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  • Funding opportunity for a PhD on France and the Second World War: the Cambridge Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection (1944-1946)

    Cambridge University Library is delighted to have received an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Award, and invites applications for PhD studentships, starting in 2020-2021. The successful PhD candidate will receive funding to work on the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation … Continue reading →
    Timestamp: 20 September 2019 - 2:16pm
  • The Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project: It’s not all about pretty pixels

    The Digital Content Unit (DCU) is the Library department responsible for the digitisation of special collections and the creation of other audio-visual content. The earliest archives of DCU contain glass plate negatives of library books from the end of the 19th century. Since then the technology has changed, but the principles remain the same.

    The most important priority is the safety of the material. The photographers involved in the Greek Manuscripts digitisation project, Amélie Deblauwe and Mark Box, liaise with colleagues from Conservation and have learned how to handle the most fragile books. They use a specialist conservation cradle, which allows the book to open to a maximum of 90 degrees. Medieval manuscript pages vary, and they often bear the marks or imperfections of the animal skin from which they’re made. These might give some clues to their physical construction, like differentiating the hair side of a parchment leaf from the flesh side. To expose those details, a black background is used to interleave every page.

    CUL MS Add. 1837, fols 88v-89r

    One of the particular challenges of this project lies in coordinating the digitisation of material from our partners across Cambridge colleges. It requires significant input from another member of the DCU team. Operating behind the scenes, the Picture Library Coordinator, Domniki Papadimitriou, is responsible for the distribution, publication and licensing of library content as appropriate. All the images shot for the Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project are destined to be published on the Cambridge Digital Library, and Domniki has coordinated agreements with all the college partners, including some that are embarking on this kind of digital venture for the first time. They need to be confident that their digital content will be made available, be well-managed and be preserved for the long term.

    Archival photography is largely about consistency. Good image quality doesn’t only mean shooting a large image (although that helps a lot). Resolution in archival imaging means the number of pixels in relation to the size of the actual objects. The DCU standard resolution is 600 pixels to cover the area of one inch, which means you can print high quality facsimiles at twice the size. Don’t be deceived by the 1200dpi (dots per inch) specification of a printer. It has very little to do with the image resolution. Information about the size of the page is available on each image through the inclusion of a 5cm/2inch scale, but the image metadata also contains an approximate (+/- 3mm) reading.

    CUL MS Gg.1.2, fols 7v-8r

    Maintaining quality also means producing pictures without unwanted image artefacts which can be created by the camera itself, the lens, or by computer error. Other factors to consider are colour accuracy and the uniformity of the light. Preparing the workspace for digitisation is a critical process in imaging for preservation. The first step for the photographer is to make sure that the setup creates uniform light output and consistent results to minimise the need for correction. A light uniformity algorithm is applied to flatten the luminosity of the picture even further. The next step is to calibrate the colour reproduction. To teach the computer how to read the values of the physical colour chart more accurately, photographers use a spectrophotometer and embed that information in the image during the photographic process. Images created in DCU adhere to the level of quality specified by ISO standards for photography, archival systems and image quality analysis.

    CUl MS Gg.1.2, fol. 16r

    The final quality check is carried out by the human eye. Sometimes an image will pass the computer analysis tests but there is something about it that only a trained photographer can spot. In any case, the image result is something you would rarely see in real life, because you would rarely be looking at the page in such ideal viewing conditions. As much as we all love our cosy reading rooms, the colour of the lightbulbs and what kind of sunlight we have today will affect how we see the page. Similarly, when we look at digital images on the screen, the type of the monitor and how it has been calibrated will change our viewing experience.

    CUL MS Ii.6.41, fol. 1r

    In photographing thousands of pages for the Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project, it is essential for the photographers to keep a careful record of their progress. For an insight into how software and spreadsheets are just as essential as lights and cameras, take a look at this video made by one of our photographers. In working closely with conservation and cataloguing colleagues to establish dependencies and priorities, our photographers use all their skills and experience to negotiate different solutions and approaches to make as much detail of the original manuscripts available to readers as possible.

    Text: Maciej Pawlikowski (Head of Digital Content Unit). Images and video: Mark Box (DCU Imaging Specialist)

    Timestamp: 20 September 2019 - 9:00am
  • ER in the Keller Archive: Schoenberg score in intensive care

    A little while ago, as I was quietly sorting through what I have dubbed the “Attic Anhang” of the Keller Archive to get it ready for documenting, I came across a miniature score of Schoenberg’s String Quartet Op.7. Imagine my … Continue reading →
    Timestamp: 20 September 2019 - 8:45am
  • Open Cambridge: celebrating Keynes at the Marshall Library by Sue Woods

