Digital Wall Student Experience Internships

Student browsing images of Library and University Collections on the Digital Wall

This past Winter 2019/20 the Digital Imaging Unit and Centre for Research Collections Museums teams hosted two student interns to support the development of the new Digital Wall, which opened in the University of Edinburgh’s main Library in September 2019. The students, Dario Lucarini (Napier University) and Tom Hutton (Edinburgh College of Art), were tasked with Read More

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Edinburgh Research Archive downloads: July 2020

Edinburgh Research Archive: July 2020 downloads infographic

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Edinburgh Research Explorer downloads: July 2020

Edinburgh Research Explorer: July 2020 downloads infographic

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The School of Scottish Studies Archives in Light Festival

On Saturday, 22 August, the School of Scottish Studies Archives (SSSA) will be celebrated in a day-long online festival event hosted by the Celtic and Scottish Studies department. 

Curated by Mike Vass, Traditional Artist in Residence, The School of Scottish Studies Archives In Light festival will focus on the sound, film and photographic collections of SSSA and will feature new work – inspired by archive recordings – by Scottish musicians Mhairi Hall and Rachel Newton. In addition to music and song, the programme features conversations and Archives Curator, Cathlin Macaulay, along with Ella Leith and Chris Wright, will be participating in the panel discussion ‘What do we mean by oral tradition?’ hosted by Professor Gary West.

Our photographic and film collections are also set to feature. There will be with a film of Storytelling with BSL translations of audio recordings from the late Stanley Robertson, Traveller, storyteller, balladeer and piper from Aberdeen. There is also an opportunity to see a fieldwork film made in South Uist in 1970 which shows the tradition of waulking the cloth (SA1970.01). 

Stanley Robertson. Photographer: Ian Mackenzie (Reference: A163318) © SSSA

There will also be two visual displays from our Photographic Archive, featuring images from the collections of Werner Kissling (1895-1988) , Robert Atkinson (1915-1995) and SSSA photographer and curator Ian MacKenzie (1959-2009).  The presentations will be accompanied by archive recordings from The Scottish Tradition Series which have been produced in collaboration with Greentrax Recording Limited.

Waulking the Cloth (BVIII-3-7678) © SSSA

Finally, the festival will conclude with an evening concert of music, storytelling and dance from a stellar cast of performers from both sides of the Atlantic. The evening concert will be hosted by Professor Gary West, Chair in Scottish Ethnology, and features performances from musicians Julie Fowlis & Éamon Doorley; BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Ali Levack; Steve Byrne, Margaret Stewart, Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professor Margaret McAllister, acclaimed author and storyteller Ian Stephen. There will also be special transatlantic guests: singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, fiddler Alasdair Fraser and dancer and musician Nic Gareiss as well as a performance from Glasgow-based Chinese singer and storyteller Fong Liu.

School of Scottish Studies Archives Traditional Artist in Residence Mike Vass said, “It has been a privilege curating this online event – many of the artists have a long association with the Archives and have drawn inspiration from it. Hosting this event online allows us to shine a light on the creativity that springs from this amazing resource, and on the wealth of material contained within it. We look forward to sharing this fantastic line-up, bringing together different audiences, and making connections through our shared cultural heritage.”

Dr Neill Martin, Head of Celtic & Scottish Studies said, “We conceived this event amid the bewildering early stages of lockdown, when it seemed that the music stopped and all around became still and eerily quiet. This is our response; an assertion of the power of music, song and the traditional arts of all kinds to create and sustain community in times of adversity. We hope you will join us.”

Daryl Green FSA, Head of Special Collections said, “The School of Scottish Studies Archive continues to amaze me, both in the content that was captured by pioneering ethnologists, but also in the empathy of those who were doing the collecting. Although new to the University, I’ve been exposed to pieces of the collection throughout lockdown which have moved me deeply: seeing the documentary evidence of traditional crafts long passed, hearing the conversation and stories, the multitude of music and accents and real connection to people and place all create this swell of emotion and sense of being. It is no surprise that this collection has inspired what will surely be a rich and powerful event.”

This special online event is a taster of what is to come in 2021 as we  celebrate our Platinum Jubilee. Also coinciding with the 70th anniversary, the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies will launch a new Master’s programme for traditional artists and is the first of its kind aimed at musicians, dancers and storytellers.

