I’m delighted to announced that nearly two hundred and fifty theses dating from 1921-1950 from the New College Library collection are now available online in the Edinburgh Research Archive, part of the Divinity Dissertation and Thesis Collection. While later theses are held in 2 copies, one at the Main Library, we believe that New College Library holds the only copy of theses from this early period. The New College Theses collection was catalogued online in 2012 as part of the Funk Projects.
– Gavin Willshaw, Digital Curator
– Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity
This week, conservation went global – in a very literal sense. Our task: to package and transport sections of a wooden globe, no mean feat considering the globe in question was nearly 1.5 metres in width.
This globe is one of two made by Jacques Elisée Reclus, a French geographer, both of which are held in the Patrick Geddes collection. In 1895, with the support of Alfred Russel Wallace and Patrick Geddes, Reclus proposed the construction of a huge relief globe approximately 420 feet in diameter, but this was never realised.
Geddes’ proposed Institute of Geography in Edinburgh was to incorporate the Reclus globe within it. We think the two globes we have here, which came from the Outlook Tower and were made for Geddes by Reclus, may have been models made for that project.
These globes, now in sections, were required to be packed for storage and transported to a new location (luckily for us, still in the same building!). For this purpose, it is important to choose appropriate housing methods and materials as this will act as a good preventive measure, helping to ensure the long-term preservation of the object. As well providing physical support for items, suitable storage will have the added benefits of providing an extra layer of protection from accidental damage during handling and transportation. It will also act as a buffer to atmospheric pollutants, dust, and light, and guard against any fluctuations in environmental conditions. Appropriate packaging will also come into its own if there was ever to be a flood or water ingress, acting as a barrier and thus protecting the contents from more serious damage.
Due to its weight and size, boxing the first globe was not an option. It was decided therefore to soft-wrap its individual sections, using acid-free tissue paper and bubble-wrap. Bubble-wrap was used to provide protective cushioning to the item but it is important that it is used correctly (yes, there is a right and wrong way to use bubble-wrap!). In most cases, it is recommended that the ‘bubbles’ face away from the object – this reduces the risk of creating indentations or marks up the item, particularly if the surface or media is vulnerable, friable or has surface dirt. It is not recommended, however, for bubble-wrap to be placed in direct contact with an object as it is not a recognised conservation-grade material.
Acid-free tissue was therefore used as an interleaving layer between the surface of the globe sections and the bubble-wrap. As the name suggests, it is acid-free and thus a material that we use often, whether for interleaving, wrapping and cushioning objects or padding out excess space in the form of tissue ‘puffs’ or ‘sausages’.
Once safely packaged, we were able to move the globe sections into one of our environmental controlled stores. This will ensure that the temperature and relative humidity conditions are kept stable, and protect against any global warming….
Post by Emma Davey, Conservation Officer
LIBER AMICORUM OF TOKYO ARTISTS
On behalf of Edinburgh University Library, the Centre for Research Collections has recently acquired an example of a Japanese painting album – gassaku-jo or liber amicorum.
There are three main groups of Japanese painting albums: jiteki-jo, being painting albums made by a single artist; gassaku-jo , being albums contributed to by different artists; and, shuga-jo, being albums with paintings done by different artists and calligraphers brought together by a collector.
Gassaku-jo or liber amicorum (‘album of friends’) contain paintings often in combination with pages of calligraphy. Sometimes they belong to the same school of artists, but more commonly they are from different schools or done by amateur painters and poets from different cultural groups or circles.
The recently acquired album contains 22 paintings by a group of Tokyo artists who lived between 1796 and 1917.
In addition to an illustration of a swallow, the album contains paintings of a peony, a waterfall, a monkey, autumn leaves…
…a mandarin duck, a chrysanthemum, a sparrow on a flowering twig, a lobster, heavy rain, a flock of sparrows…
…a tea bowl and camellia, a shrimp, houses in the snow, a fan and handscroll, a white rabbit, and a basket… with a number of others.
A number of the other illustrations are shown below:
Dr. Graeme D. Eddie – Assistant Librarian Archives and Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections
This post drew on information at the Chikurin Gallery and its painting albums pages.
Over the course of digitising the Roslin Slide Collection, amongst all the slides of tables, charts and the like, it has been the images of people, and their animals, that have grabbed my attention most of all. I have noticed two particular styles of photographic composition that are common throughout; the group shot (still popular today of course!) and the ‘one man and his animal’ shot. These images provide a sort of typology where the composition often remains the same with the people and environment changing.
