Favourite character from a Scottish book

As part of Book Week Scotland, the Scottish Book Trust are holding a vote to discover the most loved characters in Scottish fiction. Here, the Library Annexe staff put forward their own favourites.

One of the interests that the Annexe team has in common is a love of sci-fi, which has begun a continuous stream of talk over lunch breaks and has culminated in the recent founding of the (small and unofficial) Annexe Science Fiction Club.

In this vein, and to promote what I think is one of the most underrated Scottish fiction books of the last century my nomination for favourite character goes to Maskull, the protagonist of David Lyndsay’s novel A Voyage to Arcturus.

Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay

Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay

Maskull, a man from Earth, awakens alone in a desert on the planet Tormance, seared by the suns of the binary star Arcturus, and embarks on an extraordinary pilgrimage with an extraordinary revelation at the end.

Having sold only 596 copies of its initial print run of 1430, Lyndsay’s masterpiece has since found a place as a classic of speculative fiction, earning itself a place in Harold Bloom’s the Western Canon, and earning words of praise by masters from J.R.R. Tolkien to Philip Pullman.

Even though he is very far from the type of hero one can relate to, I often find myself thinking about Maskull (and Lyndsay’s wildly imaginative world) when I really should be working.

And if that is not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

Iraklis Pantopoulos, Library Annexe Assistant

Find A Voyage to Arcturus on the University of Edinburgh online catalogue

When picking a favourite Scottish character from literature, I am drawn to my two favourite Scottish authors, Muriel Spark and Iain Banks, but I find myself struggling to choose a best character. The lure of the enigmatic Long John Silver is also hard to resist – a character so well drawn, he has become the template for all pirates since.

The Invisibles Vol. 1

The Invisibles Vol. 1

However, I am going to collectively go for Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, a weird and mysterious bunch, mainly because this is the book that introduced me to his work (and is the only DC comic that is ever likely to feature Greenock as a location).

Read about The Invisibles at Wikipedia

Morrison’s work on Batman has been exceptional, but somehow Batman doesn’t feel very Scottish… apart from in Batman: Scottish Connection, as drawn by Glaswegian Frank Quietly.

(It’s terrible).

Find Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum on the University of Edinburgh online catalogue

Why not vote for your favourite at the Book Week Scotland website?

Carl Jones, Library Annexe Supervisor

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Book Week Scotland 2014

Today marks the start of Book Week Scotland; the annual celebration of books and reading, as organised by the Scottish Book Trust. Part of the activity for 2014 includes the writing of love letters to libraries. Well, I’ve worked in libraries for seven years, and I can’t quite imagine doing anything else, so I think it’s safe to say that I love libraries. The world of library professionals is ever changing, and you are like as likely to spend your time digitising obscure texts to be uploaded on-line these days as you are to find yourself shelving dusty volumes onto creaking shelves. However, like most people I meet, I was initially drawn to the strange allure of a room full of words and ideas, each sealed with a binding, and the incomparable magic of losing yourself inside their pages.

This week, why not use your local library services. If you are a student or a researcher, make sure you take full advantage of the University’s resources:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/library-museum-gallery

And, please, visit the Scottish Book Trust website and see what else is going on:

http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/book-week-scotland

There are events happening all over Scotland throughout the week, including this “festival of books” at the Edinburgh College of Art:

Bookmark’ at ECA

Carl Jones, Library Annexe Supervisor

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Annexehalloween 2014

Viki took her creativity to new heights with this creation. We're not sure what it is but it is certainly scary!

Viki took her creativity to new heights with this creation. We’re not sure what it is but it is certainly scary!

Previous pumpkin carving competitions at the Library Annexe have proved popular and we always enjoy the opportunity to flex our creative muscles during our lunch breaks. As such, the annual Annexe pumpkin carving competition was entered with much enthusiasm once again. And here are this year’s results!

Jack Skellington looks fantastic next to his more ambiguous friend.

Jack Skellington looks fantastic next to his more ambiguous friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our part-time Annexe Assistant, Iraklis, was not at work on Halloween itself, but was sport enough to send us his own contribution, which he lovingly crafted in the comfort of his own home.

For those who can't quite see it, it's Sandra Bullock from the film Gravity.

For those who can’t quite see it, it’s Sandra Bullock from the film Gravity.

Carl Jones, Library Annexe Supervisor

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Fifty Shelves of Gray (and Nelson)

The Laird of Glenfernie by Mary Johnston (Nelson Archive)

The Laird of Glenfernie by Mary Johnston (Nelson’s Continental Library)

Springtime by H. C. Bailey

Springtime by H. C. Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey displays a degree of restraint, publishers and consumers of the romance genre did not always have such a taste for understated dust-jackets. Instead, they favoured a more direct approach.

