Sheep Showcase

Have you ever met Jordan, the Library Cat? What if there was another furry animal in the Library, maybe not as alive, but nonetheless as interesting?

The Main Library’s newest Fringe Festival exhibition opens on Friday 31st July 2015, featuring Dolly, the sheep!

Showcasing not only Dolly herself (on loan courtesy of National Museums Scotland), but also rare books, archive documents, pictures, sound and film clips from the University of Edinburgh’s Special Collections, presenting all the research that eventually led to the creation of Dolly, the first animal in the world to be cloned from an adult cell.

Towards Dolly books

A sample of the University collections on display

The Fly Room

The Fly Room – from the Towards Dolly exhibition

The Curator, Clare Button’s words about the exhibition:

Dolly is the most famous chapter in Edinburgh’s long genetics history. This exhibition tells the wider story of the many pioneering discoveries which have taken place here, taking our visitors ‘towards Dolly’ and beyond.

We, here at the Library Annexe, are happy to be able to contribute with a few books from our collections. These are:

If you become interested in the subject, and would like to have a look at these books, they will be requestable again after the end of the exhibition, through DiscoverEd.

Further links:

University of Edinburgh Exhibitions: Towards Dolly

News and Events: Dolly stars in genetics exhibition

Towards Dolly

‘Towards Dolly: A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh’

The exhibition is free and open to the public from 31 July to 31 October 2015, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Exhibition Gallery, Main Library, George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LJ

Viktoria Varga, Library Annexe Assistant

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Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School – days 3, 4 and 5

Apologies for the delay! Here are  my highlights from the final three days of this year’s Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School:

– On Wednesday we learned all about the Text Encoding Iniative (TEI), a standard and guidelines created for the accurate representation of texts in digital form. The session included an excellent and detailed overview, a hands-on practical session, and a study of how the Bodleian converted its western medieval manuscripts collection from EAD to TEI and the issues they had to overcome.

– There was an interesting discussion on transcription as a curatorial process in its own right: the transcriber does not simply copy text word for word but engages in a selective and interpretive intellectual activity which, in turn, informs how the text is encoded. How would you transcribe the word ‘agreable’ in the image below?


Transcription is subjective

– Further to this, there was also an intriguing debate about how to define the term ‘manuscript’. Is it simply any piece of text written by hand and, if so, can the definition be extended to manual process such as early forms of printing or even to a hand-painted shop sign, such as in the example below?


Is this a manuscript?

– Thursday dealt primarily with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a new initiative established to improve the sharing and interoperability of heritage image databases.

– Its intention is to overcome the problems associated with image databases to improve access, use and delivery of digital images to users.


Just a few problems with image delivery…

– As well as a technical and practical overview of the framework, we were introduced to the Bodleian’s new IIIF-powered Digital Bodleian site and given an overview of the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit (DMT), a new initiative designed for medieval scholars to work with IIIF images. We also heard from four groups of PhD students and scholars who have been working with the Bodleian using the DMT.

– The great thing about IIIF is that it enables the user to source images from any IIIF-compliant institution and compare them in the same viewer (we used the Mirador viewer). It is a fantastic tool for bringing together disparate collections online and allows for the sharing, comparing and reuse of diverse image collections.

– On Thursday I also attended an excellent presentation from Victoria Van Hyning on the crowdsourcing platform Zooniverse, which now has an incredible 1.34 million volunteers engaged in 44 projects.

– The recently-launched Panoptes project is an excellent tool which allows people to set up their own crowdsourcing projects with minimal technical expertise – well worth exploring!

– As far as our own crowdsourcing initiatives at the University of Edinburgh are concerned, the key point I took from the presentation was that users’ intrinsic motivation and altruism is not enough on its own to keep people engaged. To retain interest and build a community it is crucial to provide participants with small, manageable task but make it clear that their work isn’t happening in isolation: the aggregation of multiple users’ work is driving research in many fields. As well as this, providing learning opportunities, access to experts and regular feedback all contribute to the sense of community within a crowdsourcing project.

– Another interesting point was that crowdsourcing initiatives should be targeted at non-specialists; evidence has shown that experts will not engage in this sort of activity in their area of expertise!

– Transcription is a major area that Zooniverse is not focusing on and they hope to make it a part of the Panoptes platform in the future.


Slide from a new Zooniverse transcription project

On Thursday evening I also attended the DHOxSS dinner at the Hogwarts-esque Exeter College, which was very enjoyable.


Evening meal at Exeter College

– The final day focussed on ‘social machines’ and social media, culminating in a hands-on ‘hackfest’ using data from the Early English Books Online database.

