Category Archives: Featured

The new Annexe Thesis Scanning Service proves popular


picture of a number of black-bound theses piled up in a cupboard over two shelves

The orders for thesis scans are definitely piling up.

After 9 months and 62 orders the pilot stage of the Thesis Scanning Service is over. When the service started I don’t think any of the team anticipated the impact it would have on our workload. We naively expected to be scanning one thesis a week but, with an average eight scan requests coming in each month, it isn’t unheard of for us to deliver five completed scans in one working week. This far exceeded our expectations and we have been pleasantly surprised by the uptake. In fact, now that the service is up and running, each of us devotes up to half of our working day to digitisation.

The project has highlighted the demand for digital copies of theses. Although only a handful have made their way onto ERA thus far those that have are benefiting from increased visibility and usage. Since being made available on ERA, Lance Whitehead’s 1994 thesis on the Clavichords of Hieronymus and Johann Haas has been viewed over 100 times and downloaded almost 40. On average the theses that have been available via ERA for more than 6 months have been downloaded 23 times each.

As more materials are added to the ERA database, their visibility on search engines such as Google Scholar will only increase, allowing our worldwide audience access to Edinburgh’s Research. Despite some of the interesting moments and challenges along the way, we feel the service has been a great success and all of us on Team Annexe are looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

Maria O’Hara, Library Annexe Assistant

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ECA Collection at the Annexe : Dame Blackadder

A series of articles on the relationship between the Library Annexe and the ECA.

One of the gems being stored out at the Annexe amongst the ECA Collection is the below oil panting by Dame Elizabeth Violet Blackadder.

(c) Elizabeth Blackadder; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Tuscan Landscape by Elizabeth V. Blackadder, Oil on paper, 51 x 71 cm, Collection: ECA part of University of Edinburgh Fine Art Collection

A Scottish painter and printmaker, in 1962 Blackadder began teaching at Edinburgh College of Art where she continued until her retirement in 1986.

She is the first woman to be elected to both the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy.

Her work can be seen at the Tate Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has appeared on a series of Royal Mail stamps.

If you are interested in the paintings stored out at the Annexe, the BBC have digitised the collection and made it available on the web page ‘Your Paintings’.


Stephanie Farley (Charlie), Library Annexe Assistant

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Tom Kibble’s Thesis digitised and made available online

Picture of Tom Kibble

Professor Kibble is currently an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London

During the summer graduations Tom Kibble will receive an Honorary Degree from the School of Physics & Astronomy for this work in Theoretical Physics. An Edinburgh graduate, Kibble contributed to the discovery of both the Higgs mechanism and the Higgs boson.

scanned image of handwritten formulas included in the thesis

All of the formulas in the the thesis were handwritten.

Ahead of the graduation ceremony in July the School requested the digitisation of his 1958 Thesis on Quantum Field Theory. As with all of our thesis scans the digitised copy will shortly be made available on ERA. In the meantime, the School of Physics & Astronomy will be using it for an exhibition on Kibble to coincide with the conferment of his honorary degree.

Maria O’Hara, Library Annexe Assistant

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Edinburgh physician’s thesis digitised for inclusion in Japanese Museum Exhibit

unedited image of a scanned page

The Carbon Pages were so thin a sheet of paper had to be placed behind each page before it was scanned

Earlier this year a digital copy of the 1909 thesis of Scottish born anthropologist and physician Dr Neil Gordon Munro was ordered by a museum in Japan. The digitised work will be included in an exhibition at the Yokohama History Museum in the city where Munro lived and worked as director of the General Hospital for much of his career.

The thesis was challenging to digitise as much of it was typed on thin, see-though carbon paper. Many of the pages had become wrinkled with age and some were handwritten.

As the University of Edinburgh begins exploring distance learning tools and deploying courses via Coursera this thesis, submitted from Japan, demonstrates the Universities rich yet largely invisible history of distance learning.

For a closer look at the completed digital copy on ERA go to:

Maria O’Hara, Library Annexe Assistant

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ECA Collection at the Annexe: British Art

A series of articles on the relationship between the Library Annexe and the ECA.

