Reflecting on New College Library at DHT

A guest post from Gina Headden, New College Library Helpdesk Team

New College Library on the Mound is a grand and imposing building but like many historic locations it occasionally needs significant maintenance to allow its continued use as a venue fit for purpose in the 21st century.

New College Library @ DHT Helpdesk

Thus, in the early days of 2020, the general library stock moved from its historic location on the Mound to the ground floor of the 1960s David Hume Tower (DHT) in George Square so that essential repairs could be carried out ‘back at base’ over the next 18 months. Continue reading

Caring for the New College Library Torah Scroll

A guest post by Valentina Flex, New College Library & Archive Assistant.

In order to ensure the safe and successful decant of collections at New College Library, myself and my fellow Archive and Library Assistants have wrapped (with acid-free tissue paper or Tyvek) and cotton-taping tied particularly fragile objects within the archives in order to stabilise and reinforce them before they move. The preparation for this task involved surveying the collections and taking notes of items in need of special attention. Surveying the items in New College Library archives and assessing the best method of collections care for them made me think about the context of each object’s creation and use. Specifically, I wondered if there were any implications involving certain items in a religious setting that would affect the ways we treat and care for them.

Torah Scroll, New College Library

Continue reading

New College Library Project Update by the Library & Archive Assistants

New College Library Hall during the General Collection moves to DHT

Post by Jamie Sutherland, New College Library Project Assistant

New College Library moved to its temporary home in David Hume Tower in January 2020. This new space will allow continued access to books and journals from the General Collections while an Estates Project is carried out in  our stunning Mound Place home. The General Collection moves have covered over 3.25km of books and, whilst the project team has been glad to see these securely in their new location, this has only been the first stage of the move project. New College Special Collections, one of the UK’s largest collections of theological rare books and archives, have also been prepared for safe relocation to other secure University sites and specialist off-site storage.

New College Library Hall during the General Collection moves to DHT

Pre-1900 Journals labelled and stabilised with cotton-tape ties ready for the move.

With the General Collections safely relocated to David Hume Tower, the past few months have focused on the even more daunting task of preparing our Special Collections materials. Here are some ongoing tasks which have formed part of this work:

Collections Care: New College Special Collections include a number of rare and wonderful materials which require their own special attention to move and store safely. These include rolled scrolls, glass plate negatives, photograph albums, books bound in animal hide, palm-leaf manuscripts, and even the academic gowns belonging to Thomas Chalmers, the first Principal of New College. Most of our work has focused on securely boxing or wrapping these items ready for the move. This has also given us the opportunity to consider their long-term storage requirements and what we might do to enhance their preservation once they return to their permanent home. As a team, we have been working on creating bespoke boxes and housing arrangements for some of the more unusual items as well as working on research projects to identify the best practices of collections care for particular types of material. Many items also had detached spines and covers which we were determined not to lose during transit. Our older journals were systematically checked for any damage or special care needs and either wrapped in acid-free tissue or ‘stabilised’ with cotton-tape ties to keep them together.

Archive ‘Mapping’: The collections include an extensive archive containing the papers of significant individuals or groups connected to New College, the University and the Church of Scotland. The project has focused on ensuring that these archive materials are fully listed, secured ready for the move, and suitably stored within the University. This began with the major task of identifying and measuring all the archive material. The final figure comes out at over 900 archive boxes and over 1,500 volumes! These figures help us to work out the optimal way of arranging shelving and storage arrangements, balancing collection storage needs with the ever-present concern of saving space. Having this information will also prove useful in the future in allowing us to identify potential rehousing projects such as the work of the Crowdsourcing Conservation Events.

Flat Folio Sequence: Many of the volumes in New College Special Collections are oversized. At the moment, these volumes are stored standing upright on the shelves alongside their smaller companions. Since these books have very heavy text-blocks, storing them upright exerts a lot of pressure on their spines which can cause damage to the book itself as well as risking damage to smaller items on the shelves which could become stuck or crushed between them. The project move has provided us with the opportunity to extract these larger items from the collection and bring them together into a dedicated ‘Flat Folio’ sequence (defined as any item over 42cm in height). These books can now be stored horizontally, which is a far better arrangement from the consideration of collections care. This project has required identifying, listing, and conducting basic collections care work on these items. Our inventory team have also been working on extracting these items ready for the move and updating their records with new temporary call numbers. The new flat folio sequence will contain over 900 volumes to be stored on much improved flat shelving.

