A week under the Bolognese sun

Book with Spaghetti

            Bolognese Book by Madeleine Leisk CC BY-NC

 

One of the best parts of working at the University of Edinburgh is their focus on professional development. Staff can enhance their experience at work through online courses, workshops, training events and international experiences. I recently had the chance to undertake one of these opportunities through a University of Edinburgh Erasmus staff trip to the University of Bologna Library (La Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna or “BUB”). It was a uniquely challenging and wonderful experience that has had an immensely positive impact on my work and I would encourage all staff that can, to consider taking an Erasmus trip.

 

Applying for Erasmus

 

I first learnt about the Erasmus funding available for staff through a colleague who had received funding to travel to the Netherlands. This funding can be used for different types of staff training  including workshops, teaching (for academic staff), and staff training weeks. I knew that I would benefit most from the experience of job-shadowing at an institution that was comparable to the University of Edinburgh. The University of Bologna was at the top of my list. Established in 1088, the University has an incredible history and is often referred to as the oldest university in the (Western) world. They are also forward-thinking in their approach to the future of library and university collections with a strong emphasis on digitisation, a free online Information Literacy Tutorial and an MA in Digital Humanities and Digital Knowledge. The city of Bologna has a thriving literary culture, much like Edinburgh, and has a myriad of public and specialist libraries throughout the city. I had also been learning Italian for the past year and thought that this would be a great (albeit terrifying) way to put my language skills to the test.

 

When choosing a destination, I would suggest that you look for opportunities with institutions that you already have a working relationship with or speak with colleagues who have connections with relevant institutions. That being said, I did not have any connection to the University of Bologna but I knew that it would be an invaluable opportunity. After receiving approval from my Line Manager, I wrote a letter to one of the library coordinators outlining who I was and why I was contacting them. I approached it as I would a job application and included information about my current job, why I was interested in learning about the University of Bologna Library, a proposal for what I could do as part of an Erasmus trip, and my CV. After receiving an offer to visit from the BUB, I filled out the relevant paperwork and submitted my application to the University of Edinburgh Go Abroad Office. Throughout the process, the office was very helpful in assisting me with my application and was quick to respond to any questions that I had. Before I knew it, it was March and I was off to Bologna.

 

Bologna, here I come

 

My first day in Bologna was a nerve-wracking experience. I wanted to make the most out of my trip and enthusiastically engage with my Bolognese counterparts, but I was concerned that my efforts would be impeded by the language barrier. Although I had been working on my Italian, I knew that I would struggle to hold a conversation, particularly with technical terms. I was relieved to find that my host for the week Signor Nerozzi, scientific coordinator at the BUB, was very skilled in his English and was able to ease the difficulties of language and even cultural barriers.

 

Signor Nerozzi had prepared an exciting week of activities for me that included meetings with his colleagues, guided tours, personal research, and attending a guest lecture. It was a very busy week, but I learnt a lot, particularly about day-to-day user services, how they manage their collections (which included a robotic storage system!), and their forward-thinking approach to digitising their materials. I also attended a guest lecture by mobile type publisher Enrico Tallone as part of La Grande Festa delle Lettere. It was a fascinating exploration of the psychology behind typography and the history of some of the most popular fonts. In addition to the BUB, I also had the opportunity to visit other Bolognese libraries, including the Archiginnasio and the Salaborsa. The library system in Bologna is unique as in addition to the availability of libraries, including subject-specific libraries like the Biblioteca della Musica (The Music Library) and the Biblioteca delle Donne (The Women’s Library), they are also interconnected as civic libraries, including the BUB. The historic Salaborsa was the most interesting public library I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It had the feel of the public libraries that I grew up frequenting and was clearly in high demand (there was even a crowd waiting for the library to open on Monday afternoon!), but it also had beautiful architecture, an interesting history (it was built on ruins from 189 BCE, that you can still visit today), arts exhibitions, and community resources like language classes. It was a vital part of the community and a great reminder of the importance of libraries and the people who staff them.

 

Overall, my week in Bologna was a wonderful whirlwind (and I didn’t even mention all of the gelato and pasta!). I learnt a great deal about library work, particularly user services, and it was a really unique experience. Everyone that I met was incredibly friendly and helpful and I cannot thank Signor Nerozzi and La Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna enough for hosting me. I also really appreciate all of the help from the Go Abroad Office in preparation for my trip. This experience has helped me to view my job in a new light and be more creative in my approach to work. It was a very eye-opening experience and I highly recommend the experience to other University of Edinburgh staff.

 

You can learn more about the libraries in Bologna here and the University of Edinburgh Go Abroad office and opportunities here.

 

Madeleine Leisk, UCF Library Assistant

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Edinburgh Research Archive Statistics: August 2019

Edinburgh Research Archive: August 2019 downloads infographic

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New e-journal – Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Sept. cover image

We now have access to the current content of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

JASN publishes highly competitive original manuscripts, brief reviews, and special articles in areas of basic and clinical science relevant to the broad discipline of nephrology. Topics include but are not limited to cell biology; developmental biology; genetics; cell and transport physiology; hemodynamics and vascular regulation; immunology and pathology; pathophysiology of renal disease and progression; mineral metabolism and bone disease; clinical nephrology, epidemiology and outcomes; dialysis; and transplantation. ASN publishes JASN monthly with an additional Renal Week abstract issue in October. It has an ISI impact factor of 8.98.

This journal is now listed on our E-Journals AZ as well as DiscoverEd.

