Library Services


Issue 19

Summer 2008

Inside this issue

Top Tip!

If you are looking for Ordnance Survey maps for research or leisure then register for access to our subscribed Digimap service via Databases A-Z.

Farewell and bye for now

To all those students who leave UCL at the end of this term, UCL Library Services sends you all good wishes for your future careers. We hope that you have enjoyed your time with us. You can still keep in touch with the Library and register as a user.

For those students who will be coming back next academic session, enjoy your summer break and come back refreshed for further study.

by Paul Ayris, Director of UCL Library Services

Extra borrowing for postgraduates

Statue with books

With the quieter periods of Summer looming, and UCL's postgraduates about to shift their attention firmly to their research projects, I am pleased to announce additional support from UCL Library Services for UCL's taught and research postgraduates for the vacation.

During the summer period, from 6 June 2008 until 19 September 2008, all fully enrolled postgraduate students will be allowed to borrow a further five items. This means that taught postgraduates will be able to borrow up to 15 items and research postgraduates will be able to borrow up to 25 items at a time.

In addition, loan periods for standard loan items will be extended from 19 May 2008 to allow issue of all standard loan materials through until 29 September 2008 (or the expiry of your account, whichever is sooner). Please note, however, that standard loan items will still be available for request by other borrowers and may therefore be recalled prior to this date. Messages will be sent out one week before the shortened due date if this happens. All other types of items, including one week loans and short loans, continue to be issued as normal.

by Mat Reynolds

Exhibitions focus


UCL Library Services Exhibitions Group organises three exhibitions for the Main Library staircase display cases every academic year. Each year, there are two major exhibitions which focus on materials taken from collections across UCL Library Services. This year these were: Life study: representations of health and disease, which celebrated the rich collection of rare and interesting medical books and illustrations at UCL's Biomedicine & Health Libraries and Special Collections, together with material from the UCL Art Collections; and Charting China: early views of China through European eyes, which illustrated UCL's early concern with China and showed the extent of western fascination with the country from the 16th - 19th centuries.

The third exhibition takes place during the summer vacation and this is when we take the opportunity to showcase our own staff and all the wonderful things they have in their own, personal collections. Last year's Eclectica exhibition featured a marvellous array of items, ranging from hand painted Napoleonic war-game figures, through model Southdown buses, via mini books, pigs and old lace. This year the collections promise to be equally diverse, so please stop and have a look at the exhibition on your way up the stairs to see what the library staff get up to in their spare time!

2009 is 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years since the publication of On the origin of species by means of natural selection; UCL Library Services' next exhibition, which will be on show from September 2008, will focus on the life and work of Charles Darwin and his influence within UCL.

by Elizabeth Lawes

Summer 2008 building work

UCL Learning Laboratory - Phase I

Learning Lab, artists drawings

UCL Library Services will be undertaking further extensive refurbishment on the ground floor of the UCL Science Library (DMS Watson Building) from June to September 2008. With the generous support of the Wolfson Foundation, Library Services will create a UCL Learning Laboratory.

  • The entrance lobby will be widened and improved with a new Membership Desk and a separate Security Office.
  • The Computer Cluster will be extended with 30 new postgraduate cluster computers.
  • Wheelchair users will benefit from a new gate to access the Library.
  • From the entrance lobby, two sets of glazed double doors will invite users into the Learning Laboratory.
  • To facilitate group study, the Learning Laboratory will accommodate 11 new soft seating clusters and a group study area, enabled with RoamNet wireless network, for up to 44 users.
  • 5 self-service terminals will be installed for book issue and return, based on RFID (Radio-Frequency) technology.
  • New service desks will be installed.

Impact of construction work during Summer 2008

  • The main entrance will be closed for the duration of the works. Access will be through the deliveries door on Malet Place.
  • The Computer Cluster area (including Teaching Cluster) will be closed for 4 weeks. UCL Library Services and Information Systems will provide 20 cluster machines temporarily on the ground floor.
  • The Science Issue Desk will be relocated to the 2nd floor and the Science Enquiry Desk will move to the 1st floor for the duration of the works.

Preparatory work commences 27 May 2008 and building work commences in June 2008. The area will re-open for the start of the new academic session in September 2008.

Moving Main Library collections - June 2008

Main Library desks and chairs

A number of the UCL Main Library's collections are being moved in June 2008 and this is scheduled to take place between Monday 2 June and Monday 16 June. Cleaning of the bookstock will continue in the newly-refurbished rooms for up to 2 weeks. This is a quiet operation, which should not disturb readers.