Improving Shelf Space: Moving such a large collection poses the difficulty of finding enough shelf space to store it during the project. Whilst approximately two-thirds of the collection is moving to specialist off-site storage, we also have to retain a large portion on campus to facilitate collections care, cataloguing, and readers’ access to high-use material. As part of the project, we have been identifying ways to compact and re-pitch existing shelving in secure University stores to create additional space for the New College collections. Since January, we have successfully created an additional 39 linear metres of shelving which will provide space to store the New College archives and incunabula collection. Once the project has been completed, this space will be available to accommodate future projects or allow room for the acquisition of new Special Collections material.

Bound copies of ‘The Witness’ newspaper, forming part of the new Flat-Folio Sequence in NCL Special Collections

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be dedicating our blog posts to some of the particularly interesting items we have been working on in the New College Library collections. Keep an eye on this blog where we will be posting new case studies and insights into some of these remarkable items and the work which has been ongoing to keep them safe and accessible to future generations.

 

Library Update for Divinity : Answering Your Questions

Image credit : Pixabay : free for non commercial use

Here are some of the questions Divinity staff and students have been asking me over the last few weeks, and some answers. As the Covid-19 situation can change quickly, the best place to go for the most recent updates is always our Library Covid-19 page.

Where can I find e-books to support my dissertation research?

The University of Edinburgh has access to 1.4 million e-books which are findable using DiscoverEd. Many e-books relevant to Divinity are also freely available, see my online guide as a starting point. Several publishers have made their digital content free for a temporary period during the Covid-19 crisis – see our temporary access web page. (These temporary access e-books are not listed on DiscoverEd). Participating publishers include:

  • Manchester University Press
  • JSTOR e-books
  • Project Muse

Continue reading

New College Library is moving!

Outside the David Hume Tower

A major Estates project means that we must move the New College Library collections and services.

What this means for you
• New College Library (NCL) closed at 5.00 pm on Friday 20st December 2019. It will re-open at David Hume Tower (DHT) in George Square on 13th January 2020, providing access to General Collections.
• Archive material and some Special Collections (selected in consultation with the School of Divinity) will be available at the Centre for Research Collections at the Main Library in George Square. Remaining Special Collections will be unavailable until the Library returns to New College in Summer 2021.
• The School of Divinity are planning to make the NCL Reserve Collection available in the Semple’s Close Wing of New College from 13th January 2020. Continue reading

That would be an ecumenical matter … Celebrating 70 years of the World Council of Churches

In our New College Library Hall display for September 2018, we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches. Inaugurated in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is one of the leaders of the modern ecumenical movement, working towards the goal of Christian unity. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians. New College Library contains nearly a thousand WCC publications, including many unique or rare pamphlets. In the New College Library Archives, we hold the papers of several individuals and organisations who worked with the WCC, including Rev J.H. Oldham, Rev Robert Mackie and Rev. Tom Allaallenn. Continue reading

Welcome to New College Library 2018 #edwelcome


 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to all new and returning staff and students from New College Library at the beginning of the academic year.

We’re looking forward to meeting you. To help you get started with Library & IT services at the University, check out this Get Connected to the University page. Don’t forget to collect your University card from the Main Library in George Square.

You can find out more about New College Library at http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/new-college-library and about library resources for Divinity at : http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/subject-guides-divinity. 

I’ll be running library tours that are open to all UG and PG students on Wednesday 19 September at 1.15pm and on Wednesday 26 September at 1.15pm. If you’d like a library tour or introductory meeting and these dates don’t suit you, please do get in touch with me to make other arrangements.

Have a look at the Divinity Library Newsletter 2018 which includes

  • Successful pilot leads to extended Library opening hours
  • New digital collections for Divinity
  • New journals for Divinity

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Steps Through Time at New College Library

Have you seen the new Steps Through Time display at New College Library? Today we’re celebrating the Steps Through Time project, which developed six display panels to be mounted alongside the steps up into New College Library. These panels highlight treasures from New College Library’s rare book and archive collections against a timeline of Scottish and religious history.

