Library Services


Issue 34

Summer 2014

Inside this issue


Brighton Beach, by J. M. W. Turner

Image: Brighton Beach from Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England by J.M.W. Turner


Summer is here at last and we've already started moving things around so that we'll be ready for the new session in September so see below for details. In the meantime read about some activities from Spring 2013 and the end of a major cataloguing project.

From Little Acorns...

On 26th April, @UCLLibraries tweeted that "Several botanically minded academics from UCL's past were born on this day". So, what a coincidence then that I was asked to speak at the EBHL (European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries) Group Conference on this date at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, to a gathering of librarians from botanical gardens and natural history museums across Europe and North America.

Given my rather undeveloped botanical knowledge, it was fortunate that the theme of the conference was: Space and Cyberspace: the challenges of managing physical and digital collections. However, when I learned of the topic I was asked to approach, my enthusiasm wavered momentarily. How on earth was I to enthral an audience with the ins and outs of offsite storage?

The answer: with pictures. UCL, typical of many institutions occupying historic buildings in expensive locations with non-existent space for expansion, has developed impressive solutions to deal with library storage. Images of the Essex warehouse acquired by UCL in 1998 to serve as its Library Store were bound to impress, along with statistics relating to its 66km of shelving.

The 4.5m tall rolling stacks weighing in at 15 tonnes apiece drew admiration, but it was the double-decker electronic stacks which generated most interest.

These stacks, almost unique in the UK with their mezzanine floor arrangement, glide effortlessly at the touch of a button. Delegates were fascinated to hear of the sophisticated sensory devices designed to avoid inadvertent crushings, but were also relieved to learn of the rigorous use made of stack-locking safety facilities.

But this is not UCL's only offsite storage solution; since 2011, UCL's Special Collections have been housed at the National Archives at Kew whilst awaiting new premises. This facility has completely different staffing, reader access and courier service arrangements from UCL's Library Store enabling interesting comparisons to be made.

Even the retrieval methods are totally different - Kew with its barcoded items, boxes and shelves, and the Library Store with its unique running-number shelfmarks and online request facility.

A whistle-stop tour of shelves stretching the equivalent of London to Cambridge was bound to focus only on the scenic elements, but it shows why UCL Library Services was specifically sought to address this area of increasing importance to library professionals.

Incidentally, if you were wondering who the "botanically minded academics" were: Thomas Baskerville, Charlton Bastian, Gordon Elliot Fogg and Felix E. Fritsch all studied the subject at one time and some went on to teach it. You'll find works in our Catalogue via Explore.

by Andrew Watson

A Capital Collection

In 1598 John Stow published his Survey of London which took almost 500 pages to describe. Over 400 years later it would be impossible to survey the city in as comprehensive a manner as he did in so few pages because of the city's enormous growth in that time but, if you were inclined to try, then the London History Collection at UCL would be a good place to begin.

The City of London was always separate from the City of Westminster and from Greater London, which wasn't even labelled as such until the end of the 19th century, although a title such as Report of the commissioners appointed to consider the proper conditions under which the amalgamation of the city and county of London can be effected reflects that Londoners themselves had difficulty in comprehending it all. The works in the collection document the spread of the city (The history of St. James's Square and the foundation of the West End of London, Arthur Irwin Dasent, 1895) ever outwards enveloping country villages like Chelsea, Kensington, Hampstead and Hackney and even further (Court rolls of Tooting Beck Manor), and the turnpike roads and eventually the railways that connected them, and the sedan chairs, the hansom cabs (Cary's new guide for ascertaining Hackney coach fares and porterage rates by John Cary, 1801), trams (horse drawn to begin with) and the trolleybuses and the underground trains that people travelled in.

London Bridge was the only bridge across the Thames until another was built at Westminster in 1749 (see Some considerations humby [sic] offered to the honourable commisioners appointed by Act of Parliament for building a stone-bridge over the River Thames by John Price in 1736) and soon to be followed by others in quick succession for railways, road traffic and pedestrians. The bridges are the reason we don't see the river swarming with watermen carrying their passengers to and fro any more but, even though they are not so busy these days, the Worshipful Company of Watermen and Lightermen (History of the origin and progress of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames by Henry Humpherus, 1874) are one of the 246 livery companies, otherwise known as gilds or guilds, that exist today. The gilds were originally associations of manufacturers and traders: the Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers and Goldsmiths are the first five livery companies in order of precedence but even musicians had their own guild. The City Companies of London and their good works, The ancient halls of the City Guilds, The charters and letters patent, granted by the Kings and Queens of England to the Clothworkers' Company and The history of the Apothecaries of London are among the many titles in the collection that document the history and development of the London guilds.

