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.

 

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

Judaism and Jewish Studies: the work of John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and Adolph Saphir

New College Library holds collections of and about a number of individuals who gathered material and wrote extensively on Judaism and Jewish Studies, motivated by their interest in the conversion of Jews to Christianity.  Two significant figures in this area of interest are John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and Adolph Saphir.

Duncan was a colourful, intelligent and, at times, tortured soul, one particularly gifted in the study of languages and in missionary work.  Born in 1796, he obtained an MA from the University of Aberdeen in 1814.  When he began his study of theology, he was still an atheist and did not convert to Christianity until 1826.  Even thereafter, he had times of doubt before settling into firm belief.

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan – portrait by Hill & Adamson

In 1840, having spent some years as an ordained minister, Duncan’s interest in Hebrew and his growing interest in the church’s work concerning the conversion of the Jews to Christianity led to his appointment as the Church of Scotland’s first missionary to the Jews.  Stationed in Budapest from 1841-43, Duncan was remarkably successful in his work there converting, among others, the young Adolph Saphir and his family to the Christian faith.

But in 1843, following The Disruption, Duncan’s calling took him back to Edinburgh where he held the chair of Hebrew and Oriental Languages at the newly-founded New College, remaining in post there until his death in 1870.

Until recently, Duncan’s collection was not easily accessible but it can now be searched for online.  Resources by, about or owned by Duncan can be found in DiscoverEd and also via this resource list compiled by Academic Support Librarian, Christine Love-Rodgers.

In 1843, one of Duncan’s converts, 13-year-old Adolph Saphir, came with him to Edinburgh from Budapest, his father being keen that the young Adolph improve his English and train as a minister of the Free Church.  This process took some time and saw Saphir travel to Berlin, Glasgow and Aberdeen, becoming a student of theology at the Free Church College, Edinburgh in 1851.  In 1854, Saphir, himself a Jewish convert, was appointed a missionary to the Jews.  Saphir’s mission took him first to Hamburg and then, in 1856, to South Shields.  Five years later, he moved to London where he remained until his death in 1891.

Adolph Saphir – photograph by T. Roger, Swan Electric Engraving Co.

Despite Duncan’s inner battles of the spirit and his lack of prowess as a formal teacher, his personal piety, linguistic and informal teaching abilities, as well as his success as a missionary, were impressive.  Saphir and he contributed significantly to the collection of items in New College Library, particularly with reference to the Christian mission to the Jews during the 19th century.  Their legacy is to the ongoing benefit of scholars of Judaism and Jewish Studies.

A small exhibition of some of our Duncan and Saphir material will run from                 26th February-31st March 2019 in New College Library.

Bibliography

http://www.clan-duncan.co.uk/john-rabbi-duncan.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Duncan_(theologian)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Saphir

http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-24663?rskey=IibrBc&result=1

https://archive.org/stream/rschsv028p1barr/rschsv028p1barr_djvu.txt

Mighty in the Scriptures: a memoir of Adolph Saphir, D.D./by Gavin Carlyle. J.F. Shaw and Co.; 1893.

 

Gina Headden, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library and Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, School of Divinity, New College.  

With many thanks to Jessica Wilkinson from the School of Divinity who contributed so much to identifying and listing the relevant New College Library collections.

Library Resources for Islam and Muslim-Christian Studies: an introduction

From time to time, we compile resource lists on different aspects of Theology and Religious Studies.

Islam and Muslim-Christian Studies are developing areas of our collections, responding to the new teaching and research activities of the School of Divinity. Below is a brief guide to some relevant resources you can find at New College Library.

Books

* Books on Islam at shelfmark BP (downstairs in Stack I)

* Copies of the Qur’an at BP 109

* Books on Islamic law/Shari’a law at shelfmark K (downstairs in Stack I)

Online Journals about Islam/Muslim communities

* Al-Jamiʼah: Journal of Islamic Studies

* American Journal of Islamic Studies

* Comparative Islamic Studies

* Contemporary Islam

* Critical Muslim

* Islam & Science

* Islam and Christian Muslim Relations

* Islam and civilisational renewal: a journal devoted to contemporary issues and policy research.