The School of Scottish Studies Archives – In Light begins at 2pm, on Saturday 22 and will be streamed on the Celtic & Scottish Studies YouTube channel:

and their Facebook page:

For more information about SSSA collections you can visit our website:

If you can’t make the online festivities you can still find material from SSSA on Tobar an Dualchais. There are almost 36,000 tracks from our collections which are available to listen to online:

Find out more about Celtic & Scottish Studies on their website:

: : : : : : : : : : : :


Some of the events of SSSA in Light will remain available for a short time to view on the CeltScotVideos channel on YouTube.

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Preparing the Way

This week our project archivist gives us the inside view from our Body Language Archives project, bringing us on (the project management) board, with a review of project progress and highlights how archives cataloguing projects prepare the way new research.

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The images above are a selection of some of the slides that we shared with our project board from our project progress report presentation at our virtual project management board meeting on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

At the end of our virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon this week, our project board unanimously enthused over our project progress. We thought we would share some of the highlights.

  • Scottish Gymnastics collections catalogue complete and online
  • Dunfermline College of Physical Education Old Students’ Associaiton complete, online 
  • Dunfermline College of Physical Education 90% complete
  • Dunfermline College of Physical Education, 447 student files rehoused and listed.
  • Dunfermline College of Physical Education audiovisual / film – 180 new catalogue descriptions converted from legacy electronic data-set to online catalogue
  • Margaret Morris Collection Photographs – expanded the existing data-set from 406 catalogue descriptions to 1738 descriptions, uploaded to ArchivesSpace (online catalogue)
  • Margaret Morris Collection 2534 / 3596 catalogue descriptions completed on ArchivesSpace
  • Technical infrastructure for test project website in place with draft content

All of this work means that these collections will become more accessible and open up new areas of potential research around health, well-being, movement, dance, the history of sporting apparel, the history of sport management and so much more.  All of which afford us the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of these subject areas, their interrelationships, and the human experience as a whole.

We are helped greatly in our work by some fantastic volunteers. It is always a pleasure to report positive stories to our project board about the range of work we do to support new archive professionals. This was easy for me to do, as I had the pleasure of being supported by two up and coming professionals on the Body Language project. One of whom is just about to complete an MSc Information Management and Preservation and the second is now working as a fully qualified archivist with the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh. Well done to both Emma and Elise, and a great big thank you to both of them for their wonderful work on the project.

Our project board is made up of a group of academics, and curatorial and archive professionals with research and collection care interests in movement, dance and physical education collections. Together they make sure that our project stays on track, and help us to think outside the day to day activities of the archive cataloguing work. I always enjoy meeting with our project board as they are so incredibly supportive of our work and inevitably bring something surprising and valuable to the table that we hadn’t thought of. It usually starts with “what about…..?”  A huge thank you to Professor John Ravenscroft, Dr Wendy Timmons, Dr Matt McDowell, Dr Tiffany Boyle, Rhona Rodger, and Rachel Hosker for their continued support.

Elaine MacGillivray
Project Archivist




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NEW Further Charles Lyell Papers

July was a busy month for the Sir Charles Lyell Collection, and the Centre for Research Collections.

After much planning and advice, the CRC passed inspection, and we opened again for University of Edinburgh researchers on 8 July with new ways of working, but offering access to our collections once again. This has also meant that we were able to welcome in new acquisitions whose delivery was paused during the nation’s lockdown. Which means, at long last, we are able to share the news of a very exciting addition of papers, correspondence, and rare manuscripts to the University’s Sir Charles Lyell Collection.

Rachel Hosker assists with off-loading the material in auction boxes, and moving them to be condition checked by Katherine Richardson.

This new collection includes over 900 letters to and from Sir Charles Lyell (including additional letters from Darwin, Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Murray, etc.); intimate correspondence between Lyell and his wife, Mary Horner Lyell, and his wider family; autograph manuscripts of a number of lectures delivered both in the United States and in the United Kingdom; a part of the autograph manuscript of Principles of Geology; maps commissioned for lectures and publications; and heavily annotated editions of Principles of Geology and other works marked up for later editions. This additional collection was allocated to the University of Edinburgh Library in 2020 by HM Government under the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Scheme, from the estate of the 3rd Baron Lyell.

