We Are Still Here!

We are delighted to announce that thanks to generous support from the Wellcome Research Resource Fund, our Body Language archives project will now run until January 2021.

It seemed a very different world when we began our Wellcome Research Resource-funded ‘Body Language’ project back in September 2017. The aim of our project is to catalogue, preserve and make available three significant collections relating to movement, dance, gymnastics and physical education in Scotland and beyond. The collections include the Margaret Morris Archives, the records of Dunfermline College of Physical Education and the records of Scottish Gymnastics. You can read more about the project and collections on our ‘About’ page. The project was originally due to complete in July 2020 – but we are still here, and I am very pleased to report that we are not going anywhere soon. Thanks to a generous grant supplement and project extension from our project funder, our ‘Body Language’ project will now run until January 2021.

Image showing the Margaret Morris Collection in situ at the Fergusson Gallery, Perth

We miss discovering daily delights in the archive – the Margaret Morris Collection in situ at the Fergusson Gallery, Perth

In February 2020, my main focus was centred around completing the cataloguing of the Margaret Morris collection. The cataloguing, conservation and preservation of both the Dunfermline College of Physical Education and Scottish Gymnastics collections were largely complete. I was working on final edits for those two collections, alongside the work on the Margaret Morris collection. The work required a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between boxes, creating the last of hundreds of box-lists, crafting and implementing a new intellectual arrangement for the Margaret Morris collection, and numbering the physical collections. I was also working with colleagues from our Digital Imaging Unit on the digitisation element of our project and with colleagues from our Library Digital Development team, developing the technical infrastructure for our new project website. The website will host the collections catalogues and provide contextual information for public engagement and research based around the collections.

By the middle of March 2020, Europe had been identified as the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was becoming increasingly evident that we may have to move to home working at very short notice. With the prospect of no physical access to the collections for an indefinite period, I began to capture as much information as possible about the remaining uncatalogued material. I hastily created box-lists and took photographs of the physical layout and arrangement of collections, to act as a memory aid and to allow me to continue project work from home.

Image showing the view from our project archivist's home office

View from our project archivist’s home office

I have been working from home since 18 March 2020. While I have been able to continue work on many of the outstanding project tasks at home, I and others on the team have been unable to physically access collections to complete essential cataloguing and digitisation work. And like so many people, our team are also facing some of the many and varied challenges that have come along with lock-down, such as increased childcare commitments, home schooling, and caring commitments.

We are delighted therefore (and a little relieved) that Wellcome have offered to supplement our original grant and to extend the project end date by 6 months. This will help enormously to mitigate some of the impact and challenges that we have faced, and continue to face, in light of the current global health crisis. We hope to be able to return to working with the physical collections before the end of the project – we miss them (and our colleagues).

The extension provides an opportunity, over the coming months, for us to share more here; about the collections, our work, and to highlight some of the interesting discoveries that we have made. We’ll be posting something every week, (with perhaps a guest post or two). Please join us on our journey as we work our way through the concluding stages of our project.

I am really happy to be able to work with these fantastic collections for a little longer. Thank you Wellcome!

Elaine MacGillivray
Project Archivist

Posted in Archives, Body Language, Collections, Dance, Margaret Morris, Margaret Morris Movement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on We Are Still Here!

Database trial – Global Newsstream

The Library has just arranged a free trial of Global Newsstream from ProQuest. The trial has been advertised in the Library’s E-resources Trials website http://edin.ac/e-resources-trials and can be accessed on and off campus via University login.

Global Newsstream enables users to search the most recent global news content, as well as archives which stretch back into the 1980s featuring content from newspapers, newswires, and news sites in active full-text format. This product provides one of the largest collections of news from the US, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia. All titles are cross-searchable on the ProQuest platform allowing researchers easy access to multiple perspectives, resources, and languages on the topic they are researching.

Coverage: 1980 – current. Trial ends: 7th Aug 2020.

