Getting to know the Copac libraries

As part of the work we’ve been doing on the future of the Challenge Fund (watch this space!), I’ve been talking to some of the Challenge Fund libraries about their experiences with Copac, and the benefits they’ve felt from being part of the Copac community.

This has been a very welcome opportunity for me to actually have a chat to

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

some of the librarians. As with many people now, most of our communicating is done by email, which tends to be quite impersonal and business-focussed. Having the chance to chat to people on the phone makes for a more personal connection, and you can get a different sense of the person you’re dealing with.

Although I talked to most people by phone, we did manage a mini-Copac field-trip to Chetham’s Library, where my colleage Lisa Jeskins and I were given a tour and some fantastic coffee (both of which we enjoyed very much) followed by a very interesting discussion about a number of issues, including what kind of impact being part of Copac has had for Chetham’s library. Conversations with libraries have all started from the same list of questions, and then digressed in various directions. It has been very interesting to see the emphasis on different areas from different libraries: we’ve talked about subjects ranging from the quality of catalogue records and the importance of in-depth cataloguing; to specifics of the Copac interface; and potential future mash-ups.

With Chetham’s, we arrived at a discussion about mutual promotions/marketing. This has been a theme I have been discussing with all of the libraries, as we are reviewing our promotions strategy, and looking for new ways to promote Copac and our contributors. We have been discussing a number of possibilities, including that of having subject foci on the website – something along the lines of the Archives Hub’s Collection of the Month.

All of the libraries I’ve spoken to have expressed interest in/approval of/willingness to co-operate with this, and the staff at Chetham’s were particularly enthusiastic. They offered to photograph anything in the library we liked the look of, to give us some magnificent images to use. One of the possibilities that arose from this discussion was that of having links to digital images of items from the Copac record, and/or thumbnails of the item on the results screen, in the same manner as the Nielsen BookData cover images. This may have to wait until the new database (see this post of Ashley’s for what else the new database might hold ), but it’s a feature that we are very enthusiastic about pursuing with our contributors.

There will be more posts coming up about the conversations we’ve been having with the Copac libraries and the issues that have arisen from them. Sign up to our feed at to keep up-to-date.
If you’re a Copac library that we haven’t spoken to yet, or would like to talk to us about anything, get in touch in the comments, or email We’re always glad to hear from you.

Bored of the same old books?

from Chetham Library

Bored with the same old books? Not now Chetham's catalogue is going into Copac...

We’re not sure what this fellow is reading, but we agree that the remedy is surely to be found in Copac 😉 Thanks to the inclusion of libraries like Chetham’s (the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, no less) our users are going to be able to discover some fascinating and rare materials, many of them unique to the UK. The Challenge Fund has aided us in bringing in catalogues from fifteen such libraries (the Tate Gallery, Lambeth Palace, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, to name but a few).

This is a long tail made up of not a few long titles. We particularly like this one from Chetham:

Felix Folio: the hawkers and street dealers of the north of England manufacturing districts; including quack doctors, cheap Johns, book-sellers by hand, bookstall-keepers, watch-sellers, needle-dodgers, “land sharks,” alias “turnpike sailors,” alias “duffers,” nut-sellers, bird-sellers, wild-fowl dealers, “dollopers,” flying stationers, street ballad sellers, cheese hawkers, cum multis aliis. Being some account of their dealings, dodgings, and doings, by Felix Folio [pseud. of John Page]

(and you can even buy a facsimile)

p.s. anyone know what a ‘dolloper’ is ?

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew catalogue loaded

We have loaded the catalogue of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Library and Archives at Kew hold one of the largest collections in the world of printed and original material relating to botany. The Library is the national collection for botanical literature and is international in its coverage In addition to the core collection on botany the collection also covers mycology and economic botany. The Library’s particular strengths lie in material on the non-temperate areas of the world. The catalogue includes details of materials held at both Kew and Wakehurst Place.
The catalogue has been added as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.

Tate Library (Tate Britain) records loaded

The complete catalogue of the Tate Library (Tate Britain) has now been loaded on Copac. The library covers British art since 1500 and international art since 1900. The library holds over 40, 000 books, 140,000 exhibition catalogues and many rare items in its special collections.The collections’ strengths are modern and contemporary art.The collections focus on fine art in the Western tradition although coverage is being extended to other regions.

The records have been added as part of the Challenge Fund

Image of Tate Britain by xrrr, made available under a Creative Commons licence

New libraries to be added to Copac

Eight new library catalogues are to be added to Copac giving researchers access to more fascinating and valuable resources.

The collections to be added are:

Five of the libraries are being added as part of the Challenge Fund, an initiative which aims to improve access to UK library holdings for the benefit of all researchers. The initiative is funded by CURL, the Research Information Network and the British Library.

The libraries will be added from Summer 2008, following on from the first 12 libraries added as part of the Challenge Fund.

For more details of the collections to be added see Forthcoming Libraries

Institute of Education’s records added

Records from the Institute of Education’s online catalogue have been added to Copac.

The Institute of Education has the “largest collection in Europe of learned books and periodicals on educational studies”. The library covers all aspects of education both in the UK and internationally. It also covers education-related topics such as psychology, philosophy, sociology and linguistics. The library has 22 special collections (although not all are available on Copac) which are mainly historical but some, such as the Official Publications collection, contain current materials.

The records have been loaded as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.

Photo by stevecadman

University of Essex’s Latin American collection added to Copac

Records for Latin American materials at the University of Essex have been added
to Copac. Copac already contains records for the REES (Russian and East European Studies) collection.

The Latin American collection contains materials from and about all countries of Latin America, the greatest number of records covering Argentina, Brazil and Mexico whilst the Uruguayan and Chilean holdings are among the most extensive in the UK. The principal languages are Spanish and Portuguese. The subjects reflect the Latin American teaching a research strengths within the university which cover most of the humanities and social sciences: art history, economic and social history, history, language, literature and politics.

It contains a significant collection of reference works: bibliographies, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and atlases. Minor specialities have been developed in:

  • Latin American cinema
  • Brazilian chapbooks (literatura de cordel)
  • Mexican codices in facsimile

University of Essex’s Latin American records have been added as part of the Challenge Fund.

Photo of the University library by access.denied: