New! The Encyclopedia of Political Thought

I’m happy to let you know that following requests from staff in Politics & International Relations the Library has purchased access to The Encyclopedia of Political Thought online from Wiley Blackwell. The Encyclopedia examines the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and political philosophy.

You can access The Encyclopedia of Political Thought via DiscoverEd.

The Encyclopedia offers over 900 A-Z entries, including shorter definitions and biographies as well as extended treatments of major topics, from over 700 contributors from around the world. Examining the history of political thought from antiquity to contemporary political theory and political philosophy, the Encyclopedia also reflects diverse traditions in the evolution of political theory and political science. Read More

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New to the Library: Presidential Recordings Digital Edition

The Library now has access to the fascinating Presidential Recordings Digital Edition. This rich resource includes transcripts and corresponding audio of secretly recorded conversations in the Oval Office from Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

You can currently access Presidential Recordings Digital Edition from DiscoverEd and you will soon also be able to access this via Databases.

Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt through to Richard M. Nixon all secretly recorded many of their conversations in the Oval Office. The resulting 5,000 hours of telephone and meeting tape recorded during their time in the White House   capture some of the most significant moments in modern American political history. From Birmingham to Berlin, from Medicare to My Lai, from Selma to SALT, and from Watts to Watergate, the presidential recordings offer a unique window into the shaping of U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Read More

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Spotlight on Fiddles at St Cecilia’s Hall

Guest post from Olivia Thorne, a museums placement student at St Cecilia’s Hall

As a classically-trained cellist, the image that springs to mind for me when I hear the word ‘fiddle’ is a violin used by folk musicians to play jigs and reels. However, as I discovered during my internship at St Cecilia’s Hall, the fiddle family encompasses so much more. Organologists (that’s musical instrument specialists) use the term ‘fiddle’ to refer to any string instrument played with a bow. The more formal classification ‘bowed lute’ also applies to this class of instrument. Fiddles can be played held under the chin like a violin, held upright and rested on the knee, or played standing, propped on a spike. A wide variety of materials are used to make fiddles, from coconut shell to snakeskin to maple, ebony and ivory, and instrument designs vary from the simple to extremely complicated. Fiddles are a worldwide phenomenon, with most cultures possessing their own variation on the instrument, and fiddle-playing traditions connect groups of people from different corners of the globe. Over the course of this blog post, I will highlight some of the wacky and wonderful fiddles in the collection at St Cecilia’s Hall, and share some of the surprises that emerged during my research with these instruments. The examples discussed also reveal some insights into the process of identifying musical instruments, and the ongoing collection research which goes on behind the scenes in any museum.

One-string fiddle

A circus runaway – the mysterious case of the one-string fiddle

When I first unwrapped this instrument from storage, I was confronted with an enigma. What was this instrument? It seemed to be a chimaera of the string instrument world, borrowing elements from lots of different instruments to make one very unusual fiddle. The top half is shaped like a violin, with a wide, rounded lower half which more closely resembles a 19th-century guitar. The soundholes are in a shape commonly seen on the viola d’amore – a member of the viol family popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. The very long neck and single string presented even more of a mystery. Single-string bowed instruments are rare worldwide, and even more so in the Western classical tradition to which the violin and viol family belong. However, string instruments have been the subject of experimentation for centuries, and the form of even the violin continues to evolve. Could this be an example of experimental innovation? Little information was collected about this instrument when it entered the museum’s collection in 1982. Luckily, the National Music Museum in South Dakota holds a perfect match within their collection. Documentation from the NMM revealed this to be a ‘violon du cirque’ – a circus violin – made in France c. 1900. This explains the motivation behind the maker’s experimental design – creating an instrument with a high novelty, entertainment and humour factor. The details of the circus routines in which this highly unusual fiddle might have played a part can only be imagined!

Looks can be deceiving


Baton-shaped kit

At first glance, this narrow-bodied instrument resembles a kit – a miniature fiddle popular as a portable instrument for private dancing tutors during the 17th and 18th centuries. Kits come in two basic categories – those shaped like miniature violins and those with long narrow bodies described as ‘baton-shaped’ by some authors and ‘gondola-shaped’ by others. However, this example is too large to be a kit, and doesn’t quite conform to the usual shape of the baton-style version. In fact, this is a złóbcoki, and has a completely different cultural context to the kit. While you would find a kit at home in the refined drawing rooms of London polite society in the 18th century, the złóbcoki is the folk fiddle of the Górale people of the Tatra Mountains in Poland. The złóbcoki was traditionally played at celebrations, weddings and marches, alongside a drum or basy (a Polish bass fiddle broadly comparable to the cello), and sometimes local bagpipes. This example demonstrates that within the twisting family tree of musical instruments, two instruments with very similar forms may have very different cultural contexts. However, the baton-shaped kit is thought to have evolved as a modification of the older rebec, a bowed instrument played widely in Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. It is possible that future research may reveal that both the złóbcoki and the kit have their origins in the rebec – however without further data we can only speculate.


An imposter amongst the fiddles – identifying a Tibetan lute


To tell the global story of music, musical instrument museums often collect examples from around the world. This means that organologists sometimes need to identify instruments from cultures other than their own, which can be confusing work. This striking red string instrument is carved from a single piece of wood, with a round resonator covered in hide which amplifies the sound of the strings. It was previously identified in museum records from the 1990s as a pi-wang, a type of bowed string instrument from Tibet. However, after a little research it became clear that this instrument did not have the cylindrical sound box of a pi-wang, and also had more than the standard two strings. Utilising the power of the internet, which makes finding reference images a breeze, I determined that it was definitely the wrong shape to be a pi-wang. After some further reading, another possible candidate emerged – the Himalayan plucked instrument called sgra-snyan (the name means ‘pleasant sound’). Traditionally, one of the roles of the sgra-snyan was to accompany nang-ma songs, associated with the music of the Dalai Lama’s court in the Tibetan city of Lhasa. Today, ensembles featuring the sgra-snyan along with the pi-wang and traditional flutes are played by the Tibetan community in exile in Bhutan and India, where the nang-ma repertory has been revived. Having revealed its true identity, this particular instrument can no longer be considered a fiddle. However, this example goes to show how the abundance of reference images and information on the internet has changed the task of musical instrument research between the 1990s and today. Understanding a museum collection is an ongoing process – there is always more to learn!

The varieties of fiddle held in the collection at St Cecilia’s Hall are far too numerous to research in a four-week internship, or cover in a single blog post. To explore more of the fascinating world of fiddles, visit the Laigh Hall or the Wolfson Gallery at the newly redeveloped museum.

Olivia Thorne

Further Reading

Cooley, T 1997, Ethnography, Tourism and Music-culture in the Tatra Mountains: Negotiated Representations of Polish Gorale Ethnicity, Doctoral Thesis submitted to Brown University, Rhode Island, accessed via ProQuest.

Durkin, R 2017, ‘The Dancing-Master’s Toolkit: a summary of the pochette of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its role in society’, The Galpin Society Journal, no. LXX, pp. 65-79.

Halfpenny, E and Grame, TC 2017, ‘Stringed instrument’, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, viewed 13th July 2017, accessible at <>.

Helffer, M 2000, ‘Tibetan Culture in South Asia’, in A. Arnold (ed.), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 9, Garland, New York and London.

Henrion-Dourcy, I and Dhondup, T 2017, ‘Instruments – Tibetan Music’, in Grove Music Online, viewed 11th July 2017, accessible via Oxford Music Online.

Remnant, M 1984, ‘Kit’, in Grove Music online, viewed 13th July 2017, accessible via Oxford Music Online.

Stęszewski, J 2017, ‘Instruments – Poland’, in Grove Music Online, viewed 10th July 2017, accessible via Oxford Music Online.


