New Resources

A poster stating 'Edinburgh Everywhere: your library online' and depicting people busy with stacks of books surrounding a half-globe. Statistic about library services are shown in colourful circles are written across the middle of the page, echoing the half-circle shape of the globe.

Throughout the year the Law Librarians purchase new materials – sometimes following requests, and other times to ensure that new editions of established and key texts are available to staff and students. This part of our work has been especially busy this last year as learning and teaching has gone online!

Requests are received from students, staff and colleagues from across the Law School. Some are related to specific courses, but many are to support the research undertaken by staff and students.

We thought we would take this opportunity to let you know about a few of the new items we have recently ordered and received in:

This last item is a 13 volume set comprising of around 9000 pages, making it an incredibly helpful resource on the topic of the history of the Kurdish people. Having access to this material makes Edinburgh one of a select number of universities who give access to their students and staff to this unique resource.


Staff and students can place requests directly using the online forms available on the Library webpages.

If we cannot purchase the item (may be it is an older edition, out of stock, or not available in the online format you want) then we recommend you use the Interlibrary Loan Request Service which allows us to try to source access from other libraries or academic institutions.

If you would like us to consider a subscription, or you want to discuss your request further you can email us in the usual way using law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Happy reading!

Posted in Books, News, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Resources

Spotlight on Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars

Are you interested in British intelligence, foreign policy, international relations, and military history in the 20th century? Then Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars: Intelligence, Strategy and Diplomacy may be just what you’re looking for.

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars provides access to British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files from 1873 to 1953, with the majority of files dating from the 1930s and 1940s.

You can access Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars via the Databases A-Z list or Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide. Read More

Posted in Library, New, Online resource, Primary sources, Spotlight on | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Spotlight on Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars

Art and The Playfair: Speaking to Absent Volumes, or How to Find Books in the Library, Old Style

During the academic year 2019-20 Rare Books worked with a group of third year students from Edinburgh College of Art.  The project was to produce an artist’s book in response to the collections and space of the Playfair Library room in Old College, the home of the University Library from 1827 until it moved to George Square in 1967. The project ended with a photoshoot in the Playfair a few days before the country was put into lockdown in March 2020.   The project website, which shows all the student work, was delayed by the pandemic, and went live early in 2021.

The challenge the students were set was to make reference to at least one book which had at some time in its history been on the shelves in the Playfair Library. To achieve this they had to get to grips with the records of the collection when it was there.

This really was a challenge. Read on find out why…

How to Arrange an Old Library

Like many libraries from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century, the Playfair is a long, narrow rectangle, with windows on both sides, and bookcases projecting into the room at right angles. It is a particularly grand and elaborate example, having an upper, gallery level, which continues the pattern right up to the ceiling.


The books were arranged by what is called ‘fixed shelf location’, meaning that each book had a designated place on a particular shelf. Each bay was labelled with a letter of the alphabet; each shelf was numbered; and the books on each shelf were numbered. This set of three characters was written in the books and in the catalogue, as the means of finding them. Modern libraries tend to use a subject classification scheme, which arranges the books in relation to one another in a linear sequence, whereas in the Playfair the arrangement of the books was defined by the architecture of the library. It was three-dimensional rather than linear; there were relationships between books on shelves above, below and opposite, as well as next to one another. Larger books were likely to be on a bottom shelf and smaller ones in the upstairs gallery.

The books were grouped by subject into the different bays of the library. For example:

A: Bibles and the Church Fathers (Religious books were put first)
G – K – Medicine
L – Natural history
O – Maths and physics
P – Geography and topography
S – Poetry and literature, including songs with music
T – Language; grammars etc.

Although all the books left the Playfair Room in 1967, many of them are still arranged according to the Playfair shelfmarks. Divorced from their original location, these have been run together to form a series of sequences in the Centre for Research Collections’ stores. It is possible to imagine these back onto the now empty shelves in the Playfair, and get a spooky sense of what it must have been like when it was in use.