It includes the following sub-databases:

Canadian Newsstream

Full text of over 190 Canadian newspapers from Canada’s leading publishers. This full text database includes the complete available electronic backfile for most newspapers, providing full access to the articles, columns, editorials and features published in each. Some backfiles date as far back as the late 1970s. View title list.

Global Breaking Newswires

Provides timely access to the best newswire content available globally as well as growing archive of news that may not be captured in any of the traditional print sources. View title list.

International Newsstream

Provides the most recent news content outside of the US and Canada, with archives which stretch back decades featuring newspapers, newswires, and news sites in active full-text format. View title list. It consists of the following Nesstreams:

  • Asian Newsstream — more than 60 of the most respected national and regional sources of news and current affairs information in Asia and the Far East. View title list.
  • Australia & New Zealand Nesstream — offers access to leading Australian and New Zealand newspapers. View title list.
  • European Newsstream — contains 552 national and regional newspapers and other news sources from across Europe. View title list.
  • Latin American Newsstream — includes titles from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Latin American Newsstream provides newspapers in Spanish and Portuguese. Key newspaper titles include: El Universal (Mexico City);O Globo (Brazil);La Nación (Argentina);and El Mercurio (Chile). View title list.
  • Middle East & African Newsstream — newspapers, news wires, websites, and blogs from leading publishers throughout the region. Sources include The Jerusalem Post, the Gulf Daily News, Kuwait Times, Cape Times, and Yemen Times, among many others. It includes backfiles as far back as 1988. View title list.

U.S. Newsstream

Provides the most recent premium U.S. news content, as well as archives which stretch back into the 1980s featuring newspapers, newswires, blogs, and news sites in active full-text format. For academic and public libraries, U.S. Newsstream offers exclusive access to the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and co-exclusive access (with Factiva) to The Wall Street Journal. View title list.

We already subscribe to two full-text global newspaper databases: Factiva and Nexis UK. It’d be useful to compare these sources. Feedback welcome.

Posted in Chinese Studies, Database trials, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies, LLC general, Russian Stud, Scandinavian Studies | Comments Off on Database trial – Global Newsstream

ProQuest Access 350: 600 years of world history

I’m very pleased to let you know that University of Edinburgh Library has set up a new subscription with ProQuest that gives you access to almost all available ProQuest digital primary source databases until 31st December 2021.

ProQuest Access 350 allows you to explore 600 years of world history online and will help enrich learning, teaching and research at the University across a range of subject areas and topics including History, the Arts, Literature and Social Sciences.

Read More

Posted in Library, New, Online resource, Primary sources, ProQuest Access 350 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ProQuest Access 350: 600 years of world history

New! African Newspapers, Series 1 1800-1922

I’m pleased to let you know that the Library had recently purchased the digital primary source database African Newspapers, Series 1 1800-1922 part of the World Newspaper Archive from Readex. This gives you unique access to a fully searchable collection of historical newspapers from Africa.

You can access the African Newspapers, Series 1 1800-1922 via the Newspapers, Magazines and Other News Sources guide. Or you can access it via the Databases A-Z list. Individual newspaper titles will also be added to DiscoverEd in the near future. Read More

Posted in Library, Library resources, New | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New! African Newspapers, Series 1 1800-1922

Edinburgh Research Archive downloads: May 2020

Edinburgh Research Archive: May 2020 downloads infographic

Posted in Collections, DSpace, Library, Open Access | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Edinburgh Research Archive downloads: May 2020

Edinburgh Research Explorer downloads: May 2020

Edinburgh Research Explorer: May 2020 downloads infographic

Posted in Collections, Gold OA, Green OA, Open Access | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Edinburgh Research Explorer downloads: May 2020

New! LGBT Magazine Archive

I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to the LGBT Magazine Archive from ProQuest until 31st December 2021. This primary source database is a searchable archive of major periodicals devoted to LGBT+ interests, dating from the 1950s through to recent years.