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Edinburgh Research Explorer Statistics: August 2019

Edinburgh Research Explorer: August 2019 downloads infographic

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XRF Internship at the Centre for Research Collections

Find out what our Employ.ed Intern, Cameron Perumal, got up to in the final weeks of her project at the CRC in this week’s blog…

As I near the end of my internship, I have started reflecting on all the skills I have gained in just 8 short weeks.

As part of the University’s Employ.ed Internship Programme this summer, I was the Scientific Analysis of Heritage Collections Intern – or, trying to better understand the use of XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) in conservation, so that we can engage more with the University’s special collections, in terms of its materiality. XRF is a non-destructive, surface analysis technique used to understand the elemental composition of artefacts, and to gain more historical context of their function.

Short-term projects that I have worked on have included: a framed collection of old British medals (to determine whether they were electrotype copies and to understand their composition); a large Giambologna bronze horse from the Torrie Collection (to gain more information that can be mapped onto a 3D image of the horse for an enhanced user experience); ancient Egyptian ushabtis (to attempt to classify and date them); Indian miniature paintings from the Tasawir collection (to understand pigment composition); and a page of text that claims to be written in West Port serial killer William Burke’s blood from a Burke and Hare scrapbook (to confirm whether Burke’s blood was really used).

Cameron with the XRF

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Edinburgh Research Archive | ER-data: Jan. – June 2019

Edinburgh Research Archive | ER-data: January 2019 - Jun. 2019
Edinburgh Research Archive • www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk • ERdata: Jan. – June 2019

The first half of 2019 saw the fifth highest total of downloads from ERA over a six-month period, unfortunately this is the lowest total of its ‘mature’ phase (since Jan-Jun 2017 download numbers have been consistently higher than 300,000 per 6-month block).

Edinburgh Research Archive: downloads Jun 2013 - June 2019, in six-monthly blocks
Fig i. Edinburgh Research Archive: downloads Jun 2013 – June 2019, in six-monthly blocks

More disappointingly, this is the first time in ERAs history that we’ve witnessed a fall-off in numbers in two consecutive blocks: December 2018 saw a 15% decline and June 2109 has brought a further decline of 6.5%.

The remainder of this report aims to offer an overview of the last six-months of download activity on the Edinburgh Research Archive. Using data generated through the IRUS-UK download statistics portal to investigate that activity under the following headings:

[Also available as a PDF – 605kb]
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Resource Lists: new list view

New List view

We’ve changed the default view of Resource Lists so when you go to a Resource List you’ll see the section headings listed instead of all the citations.

We think this will make it easier for students to find the relevant readings for their week or topic of study and, as there are fewer citations in a section, it will load quicker than a full list.

Toggle to expand or collapse your Resource List

You may have noticed this toggle icon at the top of your Resource List .

This icon allows you to collapse and expand your Resource List and toggle between two views:

  1. Sections headings (‘collapsed’ view)
  2. Full list view

The collapsed view looks like this:

The ‘collapsed’ list view displays section headings and shows the number of citations in each section. To view the items in the section click on the heading. Click on the heading again to close the section.

To expand the list and see all the citations on the list click on the toggle icon .

Student help

There is a short video and guide for students highlighting some key features which will help them use their Resource Lists. Students can find the guide and video under the ‘Useful Links’ on their Resource Lists.

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New E-Resource – Jutastat

Following a successful trial earlier this year, we now subscribe to Justastat. Content in Jutastat includes:

  • Namibia Law Reports, Statutes of Namibia,
  • South African Law Reports from 1947 to date and South African case law from 1838, South African Statutes,
  • Tanzania Law Reports, Statutes of Tanzania,
  • Zambia Law Reports, Statutes of Zambia,
  • Zimbabwe Law Reports, Statutes of Zimbabwe,

Juta’s online journal content:

  • Acta Juridica
  • Annual Survey of SA Law
  • South African Law Journal
  • South African Journal of Criminal Justice
  • South African Mercantile Law Journal
  • Stellenbosch Law Review
  • Tydskrif vir die Suid Afrikaanse Reg / Journal of South African Law

Subject coverage includes administrative, civil procedure, commercial, constitutional, criminal, intellectual property, international, labour, mining, revenue and shipping law.

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Edinburgh Research Archive Statistics: July 2019

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Ban Dainagon Ekotob : a premium replica of the late 12th-century Japanese emakimono (picture scroll)

The Library has just purchased a beautiful reproduction of a late 12th-century Japanese emakimono (絵巻) – a set of 3 illustrated narrative picture scrolls called Ban Dainagon Ekotob (伴大納言絵詞 The Tale of Great Minister Ban). The full-colour painting depicts the events of the Ōtemmon Conspiracy, an event of Japan’s early Heian period. The painting, attributed to Tokiwa Mitsunaga, is over 20 m (66 ft) long and about 31.5 cm (12.4 in) tall. The original art work is considered to be Kokuhō (國寶, or a Japanese national treasure) among six such rare and invaluable picture scrolls. Information about their replica can be found here.

The reproduction was published by Chikuma shobo (筑摩書房) in 1971-1974 in a limited edition of 1000 copies. Our Library copy has the set number ’84’. The 3 hand-scrolls are placed individually in 3 wooden cases, each accompanied with a booklet. The set has been catalogued for the Centre for Research Collections. See the bibliographic record in DiscoverEd here.

The material has been purchased in response to needs for a Japanese Studies course called “Supernatural Japan: doing Japanology through Yokai”. As the course takes a ‘learning by doing’ approach, allowing students to experience Yokai in art, literature to discover the historical and cultural value of Yokai in Japanese society, this set of 3 hand-scrolls will give a rare opportunity of authentic reading experience for students of Japanese Studies or anyone interested in Japanese art, history and culture.

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