It’s Resource Lists Week!

The Library Learning Services team are in the Main Library foyer all week (between 11am and 3pm), so please come along and say hello and ask us anything Resource Lists related. We’ve got freebies, cakes (although those might not last very long, so be quick), and there’s a chance to win a £100 book voucher if you enter our competition! Don’t worry if you’re not near the Main Library, there’s also competition entry forms at ECA, Moray House, Law, Vet, and King’s Buildings libraries.
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Cataloguing the Sir Patrick Geddes papers

Our project archivist, Elaine MacGillivray, provides an update on cataloguing work.

One of the major aims of our Wellcome Research-Resource funded project is to catalogue the papers of Sir Patrick Geddes held at both the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde.  The completion of the cataloguing work will allow the remaining project conservation work to be undertaken and will facilitate the eventual virtual reuniting of the two collections of papers held at both institutions.

I am delighted to report that, after a 6 month hiatus, the cataloguing work which was started in 2017, has re-commenced in earnest.  I have been undertaking a stock-take of the Geddes family photographs that are held at the University of Edinburgh, along with creating descriptive content of these for the new collection catalogue.

The Geddes family photographs held at the University of Edinburgh are a fascinating series of approximately 175 photographs which range in size, format and content.  Photographic processes discovered include ambrotypes, albumen prints, Carte de Visite through to black and white photographic prints.  These illustrate not only Sir Patrick Geddes in formal portraits but also include informal compositions of his family and associates in a variety of locations including, but not exclusive to, their home in Perth, Scotland; the College des Ecossais at Montpellier, France; and also in Mumbai (then Bombay), India.  The collection contains original items, duplicates and some related items or duplicates can be found within our own collections at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde but also at other institutions, such as the National Library of Scotland.

Sample of photographic images held in the Sir Patrick Geddes collection at the Univesity of Edinburgh

Sample of images from the Sir Patrick Geddes family photographs held at the University of Edinburgh (Ref: Coll-1167/3/GFP).

To create a catalogue of a photographic collection, an incredible amount of descriptive content needs to be captured, not only in relation to the photograph subject matter but also in relation to the photographers; photograph formats; the photographic processes; and whether the items are original or duplicate (which is not always easy to establish!). I have also been looking to record the relationships with duplicate or related archive items held elsewhere in other institutions.  Thankfully, much of this information had already been captured previously in the extensive work undertaken by our colleagues at the former Patrick Geddes Centre.

Sample of legacy catalogues and indexes created by colleagues at the former Patrick Geddes Centre.

Sample of legacy catalogues and indexes created by colleagues at the former Patrick Geddes Centre.

Containing a phenomenal amount of information these inherited lists and indexes were previously only available as hand-written lists and were each arranged in a different way; some numerical, some chronological and some alphabetical and sometimes with differing descriptive content relating to the same photographic item.   A sometimes complex process, the descriptive information gleaned from the legacy catalogues and indexes, was however successfully captured and condensed into one electronic document. Creating an electronic and condensed version of these catalogues which combined all of their content has provided with us with a fairly comprehensive interim catalogue of the Geddes family photographs.  This is already a fantastic step forward in enabling access to this part of the Sir Patrick Geddes collection.

Illustration of new electronic interim catalogue

Illustration of new electronic interim catalogue

A stock-take of the physical photographs is now well underway.  During the stock-take we will also assess the physical condition of the photographs to inform remaining conservation work (this will include re-housing the collection); and additional descriptive content and corrections will be added to the interim catalogue.  Once thoroughly checked and edited the content from the interim catalogue will be transferred to the University of Edinburgh’s online archive and manuscript collections catalogue and made available to the public. In the mean-time, we look forward to sharing many of the highlights from the Sir Patrick Geddes photographic collections that we discover in the coming weeks.

Black and white photograph of Sir Patrick Geddes sat in a window recess with a sculpture (unidentified) to his right.

Sir Patrick Geddes sat in window recess with sculpture to his right. (Ref: Col1167/3/GFP/5).