The Donaldson Reading Room will be closed from Monday 2 June to Monday 16 June while collections are being moved.

Phase 1 - 2 June 2008 to 6 June 2008

The newly refurbished reading rooms at the end of the South Corridor will be closed off while Economics, Art and History of Art, Film Studies, Philosophy, Phonetics and Linguistics collections are moved in from the Donaldson Reading Room.

Phase 2 - 9 June 2008 to 16 June 2008

The Laws corridor on the second floor of the UCL Main Library will be closed from Tuesday 10 June to Monday 16 June while the collection is moved into the thoroughly cleaned Donaldson Reading Room.

A fetching service for books will be provided by staff from the Main Issue Desk. Two collections will be made each day at set times.

From mid-June, the Laws Corridor on the second floor (formerly the French Department Corridor) will no longer be a part of the Main Library.

Related links:

by Benjamin Meunier

Staff profile - Janet Percival

Forty years on...

"You must have seen a lot of changes", said the Princess Royal to me in 2002 when she opened the refurbished Science Library ground floor. Little did she realise that much was still the same, and that the changes were just beginning to accelerate.

Janet Percival

When I first came here in 1968 as a naive young archivist, the Library was much as libraries had been since the nineteenth century, a place to house collections, a place for quiet study, governed by cards in the catalogue and little pieces of paper all over the place signifying books that were out on loan. There was little co-ordination of functions, with many separate issue desks, and all sorts of arcane procedures ("this library uses blue tickets where others use pink"). Several people spent hours each day filing cards into the card catalogue, following a complex set of rules which I never quite mastered. Each one was individually checked by the Chief Cataloguer who certainly terrified me. Today much of the material has been recatalogued and now appears in the on-line eUCLid catalogue, while the remaining cards have been scanned to appear in digital format in the near future.

My first few years were spent finding the archive and manuscript collections, bringing them together from all over UCL, and ensuring they were moved into the newly-converted strong room and basements in the recently-acquired DMS Watson Building. Gradually rare books joined them as pre-1850 books were weeded from the open shelves. The basements proved less than ideal, as they flooded after heavy rain . I remember one particularly dramatic flood when the whole end wall became a waterfall because builders had drilled through the surface of the car park above. Clearly more suitable accommodation was needed, and our rare material eventually moved to better storage away from Gower Street, with hopes of even better conditions of storage and access in a new UCL building within the next few years.

Throughout the 1970s the Library as a whole changed comparatively little, but in the 1980s changes began to accelerate. The DMS Watson Building, once the home of a disparate group of collections, including Law which had moved from the Donaldson to the 3rd floor of the building just before my arrival at UCL, became the Science Library, with one unified Issue Desk on the ground floor for all the collections in the building. For a time it was even the Bloomsbury Science Library serving other University of London institutions close at hand. The Library started to use a computerised cataloguing system, and later a computerised library management system linking reader records and catalogue records of books. I catalogued the major collections of manuscripts, though not in an on-line catalogue, such a thing had not been fully developed for archives and manuscripts. It was as if nothing had changed - until I had children, and nothing was ever the same again.

UCL too was changing in the 1980s, with the beginning of the growth in student numbers, and of mergers with other institutions. It was during this period that I changed my role completely, and took on administration of library finances, which had become increasingly complex with the start of the mergers. In 1988 I was promoted to Sub-Librarian (there was only one of us then, now there are four), and also became responsible for library buildings. My first task was to prepare for the refurbishment of an area in the UCL Main Library to house the Jewish Studies collections. This necessitated moving around most of the collections in the Main Library to cram as many bookshelves as possible into the existing space. I succeeded, but it is not an achievement I'm proud of, and I am glad that there are currently plans to improve the space I ruined.

In the course of the 1990s the Library grew as libraries of institutions merging with UCL joined Library Services. This made juggling the Library budget even more complicated, while our buildings were showing the urgent need for more investment. I was involved with the development of a new library in the Cruciform building, and with the refurbished accommodation for the Institute of Archaeology Library. I also oversaw the project for an off-site library storage facility in a converted warehouse in Hampstead Road. Within four years this was full as material was transferred from other off-site stores, and I was involved in the planning and implementation of a new storage warehouse at Wickford in Essex, with room for over 46 kilometres of shelving. Our open-shelf collection had grown so much that if all the shelves were placed end to end, they would stretch all the way from Gower Street to Wickford; shelves were double-stacked, books were piled on floors, windowsills and tables, yet there was no prospect of additional space for the Library, so it became imperative that parts of the collections were stored off site. In addition, parts of the accommodation were sub-standard. The ground floor and mezzanine of the Science Library held thousands of volumes of journals, but anyone taller than 1m 70 had difficulty getting into the ground floor because of the low ceiling, and difficulty in breathing once they were there because of poor air circulation. Most of the journals were moved to store, an unpopular move at the time, but the space freed up was used to create a much-needed Computer Cluster for students, still the largest in UCL, and to provide a large open area temporarily housing some of the journals. This space is being developed this summer as a "Learning Laboratory" to provide accommodation more suited to student learning needs. Meanwhile Wickford Store now holds more than a million volumes, with a reliable 24-hour delivery service.