However, quite a lot books which were at some time in the Playfair have since been given new shelfmarks. Some newer books went into the open-access classified sequences in the library in George Square; others have been moved into different sequences within Special Collections. Books were moved around even when the library was in Old College, and not every book the library owned in the nineteenth century has survived to the present.

 

How to find Anything

So, for our students to be able to find books which were in scope for their project, they had to be able to tell the difference between Playfair shelfmarks and those from elsewhere in the library, use both the catalogues which record where the books are today and those which record the collection when it was in the Playfair, to detect books which have moved. If they wanted to base their work on an entire shelf, or other grouping, which was something we suggested they might do, they also needed the records of how the books were arranged.

The easiest place for them to look for ideas was the main University library search tool, the familiar discovered.ed.ac.uk – which will find records matching any words typed into it, and can limit its search to anything currently in Special Collections (choose “Special Collections – Main Library” and “Special Collections – Centre for Research Collections” for books which used to be in the Playfair)

So far, so familiar. But a lot of the old Playfair books are not catalogued on DiscoverEd at all, and it doesn’t help much for anything which has changed shelfmark.

The next easiest place to look is in the library’s last paper catalogue, the Guardbook which was closed when computers were introduced, in 1985. This is still used to find anything which isn’t online, and has been digitised. It was originally on typed sheets of paper in looseleaf binders.  Typed only on one side of the sheet, additions were made on narrower sheets, bound to face the page they were adding to.  The whole catalogue is arranged by author, while anonymous works, such as the Bible, go by title.

The experience of using it is very different from searching on a computer. You need to know what you are looking for and you need to be able to look it up in alphabetical order (The trick was to use reference books and bibliographies before trying the catalogue). On the other hand, once you get to the author it is easier than on the computer to browse, to assess at a glance what the library has, to discover the title wasn’t spelt the way you were expecting, or to spot what you wanted in a different version, or as part of a set.

Even the Guardbook records the collection as it was twenty years after it left the Playfair. To reach back to the Playfair’s heyday there are older catalogues. The easiest to use is the one published by the university in three volumes between 1918 and 1923

This is more manageable to use than the Guardbook, even in its online version, and from the point of view of Art and the Playfair, shows the Playfair room in full use, and contains much less material which was out of scope for the project. There are quite a few spare copies of this around, so one was sent back to the studios at ECA, for the students on the project to use.

There was one final, really scary, set of documents for the students to get to grips with…

How Not to Lose Anything in an Old Library

Catalogues, which allow you to find individual books in the library, are only one of the librarian’s tools for managing the collections. The other vital tool is a shelf list; an inventory arranged in the order the books are shelved. This makes it possible to check that nothing is missing, records exactly what is in each volume, if several things are bound together, and helped to keep track of where there was space on the shelves and where new books could most logically be added.

The last set of shelf lists for the Playfair was handwritten in the early twentieth century. These are still in use, though we now work on a digitised copy. They look like this:


For Art and the Playfair these allowed the students to explore some of the spatial relationships between the books stored in the room, although the handwriting, the crossings-out, and unfamiliar format presented a challenge.

And Then to Make Art

When we set up Art and the Playfair we had no idea how the students would handle this complicated and unfamiliar collection of documents, which as librarians we navigate on a daily basis and take for granted, but were very keen that they should engage with the records and the idea of the library as a space.

As it turned out, they rose to the challenge magnificently. Their biggest initial hurdle was getting over the surprise that they were not only allowed, but being encouraged, to work with very old books. But once they got started they all managed to find something which spoke to their own interests, and then produce something original and true to their own creativity. We were delighted that few of the books they chose were familiar to us, that some of them really got to grips with the difficult shelf lists, and that so many of them picked up unexpected features of their source material and took it to totally new places.

We wish all of the group well as they approach the end of their degree course this year, and make plans for the future.