Student engagement event

This project kicked off with a student engagement event between Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 April. We held a daily display of New College Special Collections items featuring items from two different centuries each day, and encouraged students to take a few minutes break from their revision to vote on their favourite items from each century. Over the three days we had nearly 120 visitors to our displays, many of whom commented that they had no idea that New College Library held Special Collections items like these. I’m grateful to my two volunteers, Nastassja Alfonso and Jessica Wilkinson, for helping with these events and persuading revising students that they really did want to look at some Special Collections. The item that gathered the most votes was the 1638 National Covenant (bequeathed by Thomas Guthrie), which is one of five National Covenants in the New College Library collections. The National Covenants have recently returned to New College Library after benefiting from conservation work and digital photography at the CRC.

Image selection and text writing

A key task was the selection of the images, which we did with the data gathered from students votes, but also by consulting with student representatives from the School of Divinity. A clear message about representing diversity in our text and image choices was received from the student community and so we aimed to curate diversity into the timeline narrative. Student engagement transformed the project into more than developing some display panels of library treasures. If we had planned just to do that, the panels would have included images of incunabula, Bibles or Luther pamphlets, some of New College’s collection strengths. But that was not the story that the student community wanted to tell.

Impact

We hope the project will improve an area of the library entrance which is used by all visitors to the library, and that it will raise the profile of New College Library’s unique Special Collections. We will be gathering feedback both over the summer and in the first few weeks of semester to better understand the impact of the Steps Through Time display.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Celebrating women pioneers for ordained ministry in the Church of Scotland

Dr Elizabeth Hewat, first woman to receive a PhD from New College, who argued for women’s ordination

This blog post is written by Dr Lesley Orr, School of Divinity

In the year in which the Church of Scotland has welcomed the Very Revd Susan Brown of Dornoch Cathedral as its new Moderator of the General Assembly, the Church also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women.

On Wednesday 22 May 1968, the Fathers and Brethren of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted by a  large majority to extend eligibility of ordination to Ministry of Word and Sacrament to women, on the same terms as men. New College students, graduates and staff played a significant role throughout the half century when the question of women’s role, rights and equality in the Church was one of the most persistent and controversial issues for debate – not only in the Assembly but in wider Church and Scottish society. During this fiftieth anniversary year of women in ordained ministry, a commemorative project has been based at New College, supported by the Centre for Theology and Public Issues and in partnership with the Church of Scotland Ministries Council. Publications and photographs which tell a little of these events are currently on display in New College Library. But the story goes back much further.

Continue reading

Digital Resource trials for Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies May 2018

We have four new digital resource trials for Biblical Studies this month. They’re all accessible from the E-resource trials web page.

Brill’s Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Non-Biblical Texts offers a unique opportunity to study state of the art photographs of these ancient scripts, and understand their meaning using the translations of text and interpretations for missing fragments

 

Flavius Josephus Online is the first comprehensive literary-historical online commentary on the works of Flavius Josephus in English including the Greek text by Niese from the late 19th century. About 65% of the project is complete, consisting of Life, and Against Apion, book 2 of the Judean War, and books 1-11 and 15 of the Judean Antiquities.

The Littman E-Library of Jewish Civilisation has over 30,000 pages of leading research in Jewish studies from Arthur Szyk: Artist, Jew, Pole to The Zohar: Reception and Impact.  The LEJC includes international perspectives on Jewish civilization from scholars across the world, including the USA, Israel, Germany, Poland, and the UK.

 

The Textual History of the Bible Online (THBO) is unique in providing, for the first time, a cross-searchable platform with all available information regarding the textual history, textual character, translation techniques, manuscripts, and the importance of each textual witness for each book of the Hebrew Bible, including its deutero-canonical scriptures. In addition, it includes articles on the history of research, the editorial histories of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its auxiliary fields, such as papyrology, codicology, and linguistics.

You can access the trials at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/e-resources-trials  (Scroll down the page a little to find the links).

Please let us know what you think! Feedback and usage data from trials like these supports our case to purchase them when funds are available.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity