Cataloguing the HIV/Aids Collections held in LHSA

Our story begins in 2011, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic related records held by Lothian Health Services Archive were awarded an inscription on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register (the only LHSA collection so far to have the honour). This inscription recognised historical significance and future research potential of the record; which was again recognised by the Welcome Trust in 2012, when they awarded a cataloguing and conservation grant to preserve and make available all 12 collections listed on the inscription.The Project Conservator began in January 2014 and the Archivist came on board in May of the same year.


Some of our promotional post cards

Some of our promotional post cards


Our pop up session not only highlights the conservation and cataloguing work which has taken place so far, but also showcases the innovative ways in which the project has been managed and expanded beyond it’s original aims and objectives. The records have huge educational potential and this has been tapped into in a range of ways including an established social media programme and plans for an interactive website filled with educational resources to be used in schools across Scotland.

Throughout the project we have also been working in close collaboration with Waverley Care, an HIV/AIDS awareness group working across Edinburgh and the Lothian. It is hoped the two Organisations can work together to put the collections to good use and work to spread the messages contained within the records.

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Come down between ten and twelve on the 24th September to hear about our project and see some of the records we hold, including our unrivalled condom collection!


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Sage E-books – access issue

We have lost access to a number of e-books published by Sage.  This has been reported to the publisher and we hope to have access restored as soon as possible.

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Next week at the Pop-up Library

Monday 22nd – Friday 26th September 2014



Exam Papers Online:
How to find past exam papers
Learn and Mobile Learn
Tuesday Lothian Health Services Archives:
Norman Dott Project
Resources Plus:
How do I get hold of the book I need?
Wednesday Lothian Health Services Archives:
HIV Project
Smart searching with Searcher
Thursday ResourceLists@Edinburgh (& off campus access to e-resources)
Collections online
Friday Exam Papers Online:
How to find past exam papers
Finding Newspaper Content online


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Trial – Loeb Classical Library Online

loeb logo






We have trial access to the Loeb Classical Library Online for 2 months.

The Digital Loeb Classical Library contains more than 520 volumes of Latin, Greek and English texts aiming to be a virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin Literature, epic and lyric poetry, history, travel, philosophy and oratory, medical writers and mathematicians, and the Church Fathers who make particular use of pagan culture. Readers can browse, search, bookmark, annotate and use a Greek keyboard.

Feedback and further info

We are interested to know what you think of this collection and platform as your comments influence purchase decisions so please do 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.

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Conservation, with Honours

With Fresher Week just past, it seems fitting that this post should be based around diplomas – even if graduating does seem a long way off for these new students!


Archival Box containing rolled diplomas from ‘Toward Dolly’ Project.

Several months ago, I was presented with an interesting conservation challenge by ‘Towards Dolly’ Project Archivist, Clare Button, namely a box of tightly rolled diplomas and certificates. As Clare explains these are “certificates for many of Edinburgh’s leading biological scientists, giving an insight into their training, education and society memberships”. There are medical degree certificates for James Cossar Ewart who became Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh in 1882, and who established the teaching of genetics in Edinburgh. There are also Alan William Greenwood’s undergraduate and doctoral certificates in Science from the University of Melbourne. Greenwood emigrated to Edinburgh in 1923 to study poultry genetics and he later became Director of the Poultry Research Centre. Finally, the honorary degree and association membership certificates for Charlotte Auerbach, a pioneering mutation researcher at the Institute of Animal Genetics, show the respect she garnered from colleagues and institutions around the world.


Rolled diplomas and certificates proving difficult to handle

The diplomas and certificates in their existing rolled format proved to be very difficult to handle and view, even with the aid of weights. This was particularly problematic in those rolls consisting of multiple documents, with anything up to eleven sheets – and undoubtedly it is always the one in the centre that is required! It was therefore deemed appropriate to unroll and flatten them in order to improve handling and enable them to be more accessible to potential readers.

On examining the documents, it soon became apparent that dry pressing the sheets would not be sufficient to flatten them satisfactorily. Prior to any pressing, the sheets would first need to be ‘relaxed’ through humidification – a method by which moisture is slowly and carefully introduced to the document in a controlled environment, relaxing the paper and slowly flattening the sheet. I humidified the objects by laying each document upon a layer of Gore-tex® which, in turn, is place on a sheet of non-woven fabric which has been wetted. The Gore-tex® acts as an interleaving layer and, due to its micro-porous nature, gently introduces moisture to the object above. Finally, a layer of transparent Polyester is placed above this set-up and, with the aid of weights, a make-shift chamber is created to maintain a humid environment. This method ensures moisture is kept to minimum, thereby lowering the risk of distortion or disrupting potential water soluble inks. A very close eye was kept on the documents during this process all the same….


Humidification process

When the paper was suitably relaxed and unrolled, the diplomas were placed on a low pressure table which uses suction to remove excess moisture whilst gently restraining and manipulating the sheet to lay flat during this drying process. This is a quick (but very noisy) method, which was subsequently followed up with a period under weight in the press.

Suction table

drying and flattening diploma on low-pressure table


Close-up seal

Blotter surround used to protect embossed seal during pressing

Whilst pressing, extra care had to be taken with those diplomas with embossed stamps or paper seals. Tracings were taken of the seals, the shape of which was cut out of the blotting paper used to sandwich the object during pressing. This ensured the rest of the sheet remained flat, whilst avoiding the stamps and seals in order to retain their raised design. The sheets were pressed for several months to ensure that the diplomas did not retain their ‘memory’ of their previous existence as a rolled document.

Once pressed, the final step was to place the diplomas and certificates into transparent Polyester sleeves, allowing them to be housed safely and, most importantly, flat in acid-free archival boxes. As Clare adds about the ‘Towards Dolly’ project, “these collections are not only an invaluable resource for research on the history of science and medicine, but they also speak to all of us by revealing the fascinating human story behind the science”.

Definitely something to remember when walking up to collect your graduation certificates….

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There’s no business like show business

Tiina Lilja recently graduated in Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art. Earlier this year, we acquired two of Tiina’s paintings for the University Art Collection as she was an artist we had been following with interest for some time. As well as the physical art works, Tiina has been providing us with unique insights into her career after graduation so that we get a sense of her working life post-Art School. In the second of these updates, Tiina writes about the opening night of the ECA Degree Show and where she’s at now with her work.

On the evening of the 22nd of May, I was standing alongside my paintings, all dressed up, preparing for the biggest night of my life as an art student: the Opening Night of the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show. I was suddenly incredibly aware how this was the day the work I had cradled in the safety of my studio would be exposed to an audience of strangers. I was not nervous… a little late for that. As it normally goes at times of extreme adrenaline levels, I was more focused on finer details i.e. did I order enough business cards and why was I not dressed in more comfortable footwear. My feet were killing me.



Overview of my year’s work in the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show

The night rushed by: a lot of handshakes, introductions, congratulations and (shrug) selfies. The day concluded in the award ceremony of the annual Astaire Prize, me accepting one of the runner up prizes. (The nibbles were Waitrose by the way.)  In fact, most of my fellow artists either sold some work, few for the first time, received awards or were invited into collectives or to show work in exhibitions. Yes, I do think we were a strong year – but in a major show like the Degree Show where all departments are represented, there is something for every taste. So remember to check it out next year!


Award ceremony of the Astaire Prize: (From right to left) Me (runner up), Mark Astaire, Theo Shields (runner up), Magi Sinclair (first prize) and Gordon Brennan.

Couple months on, I think the experience was vastly educational. The reviews of the show were mostly encouraging, I made my mother proud by being mentioned by name in a couple of them – or the misspelled version of my name anyway, and so was the feedback. I met a lot of people that wanted to share their thoughts on my work and many more that did not. The average time a viewer spends in front of a piece seems to be less than you would take to choose between bottled and tap water! From the number of people who took my card, roughly every fiftieth got in touch – some thinking about buying or exhibiting my paintings, a few just to ask about my process of painting or the inspiration behind the pieces.

After the show was finished my work got some additional exposure by being kept up for the ECA open day, one last perk of having hung it in the Sculpture Court!

