Barn Owl from A natural history of birds by Eleazar Albin, the first English book on birds with colour illustrations. The plates are all hand coloured
Date 1738. Publisher: London. Printed for W. Innys & R. Manby. STRONG ROOM E QUARTO 920 A5/2
Felicitations and Best Wishes over the festive period from UCL Library Services.
We look forward to seeing everyone in the New Year.
Providing a first-class digital library for UCL is a strategic priority for Library Services, and staff and students will have noticed a steady stream of new titles and services becoming available over the past two years. These are aimed both at supporting current research and at providing a better service for students. It was particularly pleasing to see in the Student Barometer Survey 2012 results that satisfaction with UCL’s Online Library stands at 92.8%, placing UCL second in the Russell Group and first in London.
The breadth and depth of the collections has always been of primary importance to UCL Library Services and they remain at the heart of the Library Services Strategy. Although the detail of format and access arrangements might have changed with the revolution in digital publishing, this has simply thrown up new challenges which need to be overcome to allow UCL to continue to produce world-class research and teaching. The major challenge has been that of cost, as more and more high-quality material has become available at an increasing pace and at sometimes alarming prices. Alongside that UCL’s research is constantly moving into new areas, both in terms of new disciplines and cross-disciplinary areas such as the Grand Challenges, creating demand for new publications alongside established titles.
The process of improving UCL’s Digital Library was initially a gradual one, but two years ago Library Services decided that a more radical move was necessary to create a digital collection which could match any research library in the world. Gaps were evident in subject coverage and to that end a great deal of staff time and effort went into preparing a costed case for funding new subscriptions to electronic journals, datasets and backfiles of core research material. The case was strong, and UCL decided to invest in a three year funding programme to take the collection to a higher level.
The intention has been to enhance the range of titles across all areas of UCL’s academic activity. Particular efforts have been made to identify subject areas which do not have a single departmental home but instead where interest is scattered across UCL. One example is business information, where UCL’s holdings were traditionally not strong and costs are high. Several of the most important sources are now readily available to UCL staff and students. In the humanities there has been a focus on providing access to digitised collections of historic archives and primary sources. UCL’s strengths in biomedicine have been reflected in a range of new titles across UCL’s specialisms. To support teaching, new image banks have been made available, providing access for the first time to extensive multimedia content. Across all subjects digitised back runs of journals have been acquired, providing access from the desktop to titles previously only available on paper.
This work has been carried out in close consultation with academic colleagues, and it has been the strength of the academic cases supporting each title which has made the process so successful and so well targeted. Although this three year programme is now coming to an end it is essential that the consultation process continues, and all staff and students are strongly encouraged to continue submitting information about new resources to their Subject or Site Librarian. That is the only way that UCL’s greatly improved Digital Library can continue to support teaching, learning and research at UCL at the highest level.
This Autumn, Library Services completed the launch of Explore, the one-stop access point to print and electronic library resources. Explore can be used to find journals, books, full-text articles, archive material and much more. From reading list items to information for a research project, Explore is the starting point, and it also provides instant access to any full-text to which UCL subscribes.
A key benefit of the Explore service is rapid access for UCL members and visitors at 80 dedicated computers across all the library sites. These replace the former Library Catalogue search terminals, as Explore provides catalogue searching as one of its tools, complemented by searching UCL’s other collections (archives, open access publications and digitised materials) alongside a global database of millions of electronic journal articles.
Explore can of course be used not only in our libraries, but online from anywhere, with access to features such as store requests, reservations, renewals, and off-site login to electronic resources. To help navigate the extremely large amount of material within Explore, a wide range of tools are provided for refining searches, exploring specific collections, collecting items of interest, and viewing recommendations of related materials.
For help using Explore or for more information, view the built-in ‘Help’ pages or ask at any staffed Library service point. We continue to develop and improve the service and welcome comments using the link to the feedback form at the bottom of every page of Explore.
UCL Special Collections is currently involved in a digitisation project funded by the Wellcome Trust to allow free, online access to archive collections through a purpose-built digital library: the Wellcome Digital Library (WDL). The pilot phase of the project will focus on collections relating to the theme of ‘Modern Genetics and its Foundations’, and we are one of five partner institutions contributing material. With the help of an additional grant from the Wellcome’s ‘Research Resources in Medical History’ funding stream we are cataloguing the selected collections and conserving the material as well as creating digital images.
The collections contributed by UCL are the papers of JBS Haldane and the papers of LS Penrose.
Lionel Sharples Penrose
Lionel Sharples Penrose was appointed to the Galton Chair of Eugenics at UCL in 1945 and successfully lobbied to have the post renamed as the Galton Chair of Human Genetics in 1963. He carried out pioneering research on mental illness and genetic disorders and is best known for his work on the causes of Down’s syndrome and the treatment of Phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic disease which, if left untreated, can result in problems with physical and mental development. His archive contains hundreds of case notes on patients, including hand-, finger-, and foot-prints of those with genetic disorders. This collection is currently being fully catalogued and digitised.