    It is 100 years since the publication of Keynes’ Economic consequences of the peace, and in conjunction with the Faculty of Economics’ centenary conference held earlier in the week at King’s College, the Marshall Library organised displays and a series of blog posts to illustrate the significance of Keynes’ work.The Marshall Library welcomed a record number of Open Cambridge visitors, including artists, historians, architects, and economists, and it was a delight to see visitors’ first impressions when entering the library.   Hidden behind the stark façade of a brutalist building designed in the early 60’s by Sir Hugh Casson, the Marshall Library is open plan, flooded with natural light, and features a spiral staircase leading to the gallery. View of the Marshall Library Reading Room showing the spiral staircase, designed by Sir Hugh Casson
    The Keynes displays featured first editions of “The economic consequences of the peace”, and Tardieu’s “The truth about the treaty” which sought to justify the Treaty and counter the criticisms levelled at it by Keynes. A letter from Charles Waldstein to Keynes was found within the pages of the Marshall Library's copy of this book in which he declared Tardieu to be '... such a swine' and encouraged Keynes to respond to him.  In addition, there was a display of Keynes’s correspondence from 1919, including the exchanges between Maynard and his mother when he was on the point of resigning his position as H.M. Treasury adviser at the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles.  His mother shows her concern both for his welfare and his reputation. Florence Ada Keynes, Maynard's motherIn the Mary Paley Room, which houses the Marshall Library’s collection of rare books, we showed the original copies of The Economist from December 1919, when both Marshall and Keynes were publishing within a week of each other.  At the age of 77, Marshall published the two-volume “Industry and Trade”, and the following week, there was the announcement of Keynes’s “Economic Consequences of the Peace”, with the first review appearing on 27 December.
    It was Alfred Marshall who encouraged Maynard to become an economist, as he was impressed by Maynard’s work.  After graduating with a first class degree, Maynard stayed at King’s for a fourth year and started weekly supervisions with Marshall, although he had not yet decided to become an economist.  Maynard enjoyed the intellectual challenge of studying economics with Marshall, and in turn Marshall considered Keynes’ essay on comparative railway systems ‘a brilliant answer’.  This praise then prompted Keynes to write to Lytton Strachey, “I find economics increasingly satisfactory, and I think I am rather good at it.”Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf
    We had anticipated interest in the Keynes exhibition, but it is always intriguing to find out why visitors have specially selected your library to visit as part of Open Cambridge.  It was while visiting the Mary Paley Room that one visitor started enquiring about the basement which had been mentioned earlier in the tour.  He was an artist who specialised in photographing behind the scenes in libraries and museums and he wondered out loud if it would be possible to visit the Marshall Library basement.  No matter how carefully you plan an exhibition, there will always be something else that visitors want to explore. 

    Timestamp: 19 September 2019 - 9:40am
  • New ebooks – August 2019

    Here is a taster of the titles added to the ebooks@cambridge collection during August. These titles were purchased by, or on behalf of, department and faculty libraries within the University of Cambridge and by the University Library.

    A complete list of ebook purchases is available to Cambridge library staff to download from the ebooks@cambridge section of the Cambridge Libraries Intranet.

    All of the titles can be found in iDiscover. Alternatively, follow the title links below the cover images for access.

    Arts & Humanities Humanities & Social Sciences Business, Science, Medicine
    Timestamp: 17 September 2019 - 9:05am
  • A surprising find among a librarian’s letters

    Post by Emily Perdue.

    While working in the Manuscripts department, I have had the opportunity to document a significant portion of Henry Bradshaw’s letters. Henry Bradshaw (b. 1831) was University Librarian from 1867 until his death in 1886 and a well-regarded expert in manuscript studies. He was known by many to have an encyclopedic knowledge of early medieval publishing and manuscripts, and he inherited a large collection of Irish books from his father, Joseph Hoare Bradshaw. He collected many manuscripts himself, purchasing volumes with his own money that he would then donate to the Library in various bequests. After his death, his letters were also left to the library.

    As later University librarian A.E.B. Owen notes, the immediate treatment of Bradshaw’s papers was “surprisingly casual” due to a lack of interest in personal papers. Batches of the papers were catalogued under different class marks throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the remainder of Bradshaw’s correspondence, MS Add.8916, being finally sorted and numbered by A.E.B. Owen himself in the 1990s. I set about the task of transcribing this information into a plain text form better suited for future publication and use. (

    Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener to Henry Bradshaw: a typical letter for Bradshaw. MS Add.8916/1/A63/36:

    Much of Bradshaw’s correspondence in the collection deals with the daily management of the reading room, readers requesting certain items, book buying for the library, and the politics of King’s College and the University at large. There are also letters of a more personal nature, such as Bradshaw’s correspondence with his lifelong friend F.J. Furnivall, with whom he discusses the activities of the Chaucer Society. A common theme among correspondents is their chiding of Bradshaw for not writing to them more often or more swiftly. Henry was notorious for not responding to many of his letters and leaving disorganized stacks of letters around his office, occasionally burning up piles that he could no longer deal with!

