Cataloguing Norman Dott’s neurosurgical case notes with LHSA

This project is one of two Wellcome Trust funded projects currently underway at Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA). It involves the detailed cataloguing of over 26,500 individual patient case notes relating to the pioneering Edinburgh neurosurgeon Professor Norman Dott, who established the first Department of Surgical Neurology in Scotland in Ward 20 of the Royal Infirmary and was also Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Edinburgh. This project, which has been underway since September 2012, aims to make a large body of records more accessible to researchers that would otherwise be somewhat hard to access due to barriers such as volume of material, specialised medical terminology and issues surrounding patient confidentiality. These barriers have been tackled and overcome by the development of a methodology to catalogue these valuable records to item level, which includes a high level of indexing to enable detailed searches to be carried out while ensuring the protection of confidential patient information. This project is without known precedent in UK archives and it is hoped that the cataloguing methodology will be applied to other large collections of patient case notes in the future.PR1-682


Four collections of case notes are being catalogued as part the project and span 40 years of Dott’s career between 1920 and 1960. They cover his early work in private practice, the establishment and development of the Department of Surgical Neurology at the Royal Infirmary and his work during the Second World War at the Brain Injuries Unit at Bangour General Hospital. The case notes contain a wealth a material that give a unique insight into the development of the specialism of surgical neurology in Scotland by Dott and his team and into the lives of his patients. While the project was set up and led by the Project Archivist and is being continued at present by the Project Cataloguing Archivist, it has also benefited greatly from contributions from volunteers and interns, both in terms of aiding the cataloguing process and dissemination of the methodology.

PR3.706 case file

Come along to our pop up session tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd September between 10 am and 12 pm to hear more about this innovative cataloguing project.

Cataloguing the HIV/Aids Collections held in LHSA

Our story begins in 2011, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic related records held by Lothian Health Services Archive were awarded an inscription on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register (the only LHSA collection so far to have the honour). This inscription recognised historical significance and future research potential of the record; which was again recognised by the Welcome Trust in 2012, when they awarded a cataloguing and conservation grant to preserve and make available all 12 collections listed on the inscription.The Project Conservator began in January 2014 and the Archivist came on board in May of the same year.


Some of our promotional post cards

Some of our promotional post cards


Our pop up session not only highlights the conservation and cataloguing work which has taken place so far, but also showcases the innovative ways in which the project has been managed and expanded beyond it’s original aims and objectives. The records have huge educational potential and this has been tapped into in a range of ways including an established social media programme and plans for an interactive website filled with educational resources to be used in schools across Scotland.

Throughout the project we have also been working in close collaboration with Waverley Care, an HIV/AIDS awareness group working across Edinburgh and the Lothian. It is hoped the two Organisations can work together to put the collections to good use and work to spread the messages contained within the records.

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Come down between ten and twelve on the 24th September to hear about our project and see some of the records we hold, including our unrivalled condom collection!


Next week at the Pop-up Library

Monday 22nd – Friday 26th September 2014



Exam Papers Online:
How to find past exam papers
Learn and Mobile Learn
Tuesday Lothian Health Services Archives:
Norman Dott Project
Resources Plus:
How do I get hold of the book I need?
Wednesday Lothian Health Services Archives:
HIV Project
Smart searching with Searcher
Thursday ResourceLists@Edinburgh (& off campus access to e-resources)
Collections online
Friday Exam Papers Online:
How to find past exam papers
Finding Newspaper Content online


Resources Plus

Resources Plus graphic

Or: “How do I get hold of the book I need??”

Is the book you want already out on loan? Does the Library not have the book or journal you need? What’s the Library Annexe?  If you have questions like these, read on…

Over the next few weeks, the library Helpdesk will be running a series of Pop-up Library sessions called ‘Resources Plus’. The idea of these sessions is for us to give out advice and show you how to get hold of resources that are either already out on loan, at the Annexe, or the Library doesn’t own or subscribe to. For example, this might include how to use the Interlibrary Loan system, the Request a Book service, or place a request on a book that is currently out on loan. We can also advise on using the SCONUL access scheme to visit other University libraries; and tell you all you need to know about visiting the National Library of Scotland for the first time.