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Send the Library your Leganto Resource Lists by 24th July

A wee reminder that if you’re building your Resource list using Leganto and you’d like the Library to order books, provide scans of chapters of move books to reserve collections, please send the list to the library for review by Monday 24th July.

Sending your list to the Library for review
When you’ve completed your list in Leganto, click on the three dots (reading list options) at the top of your list and select send to library.

Getting started guide
You’ll find more help on using Leganto in the Getting started guide.

Semester 2 deadlines
24th July is the deadline for Semester 1 courses. We’ll issue new deadlines for Semester two in September- so plenty of time to think about using Leganto for Semester 2 courses.

If you’d like the Library to build your Semester 1 course Resource List and you’ve missed the deadline, we’ll still do our best to have the list ready in time for the start of teaching. Send the annotated reading list, with a coversheet to

More information
Library creates Resource List
Academic creates Resource List

Angela Laurins
Library Learning Services

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70,000 high-quality images from National Palace Museum in Taipei

BBC News reported yesterday that the National Palace Museum in Taipei has placed 70,000 high-quality electronic images in a free-to-download archive so that online users can enjoy its exhibitions. It also provides a database for users to download information on the history and use of the cultural artefacts.

See more on

This BBC news page leads to the detailed information in Chinese at:

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Korean newspapers online

아카이브 제목

The Library has arranged a free trial of two digitised Korean newspapers, Choson Ilbo Archive and  Dong-A Ilbo Archive. The digitised full-text content of both newspapers date back to 1920, each containing over 3 million articles. They are searchable by keyword, full text, date, and so on.

To access the trials, please follow the links below:

Choson Ilbo Archive:

Dong-A Ilbo Archive:

Trial ends on 30 Sept 2017 for Choson Ilbo Archive and 31 Aug 2017 for Dong-A Ilbo Archive respectively.

This is the first time we have access to Korean e-resources. As the Korean Studies programme unfolds, there will be more library activities in this area in the near future.

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Journal of Medical Entomology – archive access now available

The Library has purchased the archive of Journal of Medical Entomology, 1964-1995, we now hold a full run of this journal online.

Journal of Medical Entomology publishes research related to all aspects of medical entomology and medical acarology, including the systematics and biology of insects, acarines, and other arthropods of public health and veterinary significance.

Access this e-journal via DiscoverEd.


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“Manuscripts rare for the writing” and The Skeleton in the Library Cupboard: the Early Library Records Project


The Library holds a very rich collection of the records of its own activities, stretching right back to the charter of Clement Littil’s bequest in 1580, which started the library.  Many of the books acquired at every period since then are still here, often bearing physical evidence of their history in the collections, in the form of inscriptions, old shelf marks, or bindings distinctive of a particular period.  The records and the books have the potential to be a very rich source of information and useful to researchers in many different subjects, but currently they are poorly understood and documented and are very difficult to use.  

This summer we welcome to CRC Nathalie Bertaud, an Employ.Ed intern, who is working on the records of the first two and half centuries, or thereabouts, of the library’s history, producing a research guide and collecting the data to improve the descriptions of the records on the catalogue of the University Archives.  She has been making many discoveries: 


Ever wonder how long a book or other object has been in the library and where it comes from? How much it cost or by whom it was given to the library? Or still, what the money given by students was spent on? With a good number of early press, subject and author catalogues, as well as matriculation and donation books, the history of the University’s library is not so dark a place to delve in. As we embrace these early records and their flimsy pages and characteristic smell, let us dive into the library’s history and follow, record after record, the life of its marvels.


The library has, from very early on, been a welcoming home to objects other than books. This can be seen in items Da.1.18 and 19, as both contain several lists of wonders and curiosities. We are indeed told that precious items were kept in a chest – a sort of 17th century equivalent to our fire-safe! Among the items precious enough to go in the chest were the Bohemian Protest, the marriage contract between Mary Queen of Scots and Francis Dauphin of France, and a thistle banner printed on satin 1640 being found carelessly put in one of Mr Nairn’s books. What is more, a list is given us of portraits that were hung in the library, a celebration of illustrious men and women. Featured celebrities included Tiberius Claudius, Martin Luther, and Mary Queen of Scots. We still do hold some of these portraits. Items related to the discipline of anatomy were also gifted to the library, and we are told in several lists that these comprised the ‘skeleton of a French man’, or a ‘gravel stone (…) cut out of the bladder of Colonel Ruthven’, who, we are informed in Da.1.31, ‘lived six weeks thereafter’.