    While working with the collection, I came across an extra folder of letters that did not fit inside the rest of the boxes of Bradshaw’s notes and ephemera and had not been sorted or labelled. Perhaps the letters had been selected for cataloguing by a library employee in the 19th century? Maybe Owen found them after he had sorted through the rest of the letters? Whatever the case, I started to catalogue and identify this remaining group of letters. Much of it was easily identifiable and lined up with the same sort of correspondence catalogued by Owen. However, a smaller group of letters began to emerge that did not fit in with the rest. These letters stuck out visually at first, the paper being generally darker, thicker, and brittle. The other obvious difference was that a few of these letters were dated from before Henry’s birth. This batch of letters was isolated and given the separate class mark of Add.8916/1/K to represent a distinct grouping of correspondence. Two of the eight letters were addressed quite clearly to Joseph Hoare Bradshaw (1784-1845), Henry’s father. One of the letters is from William Boone, who, together with his brother Thomas, was a bookseller. Both of whom were also later correspondents of Henry. Most of the letters however were related to Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838), the educational reformer, or William Allen (1770-1843), a well-known Quaker philanthropist and abolitionist, who married into the Bradshaw family later in his life.

    Letter addressed to William Allen, treasure of the British and Foreign Bible Society. MS Add.8916/1/K/

    Joseph Lancaster was very good at starting schools but absolutely terrible at keeping accounts and planning expenditures, so much so that he was put in jail for debt in 1807. William Allen was critical in forming the British and Foreign School Society, the organization that took over management of much of Lancaster’s activities. The two had a close relationship though tension often arose between them over money and the fact that Allen and others were constantly monitoring Lancaster’s habits. Two of the letters, from an unidentified sender written in 1807, discuss Joseph Lancaster’s approach to education and religious training, which went hand in hand at the time. A much later letter, MS Add.8916/1/K/7, speaks to the close relationship between Allen and Lancaster. Richard M. Jones, Lancaster’s son-in-law,  writes to William Allen in 1838 to find out where his father-in-law has gone, stating that when he last saw him, he was planning to go to England to see William Allen (possibly to discuss accounts). Unbeknownst to both men, Lancaster was actually in New York at the time where he subsequently died from injuries sustained from a runaway horse and carriage.

    William Allen to Paul Cuffe, 1811. MS Add.8916/1/K/3

    Another fascinating item in this collection is a letter from William Allen to Paul Cuffe, a free black American ship-owner and merchant, MS Add.8916/1/K/3. Cuffe travelled between Massachusetts, Sierra Leone, and Britain advocating for the settlement of free African Americans in Africa and was the first free black man to have a private meeting with a sitting US president. In the letter Allen lets Cuffe know that he has sought permission for him to trade freely, despite the tensions of the War of 1812. Allen was very interested in hearing what Cuffe had to say about the colonial project in Sierra Leone as he was a passionate abolitionist and also interested in the short-lived resettlement movement. Cuffe did eventually transport thirty-eight freed black Americans to Freetown, Sierra Leone, the first city in all of Africa founded by African Americans.

    Engraving of Paul Cuffe from the frontispiece of The Non-Slaveholder, 1850

    At the time, Paul Cuffe had only intended to sail to Sierra Leone.  But a letter from William Allen, with an order in council, convinced him to visit England. Cuffe mentions in his journal that his visit was motivated in part to be able to see Joseph Lancaster’s school, which he wrote “was the greatest gratification that I met with.” Allen, for his part was able to learn more about the colonization project and left him, “in much nearness of spirit; he is certainly a very interesting man.”

    How and why then did this important and remarkable letter end up in a collection of papers belonging to a medieval manuscript librarian? What interest did these letters hold for Henry Bradshaw? A future blog post will explore the connections between William Allen, a passionate and public political reformer, and Henry Bradshaw.


    Doheny, John. “Bureaucracy and the Education of the Poor in Nineteenth Century Britain.” British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3

    Owen, A.E.B. “Henry Bradshaw and his Correspondents.” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, Vol. 11, No. 4

    Sherwood, Henry Noble. “In England.” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 8, No. 2.

    Timestamp: 16 September 2019 - 5:00pm
  • Towards widespread Open Research: insights from Cambridge Data Champions and beyond

    The Cambridge Data Champions are an example of a community of volunteers engaged in promoting open research and good research data management (RDM). Currently entering its third year, the programme has attracted a total of 127 volunteers (86 current, 41 alumni) from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and positions. It continues to grow and has inspired similar initiatives at other universities within and outside the UK (Madsen, 2019). Dr Sacha Jones, Research Data Coordinator at the Office of Scholarly Communication, recently shared information about the programme at ‘FAIR Science: tricky problems and creative solutions’, an Open Science event held on 4th June 2019 at The Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, and organised by a previous Cambridge Data Champion – Dr Ralitsa Madsen. The aim of this event was to disseminate information about Open Science and promote the subsequent set-up of a network of Edinburgh Open Research Champions, with inspiration from the Cambridge Data Champion programme. Running a Data Champion programme, however, is not free of challenges. In this blog, Sacha highlights some of these alongside potential solutions in the hope that this information may be helpful to others. In this vein, Ralitsa adds her insights from ‘FAIR Science’ in Edinburgh and discusses how similar local events may spearhead the development of additional Open Science programmes/networks, thus broadening the local reach of this movement in the UK and beyond.  