Can you help?

I would be very interested to hear from any Geddes experts who may be able to help me identify the sculpture in the background of the photograph above of Sir Patrick Geddes sat in a window recess.  If you can help, I would be delighted to hear from you, you can email your thoughts to me at

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On trial: Sabin Americana, 1500-1926

Thanks to a request from staff in HCA I’m pleased to let you know that the Library currently has trial access to Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 from Gale Cengage. This is an expansive and comprehensive collection of works written or published in the United States, as well as items printed elsewhere, that document the history of the Americas over more than 400 years. The database is based on Joseph Sabin’s famed bibliography Bibliotheca Americana.

You can access this online resource via the E-resources trials page.
Access is available both on and off-campus.

Trial access ends 10th April 2018.

[Screenshot from] Galv~ao, António. The discoveries of the world from their first originall vnto the yeere of our Lord 1555. Londini, 1601. 107pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. 14 March 2018

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Erasmus+ visit to University of Amsterdam

The Red Room at the University of Amsterdam Library

Over the last few months Library Research Support has received a number of international visitors, from places like the University of Helsinki, University of Amsterdam, and the Czech Academy of Sciences Library, who have all come to visit and learn how our Library supports it’s researchers in open access publishing, digitisation, and research information and data management. We recently decided to reverse this trend and go visit somewhere to gain insights into how other institutions tackle similar problems that we face. The University of Amsterdam was chosen because they are a comparator institution, with a similar profile and size as the University of Edinburgh. The trip was funded by funding from a successful bid to the Erasmus+ mobility programme.

On the 8th March 2018 the Scholarly Communications Team visited the University of Amsterdam Central University Library. Over the course of two days we learnt about the services UvA offer to support open access publication, copyright support, research data management and bibliometrics. The visit was finished with a tour of the Central University Library which is based in the centre of the Amsterdam right next to the Singel canal.

University Library Amsterdam, Photo by Universiteitsbibliotheek Amsterdam CC BY 3.0

The Central Library actually consists of three buildings, all of different sizes and ages, merged together which presents a quite a few challenges – particularly for accessibility and continuity of services. The current library site has a rich history beginning in the 1880s when the library moved in to the Handboogdoelen building (furthest left in the picture above), which was a former home of long-bow militia and incorporated a shooting range. The building next door (central building in the pic above), with a façade from 1600s, used to be a former royal stables (you can see the two large doorways for horses) and was added to the Library complex in the 1940s. Finally, the main building (building on the far right in the pic above) was built in a vacant plot alongside in the 1960s. The buildings are linked together, with short staircases used to account for the different levels of the buildings internally.There is a plan to move the Central Library to a purpose built building in 2020.

The Library has a unique contemporary style which tries to live up to Amsterdam’s reputation as being on-trend, forward thinking and liberal. It was redesigned by Amsterdam-based designers Roelof Mulder and Iro Koers who went for a minimalistic design moving away from the traditional stereotype of a library. An example of this is the Red Room (see first picture above), which provides a self-service pick-up point for closed stack materials. The Library also had many interesting small quirky features, like free-to-use massage chairs, relaxation pods, phone booth cubicles and standing tables. The Library will also be participating in a scientific study to assess the impact of plants used in interior decor to affect the mood and learning capabilities of students. One suite of rooms will be filled with plants, with another devoid of vegetation used for a control group. I really liked the idea of the library building being used as a natural laboratory space to test scientific hypotheses.

relaxation pod at UvA Central Library

The visit has forged friendships between the two institutions which we hope to build upon in the future. We have come home from the trip with a whole new range of ideas to improve the services we currently deliver, but we also have a greater appreciation of our shared cultural similarities and differences.

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Thompson-Walker Internship

This week, we have a final blog post from Irene, our fourth Thomson-Walker Intern….