London Gates

London has always been a marketplace: Smithfield for horses and cattle since 1150 but later famous for meat, Billingsgate for fish, Farringdon for fruit and vegetables, Mark Lane for corn and Whitechapel for hay. Covent Garden was a late-comer built by the Duke of Bedford after Henry VIII's Reformation but the Report from the committee appointed to enquire into the best mode of providing sufficient accommodation for the increased trade and shipping of the Port of London,presented to Parliament in 1796, indicates the far bigger, worldwide market the City wished to exploit. The development of the docks, as documented in books and parliamentary papers, is also well represented.

There were 113 churches inside the square mile enclosed by London Wall in the medieval period of which 45 are still standing although parish registers, such as The register book of the Parish of St. Nicholas Acons, London, survive from some of the others and there was and still is St. Paul's Cathedral which is also well represented in the collection (The history of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, from its foundation extracted out of original charters, records, leiger-books, and other manuscripts by William Dugdale, 1818 and Registrum statutorum et consuetudinum ecclesiae cathedralis Sancti Pauli Londinensis, 1897, which collects together many of its historic documents). But works like Particulars and conditions of sale of a fine toned church organ, removed from St. Benet Fink Church, Threadneedle Street record the finer details of their histories. Outside the wall the City was surrounded by religious houses such as the monasteries at Bermondsey and the Charterhouse, the nunnery at St Katherine's, the Abbey at Westminster and the houses of other religious orders such as the Black Friars, the White Friars, the Grey Friars, the Templars and the Hospitallers towards the West.

The first hospitals in London were attached to these institutions, St Bartholomew's, founded by Rahere in 1123, being the first and it survives to this day as does St. Thomas's, founded by St. Thomas a Becket's sister in 1192 and named after him: works in the collection record its foundation and history through its suppression by Henry VIII, recovery by the Mercers' Company up to its move from Southwark to Lambeth early in the 19th century. The Contemporaneous account, in dialogue form, of the foundation and early history of Christ's Hospital and of Bridewell and St. Thomas' hospitals is one account of many histories of hospitals and health in the collection. The collegiate chapter of the Royal Hospital or Free Chapel of Saint Katherine near the Tower in its relation to the church in the East of London is another. But True copies of affidavits filed in the Court of King's Bench in answer to an unauthenticated pamphlet, called "A state of facts relative to Greenwich Hospital" is one of a number of works documenting the corruption that occurred in the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich. There were leper hospitals at St Giles in the Fields, at Highgate Hill and on the site where St. James's Palace stands today. Plagues and epidemics, burial grounds and cemeteries are also covered by works in the collection (The inscriptions upon the tombs, grave-stones, & in the dissenters' burial place near Bunhill Fields)as are the bills of mortality which were begun in the plague years to record every death in every parish. The City of London Corporation published the Calendar of wills proved and enrolled in the Court of Husting, London A.D. 1258-A.D. 1688 in two volumes in 1890 and that is also in the collection. It is through works such as these that names like Jeremiah Horrox, Thomas Heckelles, Mrs Thimblethorpe and Marie Cuckoe survive.

The Templars' round church passed to the Hospitallers after the order was suppressed and, when the Hospitallers were themselves suppressed, the area passed into the hands of a group of barristers (The history of the Temple, G. Pitt-Lewis, 1898). That group now comprise two of the four Inns of Court: the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple, the others being Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn (The Inns of Court calendar , Charles Shaw, 1877). Each of the Inns of Chancery was attached to one of the Inns of Court (The Inns of Court and Chancery, W. J. Loftie, 1905) and many more works in the Collection trace the history of London's legal quarter and its institutions.

There are also accounts of the spas at Bermondsey and Sadlers' Wells, the pleasure gardens at Vauxhall and Ranelagh, the London Clubs (The reform club 1836-1886 by Louis Fagan, 1887), various workhouses in London (The Saint Pancras poor : a brief record of their treatment, etc., from 1718 to 1904 by Walter E. Brown is one example) and eye witness accounts of events such as An account of the burning of the City of London, as it was publish'd by the special authority of the King and Council in the year, 1666 and A plain and succinct narrative of the late riots and disturbances in the cities of London and Westminster and borough of Southwark, an account of the Gordon Riots published in 1780, the year in which they occurred. Frostiana or a history of the River Thames in a frozen state, with an account of the late severe frost and the wonderful effects of frost, snow, ice, and cold in England and in different parts of the world, interspersed with various amusing anecdotes : to which is added The art of skating was actually printed and published on the ice on the River Thames, by G. Davis in 1814.