    On 4 June 2019, the University of Edinburgh hosted ‘FAIR Science: tricky problems and creative solutions’ – a one-day event that brought together local life scientists and research support staff to discuss systemic flaws within current academic culture as well as potential solutions. Funded by the Institute for Academic Development and the UK Biochemical Society, the event was popular – with around 100 attendees – featuring both students, postdocs, principal investigators (PIs) and administrative staff. The programme featured talks by a range of local researchers – Dr Ralitsa Madsen (postdoctoral fellow and event organiser), Dr William Cawthorn (junior PI), Prof Robert Semple (Dean of Postgraduate Research and senior PI), Prof Malcolm Macleod (senior PI and member of the UK Reproducibility Network steering group), Prof Andrew Millar (senior PI and Chief Scientific Advisor on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, for Scottish Government), Aki MacFarlene (Wellcome Trust Open Research Programme Officer), Dr Naomi Penfold (Associate Director, ASAPbio), Dr Nigel Goddard and Rory Macneil (RSpace developers) and Robin Rice (Research Data Service, University of Edinburgh), and Dr Sacha Jones (University of Cambridge). All slides have been made available via the Open Science Framework, and “live” tweets can be found via #FAIRScienceEDI.  

    Shifting the balance of research culture for the better. Image source: Presentation by Ralitsa Madsen, ‘Why FAIR Science and why now?

    Why is open science important? What is the extent of the reproducibility problem in science, and what are the responsibilities of individual stakeholders? Do all researchers need to engage with open research? Are the right metrics used when assessing researchers for appointment, promotion and funding? What are the barriers to widespread change, and can they be overcome through collective efforts? These were some of the ‘tricky’ problems that were addressed during the first half of the ‘Fair Science’ event, with the second half focussing on ‘creative solutions’, including: abandoning the journal impact factor in favour of alternative and fairer assessment criteria such as those proposed in DORA; preprinting of scientific articles and pre-registration of individual studies; new incentives introduced by funders like the Wellcome Trust who seek to promote Open Science; and data management tools such as electronic lab notebooks. Finally, the event sought to inspire local efforts in Edinburgh to establish a volunteer-driven network of Open Research Champions by providing insight into the maturing Data Champion programme at the University of Cambridge. This was a popular ‘creative solution’, with more than 20 attendees providing their contact details to receive additional information about Open Science and the set-up of a local network. 

    Overall, community engagement was a recurring theme during the ‘FAIR Science’ event, recognised as a catalyst required for research culture to change direction toward open practices and better science. Robert Semple discussed this in the greatest detail, suggesting that early stage researchers – PhDs and post-docs – are the building blocks of such a community, supported also by senior academics who have a responsibility to use their positions (e.g. as group leaders, editors) to promote open science. “Open Science is a responsibility also of individual groups and scientists, and grass roots efforts will be key to culture shift” (Robert Semple’s presentation). On a larger scale, Aki MacFarlene aptly stated that a supportive research ecosystem is needed to support open research; for example, where institutions as well as funders recognise and reward open practices.  

    Insights from the Cambridge Data Champion programme 

    The Data Champions at the University of Cambridge are an example of a community and a source of support for others in the research ecosystem. Promoting good RDM and the FAIR principles are two fundamental goals that Data Champions commit to when they join the programme. For some, endorsing open research practices is a fortuitous by-product of being part of the programme, yet for others, this is a key motivation for joining.

    This word cloud depicts the reasons why the Cambridge Data Champions applied to become a Data Champion (the larger the text size, the more common the response). It is based on data from 105 applicants responding to the following: “What is your main motivation for becoming a Data Champion?”  

    Now that the Data Champion programme has been running for three years, what challenges does it face, and might disclosing these here – alongside ongoing efforts to solve them – help others to establish and maintain similar initiatives elsewhere?

    Four main challenges are outlined that the programme either has or continues to experience. These are discussed in increasing scale of difficulty to overcome. 

    • Support
    • Retention 
    • Disciplinary coverage 
    • Measuring effectiveness 

    (See also a recent article about the Data Champion programme by James Savage and Lauren Cadwallader.) 