Friday the 13th of June marked the opening of the first exhibition I was in as a graduated professional artist, La Gallerie 1940’s Summer Exhibition and I also got to exhibit my Bombay Sapphire in Glasgow, at the Six Foot Gallery for their Best of The Degree Shows-exhibition. All these events are what makes the life of an artist seem so very glamorous – the tricky bit is to remember that this is only a small fraction of the job.


Opening night of the Summer Exhibition, La Gallerie 1940


Overview of the Summer Exhibition

It was surprising to notice how many galleries are willing to exhibit the work of an emerging artist like myself. There appears to be a genuine interest from the public to see new art and fresh perspectives. But a word of caution: contemporary art world can be like the Project Runway: one day you’re in and the next day you’re out. The competition is fierce, the art market callous and the rights of an artist today leave a lot of room for improvement. Yet there is a whole community of creative people that are in it for the art: the passionate gallerists, curators, volunteers, producers… and the artists of course. That is what convinces me to keep painting. Blisters in the soles of your feet will heal and the feedback you get, how you analyse it, keeps you improving.

And what’s next? – I am settling into my new studio in the North of France, but that is a different story altogether.

Tiina Lilja

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More help with your reading list

_k4n0188 couple in libraryrStill struggling with your  reading list? Don’t worry. You can book onto a new IS Skills lunchtime seminar on 14 October, run by the Library Academic Support Team, to help you find out what you need to know. Open to all students, this seminar will teach you how to decipher your reading list and locate the books and journal articles you need for your study. The seminar is bookable via MyEd on the Event booking channel, with further details here.

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Cite Them Right – downtime Sat.20th


CTR_LogoCite Them Right will experience downtime on Saturday  20th September between 9am and 5pm while the publishers migrate their content to new servers.

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Resources Plus

Resources Plus graphic

Or: “How do I get hold of the book I need??”

Is the book you want already out on loan? Does the Library not have the book or journal you need? What’s the Library Annexe?  If you have questions like these, read on…

Over the next few weeks, the library Helpdesk will be running a series of Pop-up Library sessions called ‘Resources Plus’. The idea of these sessions is for us to give out advice and show you how to get hold of resources that are either already out on loan, at the Annexe, or the Library doesn’t own or subscribe to. For example, this might include how to use the Interlibrary Loan system, the Request a Book service, or place a request on a book that is currently out on loan. We can also advise on using the SCONUL access scheme to visit other University libraries; and tell you all you need to know about visiting the National Library of Scotland for the first time.

And much more besides!

So if you have any questions about things you want, but can’t get – or if you just want to find out more for future reference, we’ll be on the first floor of Main Library this Tuesday (23 September), 2-4pm, and 2-4pm on the following Tuesdays: 30th September, 7th, 16th and 21st October and 4th November.  Pop Up and see us! 

Louise Gilchrist, Helpdesk assistant, Main Library.

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What do I do when I can’t find the book on the shelf?

_k4n0188 couple in libraryrSo what do you do when your reading list book isn’t on the shelf?

During weeks 1 and 2 extra help is available to help you find the books you need at the Main Library, at the Information point on Floor 2. However, here’s some tips for you:


1. Double check the library catalogue for the book. Is there another copy you could access as an ebook, or at a different library?

2. If what you want is out on loan,  you may place a request through the Library Catalogue for it to be returned for you. If you find an item using Searcher, then choose ‘retrieve catalogue item’ to link to the library catalogue and place your request.’ The item should usually be returned within a week and when you collect it, depending on whether the requested item is a Short or a Standard Loan item, will be available for you to borrow for a one week loan or longer. Find out more at Requesting an Item which is on loan

3. Have a look at the books adjacent to the shelfmark you wanted. The University of Edinburgh Library uses Library of Congress Classification to arrange its book collections, meaning that books on a similar topic should sit together.

Although lecturers direct you to the reading they want you to read, they are also keen for you to start thinking for yourself and choosing wider reading material. And all the books in the Library have been recommended and approved by lecturers and library staff. Next time the book you want isn’t on the shelf, look around for something else that’s relevant. You might just stand out from the crowd when the lecturer reads your essay.

Get Library Smart – follow the information skills blog at

Brought to you by the Library Academic Support Team, University of Edinburgh

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