– Before that, James Loxley from the University of Edinburgh provided the closing keynote entitled ‘Uneasy Dreams: the Becoming of Digital Scholarship’. He published his slides on Buzzfeed before the talk, meaning the audience could interact with them as he was speaking

These are just a few highlights from my time at the Digital Humanities Summer School and I would strongly recommend anyone with an interest in digital scholarship to attend next year’s event!

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Retrieving references saved in Searcher

Do you still have saved references in Searcher that you would like to access?

The Library launched the new discovery service, DiscoverEd, on 30th June, which replaced both the Library Catalogue and Searcher. As a result, Searcher is no longer supported by the Library and our current contract will expire soon.

During the week beginning 3rd August the Library will move any folders saved on Searcher. After this move, you will be able to access your folder via any of the other EBSCOhost databases using your Searcher account user name and password.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;http://Chrome Legacy Window Sign In: EBSCOhost - Google Chrome chrome 28/07/2015 , 14:46:44

*Be aware that when we move the references, some references may not migrate and you may no longer have full text access to some content* Read More

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Publishing your Semester 1 Resource List

Univeristy of Ediburgh LogoSemester 1 resource lists should be published before 7th August 2015 deadline to allow sufficient time for the Library to review the list and process any requests for scans and/or book orders.

More information on creating your own list and how to ensure you provide the right information for the Library to process your requests can be found on the Resource List created by Course Organiser web page.

If you published a list in 2014/15, you can use it again for 2015/16. To update and publish your list for 2015/16, follow the steps below.

Sign in to Resource Lists @ Edinburgh and go to ‘My Lists’.

1. Click on the 2014/15 list. There will be a pale blue note at the top of the list saying ‘A newer version of this list exists in draft form. Click here to review’.

2. Click through to view the new 2015/16 draft list. Click on the ‘Add to my Lists’ button on the top right of the screen.

3. You should now see a new 2015/16 version of your list in ‘My Lists’

4. The list will remain in draft until you decide to publish it.

Course Organisers are encouraged to review and revise their lists before publishing for the new academic year. There is a short PDF guide on how to review and revise your list(s), including information about book recommendations and E-reserve requests.

How to review and re-publish a resource list for a new academic year

More information on how to make the most of Resource Lists can be found on the Resource Lists using Talis Aspire webpage  and the ResourceLists@Edinburgh Blog.

Follow @ResourceListsEd


Stephanie Farley

Library Learning Services Assistant

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New Arts & Crafts Binding Acquisition

We are delighted to welcome a guest blog by art historian Dr Elizabeth Cumming, exploring an exciting new acquisition with a binding designed by Phoebe Anna Traquair.

The Psalms of David is the first Phoebe Anna Traquair HRSA (1852-1936) binding to be purchased by the university. Traquair was an outstanding Arts & Crafts artist in late nineteenth-century Scotland, working across a range of studio crafts and public art. She is perhaps best known today for her mural decoration of the Mansfield Traquair Centre and her equally extraordinary suite of four silk embroideries The Progress of a Soul in the Scottish National Gallery.

Book binding by Phoebe Anna Traquair, Guild of Women Book Binders, Bdg.s.40

The binding was made in 1898 while Traquair was busily working on both these artworks, and it joins an exquisite 1897 illuminated manuscript she made of details from the Song School at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. Traquair already had a working space in the Dean Studio, a former church near Drumsheugh Swimming Baths, and was one of half a dozen Edinburgh women who met there to work alongside each other on bookcover tooling. They included Annie Macdonald who persuaded a London bookseller, Frank Karslake, to form the Guild of Women Binders. The Guild, with member groups from across Britain, had regular selling exhibitions on his premises at Charing Cross Road from 1897 till after 1900. They were well known and showed their books at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900.

Book binding by Phoebe Anna Traquair, Guild of Women Book Binders (back cover)

Book binding by Phoebe Anna Traquair, Guild of Women Book Binders (back cover), Bdg.s.40

Traquair would have first selected and purchased a printed book, in this case a 1862 copy published by Samson Low, Son & Co. It was then bound in her choice of leather – this one is morocco, or goat’s skin – by T&A Constable, a commercial firm who were printers to the university. The plain leather was then worked on the bound book, using a knife first to outline the design before using broader blades to emboss it deep into the surface. The style used by the Edinburgh group, who never used coloured leathers, was said at the time to be a ‘revival of the monastic bindings of the Middle Ages’. Once completely embossed, including her signature (seen here as an upside-down monogram PAT at the foot of the front cover),Traquair would take her book to local silversmith J M Talbot to have a silver fastening made and applied: here only the mounts on the front and obverse have survived: the central silver bar fixing has been replaced at some date by a simple leather strip.