    What challenges does the Cambridge Data Champion programme face and how may these be overcome? (image: CC0) 


    At a basic level, an initiative like the Data Champion programme needs both financial and institutional support. The Data Champions commit their time on a voluntary basis, yet the management of the programme, its regular events and occasional ad hoc projects all require funds. Currently, the programme is secure, but we continue to seek funding opportunities to support a community that is both expanding and deserving of reward (e.g. small grants awarded to Data Champions to support their ‘championing’ activities). Institutional support is already in place and hopefully this will continue to consolidate and grow now that the University has publicly committed to supporting open research


    Not all Data Champions who join will remain Data Champions. In fact, there is a growing community of alumni Data Champions. There are currently 41 alumni Data Champions. From the feedback provided by just over half of these, 68% left the programme because they left the University of Cambridge (as expected given that the majority of Data Champions are either post-docs or PhD students), and 32% left because of a lack of time to commit to the role. Of course, there might be other reasons that we are not aware of, and we cannot speculate here in the absence of data. Feedback from Data Champions is actively sought and is an essential part of sustaining and developing this type of community.

    We are exploring various methods to enhance retention. To combat the pressures of individuals’ workloads, we are being transparent about the time that certain activities will involve – a task or process may be less overwhelming when a time estimate is provided (cf ‘this survey should take approximately ten minutes to complete’). We also initiated peer-mentoring amongst Data Champions this year, in part to encourage a stronger community. We are attempting to enhance networking within the community in other ways, during group discussion sessions in the bimonthly forums, and via a virtual space where Data Champions can view each other’s data-related specialisms – with mutual support and collaboration as intended by-products. These are just a few examples, and given that Data Champions are volunteers, retention is one of several aspects of the programme that requires frequent assessment.

    Disciplinary coverage 

    Cambridge has six Schools – Arts and Humanities, Humanities and Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Clinical Medicine, and Technology – with faculties, departments, centres, units, institutes nested within these. The ideal situation would be for each research community (e.g. a department) to be supported by at least one Data Champion. Currently this is not the case, and the distribution of Data Champions across the different disciplinary areas is patchy. Biological Sciences is relatively well-represented by Data Champions (there are 22 Data Champions to represent around 1742 researchers in the School, i.e. 1.3%) (see bar chart below). There is a clear bias towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) disciplines, yet representation in the social sciences is fair. At the more extreme end is an absence of Data Champions in the Arts and Humanities. We are looking to resolve this via a more targeted approach, guided in part by insights gained into researcher needs via the OSC’s training programme for arts, humanities and social sciences researchers. 

    The bars depict the number of Data Champions within each School. Percentage values give the number of Data Champions as a proportion of the total number of researchers within each School. For example, within the School of Clinical Medicine, the ratio of Data Champions to researchers is around 1:100 (researchers include contract and established researchers, and PhD students).

    Measuring effectiveness  

    Determining how well the Data Champion programme is working is a sizeable challenge, as discussed previously. In those research communities represented by Data Champions, do we see improvements in data management, do we see a greater awareness of the FAIR principles, is there a change in research culture toward open research? These aspects are extremely difficult to measure and to assign to cause and effect, with multiple confounding factors to consider. We are working on how best to do this without overloading Data Champions and researchers with too many administrative tasks (e.g. surveys, questionnaires, etc.). Yet, the crux is for there to exist good communication and exchange of information between us (as a unit that is centrally managing the Data Champion programme) and the Data Champions, and between the Data Champions and the researchers who they are reaching out to and working with. We need to be the recipients of this information so that we can characterise the programme’s effectiveness and make improvements. As a start, the bimonthly Data Champion forums are used as an ideal venue to exchange and sound out ideas about best approaches, so that decisions on how to measure the programme’s impact lie also with the Data Champions.

    A fifth challenge – recognition and reward 

    At the ‘FAIR Science’ event, two speakers (Naomi Penfold and Robert Semple) made a plea for those researchers who practise open science to be recognised for this – a change in reward culture is required. In a presentation centred on the misuse of metrics, Will Cawthorn referred to poor mental health in researchers as a result of the pressures of intrinsic but flawed methods of assessment. Understandably, DORA was mentioned multiple times at ‘FAIR Science’, and hopefully, with multiple universities including the University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh as recent signatories of DORA, this marks the first steps toward a healthier and fairer researcher ecosystem. This may seem rather tangential to the Data Champions, but it is not: 66% of Data Champions, current and alumni, are or have been researchers (e.g. PhDs, post-docs, PIs). Despite the pressures of ‘publish or perish’, they have given precious time voluntarily to be a Data Champion and require recognition for this.

    This raises a fifth challenge faced by the programme – how best to reward Data Champions for their contributions? Effectively addressing this may also help, via incentivisation, toward meeting three of the four challenges above – retention, coverage and measurement. While there is no official reward structure in place (see Higman et al. 2017), the benefits of being part of the programme are emphasised (networking opportunities, skills development, online presence as an expert, etc.), and we write to Heads of Departments so that Data Champions are recognised officially for their contributions. Is this enough? Perhaps not. We will address this issue via discussions at the September forum – how would those who are PhD students, post-docs, PIs, librarians, IT managers, data professionals (to name a few of the roles of Data Champions) like to be rewarded? In sharing these thoughts, we can then see what can be done.