* Islamic Studies

* Journal of Indonesian Islam

* Journal of Muslim Mental Health

* Journal of Muslim minority affairs

* Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies

* Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association

* Sociology of Islam

* Studia Islamica

* The Muslim World

This is a selective list which features only journals published in English. The library also provides access to other online journals in the field of Islam which are published in other languages e.g. Arabic, Turkish and Indonesian: search in DiscoverEd to find these.

Online Databases

* Christian-Muslim Relations Online

* Early Western Korans Online

* Encyclopaedia of Islam

* Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an

* Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures Online

* Index Islamicus

* Kotobarabica Arabic E-Library

* Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islam

* Oxford Islamic Studies Online

* Qurʾānic Studies Online

* Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Islam

You can find further resources at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/database-islamic-stud

If you’d like to find out more about sources relating to the study of Islam, or any other research topic relating to Divinity, please contact Christine by e-mail at: Christine.Love-Rodgers@ed.ac.uk

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, School of Divinity, New College and Gina Headden, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library.

 

1893: A story of scary librarians and brave students

Student helpers at New College Library 1893 ( from the New College Library Archives AA 1.8.1)

New College Library and its students have always had a special relationship. Recently, for example, our students chose their preferred most iconic items from our special collections and contributed to our beautiful exhibition ‘Steps through Time’ (you can check the corresponding post here).

However, not everyone knows that from the early stages of New College Library’s existence, students have played a fundamental role in the organisation and establishment of the library. For example, in 1843, when New College was founded, it was ‘student curators’ who stamped and listed the first donations that arrived at the library from various sources (see Disruption to Diversity, D.Wright and G.D.Badcock, p.187).

In spite of their initial involvement though, in its early days browsing New College Library was not a particularly student friendly experience. In fact, until 1893, the library was entirely the domain of the Librarian – he was the only one who had an overview of the entirety of the catalogue and the only one who was able to peruse the shelves and collect the books requested by the students.

Not only were students not allowed to browse the shelves freely, they were also kept in relative ignorance of the contents of the library, especially if some of the books did not meet with the Librarian’s criteria of safe readings. For example, Dr Kennedy, who was the Librarian of New College Library from 1880 until 1922,  ‘even adopted the stratagem of frustrating any reader, privileged to inspect the shelves, who sought to escape his lynx-like vigilance, by secreting scores of “dangerous” volumes on shelves hidden behind tables or forms ’, as Hugh Watt writes in New College a centenary history (p.162). The catalogue was also a fairly complicated affair, since for several years it consisted of written slips kept in packages accessible only to the Librarian.

Unsurprisingly, this was a most unsatisfactory system for the poor students. Therefore, in 1892, six students braved the phenomenal Dr Kennedy, and under his ‘lynx-like’ vigilance, they assisted him in re-arranging the catalogue to make it more user accessible. After a year of hard work, they published what you can consider as one of DiscoverEd’s ancestors: The Abridged Catalogue of Books in New College library, Edinburgh,1893.

And here, from the depths of New College Library’s Archive collection, is the picture of our student heroes:

From the New College Library archive, ref..AA.1.8.1

New College Library Archives (AA.1.8.1)

And here, with a well-deserved drink after a year of work with the impressive Dr Kennedy:

New College Library Archives (AA 1.8.1.)

While we are not encouraging you to drink beer in the library, or to rebel against our lovely library staff (nowadays, certainly not as scary as good, old Dr Kennedy), we want to celebrate those students with you today. It was also thanks to their hard work that New College Library became the much loved library that it is today.

Not much is known about those student heroes, their names are faded, a scribble at the back of an old photograph. But perhaps next time you wander through the library, send them a grateful thought. They will surely appreciate it.

Barbara Tesio, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library

 

 

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

Thomas Chalmers and The West Port Experiment

Those with an interest in Scottish church history are likely to be very familiar with Thomas Chalmers and the role he played in the Disruption of 1843 but how many know much of his West Port experiment? Continue reading