The Prize-Winner. A comedy in one act by Macdonald Watson (Repertory Plays. no. 86.)

The Prize-Winner. A comedy in one act by Macdonald Watson (Repertory Plays. no. 86.)

The King's Wooing by Conal O'Riordan (Repertory Plays No. 71)

The King’s Wooing by Conal O’Riordan (Repertory Plays No. 71)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these examples from Gowans and Gray’s playbooks of the 1910s to 30s and Nelson’s Novels from the 20s onwards, it’s clear that previous generations wanted to get right to the action.

Marcella by Mrs. Humphry Ward

Marcella by Mrs. Humphry Ward

Over 500 books from the Nelson publishing archive have been shelf-marked and catalogued by rare books cataloguing interns Beth and Fiona. There are only around another 9,500 left to go!

The books in the collection reflect the decades of the 20th century- beginning with the staid, uniform editions of the New Century Library; progressing through stylish art deco illustrations; austere WWI and WWII paper; bright, pulpy dust-jackets from the ‘40s and ‘50s; and into rainbow-hued classics of the later decades.

Interesting examples of the changing book styles of the 20th century will be exhibited in the 6th floor display wall at the Centre for Research Collections next year.

The Thomas Nelson Archive contains these Gowans and Gray playbooks; a handsome series of repertory plays with fragile glassine dust wrappers.

Fiona Mowat and Beth Dumas , CRC Cataloguing Interns

Items from Nelson’s Library on the On-line Catalogue

[Blog] The AnneXe Factor: Full Nelson Archive

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Employ.Ed Hidden Collections Intern – Weeks 7 to 8

It is all over now! Or at least, very soon now. The 8 weeks flew past, my internship is nearly over and now all that is left is to take a look at what has and has not been done in the meantime.

What is done is a very nearly complete listing of the New Zealand House collection that has already started making its way into the catalogue (although it will take a while), but the process has now been set in motion; here is a sample:

Report by the Right Hon. the Earl of Jersey, G.C.M.G., on the Colonial Conference at Ottawa

A list of House of Lords items to assist an NLS digitisation project and a stock-check of Special collections material are also things that are done. However there are still lots of highlights of the internship that I haven’t had the chance to share.

My little side project, Oroboros the Caterpillar had a sudden metamorphosis – not into a butterfly but into this:

Oroboros the Caterpillar metamorphosises into a beautiful... Viking longboat

Oroboros the Caterpillar metamorphosises into a beautiful… Viking longboat

By the way I still don’t know who added the mast, and wouldn’t mind finding out (but good job whoever!)

Also, amusing old advertisements:

The Central Hotel and its hydraulic passenger lift

The Central Hotel and its hydraulic passenger lift

…and oh, so wrong slightly more current ones:

New Zealand: not all about trout fishing

New Zealand: not all about trout fishing

Pretty pictures of New Zealand from a booklet on the 1907 international exhibition:

Images from the New Zealand Collection: Milford Sound and Mount Cook

Images from the New Zealand Collection: Milford Sound and Mount Cook

So much more I want to share, but better be reasonable and stop.Jackass Penguin

These past eight weeks were lovely, and who knows what comes next?

In any case: farewell from me, at least for now.

Nik Slavov, Hidden Collections intern

Centre for the Study of World Christianity Update

With the print collections of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity (CSWC) Library, set up by Professor Andrew F. Walls, now having been in our care at the Annexe for a year, the time to say goodbye again is approaching.

Over his long career spanning over 50 years Professor Walls has held posts (among others) at the UK universities of Aberdeen, Liverpool Hope and, of course, Edinburgh. The scope and nature of his research led the magazine Christianity Today to describe him in 2007 as ‘a historian ahead of his time’ and ‘the most important person you don’t know’.

Professor Andrew F. Walls

Professor Andrew F. Walls set up the Centre for the Study of World Christianity at Edinburgh

As the topic of the influence exercised by different religious groups within British society is at the forefront of the public interest the moment, Professor Walls’s outlook on the way Christianity has moved and developed over the years is certainly pertinent. And his unique outlook is reflected in this collection that he gradually built up over the years of his career as a missionary and academic. Apart from Professor Walls’s main interest in the development on Christianity and Christian mission in Africa (which he saw as a reflection of the future of Christianity as a whole), the collection contains material that illuminates the way that the Western world has viewed eastern religions and vice versa. The CSWC collection is a unique resource on the topic. However, previous access to this collection was irregular.

When the collection was added to the fold at the Annexe, it was partially to make it accessible on a wider basis (via intra-library loans available to all users), but also to allow work to be performed on this diverse collection. Indeed, over the past year requests for CSWC items became a regular part of our workflow at the Annexe. As the collection has gradually grown over the years since its donation to the New College library by Professor Walls, now was an opportunity to streamline it and make easier to both access and manage.