    Towards growing communities of volunteers 

    The Cambridge Data Champion programme is one among several UK- and Europe-wide initiatives that seek to promote good RDM and, more generally, Open Science. Their emergence speaks to a wider community interest and engagement in identifying solutions to some of the key issues haunting today’s academic culture (Madsen 2019). While the foundations of a network of Edinburgh Open Research Champions are still being laid, TU Delft in the Netherlands has already got their Data Champion programme up and running with inspiration from Cambridge. Independently, several Universities in the UK have also established their own Open Research groups, many of which are joined together through the recently established UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) and the associated UK Network of Open Research Working Groups (UK-ORWG). Such integration fosters network crosstalk and is a step in the right direction, giving volunteers a stronger sense of ‘belonging’ while also actively working towards their formal recognition. Network crosstalk allows for beneficial resource sharing through centralised platforms such as the Open Science Framework or through direct knowledge exchange among neighbouring institutions. Following ‘FAIR Science’ in Edinburgh, for example, a meeting to discuss its outcome(s) involved members from Glasgow University’s Library Services (Valerie McCutcheon, Research Information Manager) and the UKRN’s local lead at Aberdeen University (Dr Jessica Butler, Research Fellow, Institute of Applied Health Science). Thus, similar to plans in Aberdeen, the ‘FAIR Science’ organisers are currently working with Edinburgh University’s Research Data Support team to adapt an Open Science survey developed and used at Cardiff University to guide the development of a specific Open Science strategy. This reflects the critical requirements for such strategies to be successful – active peer-to-peer engagement and community involvement to ensure that any initiatives match the needs of those who ought to benefit from them.

    The long-term success of Open Science strategies – and any associated networks – will also hinge upon incorporation of formal recognition, as alluded to in the context of the Cambridge Data Champion programme. The importance of formal recognition of Open Science volunteers is also exemplified in SPARC Europe’s recent initiative – Europe’s Open Data Champions – which aims to showcase Open Data leaders who help ‘to change the hearts and minds of their peers towards more Openness’.

    For formal recognition to gain traction, it will be critical to work towards recruitment of several prominent senior academics on board the Open Science wagon. By virtue of their academic status, such individuals will be able to put Open Science credentials high on the agenda of funding and academic institutions. Indeed, the establishment of the UKRN can be ascribed to a handful of senior researchers who have been able to secure financial support for this initiative, in addition to inspiring and nucleating local engagement across several UK universities. The ‘FAIR Science’ experience in Edinburgh supports this view. While difficult to prove, its impact would likely have been minimal without the involvement of prominent senior academics, including Professor Robert Semple (Dean of Postgraduate Research), Professor Malcolm Macleod (UKRN steering group member) and Professor Andrew Millar (Chief Scientific Advisor on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, for Scottish Government). Thus, in addition to targeted and continuous communication by the ‘FAIR Science’ organisers before and after the event, ongoing efforts to establish a network of Edinburgh Open Research Champions has been dependent on these senior academics and their ability to mobilise essential forces throughout the University of Edinburgh.

    Amongst several other factors, community engagement is central to making improvements toward reproducibility, Open Science and Open Research in general. There are multiple stakeholders involved with their own responsibilities, and senior academics are a notable part of this. Image source: Robert Semple’s presentation at #FAIRscienceEdi, ‘The “Reproducibility Crisis”: lessons learnt on the job’

    Top-down or bottom-up? 

    Establishing and maintaining a champions initiative need not be conceived of as succeeding via either a top-down or bottom-up approach. Instead, a combination of the best of both of these approaches is optimal, as hopefully comes across here. The emphasis on such initiatives being community driven is essential, yet structure is also required so as to ensure their maintenance and longevity. Hierarchies have little place in such communities – there are enough of these already in the ‘researcher ecosystem’ – and the beauty of such initiatives is that they bring together people from various contexts (e.g. in terms of role, discipline, institution). In this sense, the Cambridge Data Champions community is especially robust because of its diversity, being comprised of individuals who derive from highly varied roles and disciplinary backgrounds. Every champion brings their own individual strengths; collectively, this is a powerful resource in terms of knowledge and skills. Through acting on these strengths and acknowledging their responsibilities (e.g. to influence, teach, engage others), and by being part of a community like those described here, champions have the opportunity to make perhaps a wider contribution to research than ever anticipated, and certainly one that enhances its overall integrity.


    Higman, R., Teperek, M. & Kingsley, D. (2017). Creating a community of Data Champions. International Journal of Digital Curation 12 (2): 96–106. DOI:   

    Madsen, R. (2019). Scientific impact and the quest for visibility. The FEBS Journal. DOI: 

    Savage, J. & Cadwallader, L. (2019). Establishing, Developing, and Sustaining a Community of Data Champions. Data Science Journal 18 (23): 1–8. DOI: 

    Written by Dr Sacha Jones and Dr Ralitsa Madsen 

    Timestamp: 16 September 2019 - 12:53pm
  • Be prepared: 2019 Yerushah Lecture

    Banner for 2019 Yerusha Lecture: Michael Rosen, 15 May 2019, 5pm, Runcie Rm., Divinity Faculty, University of Cambridge

    The 2019 Yerushah Lecture will be given by Prof Michael Rosen (Goldsmiths, University of London) at 5pm on Wednesday, 15 May, in the Runcie Room at the Divinity Faculty. He will be speaking on ‘So They Call You Pisher!’: An exploration of a secular Jewish identity. In anticipation of this lecture, here are some of the publications which might be useful for preparing for this lecture.

