New Post: Project Archivist (Climate Change)

courtesy of Jasmine Keuter

My name is Elise Ramsay, and I am delighted to introduce myself as the University of Edinburgh’s new Project Archivist on Climate Change. My remit includes cataloguing the Lyell notebooks, and scoping other collections the University holds related to Charles Lyell, climate change, and Earth Science. Even in my short time working with the collection, it is apparent that there is an incredible wealth of research opportunity in these notebooks, not only concerning the environment and climate change, but also women’s contribution to science, 19th century social dynamics, international relations between scientists, and 19th century methods of travel, to name but a few.

about me:

I am an Archivist, trained at the University of Glasgow’s Information Management and Preservation course, and with experience in a variety of academic institutions, recently St. George’s School for Girls, and as a volunteer cataloguing on other projects at the Centre for Research and Collections (CRC). In my undergraduate studies, I read French and History, but was very interested by environmental and earth sciences, so in working on this collection, I can employ my understanding of French (Lyell often drafts letters to French colleagues in his notebooks), and continue to learn about Earth Science so as to create detailed metadata.

why climate change?

The University of Edinburgh has committed to become zero carbon by 2040. In line with this, the CRC is committed to improve access to Earth Science collections, and create opportunities for ground-breaking research about the climate, species biodiversity, and more. The Lyell collection particularly captures many of these initiatives.

progress so far…

For a collection of this size, a set methodology is key to completing the project, and ensuring that all items are catalogued equally.  Therefore, I dedicated the first few weeks to reading biographies of Lyell, highlighting important people, organisations, and places (known archivally as authorities), and created a process for cataloguing. To ensure that each notebook isn’t damaged in the process of cataloguing, I limited the time each notebook is open to 15 minutes. In those 15 minutes, I take note of the following information:

  • How many pages? How many folios? (Imagine you’re taking a picture of each page with text; how many pictures?This number tells us how full the notebook is, and allows us to estimate the effort needed to digitise)
  • Authorities
  • Subjects (the goal of this is to be as detailed as possible; specimen terms are especially important to make note of so researchers can access material based on their specialisation; for example, volcanoes and volcanic activity; strata; lithification; silicification; opal; coal)
  • Illustrations, and page numbers
  • Index, page numbers

All of these elements are then created in Archive Space, and included in the catalogue entry.

character of the collection

In reading the notebooks, I have relied on the support of Dr. Gillian McCay to provide specialised knowledge and identify key areas which will be important to researchers. This means learning about geological theories and concepts, and often opposing ideas from scientists of the time. It is clear that the network Lyell operated in featured intense, driven personalities, all motivated to prove their theories about the Earth’s origins and activity. This therefore informs the way I will catalogue this collection to prioritise authorities and give context to Lyell’s contemporaries.

more to come…

Watch this space for details about the collection, discoveries, photos, and updates on the project!

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On trial: Telegraph and Financial Times Archives

Thanks to a request from a HCA student the Library currently has trial access to two extensive newspaper databases from Gale, The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2016 and Financial Times Historical Archive 1888-2016.

You can access these databases from the E-resources trials page.
Access is available on and off-campus.

*Trial access has now been extended until 30th June 2020.*
Read More

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Edinburgh Research Explorer Statistics: February 2020

Edinburgh Research Explorer: February 2020 downloads infographic

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CNKI Open Access Platform for Chinese literature on COVID-19

CNKI, provider of our Library subscribed databases “China Academic Journals” and “China Doctoral & Masters Dissertations Full-text Databases”, has just launched an Open Access Platform for all Chinese literature published regarding the current new coronavirus known as COVID-19 – http://cajn.cnki.net/gzbd/brief/Default.aspx (Chinese version). The platform will have an English version very soon. All the articles are in Chinese. New articles are being added every day.

Posted in Chinese Studies, LLC general | Comments Off on CNKI Open Access Platform for Chinese literature on COVID-19

2020 World Book Day

Do you know today is World Book Day? Originally designated by UNESCO on 23rd April, World Book Day in the UK has been celebrated on the first Thursday in March since 1995 and is a celebration of  reading, authors, illusatrators and of course, books!

Here at the University Collections Facility, we definetely don’t want to miss out this opportunity to appreciate our beloved collections and share some of them with you!

The Jim Burns Portfolio

Who said an academic library can only be solemn? At the UCF we have a wide range of collections including those science fiction fans’ favorite. The Jim Burns Portfolio is a collection of 28 Jim Burns’ best known works.

 

This folio contain full-page images which represent the work of Burns, including his work between 1978 and 1989, and also Burn’s words to his supportive fans.

 

The Ideal Book

What’s your ideal book to spend a whole weekend reading on your cozy couch? We have The Ideal Book for you! Written by William S. Peterson ( 1939-) the Ideal Book records essays and lectures by William Morris ( 1834-1896) written on book art. On World Book Day, let’s all read through the book which contain the wisdom from Morris, whose novelty theories and views on book art made a siginificant impact on modern design.