To this end, here at the Annexe we have used our time with the World Christianity collection, in collaboration with colleagues throughout Information Services, in order to carefully work through the 11,000 items contained in it. A number of projects were set up to ensure that the material is consolidated, itemised, and re-classified. Each item (books and pamphlets) will be individually processed and the collection streamlined, ready for its re-integration to the Library of Congress stock at New College library later this summer. As an off-shoot of this process, a small part of the collection will be divided and sent to complement the Andrew Walls Collection currently held at Liverpool Hope University, forging a strong collaborative link.

Iraklis Pantopoulos, Library Annexe Assistant

[Article] Christianity Today: Historian Ahead of His Time

[Blog] The AnneXe Factor: Library of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity now at the Annexe

About the Centre for the Study of World Christianity

About New College Library

Overview of the Andrew F. Walls Centre, Liverpool Hope

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Employ.Ed Hidden Collections Intern – Weeks 5 to 6

Three quarters of the internship now behind me, I have decided to focus on actually finishing off projects that I have been working on – and that means the New Zealand House periodicals collection first and foremost. That is now almost entirely listed, and should hopefully start appearing on the catalogue in the foreseeable future (and a few things are already available under an NZSC Per. Shelfmark). The list currently contains 125 series, some of which are unique in the UK, ranging from art magazines, through government journals and statistics, to environmental agencies’ reports.

On a more serendipitous note, I stumbled across a collection of works of the hitherto unknown to me Ukrainian poetess Lesya Ukrainka, and found really good poem about… Robert Bruce. The poem was written in 1893, when Ukraine was within the borders of the Russian Empire, and played its part in the national resurrection and independence movements of the Ukrainian people. For all the differences between the circumstances they are in, with one country considering independence and the other at risk of losing it yet again, the history of both Ukraine and Scotland is currently being written, and in that context this poem sounds very relevant and appropriate.*

*We only have the book in Ukrainian; I am afraid that the full text of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland is not available in English online or at Edinburgh University Library, but here is a link to the UK holdings of her collected works in English translation:

COPAC holdings for Lesya Ukrainka

Nik Slavov, Hidden Collections intern

Request Lesya Ukrainka books and other authors through Inter-Library Loans

Not available at University of Edinburgh? Recommend a book

Find New Zealand House periodicals on the online catalogue

 

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Employ.Ed Hidden Collections Intern – Weeks 2 to 4

Halfway through the internship, so here comes another update from the Annexe.

These few weeks have been a lot more eventful than I would have expected.

Let me try and get things in chronological order. In week two I made a list of (hopefully) everything in our House of Lords collection (or everything in our collection that is to do with the House of Lords to be more precise) for the National Library of Scotland, who are aiming to digitise their collection and wanted to know what we can offer as back-up.

Important lessons were learned from this trailblazing work, for example:

  • Wear a dust mask when you are spending hours surrounded by 160 shelves of really old books.
  • Take regular breaks for fresh air.
  • Do not cough your lungs out due to not following the aforementioned guidelines.

Since then I have mostly been working on the New Zealand periodicals collection, which seems to be going at quite a good pace (I am almost certain I will be able to finish the pre-cataloguing work while I am here, with luck maybe get to cataloguing as well). There were occasional patches of very interesting things, chief among them The Journal of the Polynesian society. While it is unlikely to get a spot in the Main Library, it is available as an on-line resource, and I thoroughly recommend leafing through it to anyone interested in linguistics, anthropology, geography or history. The covers of National Educations with their pictures of Maori (and Pakeha) kids from the 80’s strongly intensified my sentimental state of mind around Wednesday, week 3. Bad puns in old advertisements made me groan (XYZ Pens and Markers – Always write for you!). Oh, and I found pages from a pamphlet or book from the 1906-07 international fair in New Zealand featuring pictures of towns and landscapes, advertisements (Hotel Central with its new Pneumatic Elevator!), and similar. Another thing I ran into was “A Souvenir of the Empire Coronation Contingents at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth”.

A Souvenir of the Empire Coronation Contingents at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Their majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Crowned in Westminster Abbey May 12th 1937

A Souvenir of the Empire Coronation Contingents at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

A Souvenir of the Empire Coronation Contingents at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Of course, there are also patches of extremely chaotic and messy stuff. And then there are the 27 shelves of Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand – a truly electrifying read. No pictures here. You’ll have to come and see that I am not overstating for yourself.

How to do baking. Put the oven on at Regulo 5...

How to do baking (Cherry Fairy Cakes)

Our Thomas Nelson collection however is probably soon to become available, and that contains a number of lovely and interesting books, from the pretty Nelsons Classics books to French textbooks for Swedish students. Also, a lot of bibles. Also, “How to do baking.”