Now, where did the books and objects come from? Well, we know a fair amount about key benefactors of the library, as their names are listed over and over again, their generosity being commemorated by several library keepers. Such examples of commemorative lists can be found in Da.1.18 and 19, where the first page lists such generous men as Clement Litil, William Drummond or James Nairn.


Item Da.1.31, a book of donations started by the librarian William Henderson in the late 17th century, gives us short descriptions of benefactors, such as: ‘Isobell Mitchell, at the time of her decease which was upon the 19th of October 1667 left to the college as a token of her great love to the flourishing of piety and good learning the sum of a hundred merks Scots’. Yet, less renowned people also made a contribution to the library’s collection, and when we chance upon a brief description of these almost anonymous benefactors, we get a sense of how collections get built. Such an example is: ‘By Mr David Ferguson, student in Kirkcaldy, a youth of great hopes but was snatched away by an early death (…) a manuscript rare for the writing’, or ‘George Bosman book-seller, gave in the Breviary of the B. Virgin, a manuscript very curiously written & adorned with rich colours besides many exquisite pictures’, or still ‘Mr John MacGregory, student, gave in a Hebrew Bible’.

As lists of new accessions are fairly well represented in the records, we are also offered insight into what places were hubs for book purchasing in the 17th and 18th centuries. London and Holland seem to have been such places, as they are mentioned regularly, for instance in Da.1.32 and 34. The cost of the books purchased is sometimes given as well, and we quickly understand, from looking at the records, that books were purchased not only from donations but also from student fees. However, the money paid by the students was not always used for the purchase of books. We get a glimpse into the day-to-day management of the library when we run through items Da.1.32, 34 or 43, where we can read that money was spent on fees for services rendered, such as ‘for drink money for bringing in books gifted to the library’, ‘for washing 12 pictures’ or ‘for cleaning the library’. It was also spent on library necessaries like ‘paper, pens and ink, and postage’, ‘for binding books’ or still ‘for transcribing a copy of the New Catalogue for the library’. All these wonderful details, sometimes scribbled in tiny script, allow us to get a better understanding of the early history of the library and its management.

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It’s like christmas here at the CRC!

So today I received more toys to play with…

In addition to receiving funding to purchase a Kryoflux I was also able to purchase some additional kit to complement our growing forensic workstation.

SATA docking station with 500GB SSD

SATA docking station with 500GB SSD

At present our quarantine PC is not backed up through the university’s regular back up procedures owing to the fact that 99% of the time the PC is not connected to the network. This left us with a bit of a black hole in our risk management procedures for processing digital objects. So after a bit of research I decided to purchase a docking station and a 500GB SSD. I chose a docking station option largely because it will give us flexibility and portability to use not just in-house but offsite too. The SSD was chosen to minimise risk of damage to the drive if being transported and because it’s more compact and easy to store when not in use (space, including draw space, here is at a premium!). This particularly docking station is primarily set up to receive SATA storage devices but I have purchased an adapter than can convert it to an IDE docking station, to give us additional flexibility. In case its of interest its really simple to set up for a novice, non-techie archivist such as myself.

Tableau Forensic Bridge connected to SATA SSD

Tableau Forensic Bridge connected to SATA SSD

I’ve also purchased a Tableau t35 Forensic Bridge. This is a hardware write blocker that acts as an intermediary between the original device and the quarantine PC. To it we can connect most externally acquired HDD or our own storage devices (which may have been used to conduct an offsite transfer). It is then connected to the host PC via a USB 3.0 connection. This particular write blocker can connect to SATA or IDE devices.