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane became Professor of Genetics at UCL in 1933 and Professor of Biometry in 1937, a post he held for the next twenty years. His particular research interests were population genetics and heredity; he was the “…first to discover linkage in mammals, to map a human chromosome, and (with Penrose) to measure the mutation rate of a human gene.” (From unpublished autobiographical notes found in the Haldane collection, Ref. HALDANE/2/1/8)
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane
The Haldane collection has now been completely catalogued and scanned, and is in the process of being ingested into the WDL. In the meantime, some items from the archive appear below.
At the outbreak of WWII UCL was evacuated and its staff and students dispersed. Haldane initially refused to leave UCL on the grounds that no provision had been made for his department to continue its work on genetic research elsewhere. However he was forced to do so when the heating was turned off and he and a small team of workers moved to Rothamsted Experimental Station. Here he continued to teach and give lectures to a range of audiences, as can be seen in the following exchange of letters:
“…in the course of the afternoon I shall be doing a fairly drastic experiment which may make me temporarily unconscious.”
Above: Letters between JBS Haldane and Iris Murdoch, who was president of the Oxford University Labour Club whilst an undergraduate at Somerville College, Oxford. Click each image to view in full size
Search for 'HALDANE/4/8/1/2' in Explore.
Haldane had agreed to give a lecture to the Club, but could not promise to arrive before 7:45pm as he would be working in a compression chamber that afternoon. Haldane and his volunteers frequently suffered decompression sickness, convulsions, fractured bones and loss of consciousness in the course of their experiments into the physiological effects of deep-sea diving and submarine escape.
Although he had a reputation for being short tempered and difficult to work with, Haldane believed firmly in sharing his knowledge and expertise. In his own words: “I consider that a scientist, if he can do so, should help to render science intelligible to ordinary people, and have done my best to popularise it.” (HALDANE/2/1/8) His archive contains hundreds of articles that he wrote for scientific and non-scientific publications and he also made numerous TV and radio appearances. Correspondence on this as well as copies of scripts can be found in the collection.
“Yours Sincerely, George Orwell, Talks Producer, BBC Indian Section”
Above: One of a number of letters dated 1942-43 between Haldane and George Orwell, then working for the BBC’s Indian Section. In this letter Orwell invited Haldane to participate in a debate on scientific research as part of the BBC radio series I'd Like it Explained. This is part of a series of correspondence between Haldane and the BBC which includes a number of scripts from other BBC radio programmes. Click image to view in full size
Search for 'HALDANE/5/8/1/14' in Explore.
“My ideas on a fee may however not meet with your approval.”
Above: Copy of a letter from Haldane agreeing to give a lecture at the John Lewis Partnership College. In lieu of a fee, however, he asks that the women workers in his lab should be given a pair of stockings each, as their long working hours meant that they did not have time to queue for rationed items. Unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of the reply so we are left to wonder whether the unusual request was granted. Click image to view in full size
Search for 'HALDANE/5/1/3/28' in Explore.
When Professor of Chemical Engineering Mark Guter died in 1972, his family, friends, and colleagues established a memorial fund which was used to endow a book collection bearing his name.
Born in Stepney, East London, during a Zeppelin raid in 1916, Mark Guter obtained his undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 1936, and then a PhD in Chemical Technology in 1940, both at Imperial College, London. His first industrial appointment was with ICI (1941-45), where he worked on fertiliser processes. After six years with the British Oxygen Company (1946-52), he joined the construction company John Brown as Chief Chemical Engineer, tasked with creating a Process Design and Engineering Team. Remaining with the company for seventeen years, he held the post of Managing Director of CJB Projects from 1967 to 1970. In 1969, an invitation to lecture to final year Chemical Engineering students at Imperial College allowed Mark Guter to fulfil his lifetime’s ambition to teach – in particular, to convey the excitement of Process Engineering. He left CJB in 1971 to take up the post of Professor of Chemical Engineering at University College London.
Many of the topics covered in the Guter Collection now fall within the relatively new discipline of Environmental Engineering. Resource management, sustainability and pollution avoidance and mitigation are now key elements of much engineering research. They also feature strongly in other subject areas, including Geography and Town Planning. The Guter Collection was created at a time when these topics were less familiar, both to scientists and to non-scientists, although UCL was ahead of the curve having offered a Conservation MSc since 1960. As interest in these areas has developed, the Collection has proved to be a valuable cross-disciplinary resource and a lasting tribute to Professor Guter.
The Collection includes a number of notable reference works, such as the Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation and The McGraw-Hill Recycling Handbook, as well as textbooks on topical issues such as environmental change and air pollution.
Books in the Guter Collection appear in Explore with the Classmark GUTER.
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Issue 32 - Autumn term, 2012