You can access the LGBT Magazine Archive via the Newspapers, Magazines and Other News Sources guide. Or you can access it via the Databases A-Z list. Individual magazine titles will be added to DiscoverEd this week. Read More

Posted in Library, Library resources, New, Online Library | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New! LGBT Magazine Archive

Rare Book Cataloguing: The Case of the Blurry Page

Sometimes in rare book cataloguing you come across something that requires you to flex you analytical bibliography muscles. It can be amazing what you can gather from the study of the physical form of a particular volume.
In the following case we managed to learn quite a bit about the printing practices in Cologne during the 1470s from the study of one page.


So, one day I was merrily cataloguing CRC Inc.S.16/2 (De excidio Troiae historia. Not printed after 1472) when I turned a page and found this:

Not actually a bad photograph, but a badly printed page. Possibly what is known as a “slur” where the platen (we’ll get into that later) moves during the printing process and causes the ink to smear. But more likely the platen was lowered twice on the same page, whether on a one- or two-pull press is open to debate.

So far, so what. ¯_(シ)_/¯

Well, it occurred to me that there was only one mis-printed page. In the printing process there will always be a partner page printed on the same sheet, which is then folded. So, I checked the partner of our mis-printed page and found that it wasn’t blurred. This book was a quarto which meant, as I’m sure you’re all thinking, that that was impossible.

Okay, so a lot of jargon there. Let me break this down.

This is a diagram of a hand-pulled press. Showing the frisket, tympan, forme, press stone and the aforementioned platen.

(Public domain image made available by Smithsonian Libraries (AE25.E53X 1851 Plates, t.7, “Imprimerie en caracteres,” plate 15))


  • Frisket: Used to hold the paper in place on the tympan and to mask off areas that you don’t want printed.
  • Tympan: Holds the paper using small pin-like pieces of metal.
  • Forme: The name given to the frame that the type is tightly packed into.
  • Press Stone: The frisket and tympan are folded onto the press stone.
  • Platen: Is the part of the press that applies the pressure to the paper on the forme.


The illustration above is actually a two-pull press. In this case the press is set up for a quarto sheet with four pages to be printed. The stone is rolled under the platen once, the platen is pressed down printing two pages, then it’s lifted and the stone is rolled further in and the platen is lowered again, printing the final two pages.

In the case of a one pull press, the platen is lowered once. If it’s a folio then one page is printed, if it is a quarto then two pages are printed. After it’s printed, the forme is reset with the next page(s) to be printed.

Now the complicated bit.

Let’s talk about formats. Folio, quarto, octavo, etc.

The format of a book is determined by how many pages are printed on a sheet and how many times that sheet is folded.

So, for example, one sheet of paper is printed on both sides, then folded once.

This is a folio. It’s folded once along the y-axis. Giving two leaves or four pages.

 Front of sheet

Back of sheet

The Folger Library has an interesting website that lets you play with Shakespeare’s First Folio where you can assemble sheets into “gatherings”.

This is a quarto. It’s folded twice. First the y-axis, then the x-axis giving four leaves or eight pages.

 Front of sheet

Back of sheet

Check out this video to see how it’s done.

Octavos are folded three times, giving you eight leaves or sixteen pages. And so on …

Okay now that we’re all experts on formats, let’s stampede over to chain lines.


Chain lines are formed during the paper making process. The mould used to make the paper is dipped into a vat of pulped linen and the water is sieved away leaving behind an impression of the mould.

Check here to see the process.

The mould consists of wire sewn onto supports, it’s these supports that leave the chain line impressions.

Here’s a paper mould.

The thicker, vertical lines you can see are imparted onto the sheet of paper during the paper-making process and will end up looking something like this.

Chain lines help to determine the format of a volume. With a folio the sheet is folded once along the y-axis, therefore the chain lines will be vertical on the page. If there is a watermark (and there isn’t always!) it is placed on the right-hand side of the sheet.

In the example below there’s a watermark on the right-hand sheet and a countermark on the left. When the sheet is folded the chain lines will be vertical and the watermark will be in the centre of the page.



With a quarto the sheet is folded once along the y-axis, then once along the x-axis therefore the chain lines will be horizontal on the page. The watermark will be in the gutter, often difficult to see, especially in tightly bound books.