On the metropolitan system of drainage, and the interception of the sewage from the River Thames (1865) was written by the man who built them and removed the "Great Stink" of London, Joseph Bazalgette. People did visit the city during that period and William Kidd wrote Kidd's How to enjoy London, or How to enjoy London in all its glory for them in 1853 but, later in the same year, he wrote London and all its miseries probably for balance. Incidentally, London nebst Ausflügen nach Süd-England, Wales u. Schottland by Karl Baedeker, founder of the guide book company, appeared in 1871.

For the wider perspective the View of London and the surrounding country, taken with mathematical accuracy from an observatory purposely erected over the cross of St. Paul's Cathedral by Thomas Horner in 1822 would have been very useful but there were also maps, over a hundred of them in the London History Collection, but the most famous - the Copperplate map 1553-59, Braun and Hogenberg's map 1572, the 'Agas' map 1562, Faithorne and Newcourt's map 1658, Hollar's 'Great Map' of London 1658 and Leake's survey of the post-fire City in 1667 - are gathered together in A collection of early maps of London 1553-1667 which has an introduction by John Fisher (1952). Some olde London shop signs & street tablets of the XVI-XVII & XVIIIth centuries by F. Cornman (1891) has illustrations of signs intended for people of an earlier generation who couldn't read at all.

For those interested in the area of London local to UCL there are The history and traditions of Holborn, St. Giles, and Bloomsbury published in 1863 and A chronicle of Blemondsbury by Walter Blott in 1893: Blemondsbury was an ancient name for the area, the earliest known. Just in case you're wondering, there are no books specifically about UCL in the London History Collection as they have their own place in the College Collection.

by Bill Lehm

The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away

As Hebrew & Jewish Studies Librarian I recently gave a well-attended talk to the Society of Jewish Study, at Joseph's Bookstore in Temple Fortune, North London. 'The man who never threw anything away' was Rabbi, Zionist and polymath Moses Gaster (1856-1939), whose vast collection of personal papers is held in UCL's Special Collections. The talk was based on items from the collection, including his own reminiscences and those of one of his sons. It covered his early life in Romania (with such fascinating details as how he was 'cured' of back problems as a baby by sitting in a cow's entrails), his combative personality, his eventful tenure as spiritual leader of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community, his Zionist activities, his open-minded religious attitude, his prolific scholarship, and his incredibly active social life, where he was equally at home among the assimilated Anglo-Jewish establishment, the more recent Jewish immigrants, and in the non-Jewish world. The talk was enlivened by the presence of several members of the Gaster family, who were able to contribute their own information and anecdotes. The talk may be repeated at UCL at some point in the future so keep an eye on our website for details.  


by Vanessa Freedman

Buildings News

Cruciform Library

The Cruciform Library closes 7th June 2013 and Medical Sciences Periodicals move to Wickford. At around the same time, the Management collection is moving to the 2nd floor North Corridor, which is adjacent to Jewish Studies in the Main Library. Meanwhile, the Cruciform collections move into the current Medical Science Periodicals Reading Room which is on 2nd floor of the Science Library. These collections will be available again from 1st July and Cruciform Staff will be located in an office nearby until they move into the new Cruciform Hub in Spring 2014.

While the Cruciform Library is closed medical students will be able to use the JBS Haldane Student Hub in the Anatomy Building and a dedicated area behind the Print Room Cafe in the basement of the South Wing

Science Library

The ground floor of the Science Library is being rearranged over the Summer to create more versatile assistance space and to move the Postgraduate Cluster to the mezzanine level where appropriate soundproofing can be fitted.

Other work:

  • Maths & Physical Sciences Periodicals are moving c.26th June (estimated date) and the Reading Room is being reconfigured to provide more quiet study spaces so it will close c. 22nd July to 9th August.
  • Engineering Periodicals are moving c.24th June (estimated date) and a new social study area will be created at the entrance to the Reading Room. To separate this area from the quiet study space a new glass wall will be fitted. Works begin 24th June and should be completed by 5th July.
  • Anthropology, Geography and Librarianship Periodicals are moving c.3rd July (estimated date)
  • Repainting of entrance area and staircase.

Main Library

In June the currently locked North Corridor on 2nd floor of the Wilkins Building will be refurbished with shelves installed to accommodate the Management collection and Humanities Periodicals.

Flooring will be replaced in the Donaldson Reading Room in August and a date is yet to be confirmed for the North Junction.

For more information, go to:

by Ben Meunier