    By Michael Rosen:

    By others:

    • Place in modern Jewish culture and society / edited by Richard I. Cohen,
      [Oxford] ; New York : Published for the Institute by Oxford University Press, [2018], @Woolf Institute:  BM729 COH  ; @DivLib: 4 COHE 22
    • Beyond belonging : the Jewish identities of moderately engaged British Jews : highlights of the UJIA study of Jewish identity / Steven M. Cohen and Keith Kahn-Harris. London : Design and Promotions Ltd, 2004 ; @DivLib: 4 COHE 19  ; @Woolf Institute: DS143 COH
    • Israel and the politics of Jewish identity : the secular-religious impasse / Asher Cohen and Bernard Susser,  Baltimore, Md. ; London : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. @ DivLib: 4 COHE 18 ; @SPS Library: 28.16.COH.1a
    • In and out of the ghetto : Jewish-gentile relations in late medieval and early modern Germany / edited by R. Po-chia Hsia and Hartmut Lehmann. Washington, D.C. : German Historical Institute ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1995 ; @ 514:6.c.95.329  (North Front, Floor 3) ; @DivLib: 6 HSI  ; @Seeley Library: DS135.G31 I5 1995

    For a list of previous lectures in this series, please go to


    Timestamp: 7 May 2019 - 4:30pm
  • Another low turnout – now to the analysis!

    Small people, Photo by Matt From London, on FlickR (CC 2.0)

    Every year we try to elicit feedback from our library users in a survey. As last year, when I wrote about the low turnout, I could again reflect negatively on this, question whether the incentive of 5 vouchers of £25 isn’t high enough, and maybe dare to do a comparison to local election turnouts and participation in library surveys.

    I won’t do this, for various reasons, but would just like to add that one reason for us for having continued with the library surveys in the current form is that the qualtitative data, i.e. the responses to two open questions is a useful exercise. The two questions are:

    • If you could change one single thing in the Library, what would this be?
    • I would really like to make the following comment about the Divinity Library, its services or provisions.

    Asking the first question is obvious, and – whilst we cannot change everything suggested (not least because one user’s request sometimes would also be the direct opposite of what someone else suggests), we have some good observations and ideas thrown at us. We have only included the second question for the second year running – before I deemed this too much like fishing for compliments – but this was primarily due to a lot of people giving us praise in the first question. Still: some people explicitly tell us that they wouldn’t change anything!

    In the coming weeks, we will focus again on listing our readers’ suggestions and comments, and responding to them here. Why haven’t we done so yet? (We just had too much to do with reclassmarking a lot of our books – which has brought tangible benefits to us and our borrowers:

    1. Secondary books on one writer/theologian being shelved together means that more of them can be found quickly (as opposed to in different areas of one section, or even several sections across the whole library).
    2. When our borrowers return books, we can shelf them more quickly too.
    3. Serendipity! Discovering books which might also be of interest, by them being placed together, might lead to more books being borrowed, and our library being deemed more helpful.

    Thank you for your patience, whilst we are changing the classmarks of the remaining ca. 40,000 books!


    Timestamp: 3 May 2019 - 9:48am
  • Old Testament new acquisitions, 2018-19

    Book covers

    The Library has acquired a substantial number of new titles in Old Testament (section 3 + commentaries in section 2) so far this year, and these are listed below. This has been due in part to the receipt of a series of several supervision reading lists which have allowed us to fill gaps in the collection. Many are also the result of requests and recommendations from students and staff.

    As well as acquiring titles not previously held, we have also added second copies of texts if they have been identified as being in particularly high demand (these can be identified by the number in brackets at the end of the classmark).

    The Library’s new acquisitions as a whole can also be seen on the LibraryThing website ( by date of acquisition.