Times goes by so quickly, and I am already reaching the last week of my internship at the Centre for Research Collections (CRC). The main purpose of this internship was to conserve a collection of medical portraits in the Thomson-Walker collection. This mainly involved removing prints from acidic backings and rehousing them. Some of the prints were adhered completely to the backing board, so the verso of the print could not be seen. When removing the backing from one print, I found that there was writing on the back which was previously hidden. This means that as well as improving its condition, more information can be learned about the print.

Print with backing partially removed to reveal text on verso

I have come across some very interesting prints in the collection. The coloured ones are usually my favourite, as there aren’t many in the collection, but one in particular caught my attention: a portrait of a French nurse. I have conserved over 400 prints during my internship, and this one has been the only female portrait I have seen, so I found it very exciting!

Print of French Nurse

During my time here, I have also had the chance to work on many different projects and activities such as seminars with students and innovative initiatives such as the ‘Crowdsourcing Conservation’ event in which volunteers helped to rehouse a large collection over a two-day period. It has been a great experience working at the CRC. I have gained plenty of hands-on practice, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a fantastic team from who I have learned many things. My time in Edinburgh has been hugely beneficial for my future career as a conservator.

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Crowdsourcing at Strathclyde University

In February we held a crowdsourcing event at Strathclyde University. The event took place over two days with the help of 23 volunteers. The aim of the two days was to rehouse the Geddes papers in archival four flap folders. The collection required new housing due to it being in non-archival folders that were too small and over filled. This was causing significant damage to the collection and making it difficult to access when an item was requested.

The part of the collection best suited for this event consists of 180 boxes of which 153 required rehousing. The rest of the collection has already been rehoused and is made up of journals and photographs. The damage found in the collection was tears, surface dirt, creasing and folds which were caused by unsuitable housing and poor handling before the collection arrived at the archives. Conservation work was carried out to stabalise the material before work could begin.


Over filled folders


Each day began with a short presentation given by the University Archivist, Victoria Peters and Project Conservator Nicole Devereux. This involved introducing the work of Patrick Geddes, described the conservation work carried out and explaining why the collection needed rehousing. This was followed by a training session on how to rehouse the collection with the rest of the day to start the practical work. In the afternoon subject librarians joined us to chat to volunteers about their roles within the library which was a great way for everyone to network.

Volunteers at work rehousing


It was estimated it would take an individual conservator ten weeks to rehouse the material which we aimed to complete in two days. The event was also a great way to promote the collection and to make individuals aware of the Patrick Geddes collection held at Strathclyde University and the University of Edinburgh.

Box after rehousing


The two days were a great success with 143 out of 153 boxes rehoused! The event was well attended with a variety of people from different backgrounds. We would like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who was involved.

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LGBT+ History Month book display

Following the success of the Main Library’s Black History Month ‘micro-exhibition’ in October, which was co-hosted with student groups LiberatEd and Project Myopia, the Library is currently displaying books for LGBT+ History Month.

The pop-up display features a selection of books from the Library’s collections, and encourages students not only to look at what the Library holds, but to browse and borrow readings.

This is part of a broader nationwide movement to diversify university curricula , which is being driven at Edinburgh by students from the EUSA LiberatEd group and Project Myopia:

Project Myopia


The Library is looking forward to continuing our work with these groups and to hosting further themed, pop-up displays to highlight our wide-ranging collections.

The LGBT+ History Month display will be in the Library foyer from Monday 26 February. A resource list of some of the readings available can be found here:

LGBT+ resource list

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The woman behind the windows at New College Library

Visitors to New College Library can’t fail to be impressed by the beautiful stained glass windows which surround the Library Hall. These windows were the gift of Miss Grace Warrack, who worked with the prominent stained glass artist Douglas Strachan to design the windows over a twenty year period. Read More

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Women and religion books for International Women’s Day 2018

Here’s a selection of new books at New College Library to celebrate International Women’s Day!

The grace of Sophia : a Korean North American women's Christology by Grace Ji-Sun Kim . New College Library BS580.W58 Kim.