And much more besides!

So if you have any questions about things you want, but can’t get – or if you just want to find out more for future reference, we’ll be on the first floor of Main Library this Tuesday (7th October), 2-4pm, and 2-4pm on Tuesday 21st October.  Pop Up and see us! 

Louise Gilchrist, Helpdesk Assistant, Main Library.


So, what have our collections to say about the referendum? More than you may think.  The Referendum is not an isolated event but sits within a historic time-line. Our collections intersect with that timeline at numerous points, directly and indirectly, and have a lot to say about the context of how we got to where we are now.

On Referendum day, join Dr Joseph Marshall (Head of Special Collections) and Grant Buttars (Deputy University Archivist) for a light-hearted look at some of these collection items.  The session runs from 14.00-16.00.

To close, a hint of what might be included.

0056393dChristopher Murray Grieve, Whalsay, Shetland Islands, June 1933

Smart Searching with Searcher

You have your reading list, so now how do you find those books, e-books and e-journal articles?

Don’t use Google, use Searcher!Searcheruse




Searcher is the Library’s discovery service – think of it like a library version of Google, searching the vast majority* of the Library’s resources at the same time, including books, e-books and  e-journal articles.

Pop up to the 1st floor of the Main Library tomorrow, ask us how to find stuff on your reading list and we’ll give you some expert tips on how to use Searcher.

Pop up Library, Wednesday 17th September 2-4pm 1st floor, Main Library

  • What is Searcher?
  • How to find stuff on your reading list
  • How to find books, e-books, ejournals and more
  • What exactly am I searching?

* A wee disclaimer. Using Searcher you can search across the majority of resources the Library subscribes to. There are a few exceptions, notably Law databases: Lexis Nexis and Westlaw. Access Lexis Nexis and Westlaw via the Databases A-Z

Angela Laurins, Library Learning Services

Centre for Research Collections – an introduction


The Centre for Research Collection is the main space for anyone wanting to access Edinburgh University’s incredibly varied heritage collections, which encompass everything from archives, rare books and manuscripts, to historical musical instruments, art works and even some of the mould from which Alexander Fleming derived penicillin!

On Tuesday the 16th September we will be holding a pop-up session where you can see some of these great treasures and talk to members of staff about how you can access the collection.

We will be showcasing a 500 year old illuminated Book of Hours, early editions of works by Shakespeare and Tolkien, as well as a “pamphlet battle” from the 1930’s.

Hobbit 2

Join us from 10am to 12pm on Tuesday 16th September to get a taste of the fantastic items held by the University!

You can also browse our online image collection, or connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.


Learning about Learn

Over 4,500 courses this year will be using the Learn environment to provide students with online readings, information and activities. The staff who look after Learn are taking this opportunity to meet students and answer your questions about how it works.

Screen shot global navigation in LearnFind out how to

  • personalise your views,
  • set up notifications,
  • find detailed help for Learn, and
  • download the Mobile Learn App for your phone or tablet.

Come along to one of our pop-up library sessions and learn more about using Learn!

Screen shot of Mobile Learn App

Tuesday 16 Sep 2-4 pm
Friday 19 Sep 10-12 am
Monday 22 Sep 2-4 pm

Art Exposed

A chance to experience rarely seen paintings and objects from the University’s Art CollectionArt Exposed

Recently we learned that the most searched for term on our brand new Art Collections website was ‘Male Nude’ – we’ve decided to go with the assumption that it’s all the Classics students taking their studies very seriously indeed…

But, in honour of all you weirdos out there, we’re giving you the chance to get up close and personal to the slightly racier side of the University’s Art Collection.

Anna and Jill will be around to talk to you about the items on view, how you can access the artworks yourselves, and also let you know about some of the brilliant volunteering opportunities available to anyone interested in curatorial or wider museum work.

So come along to the Art Collections Library Pop session between 10 and 12 tomorrow, in the 1st Floor reception of the Main Library.

Search the collection:
Follow us: @UoEArtArchives
Engage: #LibraryPop