer and science writer Mary Somerville’s application was declined. Her 1834 work On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences is on display in the exhibition. Attracting, retaining and rewarding women in science, technology, engineering and medicine remains a challenge in Cambridge and globally. One woman member who did make a splash was Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who as PhD student working with radio-astronomer Anthony Hewish discovered pulsars. On display for the first time ever is the pulsar chart reading where Bell Burnell detected the electromagnetic radiation emitted from pulsar ‘CP 1919’ on 6 August 1967, distinguishing it from ‘scruff’ or interference, which commonly affected the low-frequency radio signals of the radio telescope. Further background to this story is provided by a fantastic blog from our Churchill Archives colleagues, including details of how Bell Burnell rolled out the charts on the long floor of the attic in the old Cavendish Laboratory where she used to work.

    Pulsar chart, August 1967, Anthony Hewish Papers, Courtesy of Churchill College Archives

    Few scientists working in Cambridge today would be aware of the heritage of the CPS in developing the infrastructure for science that currently exists. This heritage is embodied in the work of the current Henslow Fellows. Alex Liu studies the Ediacaran Period, 635-541 million years ago, documenting the transition of life-forms from pre-Cambrian micro-organisms to the diversity of animal life documented by CPS President Simon Conway-Morris in his account of the Cambrian explosion. Ulrike Bauer studies the biomechanics of plant-insect interaction. Harriet Groom works on how cells protect themselves from viruses and how viruses overcome these barriers to identify therapeutic targets for viruses like HIV-1 and herpes viruses.

    This heritage is also preserved in the collections of libraries, archives and museums of Cambridge University and colleges that make up this exhibition and help us answer questions about the world-leading scientific culture we take for granted today.

    What will we make of Cambridge science 200 years from now? Unless we document and preserve the activities of scientists today, primarily in digital formats, we will never know. As part of the events supporting the exhibition and Cambridge Science Festival, a panel of museum, archive, research data and digital preservation experts will be on hand to talk to scientists, administrators and anyone who is interested in documenting and preserving science today. This event is taking place Thursday 14 March, 2.30 pm in Cambridge University Library off the Milstein Room. Book here.

    Timestamp: 13 March 2019 - 12:45pm
  • ‘Shut up and write’ sessions for focused writing with no distractions

    Do you ever find it hard to focus and write? Have you got a piece of writing (such as an article, guideline, university course assignments, dissertation or thesis) to do but struggle to find the time?

    We are here to help.

    We’re announcing two ‘shut up and write’ sessions: dedicated time to do nothing but write, in a quiet, motivational environment.

    Session 1: Thursday 21st March 2-6pm

    Session 2: Wednesday 8th May 8am-12pm

    Both sessions will be in the library training room. We will provide computers, but if you want to bring your own laptop you are most welcome to do so. You can drop in for an hour at a time if you prefer not to stay the full four hours. There’s no need to book, but spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

    The post ‘Shut up and write’ sessions for focused writing with no distractions appeared first on Medical Library.

    Timestamp: 13 March 2019 - 11:59am