Daryl Green, Head of Special Collections, inspects a hand-drawn geological map of Kinnordy Estate and its district from the newly acquired Sir Charles Lyell archive. A drawing of Charles Lyell is projected on a screen behind Daryl. Photo © David Cheskin

Daryl Green, Head of Special Collections, inspects a hand-drawn geological map of Kinnordy Estate and its district from the newly acquired Sir Charles Lyell archive. Photo © David Cheskin

Daryl Green, our Head of Special Collections and Deputy Director of the CRC, has had a chance to have an initial dive into this collection in order to check its inventory and gauge its quality. Here’s some initial reactions:

“Having arrived in March to my new post as Head of Special Collections, one of my first tasks was to oversee the transfer of this material from its holding location in London to the University. Lockdown prevented our best laid plans, however, and the Acceptance in Lieu material finally arrived on a warm and quiet day mid-July. Sifting through this material in an initial ‘getting to know you’ session, I was struck at how thorough the correspondence archive was. There are folder and folders of correspondence with Charles Bunbury, Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Murray and many others, but also transcripts of letters going out that were copied by one of Lyell’s sister-in-laws, Katherine Murray Lyell. Here, too, is a lifetime of correspondence between Charles and Mary Horner Lyell, from initial courting, to full blown intellectual romance, to letters later in life. 

Detail of a letter to Sir Charles Bunbury from the newly acquired Sir Charles Lyell archive. Stamped envelope, with address, black script handwriting on aged paper.

Letters from Sir Charles Lyell to his fiancée, Mary Horner, from the newly acquired Sir Charles Lyell archive. Photo © David Cheskin

As I sorted through folders I came across diagrams for how Lyell wanted his lecture theatre laid out for his tour of the States, I found hand-drawn maps and illustrations, both by Lyell and commissioned from others, including alluring diagrams, a gorgeous watercolour map of Etna, and a huge geological map of the Kinnordy Estate and its district.

Detail of a hand-drawn map of Mount Etna from the newly acquired Sir Charles Lyell archive.

 “This archive is by all accounts an amazing resource in its own regard.”

Letters upon letters between geologists, students, and admirers have all been beautifully preserved and organized by the Lyell family, and included in the archive was some of the work done by a member of the Lyell family in the 20thcentury to track down and copy correspondence, especially between Lyell and Charles Darwin, which had ended up in other collections. This archive is by all accounts an amazing resource in its own regard and, when paired with the notebooks, the further archive material, the publications and the geological samples, gives a more complete picture of how science was conducted in the 19th century than any other archive I am aware of.”

Conservation and archival description work is ongoing in order to provide public access to this collection. To support these activities and digitisation, read more here.

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New! Social Work Online

University of Edinburgh Library has recently set up a subscription with ProQuest that gives you access to almost all available ProQuest digital primary source databases until 31st December 2021. See ProQuest Access 350. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight particular databases or collections from ProQuest Access 350 that are relevant to the School of Social and Political Science. 

Social Work Online

Social Work Online is a first-of-its-kind resource that pairs recently published social work textbooks along with compelling documentaries, clinical demonstration videos, and engaging lectures that illustrate the complex and challenging realities social work students will face as practitioners. The content is structured around twelve of the most important topics in the social work curriculum, most of which are applicable worldwide. Read More

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Introduction to Leadership

This is a not one of my usual posts about Open Research, but rather a short essay written about and submitted for a Leadership course that I recently completed.

I have been in my current role as Scholarly Communications Manager since 2017. When I first began the role was very hands on, but over time the line management responsibilities have significantly increased. Initially I was the line manager for two staff, however over the last couple of years the team has grown to a total of six. I’ve never had any formal training on how to manage staff or provide leadership, and have up to now just got on with the basic mechanics of the job – performing annual development reviews, reporting sickness absences and annual leave requests. Unfortunately, this has meant that I’ve not had much time dedicated to improving the team work environment or developing the members of my team.

It was recently pointed out to me that many jobs (especially teaching, clinical medicine or emergency services) require significant training and qualifications before you can start, but with management roles you are quite often thrown in at the deep end and told to just get on with it. The University has started delivering training for leadership and management roles and I was keen to enrol on one of the many courses to learn new skills and hopefully see how management should be done.

So, at the start of the year, as part of a cohort of 14 managers and academics all from different departments and units spread out across the University, I started out on an ‘Introduction to Leadership’ course.  The course itself started in February and consisted of several monthly one day workshops spread over six months. We were able to have the first two sessions in person, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic the course had to quickly reorganise and switch to online delivery. Lots of credit is due to the trainers Agnes and Lesley who were able to act quickly and resume the course.