Phew! Okay, we now have all that knowledge, so here’s why that blurry page is so weird. The chain lines and watermarks in the book show that it is a quarto. And if you remember from before, quartos are printed either two or four pages at a time, so how can there be only one mis-printed page on a sheet? The conjugate page should be mis-printed as well.

When the platen lowered the mis-printed page should have had a mis-printed partner:


If the red page is the mis-printed page, then the green page must be mis-printed because the platen would be lowered on the both at the same time.

No such mis-printed partner existed.

Headaches ensued.

More headaches.

Much sighing.


This volume was printed before 1472, we know this because the rubricator (someone who would emphasise areas of the text with red ink) very kindly dated his rubrication. So, it’s a very early quarto. What if the printer viewed printing a quarto like printing a small folio?

Possibly they used a half sheet and imposed the quarto as a folio, and then printed it a page at a time. That would allow for only one page to be mis-printed. We checked the watermarks and chain lines and established that these were indeed half sheets.

Calls went out on Twitter; colleagues were asked for their opinions. Robert MacLean at the University Glasgow put us on to Karina de la Garza-Gil at the University of Cologne who confirmed that the common practice for Cologne printers at that time was to print quartos in half sheets one page at a time.

All that was left was to work out how it happened.

There is no smearing of the ink, and the first printing is sharp if faint. This makes it unlikely that anything twisted or moved, so perhaps the printer lowered the platen once and changed their mind before lowering it with the required force a second time.

The final mystery: was it a one or two pull press? It would be pure speculation to decide either way. Arguments could be made for either. At this point you really need to be able to read the mind of a printer from five hundred years ago. What we do know is that printing quartos on full sheets on a two-pull press became common a few years after this particular book was printed.

In the end what this does show, is how much information can be gleaned from analysing the physical properties of a book. From one mis-printed page we established the printing practices in Cologne from five hundred years ago.

And that end’s the tale of the blurry page!

Posted in 15th Century, Collections, Rare Books | Comments Off on Rare Book Cataloguing: The Case of the Blurry Page

New Acquisition – National Theatre Collection

The Library has just purchased the National Theatre Collection which is now available to access on the film platform of Alexander Street Press, Academic Video Online. Direct access to the National Theatre Collection is here.

National Theatre Collection brings the stage to life through access to high definition streamed video of world-class theatre productions and unique archival material, offering insight into British theatre-making and performance studies. The collection contains 30 video performances. As a supplement to the filmed productions, exclusive digitised archival materials such as prompt scripts, costume designs, and more are available to provide behind-the-scenes background and contextual information. The featured 30 performances are:

Posted in English Literature, Theatre Studies | Comments Off on New Acquisition – National Theatre Collection

Resource Lists for 2020/21 available for review and editing

Resource List rollover 2020 is complete and Resource Lists for 2020/21 are now available for Course organisers to review and edit.

The Library has copied 2019/20 Resource Lists (both published and in draft)  for use in the new academic year. We’ve also copied any Resource Lists from 2017/18 and 2018/19 for courses that didn’t run last year but are running in 2020/21.

Last year’s Resource Lists (except Vet and COL) will shortly become read only. Please edit the 2020/21 version of your list for next academic year.

Students can still access previous years’ lists either via the corresponding year’s course in Learn or via http://resourcelists.ed.ac.uk  (they must select ‘ALL’ or ‘Inactive’ to find non-current years’ lists).

Post rollover checks:

  1. Find your Resource List for 2020/21
  2. Check you and colleagues can edit the list as expected
  3. Check the list is associated with the correct 2020/21 course code
  4. Update any links to your Resource List
  5. Review and edit your Resource List for Semester 1 2020/21
  6. Contact: Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk if you have any issues with your 2020/21 Resource List.

1 Find your 2020/21 Resource List

Check that your Resource Lists for 2020/21 are available as expected. Go to the Resource Lists homepage: http://resourcelists.ed.ac.uk

Login by clicking on ‘Guest’ in the top right and click on ‘Lists’

You should be able to see your 2020/21 list here.

If you don’t see your 2020/21 list in your ‘Lists’ go back to the search box and search for your list using the course code or list name.

If you don’t find your list as expected, please contact Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk

2 Check you and colleagues can edit the list as expected

You can check if you can edit a list by clicking on the Resource List menu. If you have editing permissions you will see a range of options on the drop-down menu, including ‘Publish’, ‘Unpublish’ and ‘Manage course association’.

If you only have the option to ‘Export’ and ‘Print’, check you’re logged in. If you can see your initials in the top right hand corner you’re logged in.

If you are logged in and still can’t see options to edit the list, contact Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk and we’ll give you editing rights to the list.

You can check who has editing rights to the Resource List by clicking on Collaborators in the right-hand panel. To add or remove list editors, click on Manage collaborators.

3 Check the list is associated with the correct 2020/21 course code

New versions of Resource Lists are associated with a 2020/21 course code. This is displayed underneath the list title:

Resource Lists need to be associated with a course code in order for the link to the list in the corresponding Learn course to work.

Check your Resource Lists are linked to the correct 2020/21 course code. If you need to change the course code associated with your list, go to the list menu and select ‘Manage course association’


And then type in the course code you would like to associate your list with and save by clicking ‘Associate & close’.

4 Update any links to your Resource List

A permalink is a stable link to a Resource List, which you might use in a course handbook or course webpage to link to your Resource List. Do not use the link in the browser – it will break!

If you use permalinks, please remember to update the links to point to your new 2020/21 lists.

To find the permalink for your Resource List: Click on Reading list options (the three dots at the top of the list), then Permalink and To list.

The permalink will now appear in a pop-up window. Copy the permalink to use in your Learn page or course handbook.

5 Review and edit your Resource List for Semester 1 2020/21

Make sure you’re editing the 2020/21 version of your list! The 2020/21 course code will be displayed underneath the list title.

For more information about editing your lists, watch this video Editing your Resource List

This short guide provides an overview of how the Library will manage the provision of Library materials for teaching for Semester 1 202/21: Manage your course reading Sem 1 2020/21

Key points:

  • All Essential items should be available to students online
  • Prioritise readings on your list using Essential, Recommended and Further reading
  • The library will check all Essential items for e-book availability
  • If an e-book is not available, the Library will try to source a copyright-compliant digitisation of key chapters/pages
  • No multiple copies will be purchased. Single copies of print books will be purchased to allow for scanning.


When you’ve finished editing your list, please remember to send your list to the Library for review by Monday 13th July use the button at the top of the list to do this.

If you’d like the Library to set up a new list, please send us your annotated list using the online form by  Monday 13th July https://edin.ac/resource-list-request-form

Please remember to prioritise items on your list using the ‘Essential’, ‘Recommended’ and ‘Further reading’.

If you don’t prioritise the readings on your list, the Library will not take any action to provide access.

6 Contact us

Please contact Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk if you would like any help or have any questions about Resource Lists.

Your Academic support Librarian can provide help and advice on online Library Resources.

User guides, videos and bitesize sessions

For more information about using Resource Lists, please see the user guides and short videos on the Library website.

We’re also running Resource Lists Library Bitesize sessions which you can book on MyEd: https://edin.ac/2FXpv1q 

If the dates don’t suit and you’d like to arrange a school-based workshop, demo, Q&A or 1-2-1 via Teams, please get in touch with Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Resource Lists for 2020/21 available for review and editing

Follow @EdUniLibraries on Twitter


Default utility Image We Are Still Here! We are delighted to announce that thanks to generous support from the Wellcome Research Resource...
Default utility Image Edinburgh Research Archive downloads: May 2020


Default utility Image Responding to a National Crisis: Social Work at Times of Great Need (illustrated with images from the University’s art collection) We find ourselves living through remarkable times....
Default utility Image High Rises and Lows: Emotions in an Edinburgh Suburb In 1957 three professionals, a GP, a minister and a headteacher, approached the University of...


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.