Detail, Bdg.s.40

The story of David also features in the artist’s Mansfield Traquair Centre decoration. She specifically turned to the ‘musical’ subject of the Psalms of David on several occasions, beginning by illuminating the text as early as 1884: those pages were also bound in 1898 (Scottish National Gallery). On the university binding David, the ‘Son of Jesse [and] King of Israel’, is variously represented as boy shepherd and harpist; as warrior, with the head of the giant Goliath; as lover, watching Bathsheba washing; and finally as king. The figural designs give the cover an animated sense of narrative common to much of her work.

Song School St Mary, Gen.852

Song School St Mary, Gen.852

Learn more about Phoebe Anna Traquair through these links:

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Web of Science update on Sunday 26th July

wos-logo_webThomson Reuters advise “This release, which will be live on July 26th, primarily focused on integrating ORCID data into our platform.  We have always supported ORCID’s when they have been attached to a RID, and now we are able to display them individually.

Further information and other release information can be found at:

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Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School – days 1 and 2


I’m down in Oxford this week for the Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS), a five-day festival of digital scholarship showcasing the latest developments in research in the field and providing tools, guidance and advice on strategies for managing and using humanities data. I’ve signed up for the Digital Approaches in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (“the technologies of the present enhancing the study of the past”) which, throughout the week, focuses on topics ranging from ‘DIY digitisation’ and multispectral imaging, through to TEI, the Semantic Web, IIIF and social media as ‘social machines’. I plan to write up my full notes from the week once I’m back, but here is a small list of observations and useful links from days 1 and 2:

– ‘DIY digitisation’ is an excellent way for researchers to undertake their own small scale and low cost digitisation projects. The Bodleian encourages DIY digitisers to share their images on Flickr, thereby encouraging discussion and debate and enabling the library to capture information about items its users want to see in digital format.


– Retroreveal is a highly-recommended tool for uncovering what lies beneath the surface of digital images. It transforms images from the RGB colourspace perceived by the naked eye into other colourspaces, thereby revealing hidden text, annotations and images within digital files.

– The Walters Art Museum has been highlighted as something of a holy grail for digital humanities scholars: the entire collection is available on a CC-BY-SA licence in a variety of sizes and resolutions, right up to the 1200 dpi master TIFFs.

– There was an interesting discussion around the ethics of ‘DIY digitisation’ centered on what users should be allowed to do with images digitised in this way. One example was of the twitter account Medieval Reactions create humorous images / which tweets humorous, often offensive, memes using digitised images from rare books, and generates income from hosting promoted tweets. Should libraries be funding private income generation in this way?

– The Bodleian is doing fascinating work on hyperspectral imaging, enabling researchers to see hidden texts within images and analyse materials in a new way. In the image below, a stamp on the Gettsyburg Address not visible to the human eye can be seen when viewed within the VNIR and SWI spectral range. Hyperspectral images create huge file sizes (30GB+) and require complex data processing but can reveal secrets in documents which have never been uncovered before.


– OCR does an excellent job for printed, standardised documents but is not able to replicate the original structure of a document and it presents all text in a uniform size and font, even though it may not appear like this in the original document. As well as this, text can only be processed when it runs horizontally and faint items are not picked up well. The EMOP project is an interesting tool which utilises crowdsourcing and other techniques to overcome some of these issues.

– Oxford museums have been experimenting with using the basal metabolic rate emitted by all smart phones to track and record (anonymously!) their visitors’ movements throughout the museum space; this approach is an interesting one which I had not come across before. The aim is to deliver relevant content to visitors along the lines of Amazon’s “maybe you’d like…” service, based on their viewing habits within the museum space.

– Image recognition technology has been used in the Bodleian Broadsides project to identify wood blocks used by printers, shedding new light on the location and activities of printers across Europe in the early modern period Image recogntion technology such as this could have profound implications for all institutions with a large backlog of poorly-described digital images.


The above is just a small snapshot of what I’ve learned so far from the Summer School. I’m not even halfway through yet, so there’ll be plenty more to come from me over the next few days!


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Create your own Resource List

Univeristy of Ediburgh LogoResource Lists @ Edinburgh uses Talis Aspire to create and manage online reading lists.

Create your resource list using Talis Aspire, include the additional information requested by the Library and publish your list by *7th August*. The Library will then review your list and process any e-reserve requests, course (print) reserve and book recommendations.

In order to be able to create and edit lists on Resource Lists @ Edinburgh you will first need to request List Creator access to the service. You can do this by emailing

Great, so how do I create a list?

A good introduction to using Resource Lists @ Edinburgh is to work through the tasks provided in our guide:

Hands-on Workshop Tasks

We have created a detailed user guide to help you get started and a series of shorter guides that focus in on; specific tasks within Resource Lists, functions available within Resource Lists, tips, tricks, and handy information.

User Guides

Resource Lists @ Edinburgh video tutorials!

Taking on board feedback received at workshops, demonstrations, one on one catchups, and email correspondence, we have attempted to address some of the most frequent questions we receive by creating these short videos.

Four videos have been created including:

How to install the bookmarklet tool in Internet Explorer

How to install the bookmarklet tool in Firefox

How to create and add bookmarks to your Resource List

How to Edit and Publish your Resource List

Our Library Learning Services team are also happy to come out to Schools to do group demonstrations or one to ones. If you’re interested in this please email IS.Helpline @

More information on how to make the most of Resource Lists can be found on the Resource Lists using Talis Aspire webpage and the ResourceLists@Edinburgh Blog.


Stephanie Farley

Library Learning Services Assistant

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Our most-accessed instrument!

In May 2014 the University’s site went live. Having been up for a little over a year it is easy to provide evidence to show how successful it has been – the MIMEd curatorial staff get many emails from people who have seen some of our instruments on the site. Indeed, the statistics on the site show that the MIMEd pages have been visited approximately 100,000 times in total.
Delving deeper into the statistics does throw up a few slight shocks. MIMEd has a number of iconic items, and the curatorial staff would perhaps have expected to see one of these classic instruments being accessed most. Perhaps the Taskin harpsichord, or the Ruckers harpsichord with its uniquely-surviving transposing keyboards. Or perhaps a really early instrument – the mid-sixteenth century Bassano recorder, or his violins, or perhaps the Schnitzer trombone from 1594. Even our Buchenberg lute, or a Staufer, Lacote, or Fabricatore guitar. Or even – judging from its popularity when on display before the collection closed – the Fender electric guitar
It was surprising that it was none of the above, but rather the harpsichord by Stefano Bolcioni. In one way it is gratifying to know this – the Bolcioni will be the first instrument to be seen on the right-hand side as one walks into the keyboard galleries from the reception area once the collection re-opens to the public.
The Bolcioni harpsichord is listed as a triple-manual harpsichord, and perhaps it is the three keyboards that make it of particular interest. But in this is a tale that is well worth the telling. It was collected by Raymond Russell, who, in his book The Harpsichord and Clavichord (still the standard introductory textbook) included it as a genuine three-manual instrument. But, certainly soon after its arrival with Russell’s other instruments in Edinburgh – or possibly before – it was realised that much of what is seen is the handiwork of Leopold Francioilini, a notorious Florentine forger, and the instrument was included in one of his sale catalogues. Even after passing through his hands the instrument was further altered, gaining a new stand, and case exterior and lid interior decoration.

Bolcioni present
Franciolini’s work was fairly comprehensive and invasive. He started with a genuine single manual harpsichord by Bolcioni, replaced much of the interior (including cutting part of the soundboard) to fit the three keyboards (perhaps from an organ) into the case, made new bridges, wrestplank and nuts, and gave a registration where each keyboard had its own set of strings, albeit that the keyboards could be partly coupled to get more than one set of strings playing at a time. Looking at the instrument, it is unlikely it ever was playable in this altered state. But, just as the three keyboards are probably greatly responsible for the number of times the harpsichord has been accessed on, it no doubt helped fetch a price much in excess of if it was left in original condition.
Despite the alterations, the original state can be determined with only minor points of conjecture. It is particularly interesting (at least to organologists) that its original state has split keys (so that the note e-flat is a slightly different pitch to d-sharp, and g-sharp is different to a-flat). This was, in fact, quite common in Italy in the early seventeenth century, but it had an extended bass which allowed the player access to notes below to “normal” lowest one. This was very rare, with only a handful of surviving examples having evidence of this arrangement.
All of the displayed keyboard instruments will be organised into various themes. The Bolcioni will be in a section called “Copies and Counterfeits” alongside the Falkener harpsichord, Hubert clavichord and 1638 Ruckers harpsichord.

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New online resource for SPS: Political Science Complete

Following a successful trial in semester two, 2014-15, the Library has subscribed to Political Science Complete a major database in the areas of politics and international relations.


Political Science Complete provides full text for more than 520 journals, and indexing and abstracts for over 2,900 titles. The database also features over 340 full-text reference books and monographs, and over 36,000 full-text conference papers, including those of the International Political Science Association. Read More

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