At the end of the course it was an expectation that attendees would deliver a Leadership Journey presentation in a format they were comfortable with – some chose a video recording, others a written document. I have chosen a public blog post to document my leadership journey over the last few months pre-and-post lockdown, focussing on some of the things I learnt during the course and how I have built them into my working practices.

Motivation Values

The Introduction to Leadership course introduced to me the idea of motivational values which I had not encountered before. Each of the participants took a Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) test which consisted of a series of behavioural questions which asked what people do when things are going well and also when they face conflict. Depending on how you answered a profile was built up which describes your own personal motivational values focussing on three end points: People (empathy), Processes (logic) and Performance (results).

Strength Deployment Inventory plot showing motivational values

I found out that my answers placed me at the intersection of People and Processes, and that under stress I would verge towards Process based behaviour. This made sense to me as in my job I try to deliver a quality service focussed primarily on people and making sure they are happy with the outcome, rather than focussing singly on results. To run the service we have to develop new processes and protocols under rapidly changing scenarios. The guidelines and criteria we develop make sure the service we run is equitable and is understandable to our staff despite arising from an extremely complex set of policies and rules imposed on us by research funders and journal publishers who are often at odds with each other.

The technique of looking at peoples motivational values has helped me better understand my team members by understanding a little of the motives that drive their behaviours. For example, someone who is Green and values analytical approaches will feel more comfortable with clear instructions within a framework, whereas someone with Blue tendencies will prefer an empathic approach. In the last few months, I have tried to tailor my team management approach by considering the personalities involved and although it is difficult to monitor and assess I personally think that the team has been functioning better despite the difficult general circumstances we have found ourselves in. I cannot take credit for individual’s performances, but it is definitely easy to manage a team full of diligent and talented people so I can at least take some credit for hiring them!

Situational Leadership

Building upon the last point the next main concept that the Leadership Course introduced and I have found really interesting/useful is the idea of Situational Leadership. The basic premise is that a leader further tailors their approach depending on the people and task in hand.

Naturally, I found that I was changing my approach when working with colleagues – for example with new team members I was being very hands-on and with experienced team members I was able to rely on them to get on with things. However, having a framework to fit my behaviour in has given me an understanding on how to improve both my own management and my co-workers skills.

I now recognise that I have been poor at delegating tasks despite people offering to help.  My resistance is not really a fear of losing power, or believing that I can do it better, but rather I have been put off somewhat by the time involved in explaining the task, and a general unwillingness to accept risk for certain high-priority’ tasks. Acknowledging this has been useful as I can now move forwards and change from an ‘Instructing’ style through ‘Mentoring’ and ‘Coaching’ to ‘Delegating’. By developing and trusting my colleague’s skills I have been able pass work on to them and carry out other tasks.

As shown in the graph below, since working from home starting in March 2020 we have seen the volume of team calls double when compared to previous years. It seems many of our academic colleagues (those without children anyway!) are using the time away from the workplace to write up papers, or carry our peer review to get through the backlog of submitted papers. More journal articles being accepted for publication means more work for my team as they deal with open access enquiries from academics.

Number of calls per month received by the Scholarly Communications Team has significantly increased during COVID-19 lockdown

During lockdown I have been working reduced hours to look after and teach my school-age children. With the increased workload I found myself working late into the evening to keep on top of things, but I soon realised that I could not keep up my old hands-on working behaviour in the long term. I would not have survived the last few months if I had not been able to fully delegate work tasks to my colleagues and I am extremely grateful that I have been supported by a wonderful team that has stepped up and responded to the challenges of working from home.

The leadership course has given me a set of tools and a framework with waypoints that I can use to inform my decision making. More importantly it has provided a support network of fellow managers who were part of this cohort.

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Spotlight on ProQuest History Vault

Interested in American history? Then ProQuest History Vault may be exactly what you are looking for.

History Vault gives you access to millions of pages of cross-searchable, full-text/full-image documents including articles, correspondence, government records, photographs, scrapbooks, financial records, diaries and more, documenting the most widely studied topics in 18th- through 20th-century American history. It’s a fantastic resource for those teaching, learning or researching in the areas of history, African American studies, women’s studies, political science, social sciences, sociology, and international studies.

You can access ProQuest History Vault via the Databases A-Z list or Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide. Read More

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