    Members of the University can recommend titles to the Library for acquisition via the following online form [Raven password-protected]:


    Author Title ISBN Publisher Date Classmark Aitken / Marlow (eds.) The city in the Hebrew Bible 9780567678904 T&T Clark 2018 3 AITK 3 Barton & Wilson (eds.) Reading Genesis after Darwin 9780195383362 OUP 2009 3 BART 8(2) Berlin Lamentations [Old Testament library] 9780664229740 Westminster John Knox 2004 2:20:23 Blenkinsopp History of prophecy in Israel 9780664256395 Westminster John Knox 1996 3 BLEN 3b(2) Blenkinsopp Creation , un-creation, re-creation: a discursive commentary on Genesis 1-11 9780567372871 T&T Clark 2011 3 BLEN 9 Brown Seven pillars of Creation : the Bible, science, and the ecology of wonder 9780199730797 OUP 2010 3 BROW 3(2) Brueggemann Hopeful imagination : prophetic voices in exile 9780334025283 SCM Press 1992 3 BRUE 8 Byun The influence of post-biblical Hebrew and Aramaic on the translator of Septuagint Isaiah 9780567683557 Bloomsbury 2018 3 BYUN 1 Chrétien Symbolique du corps 9782130549864 P.U.F. 2005 3 CHRE 1 Collins Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (3rd ed.) 9781506445984 Fortress Press 2018 3 COLL 6 Cook Ezekiel 38-48 9780300218817 Yale UP 2018 2:24:22B Dell (ed.) Reading Ecclesiastes Intertextually 9780567667908 Bloomsbury 2016 3 DELL 11 Doak Consider Leviathan: narratives of nature and the self in Job 9781451469936 Fortress Press 2014 3 DOAK 1 Faust Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period 9781589837256 Society of Biblical Literature 2012 4 FAUS 1 Firth 1&2 Samuel 9780830825080 Apollos 2009 2.101.9 Gerstenberger Theologies in the Old Testament 9780800634650 Fortress Press 2002 3 GERS 1 Goldingay Psalms 1-41 9780801027031 Baker Academic 2008 2:113:23A Goldingay Psalms 42-89 9780801027048 Baker Academic 2008 2:113:23B Goldingay Psalms 90-150 9780801031434 Baker Academic 2008 2:113:23C Green David’s capacity for compassion: a literary hermeneutical study of 1-2 Samuel 9780567684929 T&T Clark 2018 3 GREE 8 Gzella, et al  (eds.) Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament, Band IX 9783170303539 Kohlhammer 2016 3 THE-WOR 1.9 Haines Gender in Solomon’s Song of Songs 9781498288453 Wipf & Stock 2016 3 HAIN 1 Hillers Lamentations [2nd, rev. ed. ; Anchor Bible] 9780300139471 Yale University Press 2009 2:24:7Ab Kalmanofsky Gender-Play in the Hebrew Bible 9781138385146 Routledge 2018 3 KALM 1 Kim, Jichan The structure of the Samson cycle 9789039000168 Pharos 1993 3 KIMJ 1 Koole Isaiah, part 3, vol.1 [Historical commentary on the Old Testament] 9039001731 Kok Pharos 1997-2001 2:112:31A Koole Isaiah, part 3, vol.2 [Historical commentary on the Old Testament] 9042906790 Peeters 1997-2001 2:112:31B Koole Isaiah, part 3, vol.3 [Historical commentary on the Old Testament 9042910658 Peeters 1997-2001 2:112:31C Kurtz Kaiser, Christ, and Canaan 9783161554964 Mohr Siebeck 2018 3 KURT 1 Lee The Greek of the Pentateuch (Grinfield lectures on the Septuagint 2011-12) 9780198816133 OUP 2018 3 LEEJ 1 Longman & Enns Dictionary of the Old Testament: wisdom, poetry and writings 9781844743063  IVP Academic 2008 3 DIC-OLD 3 Mason Eternal Covenant’ in the Pentateuch 9780567027184 T&T Clark 2008 3 MASO 5 Middleton The liberating image: the Imago Dei in Genesis 1 9781587431104 Baker Publishing Group 2005 3 MIDD 3 Nelson The historical books [Interpreting Biblical texts] 9780687008438 Abingdon Press 1998 3 NELS 2 Peters (ed.) XII Congress of the International Organization For Septuagint and Cognate Studies 9789004151222 Brill 2006 3 PETE 5 Sasson Jonah 9780300139709 Yale UP 2007 2:24:24B Schmid/Person (eds.) Deuteronomy in the Pentateuch, Hexateuch, and the Deuteronomistic history 9783161510083 Mohr Siebeck 2012 3 SCHM 16 Seitz The Elder Testament 9781481308281 Baylor University Press 2018 3 SEIT 1 Sneed (ed.) Was there a wisdom tradition? 9781628370997 SBL Press 2015 3 SNEE 1 Van der Merwe & Naudé A biblical Hebrew reference grammar [2nd edition] 9780567663337 Bloomsbury 2017 1G HEB-BIB 1b Van Seters Pentateuch : social-science commentary (2nd ed.) 9780567658791 Bloomsbury 2015 3 SETE 1b Vanhoozer Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible 9780801026942 Baker Publishing Group 2005 2 DIC-THE 1 Wagner God’s body : the anthropomorphic God in the Old Testament 9780567655981 T & T Clark 2019 3 WAGN 1 Westermann Lamentations: Issues and Interpretations 0567292266 T & T Clark 1995 3 WEST 21(2)



    Timestamp: 8 March 2019 - 3:25pm