The small sample of images below gives an idea of the cross-continental range of the collection, although viewing the collection as a whole may be more informative due to the sheer volume of images offering a more solid grounding. As the slides move from place to place, from country to country, we can see how the details change, whether it be the breed of cow, colour of skin or clothing worn.
The extent of Roslin Slide Collection can be viewed here.
Project Photographer – ‘Science on a Plate’
Jisc has partnered with AAAS to provide institutions of higher and further education in the United Kingdom with sitewide access to Science Classic, the digital archives of Science (1880-1996).
Science Classic delivers more than a century’s worth of full-text content from the annals of the world’s largest general scientific journal. The archives are fully integrated with the current content of Science which makes it easier to search the entire collection.
Our e-journal A-Z list has been updated to reflect this extra content.
We have trial access to The Japan Times Online until 31st May.
Japan Times Online is the oldest English-language newspaper in Japan, founded in March 1897 (Meiji 30). It has been published to promote mutual understandings between Japan and other countries. This newspaper includes unique articles which cannot be read in Japanese-language newspapers. Japan Times Online includes articles from 1999-present. (We are also trialling the archive which contains content from 1897-2013).
We have trial access to Visible Body until 22nd May.
Visible Body is a suite of online programs that cover anatomy, physiology, muscles, the skeleton and the circulatory system through interactive 3D models, animations, quizzes and more.
Feedback and further info
We are interested to know what you think of these e-resources as your comments influence purchase decisions so please fill out our feedback form.
A list of all trials currently available to University of Edinburgh staff and students can be found on our trials webpage.
One of the great pleasures of working with archives is the propensity they have to surprise. Hidden amongst the vast records of organisations, or the more petite collections of individuals, you are almost guaranteed to stumble upon something you would never have imagined to find. Items such as these help to add colour to the picture extant records create of the people who have left them, and they add colour to the world they occupied.
There are quite a few such items in the W Ronald D Fairbairn Archive. These items help to support the evidence we have of the wide-ranging interests Fairbairn had, both within and without the world of psychoanalysis. For example, at university he studied philosophy, theology and Hellenic studies, before embarking upon his medical qualifications and he was a member of a number of societies including the Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society.
A small, yellowing newspaper cutting from 1932, in the Fairbairn Archive, holds the distinction of telling one of the most unusual stories I have ever come across in the ten years I have worked with archives.
This macabre and disturbing incident is shocking to read but, unfortunately perhaps, the journalistic style of the time renders it mildly humorous too.
It is obvious why this story would have interested Fairbairn: the unexpected nature of this cutting is that the event happened at all.
As previously reported, the instruments have all been removed from St Cecilia’s Hall to allow building work to start. The keyboards were one of the last group of instruments to leave and their removal was caught on my film by the Library’s Digital Imaging Unit using time lapse photography.
You can see the results here – https://vimeo.com/125235362
Images courtesy of Stewart Cromar (@stubot)
On Friday we trialled the use of Bluetooth beacons in our exhibition space, using Google Glass and the Guidigo app to provide an immersive tour of the Something Blue exhibition. Beacons work by emitting a small Bluetooth signal which activates content installed on visitors’ mobile devices. Four of these were placed at locations throughout the exhibition and, when users came within range, music, videos and voice recordings relating to specific exhibits were activated on the Glass headsets.
Users standing near the Blob 05 (Blue) exhibit, for example, were able to access an interview with Art Curator Neil Lebeter talking about the painting, while those in close proximity to the Vienna Horn could watch a video of Curator Sarah Deters playing the instrument.
There was a strong novelty factor as many people had not tried out Google Glass before, but on the whole it was felt that using the technology with the beacons in this way was an effective way of delivering content. The exhibition room is a relatively narrow space and because of space restrictions, some of the beacons were situated very close together. As a result, the signals from different beacons often interfered with each other, meaning content delivery was sometimes quite erratic. On more than one occasion someone standing next to one beacon received content from another one located several metres away on the other side of the room. As well as this, when too many people were standing close to a beacon the signal could be blocked or dulled.
In order to combat this for future sessions, it would be more effective to spread the beacons evenly throughout the space and have specific signs on the floor or walls saying something like “stand here to hear an interview with the curator”. Aside from these issues, the Google Glass worked really well: the Guidigo app overcame many of the well-known problems associated with the technology (poor battery life, overheating, and headaches) by putting Glass into sleep mode whenever the user was outside the beacons’ range. On the whole, it was an interesting experiment to take part in and we hope to have a more public trial of the technology at our next exhibition, so please do get in touch if you would like to be involved!
We are also exploring further ways of using beacons with other mobile devices to provide self-guided library tours: watch this space for further updates.
Gavin Willshaw | Digital Curator