In the late 1990s I also took on responsibility for Library HR functions. This period marked the beginning of the explosion in on-line information, indeed most members of library staff gained a computer on their desk for the first time, while the growth of electronic resources meant that there was less need for the printed volumes on our already overcrowded shelves. Staff needed to learn about them, and we needed to recruit staff with new skills. A senior person in charge of staff development became an important person on my expanding team. I also completely revised our recruitment procedures, so that we could recruit the right people for newly-created posts which often covered completely new areas such as UCL Eprints. Our title had changed to "Library Services", and the staff structure for customer-facing staff was changed to give a better service to readers for more hours per week. The HERA job evaluation process, which I led, resulted in higher grading for many of our staff, and has dramatically improved our staff retention figures.

The last few years have seen great improvements in Library buildings, with several new and refurbished site libraries, and major developments in the UCL Main and Science Libraries, with more planned. My staff and I have been involved in a huge amount of planning of these projects, including participating with architects in a master plan for future library accommodation.

And now, what's new? Collections are on the move, with the Law collection destined for the Donaldson, which it left in 1968, and the Special Collections waiting to move to another building... which is really where I came in. Time to go!

by Janet Percival

Janet retires from UCL Library Services this Summer. We would all like to thank her for her services and wish her the very best in her retirement. 

Spotlight on... the library formerly known as HCS


Photographs by Lynne Williams, acting HCS/LASS Library Issue Desk Head

This summer will see some drastic changes at UCL's Human Communication Science Library. The HCS Library started life in the 1970s as the Library of the National Hospital [of Neurology]'s College of Speech Science (NHCSS), which became UCL's Department of Human Communication Science in 1995. By this time the Library had become established as the National Information Centre for Speech-language Therapy (NICeST), in recognition of its unique specialist collections.

Since 1985 the NHCSS/HCS department and Library have been located at Chandler House, a 19th century hospital building which was originally built for the Royal Free. The Library occupied the former mortuary and dissecting theatre on the 2nd floor, which, although dramatic with its high glass roof and spooky atmosphere, was hardly conducive to comfortable studying; it froze in winter and became a tropical greenhouse in summer. The rest of the building was similarly unsuitable to house the top class 21st century teaching and research establishment that the HCS department has become. Generous funding was eventually secured from the Government's Science Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF), and from UCL Estates & Facilities, to transform the grade 2 listed building for modern academic use.

Architects AEM were appointed to this task, and worked closely with members of HCS staff, including the Librarian Stevie Russell, on the plans. The Library was completely redesigned from scratch, replacing the old, makeshift arrangement with a modern, purpose built work and study space. The extent of the refurbishment - which involved gutting most of the interior of the building whilst keeping the exterior intact, and adding a new 3rd floor and roof above the library - was such that all occupants had to be evacuated for the duration. In July 2006 we relocated to cramped but adequate premises in Remax House, Alfred Place WC1, allowing the building works to commence in earnest.

Two years later the project is almost complete and we are set to return to Chandler House in June 2008. The intervening years have also seen major developments in UCL's Faculty of Life Sciences, which has undergone a substantial reorganisation. The HCS department has merged with the departments of Psychology and Phonetics & Linguistics (P & L), to form the new Division of Psychology and Language Sciences. Chandler House will now be home to the former P & L department as well as most of the former HCS department, and the role of the Library has changed accordingly. It will now collect materials in phonetics and linguistics subjects as well as speech and language therapy. Some of the books and journals from the Donaldson Reading Room in the UCL Main Library will move to the new Library at Chandler House, but the bulk of these collections will remain where they are. All new stock in these subject areas, however, will now be held at Chandler House.