Posted in 20th Century, Architecture, Collections, Playfair Library, Rare Books | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Art and The Playfair: Speaking to Absent Volumes, or How to Find Books in the Library, Old Style

Five legal news resources in Scotland

A colourful stack of newspapers are folded at the bottom of the screen. The word 'news' in typewriter font is written in black across a blue background at the top of the image.

Image from kalhh on Pixabay

Always keen to show you that librarians know about more than just books, we like to highlight a range of resources for legal information here on the Law Librarian blog. This week we’re bringing you links to five organisations and that can help you keep abreast of current issues in Scottish legal news.

A website: The Law Society of Scotland: News & Events page

The Law Society of Scotland is not only the professional body for over 12,000 Scottish solicitors, but also a valuable site for keeping up-to-date with recent Society News, Legal News, Blogs and Publications, and much more! If you haven’t already got this page bookmarked we highly recommend it.

An email newsletter: Scottish Legal News

Subscribing to the free daily newsletter from Scottish Legal News brings you highlights and current awareness bulletins directly to your inbox. With everything from training opportunities and digests of notable cases, to job adverts and (our personal favourite) the ‘…and finally’ articles, this service is worth its weight in gold. Follow them on Twitter @ScottishLegal.

A YouTube channel: Edinburgh Law School

Whether you subscribe for the promotional videos from your fellow students talking about their experiences at the Law School, or you want to watch back particularly interesting recordings such as the recent Crime, Justice and Society Seminar on ‘Rap lyrics in criminal trials: What does the case law tell us?’, you can be sure to find something interesting and relevant to your study on the School channel. You can, of course, follow the Law School updates on Twitter @UoELawSchool. CJS are also on Twitter @UoECJS.

A podcast: The Scottish Feminist Judgments Podcast

The Scottish Feminist Judgments Project is part of a global series that aims to imagine how important legal cases might have been decided differently if the judge had adopted a feminist perspective. Coordinated by  Sharon Cowan (University of Edinburgh), Chloë Kennedy (University of Edinburgh) and Vanessa Munro (University of Warwick), you can now listen to four excellent episodes of feminist analysis of Scottish judgments via Media Hopper or Apple Podcasts. More information about the project can be found on the website or their Twitter feed, @ScottishFemJP

A student society: Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Society

CrimSoc are a group led by students who are passionate about providing university-wide opportunities to all students interested in exploring all aspects of criminal law and justice. They seek to provide useful information about both legal and non-legal careers as well as regular discussion of current topics of interest with guest speakers. Students can find out more about joining the society using the contact information on the EUSA website, their Facebook group, or by following them on Instagram @uofecrimsoc.

We hope you’ve found something of interest to your studies or your professional development in the above list. If you regularly get your Scottish legal news from another source please leave a comment to tell us where! Alternatively you can contact us by emailing law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Posted in Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Five legal news resources in Scotland

Using the Library remotely – accessing material you need

With many of you currently not in Edinburgh and access to our Library’s print collections severely restricted, knowing the options for accessing material that isn’t available online or that the Library doesn’t have in its collections has become increasingly important.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the number of options available to you, there are still possibilities existing that you can take advantage of.

Check DiscoverEd
Request a Book (RaB)
Scan & Deliver
Click & Collect
Inter-Library Loans (ILLs)
National Library of Scotland and other libraries
Open Access (free stuff)

Check DiscoverEd

It’s really important that you check if the Library has the item or material you are looking for in its collections, whether online or in print. Searching Google or Google Scholar will not give you this information (even if you have set up Google Scholar for full text access). DiscoverEd will show you what we (the Library) have. Read More

Posted in Library, Library resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Using the Library remotely – accessing material you need

Dissertation Festival 2021

From 8 – 19 March the Library is running an online Dissertation Festival. The events taking place during this two week period will highlight what the Library can do for you to help you succeed with your dissertation.