Among the items from the ECA Collection being stored at the Annexe are some stunning examples of British Art that were purchased in the 50s with funding provided by the Carnegie Trust.

Including some works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Augustus John.

Library of Congress, Bain Collection

Augustus John poses for the American press on board a ship.

If you are interested in the paintings stored out at the Annexe, the BBC have digitised the collection and made it available on the web page ‘Your Paintings’.


Stephanie Farley (Charlie), Library Annexe Assistant

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Edinburgh University introduces new Thesis Digitisation Service

Staff member using the Bookscanner at the Library Annexe

Charlie demonstrates our beautiful scanner.

In October 2012 the Library Annexe began operating a new Thesis Scanning Service. The service has proved popular with theses covering topics from historical re-enactment to earthquakes. And if anyone is fluent in Arabic and can tell us what Al-Hajeri’s (2007) 1200 page thesis is about – let us know!

Once scanned, a digital copy of the thesis is made available on the university’s institutional repository ERA where they are already seeing increased usage. The eventual aim is to make the entire thesis collection available online.

For more information on the service visit the Thesis Scanning Service webpage and to find out more about the University’s online repository check out the research already available on ERA.

Maria O’Hara, Library Annexe Assistant

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ECA Collection at the Annexe : Storage

A series of articles on the relationship between the Library Annexe and the ECA.

The Annexe provides a great space to store, sort, preserve and work on collections.

Improvements to the storage of materials are always on-going. Recently staff from the ECA have been working hard out at the Annexe lining shelves with Plastazote, a hard foam, to protect the paintings.

Volunteers, lining shelves with Plastazote to protect paintings stored at the Library Annexe

Volunteers, Siobhan & Catriona, lining shelves with Plastazote to protect paintings stored at the Library Annexe

Plastazote is used in conservation for many purposes. It is used for packaging and the protection of various fragile objects and artifacts. Also, to create book rests and display supports.

So what is it? Plastazote foam sheets are a high density light weight chemically neutral and inert polyethylene foam material. Catch all of that? This means that the foam is inert and acid free so it won’t react chemically with any conservation material it comes into contact with. The high density foam can be cleanly cut and sculptured to most shapes. Both of these factors make it great for packing archival boxes to fit the object, such as rare books and other valuable items that are subject to potential damage.

Plastazote lined shelves at the Library Annexe

The finished product.

By lining the shelves out at the Annexe, we are creating a more secure, safe, preserving space for the ECA Collection to ensure that the Collection will be in top condition to be enjoyed for many years to come.


Stephanie Farley (Charlie), Library Annexe Assistant

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ECA Collection at the Library Annexe: Student Paintings

A series of articles on the relationship between the Library Annexe and the ECA.

When the Edinburgh College of Art merged with the University of Edinburgh in August 2011, they brought with them a fantastic collection of art and archives. Including a large collection of paintings which were stored off site in Livingston and have now been moved to the Library Annexe.

Paintings at the Library Annexe

ECA Collection

What are these paintings and where do they come from?

The vast majority of the ECA paintings at the Annexe are student works from final year degree shows. The additional storage space provided by the Library Annexe has been a boon to the ECA. This space allows room for the expansion and growth of the collection.

ECA Collection at the Library Annexe

Safe, secure, storage.

In an exciting move, the ECA will this year re-start acquiring final year student work from the Degree show as part of a purchase prize.

If you are interested in art and would like to have a look at what our student’s are creating, the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2013 is currently taking place until Sunday 9 June 2013. Check it out!


Don’t fear though, if you miss the Degree show, the ECA Post Graduate Degree Show 2013 will be happening from Saturday 17 August to Sunday 25 August 2013.

Stephanie Farley (Charlie), Library Annexe Assistant

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Full Nelson Archive

Repertory Plays Series, Thomas Nelson Archive

Repertory Plays Series, Thomas Nelson Archive: These picturesque little plays are just some of the gems amongst the collection.

The Thomas Nelson collection of books arrived at the Annexe on Tuesday 14th August 2012. We were very excited to be receiving this collection of books and materials forming the back catalogue of the publishing firm that began in Scotland in 1798. The books date back to the time when Nelson moved away from Scotland to become part of the Wolters Kluwer Group. Edinburgh University already acts as guardians to the Thomas Nelson business archives up to 1960, so it made perfect sense to keep the collection together.

The Interlude of Youth

The Interlude of Youth

We foolishly thought the packed boxes would come straight off the van and onto our shelves before lunch time. However, after only a couple of the 13 pallets were unloaded, we realised that this was unlikely to be the case. The collection is made up of a vast range of materials from cassette tapes to oversized picture books. Each pallet had to be unwrapped and unpacked individually, which involved fighting through layers of dust and dirt (most of which was many years old). The first task we had to undertake was the weeding of duplicates. At first glance there were many copies of the same item, but closer inspection revealed that each item bore tiny differences, which from a bibliographical perspective are potentially huge.

Gods Throw Incense by Katharine Trae

Gods Throw Incense by Katharine Trae

Many weeks later, the collection was finally in its new home at the Library Annexe. After the weeding of duplicates the collection still covered an impressive 275 meters.

Under the Skull and Bones by Ronald Gow

Under the Skull and Bones by Ronald Gow

Whilst unpacking, Library Annexe Assistant Stephanie (Charlie) Farley discovered a first edition of “When Wendy Grew Up” by J.M. Barrie, which is an epilogue to peter Pan (dating from 1957). What made this book stand out was a signature from Mr Sydney Blow, who was not only an actor in the original production of Peter Pan, but the author of the foreword. It was dedicated to Hilda Trevelyan, who played Wendy in the production and to whom the manuscript “When Wendy Grew Up” was dedicated to in 1908. Although not overly valuable, this item is certainly unique. It was the sheer mystery and excitement of not knowing what you might find that helped us get through 13 pallets of material.

Scott Docking, Library Assistant (Special Collections and Archives)

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Lo, Oil Paintings!

Carnival Procession by Dorothy M. Peach. Held at the Library Annexe. Part of the University of Edinburgh’s Fine Art Collection

Among the rather diverse collections held here at the Library Annexe is one that sticks out, if only because of the bright colours and hefty items it contains. Lining the walls and filling a sizeable number of the Annexe’s shelves is a fascinating collection of canvas paintings completed by students at the Edinburgh College of Art. Inherited when the University and the ECA combined in Summer 2011, the collection comprises of over 1000 fine art pieces.

Given the bulky size of the pictures and the fact that they’re stored away from the cosy and familiar Main Library at George Square, you might be forgiven for thinking that the collection could be as interesting as it likes without you ever getting to see it; not so!

As part of a campaign to document the nation’s art and make it available on-line the BBC have digitised the collection and made it available on the web page ‘Your Paintings.’ The Your Paintings project aims to make the paintings, the stories behind them and their actual location available to the public. Not only that but when you run out of pictures to tag on Facebook you can tag the paintings instead.

To browse through one of the library’s more colourful collections at your leisure, visit the site and take a look:

BBC “Your Paintings”: Edinburgh College of Art

Here are a couple of my favourites. Why not go and find yours?

Landscape with Figures by Kathleen Russell

Carnival Procession by Dorothy M. Peach

Kew Garden by Gillian Mather

Maria O’Hara, Library Annexe Assistant

The Annexe team choose some highlights

I’ve selected a couple of paintings that really stood out to me. A nice impressionist still life and something a bit more colourful! I particularly like the Curtain Call painting as, although the reds and blues likely represent a stage curtain, to me the image evokes the atmosphere of lively applause amid showers of ticker tape.

Still Life with Fish by Alistair F. Flatterly

Curtain Call by Francis Convery

Carl Jones, Library Annexe Supervisor


A warm still life with rose, gold, and lovely crisp apples.

Still Life with Apples by D. Gordon Campbell

An engaging portrait. I like the way light and shadow are used to encourage the eye to focus on and examine the subjects expression.

Portrait Study by Thomas Kim Redpath

I have a particular fascination with doors, archways, and the in-between.

Arches by Stella Anne Sandeman

Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, Library Annexe Assistant


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