Royal Holloway, University of London Library catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to announce that the holdings of the Royal Holloway, University of London Library have been added to Copac.

Photograph of the Library at Royal Holloway, University of London

Founder’s Library at Royal Holloway, University of London. Image copyright: Royal Holloway, University of London.

Royal Holloway College, originally a women-only college, was founded by the Victorian entrepreneur, Thomas Holloway in 1879. The campus is set in 135 acres of woodland near Windsor, and is acknowledged as one of the country’s most appealing campuses, offering a close-knit community based location with close proximity to London.

Royal Holloway Library Services occupies two sites on campus – the Bedford Library, opened by The Princess Royal in 1993, houses resources for Science, Social Sciences and History, while the Founder’s Library, located within the magnificent Founder’s Building, modelled on the Chateau de Chambord and opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, houses Languages, Literatures, Cinema, Theatre, Fine Arts and Music. Currently under construction is a new Library and Student Services building due to open in 2017. This will dramatically expand our library and study space, provide flexible learning and public spaces and a dedicated study area for PhD students. It will also provide a purpose-built storage space for Royal Holloway’s art and archives, as well as the Library’s Special Collections.

The Library’s book collections extend to some 600,000 volumes. There are subscriptions to more than 17,000 e-journals; more than 800,000 items are loaned each year and there is an annual footfall of about 700,000.

To browse, or limit your search to the Royal Holloway, University of London Library, go to the main tab on copac.jisc.ac.uk and choose ‘Royal Holloway, University of London Library’ from the list of libraries.

National Aerospace Library catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to announce that the holdings of the National Aerospace Library have been added to Copac.

National Aerospace Library

National Aerospace Library. Image copyright: National Aerospace Library

The National Aerospace Library (NAL) in Farnborough is one of the most prestigious aerospace and aeronautical library collections in the world. Collections contain contemporary and historical material exploring man’s dream to conquer flight including:

  • Aircraft engineering
  • Military flight, including twentieth century warfare
  • Civil aviation
  • General works on aircraft, ballooning and spaceflight
  • The wider aeronautics world, including aviation law, economics, aerospace medicine, space, management and model making

More than 130 current journals are available with over 35,000 articles indexed on the online catalogue.

The NAL cares for the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Library and Archives. Since the Society’s foundation in 1866, the RAeS Library has incorporated many other personal and corporate collections and, in so doing, has preserved them for the nation, with their earliest book dating back to 1515.

Special collections include: balloons, airships, air charts, aircraft models and aviation philately. Archives include the records of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Society of Society of British Aircraft Constructors and the personal collections of Sir George Cayley, C. G. Grey and the design drawings of F.S. Barnwell.

Photographs and images include: over 100,000 photographs, lithographs and other images. There are over 40,000 technical reports from around the world, including those published by the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), NASA and ARC. Also, material on aircraft production including company and staff journals and company brochures.

To browse, or limit your search to the National Aerospace Library, go to the main tab on copac.jisc.ac.uk and choose ‘National Aerospace Library’ from the list of libraries.

British Library 19th Century texts added to Copac

We’re pleased to announce that records have been added to Copac for 65,000 British Library 19th Century texts (1789-1914).

The records are from Historical Texts, a Jisc sister service, who became Copac contributors earlier this year (more information at http://blog.copac.ac.uk/2016/02/29/latest-contributor-to-copac-historical-texts-service/).

The service is available via subscription to UK HE and FE institutions and Research Councils who are full members of Jisc Collections. Historical Texts is also available to everyone at the British Library Reading Rooms in London.*

To browse, or limit your search to Historical Texts, go to the main tab on copac.jisc.ac.uk and choose ‘Historical Texts’ from the list of libraries. When the ‘Internet Resources’ link in a Copac record is selected, you will be prompted to login with your institutional login.

Further additions to Copac from Historical Texts are planned for the future.

*For more information see: http://historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/about.

 

The Library of the Society of Friends

The Library of the Society of Friends is the library and archive of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (Quakers). It’s responsible for the care and use of one of the largest collections in the world relating to Quaker history, thought and activities.

Its origins lie in the religious controversies of the 17th century. In 1673 a committee of Friends (the Second Day’s Morning Meeting) decided to keep two copies of every book written by Friends, and one of every book written against them. This gathering together of books and pamphlets is the foundation of the Library.

Photo of Norman Penney in Eastern dress

Norman Penney in Eastern dress – new librarian dress code?

When the first librarian (Norman Penney) was appointed in 1901 the books were stored in the Society’s then central offices in Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, along with the archives from the 17th century on – records of Yearly Meeting (the annual Quaker assembly), Meeting for Sufferings (the national executive body) and numerous committees. Penney was a dynamic force in starting to arrange and catalogue these burgeoning collections, which were supplemented by substantial manuscript collections formerly held in private hands.