And here’s what I am most looking forward to – I have been asked to take a look at some of our special collections. Yay, old books! Papyrus bindings! Weird drawings! A History of Serpents and other liuing creatures! Let us see if will manage to get my hands of some incunabula. More on that story as it unfolds.

The colleagues, as we’ve now established through thought experiments with Scott and Iraklis, are almost certainly all real. This is a good thing to keep in mind, because hearing someone starting to speak on the radio when you’ve forgotten you have one and you know you are working alone in the store can be a terrifying experience.

In addition, Iraklis said that they won’t let me go when my contract expires (possibly under the influence of fudge and baked goods). Let’s see how that works out. In all fairness – I’d be quite happy to stay.

Nik Slavov, Hidden Collections intern.

Nelsons classics

The Thomas Nelson Archive contains, “a number of lovely and interesting books.”

The National Library of Scotland

Edinburgh University Health and Safety Department 

The New Zealand Collection

The Thomas Nelson Archive (from the Annexe blog)

The Journal of the Polynesian Society

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Employ.Ed Hidden Collections Intern – Week 1

The Library Annexe will be joined for the next 8 weeks by Nik Slavov, who is working for the University as part of the Employ.Ed on Campus summer internship programme, in collaboration with the Careers Service.  Nik is our Hidden Collections Intern, who is tasked with understanding and prioritising print books stored in the Library Annexe, that are not on the Library’s online catalogue.  The eventual goal is to make unique material available for the user community.

Here Nik reflects on his first week at the Library Annexe.

Carl Jones, Library Annexe Supervisor

My first week at the Library Annexe now behind me, it would appear it is now time for me to look back and see how that went.

It feels like I haven’t seen anything yet. On the other hand, considering how much I’ve learned about the House of Lords, the native population of Oceania, reclaiming land for ironsand processing, Australasian literature in the 70’s, Antarctica, dairy farming, soil erosion and pollution (it is actually quite scary), New Zealand’s defence program and a number of other topics that I had never thought to occupy my brain with, all of that being just a side effect of organising a few shelves at Annexe 1…

Well, considering all that, I still haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s there. If my math’s any good, I’ve seen less than 0.05 % of what is held in that room only. At this point, Pratchett’s theory of L-space seems very plausible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L-Space#L-space). The sheer mass of books distorts the space-time continuum, which is why the Library Annexe is way bigger on the inside.

The team is lovely. In all fairness, given the randomness and rareness of my encounters with other human beings within the Annexe, and the alleged hallucinogenic effect of the fungus that develops in old books, I am not entirely certain they actually exist, but in case I didn’t make you guys up – it’s lovely working with you. Or at least, you know, in the same building, or the one next door. Having lunch together. Occasionally. And sometimes overhearing conversations on the radio…

At least it clearly says in the office that this is a Vashta Nerada free workspace, which is a relief. And apparently there have been no Velociraptor-related work accidents in a bit less than a year (is that really good? I should look into that. There ought to be a book with statistics on the topic in the Annexe somewhere. I can’t find one on the catalogue, but I couldn’t find the New Zealand Agriculture and Fisheries Department report from 1968 on the catalogue either, yet I am certain I had it in my hands yesterday.

Unless, you know… fungus.*

Nik Slavov, Hidden Collections intern.

(*For pedantry’s sake, I’d like to point out that there is no active mould in any of the Library Annexe Collections! -ed.)

The Careers Service

On campus internships

Search for Vashta Nerada and other resources using Searcher

The Conservation Studio (fungus experts)

 

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Library2 Feasibility Study – progress

With Page/Park Architects, Library, Archives and Museums staff have been undertaking a feasibility study into the future of services and facilities currently provided from our Library Annexe buildings. Under the name of ‘Library2’ (as in, ‘it’s a library too’ or ‘the second library (two)’), staff have been setting out their ideas for what a new on-campus facility would look like.

We held a workshop for colleagues across all areas from IT, to Acquisitions and Metadata, Archives, Museums, and Collections Management on 20th March. The Architects described our resulting ideas as ‘practical and efficient’, despite some imaginative analogies around onions (layers… of access and security), and wedding cakes (tiers… of floors and access).

Below is an image of the charts the three groups presented that day (thank you to Carl Jones, Stuart Lewis and Colin Watt for presenting them to the group).

Library2 workshop 2014 Flipcharts

Since then Page/Park have been interpreting the ideas and drafting out the co-locations and dependencies within an ideal space. They have also come up with an initial design concept, based on an open-book (see below).

library2 model black and white small

The next stages of the study are to establish what such a facility may cost, and to finalise an initial design drawing. The resulting study and it’s recommendations will be presented to the appropriate groups in the University, before we then find out if there is an opportunity to progress further with our ideas.

Laura Macpherson, Acting Head of Collections Development & Management