Whilst I’ve already put the docking station and SSD through its paces, I’ve yet to play, formally, with the write blocker. When I do I’ll be sure to post my experiences here, but at least we have kit available to help support the forensic acquisition of digital collections if and when they do come to us from external sources!

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Old dog…new tricks!

A few weeks ago – and with some money left in the kitty – I made a pitch to purchase some additional equipment to build on established procedures in place for handling physical media in the collections. At present we have the capacity to capture, quarantine and virus check items on CDs, DVDs, flash storage and 3.5″ floppy disks (HD and DD), but we lack the tools to take images of 5.25″, 3″ and any other type of physical storage media.

Following a meeting with Stephen Rigden of the National Library of Scotland, who kindly demonstrated their forensic workstation I was convinced we needed something similar, albeit not quite as sophisticated. The NLS have both a FRED machine and a Kryoflux device to enable extraction of data from  5.25″ disks and other types of media. Given a FRED comes with a price tag, and that we already have the capability to read optical and flash media, I just couldn’t justify the expense. Maybe in a few years if volume dictates it or my quarantine PC decides to die on me I may have to make the case for a FRED. On the face of it though I was very interested in the Kryoflux device.

The Kryoflux isn’t cheap by any means for an institutional license (approx 3,500 euros as of June 2017) but given the extensive work that has gone into creating and developing the device it seemed fair enough. At present this is the only known method for archives and heritage institutions to read 5.25″ disks so supporting the sustainability of this unique technology could be considered a community responsibility.

Arrival of toys!

Arrival of toys!

That said we placed order and within a week a big box of toys arrived. In addition to the Kryoflux (of which we received 2, one as a backup), we also received a 3.5″ floppy drive, a USB cable, 2 ribbon cables, power cable and also 2 reconditioned 5.25″ disk drives (which were additional).

I was itching to have a play with it, and this week I was able to connect it up and try it with some sample 5.25″ disks I use for training and demos.


Fortunately, there is a more comprehensive (for those of us that are not techies) instruction manual that is doing the rounds for comment, “The archivist’s guide to Kryoflux”, which is infinitely more digestible than the manual that you can download from Kryoflux’s website. With that to hand (and a 2 pin adapter) I was able to get going.

The first and most important thing to note is that there is a very precise order in which to connect the and disconnect the pieces, in order to maintain the integrity of the very fragile looking Kryoflux. Honestly, having spent that much money on a tiny circuit board and having to connect it up in a certain order to make sure it didn’t blow up wasn’t a problem (albeit a case of checking, double checking and triple checking before I plugged it in!).

The second thing I say is that you have to be quite brutal with the connections. I have a light touch with these things but you do really need to push the ribbon cables and the power adapter cable in quite firmly otherwise the Kryoflux software spits back an error message. But once the driver is installed and checked, the cables connected and the lights blinking happily I was ready to try it out on a sample disk.  Here you can see our Kryoflux in action!

The software, which you can download from the Kryoflux website, then begins to read the sectors on the disk and attempts, where it can, to read or to make modifications in order to read the contents. You can pre-select the type of disk image you wish to take from an extensive list, which I’m still getting to grips with, and determine the output for the image and the log files that document the work undertaken by the soft and hardware.

At the end you have a disk image, which you can then read in a disk image reader such as WinImage or FTK Access Data. This will give you a file list, as though you were reading the disk through windows explorer. At that point you’re ready to continue with your digital preservation work!

I’ve yet to try this out on an actual collection of archival 5.25″ disks a I wanted to be sure of what I was doing first, but now that I’m getting comfortable with it I’m hoping to let it loose next week.

The one thing I do need to do though is get some kind of enclosure for the Kryoflux. There are a couple of 3D schematics for printing a plastic enclosure…a perfect excuse to go down to our Ucreate Studio and use their 3D printer, as well as getting our conservation team onto the job of building an archival storage box for it!

More fun to be had…watch this space!

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