In this blog post I am going to focus on the sessions that might be of particular interest to dissertation students (undergraduates or postgraduates) in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA). However, to find all sessions available and to book on take a look at the Dissertation Festival guide. Read More

Posted in Dissertation Festival, Library, Online resource, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dissertation Festival 2021

Launch of new book on Sir Walter Scott

Frolics in the Face of EuropeOn the occasion of the commemoration of Sir Walter Scott 250th birthday anniversary in 2021, a new book has just been published which will soon be added to the Library collection:

Iain Gordon Brown, Frolics in the Face of Europe : Sir Walter Scott, Continental Travel and the Tradition of the Grand Tour (Fonthill Media, 2020. ISBN: 9781781558096)

The online book launch will take place tomorrow Wednesday evening at 6.00pm, 24th Feb 2021. The event is free and will be in the form of a webinar with Ian Gordon Brown (author) and Professor Joseph Farrell. For more information and to join the event, please visit: https://iiclondra.esteri.it/iic_londra/en/gli_eventi/calendario/2021/02/frolics-in-the-face-of-europe-sir.html

See also:

Posted in Celtic and Scottish Studies, English Literature, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Launch of new book on Sir Walter Scott

Using the Library remotely – DiscoverEd

With many of you currently not in Edinburgh and access to our Library’s print collections severely restricted, being able to access books, journals and other materials online has become even more important.

Knowing how to find and access the e-books and e-journals (and more) available to you at the Library is often where people first go wrong. While Google and Google Scholar are good search tools they are not going to show you what the Library has access to and they often put barriers in your way for accessing material.

DiscoverEd should be your starting point

DiscoverEd (http://discovered.ed.ac.uk) is the main place to search for and access online material (and print) available to you at the Library. It tells you what e-books, e-journals, e-journal articles, etc., you have access to and provides links to access them. These links are embedded to tell the resource that you are from University of Edinburgh so access in most cases is direct with your University username and password (and you don’t have to enter this again if you are already signed in).

So some hints and tips and things to know when using DiscoverEd.

Sign In
Too many search results?
Don’t ignore information that is there to help
Broadening your search in DiscoverEd
Build a more complex search (or a more specific search)
Going beyond DiscoverEd
What access is there to print items in Library collections or if the Library doesn’t have the item at all? Read More

Posted in Library, Library resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Using the Library remotely – DiscoverEd

The Lyell Project Team is Growing!

22 February marks the anniversary of the death of renowned Scottish geologist, Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875). Newly appointed Senior Lyell Archivist, Elaine MacGillivray, says ‘hello’ and reflects on Lyell’s contribution to our understanding of the world.  

Headshot of Elaine MacGillivray, newly appointed Senior Lyell Archivist at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

Elaine MacGillivray
Senior Lyell Archivist

Hello Everyone! My name is Elaine MacGillivray and I am very happy to introduce myself as the newly appointed Senior Lyell Archivist at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections.

I am a registered archivist and bring to the project almost 20 years of experience working across archives in the local authority, business, community, and higher education sectors. I have worked at the University of Edinburgh since 2014, first as the archive lead on the School of Scottish Studies Archives refurbishment project and later, managing two Wellcome-funded, collaborative, archive cataloguing projects. In 2019, I was awarded ‘Record Keeper of the Year’ by the UK Archives and Records Association. I am a trustee of, and professional advisor to, a number of rural heritage organisations.

I enjoy the meticulous organisation of what often seems to others like utter chaos, and I love to connect people and their research interests to each other and to archive collections. When I am not knee-deep in project management and archive metadata, you will find me outdoors; up a hill, or exploring the back roads of Perthshire on my bicycle.

It is a real privilege to be entrusted with responsibility for the Sir Charles Lyell archive collections. Prior to the collections being transferred to the Centre for Research Collections, it is clear that the Lyell family invested a great deal of time and care in preserving and organising the collections whilst in their care. This places our archives and conservation team on a great foothold as we progress conserving and cataloguing the collections further, in order to ensure that they are preserved for posterity and, at the same time, made more widely accessible.