The book also includes four interviews with Morris, which not only provide a first hand record of Morris and his works but also a valuable chance to learn about him as an individual.

 

What’s your favorite book, and how are you celebrating World Book Day? Do share with us in the comments below. If you want to find out more about the University Collections Facility and our collections, please visit our webstite.

The University Collections Facility

World Book Day

Sandy Lin, UCF Library Assistant

 

 

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Rock Star Event

On Friday 28th February, over 100 guests attended an event at the Geological Society in London’s Mayfair to celebrate the University’s successful campaign to buy the Charles Lyell notebooks.


Eight of the notebooks were taken south for guests to view at the event, carefully transported by a team from the Library’s Centre for Research Collections.  David McClay, Philanthropy Manager for the Library and University Collections team, introduced the speakers: Richard Hughes, Executive Secretary, Geological Society of London, and Professor David Stocker, National Hertitage Memorial Fund.

 

Peter Mathieson, vice-chancellor and principal of the University, thanked all those present for their support in acquiring the notebooks and presented gifts to Richard Hughes and Professor Secord.

 

Richard Hughes, Executive Secretary, Geological Society of London

Richard Hughes, Executive Secretary, Geological Society of London

Professor Jim Secord, University of Cambridge

Professor Jim Secord, University of Cambridge

Professor David Stocker, National Heritage Memorial Fund

Professor David Stocker, National Heritage Memorial Fund

 

 

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The Japanese Garden

Journey with us to 1908 as Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears’ look to Japan and the East for urban planning inspiration.  Archives volunteer and MSc Library and Information Studies student, Tara Copic, shares with us her collection highlights from the Patrick Geddes Archives.

Archives cataloguing volunteer, Tara Copic, reading one of her favourite discoveries from the Patrick Geddes correspondence, a letter from Frank C. Mears to Patrick Geddes, 1908.

Archives cataloguing volunteer, Tara Copic, reading one of her favourite discoveries from the Patrick Geddes correspondence: A letter from Frank C. Mears to Patrick Geddes, 22 Jan 1908, which discusses the Japanese Garden. (Ref: T-GED9/818).

Since October 2019 I have been volunteering with the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde’s collaborative archives cataloguing project ‘Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium’. I am an MSc Library and Information Studies student at the University of Strathclyde and I volunteer with the project for a few hours once a week at the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections. When I started volunteering, I received training on how to use professional archive description standards and cataloguing software AToM.

After 5 months of volunteering with the project, I am now familiar with and have practical experience in working with professional archive catalogue standards and systems.  I have enjoyed working with a series of correspondence, identifying correspondents, correcting inaccuracies and adding content.  In total, I have helped to enhance over 120 catalogue descriptions, making the collection more accessible and easy to navigate.

Working through this series of correspondence (currently I’m in 1908!), has given me a fascinating insight into the rich life and work of Patrick Geddes.  I am getting to know better his wide network of friends, colleagues and associates, that range from teachers and academics, to scientists and more. One of my favourite discoveries is a letter from Geddes’ son-in-law, the architect and town planner, Sir Frank Charles Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes at the Outlook Tower.  In the letter, Mears discusses the beauty of the Japanese garden in relation to Japanese Town Planning Practice:

Extract from a letter from architect and son-in-law, Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) discussing the Japanese garden.

Extract from a letter from architect and son-in-law, Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) discussing the Japanese garden.

“I don’t think the idea of a Garden City could occur to a real Japanese, since with them every garden, and even flower vase is a microcosm, embodying their land and philosophy in one:- so, one would assume their towns are laid out in the same way.”

“The so-called irregularity of the Japanese lay-out seems to me to be of a high coordination, far above that of either the haphazard, or the formal methods of the West today.  I think therefore that a great deal could be learned there which would be useful to the “Cities” movement here – ”

Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), 22 January 1908. (Ref: T-GED9/818).

Posted in Archives, Collections, Edinburgh Global, Patrick Geddes, project news, Uncategorized, Urban Planning | Comments Off on The Japanese Garden

Two new films on Charles Lyell and his notebooks

Professor Withers and others viewing a selection of Charles Lyell notebooks, University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library, February 2020

There are two new films on Charles Lyell and his notebooks: The Travels of His Own Mind – Travels of His Own Mind where Professor Charles Withers, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Edinburgh and Geographer Royal for Scotland, discussing the importance of Charles Lyell’s notebooks.

Also ‘Two Hundred and Ninety Four Notebooks, One Thousand One Hundred Donors’ – 294 notebooks, 1,100 donors where Professor Withers and Jacky MacBeath, Head of Centre for Research Collections and Head of Museums, University of Edinburgh, on why we are excited about Lyell!

 

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Edinburgh Research Archive Statistics: January 2020

Edinburgh Research Archive: January 2020 downloads infographic

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