New building + new role = new name

In view of the above developments, the Library will be changing its name when we move to our refurbished premises. The Human Communication Science Library closes at Remax House on the last day of summer term, Friday 6 June, and will re-open at Chandler House as the UCL Language & Speech Sciences Library on Monday 16 June. The new Library's greatly enhanced facilities include a bright and welcoming reading room, a separate room for group study, and computers for student use. The building work has also uncovered a previously hidden window with a charming view to the Chandler House courtyard below, around which a small, lounge-style area for more relaxed reading has been created.

Stevie and the Library Team look forward to welcoming staff and students to the new Language and Speech Sciences Library next session.

by Stevie Russell

Past and Present Lives


Charles Darwin and his son William - from UCL Special Collections Digital Archive

Many people enjoy reading about the lives of others for various reasons and UCL Library Services has many autobiographical and biographical works in its subject collections. For example, you will find books by and about Charles Darwin on the shelves in the UCL Science Library at HISTORY OF SCIENCE RG 3 DAR, and various general works in the UCL Main Library between REFERENCE BA and BC. However, UCL staff and students have access to some very useful online resources as well via our Databases A-Z.

For current biographical information we have works such as Who's Who and Debrett's People of Today. You'll also find Who was Who in our A-Z list but a bigger, more comprehensive work on people from the past is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. This reference work was originally created in 1882 as the Dictionary of National Biography with supplements published throughout the 20th Century and is now referred to by its current editor as the Victorian DNB. The online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography allows you to search for text words as well as individuals so it can be a key resource to look at when you want to know more about discoveries and events for example. Many of the biographies in the OxfordDNB have been rewritten by people who have studied the individuals and concentrate on their personal lives as well as their achievements but if you want to see the original versions then you just need to click on the left-hand link to DNB Archive. The Quick guide to the Oxford DNB will help you find out more about this phenomenal reference work.

Publications of the Royal Society contain a wealth of biographical information on scientists. Obituaries were first published in the Society's proceedings in 1830, and this continued until 1932 when they started to appear in a separate publication Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, which in turn became Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society in 1955, under which title it continues today. All these publications are available in the wonderful JSTOR database. Obituaries appear in the publications of other learned societies as well such as Transactions of the Royal Historical Society and Astronomy and Geophysics which is published on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

When you are looking for more recent general obituaries NexisUK is a good place to start as this database has the text of newspapers all over the world going back to the 1980s. For older obituaries then the Times Digital Archive is a good resource to delve into.

Specially commissioned biographies of literary personages can be found in the all encompassing Literature Online along with the full-text of their prose, poetry and plays.

There are a number of free websites which have a lot of biographical information but as with anything which is freely available on the Internet take care to check the authority and sources if you are going to use it in your work. Alternatively to ensure that you find quality websites in the first place you could search via Intute under Resource type(s) Biographical material.

by Debs Furness

New members

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
UCL Eastman Dental Library

We welcome into full membership of UCL Library Services two libraries from Postgraduate Institutes. The Library of the Institute of Ophthalmology at Moorfields Hospital and the Library and Information Centre at the Eastman Dental Hospital became fully part of UCL Library Services in April. As such their staff become part of the Academic Support Group and within that the Biomedical Team. We look forward to working more closely with our colleagues in these Libraries and gaining their expertise. Both Libraries are well worth a visit for their specialist collections so see below for more information.

by Elizabeth Chapman

24-hour Library opening


All our Libraries have been exceptionally busy during the day since Easter, with nearly all seats taken by early afternoon, so it has been much appreciated that this year, at the request of many of UCL's students, we trialled 24-hour opening on Mondays-Saturdays in the UCL Main and Science Libraries during the examination period. After a quiet beginning just after Easter, the numbers of people working through the night have steadily increased, with nearly 400 readers in the Libraries by the beginning of term, and 200-300 people still there at 01:30. Even at 04:30 there are often around 100 people in the libraries. The time between 05:30 and 07:30 has been the quietest, but once the exams began there were often 50-100 people taking advantage of a peaceful time in the early morning for last-minute revision.

The UCL Science Library has been busier than the UCL Main Library because it contains our largest Computer Cluster. In both Libraries users are mainly undergraduates, but include some postgraduates as well. Members of library staff who have made inspection visits during the night to see how things are going have reported a general atmosphere of quiet concentration. A survey of the views of users (and non-users) of the 24-hour option resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response from more than 200 people, and showed that many people who normally use one of our other Libraries have chosen to work overnight in the UCL Main or Science Libraries. After the trial has ended on 24 May we will be reviewing statistics and the very helpful comments from survey participants - and how to improve 24-hr opening next year.

by Janet Percival