Lyell’s notebooks, correspondence, papers and objects are an immense and invaluable body of evidence. Collectively, they serve to illustrate how Lyell and others in his vast network came to formulate, interrogate and revise their ideas and their understanding of the world around them. Lyell is renowned for his contributions to geology, but the collections bring to light yet more about his own and others’ thinking, across a range of subjects and disciplines.

Earlier this week, Europe’s most active and iconic volcano, Mount Etna in Sicily, erupted once again. The 3,350m tall mountain has the longest recorded history of volcanic eruptions, dating back to 1500BC. The historic lava flows are considered to date as old as 300,000 years. It was Lyell’s systematic and methodical observations of Mount Etna from 1828 onwards that led him to develop his theories around geological time and to argue that the Earth was much older than had been previously believed. Lyell’s work throughout the nineteenth century was key to a monumental shift in our understanding of time and our place in the universe.

In 2021, Mount Etna is still one of the best-studied and monitored volcanoes in the world and its significance endorsed by its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site of Outstanding Universal Value.

Detail of a hand-drawn watercolour map of Mount Etna from the Sir Charles Lyell archive (Ref: Coll-203/Uncat).

Detail of a hand-drawn watercolour map of Mount Etna from the Sir Charles Lyell archive (Ref: Coll-203/Uncat).

One of my favourite items from the collection thus far is a hand-drawn watercolour illustration of Mount Etna. My colleague and Head of Special Collections, Daryl Green, discovered the drawing in August 2020 as he sifted through part of the collection shortly after it arrived at the Centre for Research Collections. The drawing forms part of the continuous record of observations of Mount Etna dating from 1500BC to the present day. I suspect that it is only the first of many remarkable finds to come.

I am looking forward to working with colleagues, building on the fantastic work already undertaken in cataloguing, digitising and making the collections more accessible. We will continue to share our discoveries and project progress here.

We want to hear from you!

What else would you like to see on the ‘Through Lyell’s Eyes’ blog? Would you like to hear from our volunteers and interns? Perhaps you would like to read guest posts from academic experts? Would you like to meet more of our team? What about a ‘behind the scenes’ look at some of our cataloguing, transcription or conservation work? Should we include more visual content illustrating some of the items from our the collections? Would you be interested in more audio-visual content?

Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below – I look forward to hearing from you.

Elaine MacGillivray
Senior Lyell Archivist

 

Posted in About Lyell | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Lyell Project Team is Growing!

Charles Lyell’s World Online events

On the 9th and 16th of February we were joined by over 250 people from 17 countries to learn about our progress and future plans to make Charles Lyell’s notebooks and archives accessible online through our forthcoming Charles Lyell’s World Online website. For those who were unable to join us may view these recordings. Whilst the first 35 minute section of each event are similar each event had a unique live question and answer part.

9th Feb event

16th Feb event

Charles Lyell’s World Online events

To learn more about our new funding priorities to help us accelerate our digitisation and online plans please contact David McClay, Philanthropy Manager, Library & University Collections david.mcclay@ed.ac.uk 

Find out more about supporting the Collections. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Charles Lyell’s World Online events

Follow @EdUniLibraries on Twitter

Collections

Default utility Image Art and The Playfair: Speaking to Absent Volumes, or How to Find Books in the Library, Old Style During the academic year 2019-20 Rare Books worked with a group of third year students...
Default utility Image Edinburgh Research Downloads: December 2020 Edinburgh Research Downloads: December 2020 • www.research.ed.ac.uk • www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk • Looking at how Edinburgh Research Explorer and ERA...

Projects

Default utility Image The Battle of Life: A look at the Dumfriesshire mental health survey “worried, dull and anxious, not quite up to the battle of life.” Widowed female, 45-54...
Default utility Image Introduction to Leadership This is a not one of my usual posts about Open Research, but rather a...

Archives

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.