The Grace of Sophia :a Korean North American women’s Christology, by Grace Ji-Sun Kim, was recommended by a Divinity student and is now available at New College Library at  BS580.W58 Kim.

Students can recommend books for the library using the online form at




New out on the shelves at New College Library are:


Recognizing other subjects : feminist pastoral theology and the challenge of identity, by Katharine E. Lassiter, 2016. BT83.55 Las.

A history of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (1989-2007), Rachel Nyagondwe Fiedler, 2017, BR1430 Fie.

Women’s voices and the practice of preaching by Nancy Lammers Gross, 2017 BV4211.3 Gro.











Newly available as ebooks are :

American Catholic Women Religious Radicalized by Mission by Donna Maria Moses, 2017

Women, Religion, and the Gift : An Abundance of Riches, ed. Morny Joy 2017

Women’s Authority and Leadership in a Hindu Goddess Tradition by Nanette R. Spina, 2017










New College Library has a regular display of new books at the far end of the Library Hall, close to the door to the stacks. Details of all new books are available via DiscoverEd.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

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Queens and female coders

Recommended library museum piece to view on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. And this year, which just happens to be 100 years since women have had the right to vote, the theme of the day/year is Press for Progress. To motivate you to think, act and be gender inclusive – we’re sharing a book and museum piece, which are linked to powerful and influential women throughout history.

Dr Sarah Deters is the Learning and Engagement Curator at The University of Edinburgh’s St Cecilia’s Hall – the Concert Room & Music Museum on Niddry Street. She shares a couple items that have inspired her below.

1940s female coders

“I am not sure if I have a favourite book written by a woman, but I really enjoyed the book Code Girls by Liza Mundy, said Dr Deters.

“This non-fiction book follows the journey of a number of American women who were recruited by the US Navy and Army to become cryptanalysts during the Second World War. It was a fascinating book and I really enjoyed learning about this very important, but otherwise forgotten, group of women and the critical work they did during this time.“

At Arlington Hall, a secret African American unit – mostly female, and unknown to many white workers – tackled commercial codes, keeping tabs on which companies were doing business with Hitler or Mitsubishi. Copyright US National Security Agency.

At Arlington Hall, Ann Caracristi (far right), an English major from Russell Sage College, matched wits against Japanese code makers, solving message addresses and enabling military intelligence to develop “order of battle” showing the location of Japanese troops. The messages would then be passed along to Dot Braden and other women whose efforts led to the sinking of Japanese ships. Copyright: US National Security Agency.


Harpsichord fit for a 17th century queen

“On display at St Cecilia’s Hall is a harpsichord, which is not only decorated with paintings of women revelling in what appear to be a bacchanal-like gathering, but is thought to have been owned by a famous and powerful woman,” shared Dr Deters. “The harpsichord was made by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp in 1608.”

Portrait of Christine of Sweden (1626-1689) by royal court painter Jacob Henry Elbfas dated 1640 or 1642. Copyright: Wikimedia Commons.

“Sometime in the mid-17th century the lid was painted, most likely by the Flemish artist Pieter Codde, who lived from 1619 – 1666. His painting shows a mythical scene complete with a faun and figures representing love, dance and music. My favourite character in the painting is a woman in a vibrant red dress who is playing a lute. Aside from the lovely decoration on this instrument, I really enjoy its provenance. The harpsichord is believed to have been owned by Christina of Sweden, who baulked against the gender norms of her day, was highly educated and was known for her patronage of the arts.”

Double-manual harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers. Copyright: The University of Edinburgh

Check it out

St Cecilia’s Hall is home to the University of Edinburgh’s collection of historic musical instruments.

Opening hours: Tues-Sat, 10 am- 5 pm

Location: 50 Niddry Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LG

The University of Edinburgh’s Main Library is celebrating its 50th anniversary at George Square – where connections come alive. The library is currently creating an archive of current and former students and staff memories. Submit your memories via our website, Facebook or Twitter pages #UoElib50. Photos and videos are welcome!


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