By the time plans for the present Quaker headquarters on Euston Road were being drawn up in the 1920s, a purpose built library with strong-rooms and reading room were an integral part of the specification.

Today the Library is open to all for research, and has a varied readership of members of the Society of Friends, academic researchers, local and family historians, media researchers and others. One of its strengths (and one of the reasons it’s such a great library to work in) is the way the printed and archival collections complement each other. Users can search across both printed and archive material using the online catalogue, and, like many special libraries, the Library has developed a range of finding aids and biographical, geographic and topical subject files that draw on the different parts of the collections.

Its printed collections now include over 100,000 books, pamphlets, broadsides and other items, and around 2,000 serial titles. While the majority are Quaker publications, there are significant supporting collections, including works on Quaker history and publications in areas where Quakers have been particularly active, such as the peace and anti-slavery movements.

Photo of bound volume of tracts

Bound volume of tracts (Library of the Society of Friends, Vol. 54)

What are the highlights? While other special collections may bring out lavishly illustrated books and gorgeous bindings to show off their holdings, our books are, by and large, distinguished by their sober appearance. They may lack visual sparkle, but book historians and conservators have been known to wax lyrical about some of these more humble exemplars of 17th and 18th century book production and bindings.

This lack of ornament is in keeping with the Quaker testimony of simplicity (exemplified in plainness of dress and speech), but it doesn’t mean there are no visually striking printed items in the collections. One example is George Fox’s Battle-door for teachers & professors to learn singular & plural (1660), a defence of the early Quaker use of “plain speech” (addressing all equally as thee and thou), with section heading pages printed in the shape of a battledore (the paddle shaped alphabet learning boards that succeeded hornbooks).

Anti-slavery campaigners used the power of visual imagery to great effect, in ways that are well known. This image of a plan of a slave ship was a potent way of conveying the real horror and suffering of the trade to a wide audience (read more about this particular copy, bound together with other anti-slavery material, in this post on our Quaker Strongrooms blog). The Library also holds anti-slavery china – cups and saucers bearing the anti-slavery message.

Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck

Plymouth Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck (Plymouth : Trewman and Haydon, printers, [1789?])

The central Quaker archives held by the Library consist of minute books, correspondence, reports and other records. Among them are the Great Books of Sufferings, 44 huge manuscript volumes compiled between 1650 and 1856, recording persecution of Quakers around the country for holding illegal meetings, non-attendance at church, or refusal to pay tithes (read more about them here). These central archives reflect Quaker involvement with wider social movements, like anti-slavery, peace, temperance, war time relief and reconstruction. Take for example the extensive records of the Friends Emergency & War Victims Relief Committee: a project to catalogue and make these more accessible has recently been completed.

WWI relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot

World War I relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot, Pargary (YM/MfS/FEWVRC/PICS/8/4/4)

The Library also holds local London & Middlesex Quaker records dating back to the 17th century – a rich resource for local historians and others (including economic historians, like this PhD student who wrote about her research on the Library’s blog).

A number of other Quaker related bodies have deposited their records in the Library. One of the more substantial archives is that of the Friends Ambulance Unit (the unofficial volunteer ambulance service set up by Quakers in both World Wars to provide alternative wartime service). In preparation for the World War I centenary, the Library has made the F.A.U. 1914-1919 service cards.

Photo of Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose

Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose.

Besides official records, there are considerable collections of personal papers – letters and diaries of well-known figures like George Fox or Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer, recently featured on the £5 note), and others less well-known, such as the travelling minister Abiah Darby of Coalbrookdale (1716-1794), or James Jenkins (1753-1831), illegitimate son of a Quaker, whose Records and recollections provide a sometimes waspish commentary on contemporary Quaker affairs. While the Swarthmore Manuscripts (a substantial body of about 1,400 letters and other documents of early Friends) are considered the “jewel in the crown” for historians of 17th century Quakerism, there are also rich collections of family papers for later periods, such as the Lloyd Papers or the A. Ruth Fry papers, both spanning several centuries.

Photo of Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

The Library’s printed and archival holdings are complemented by its visual collections –  paintings, prints and drawings, and a remarkable photographic collection, including the photographic archives of Quaker relief work from the First World War onwards.

Contributing to Copac is one of the ways we’re making our collections known to wider audiences. For regular highlights, check out our own library blog and Facebook page.

Tabitha Driver
Printed Books Librarian
Library of the Society of Friends

All images copyright the Society of Friends and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World, 2016.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World. John Rylands Library exhibition, 21 January – 21 August 2016.

This fascinating exhibition, housed within the gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library in Manchester, reveals how magic, diabolical witchcraft and ghostly encounters inspired fear and curiosity on an unprecedented scale between the 15th and 18th centuries. With stunning local, European and non-Western examples from Manchester collections, the exhibition offers an exceptionally wide-ranging window onto the supernatural world. Curated by historians Jennifer Spinks and Sasha Handley from the University of Manchester, the exhibition presents rare books, prints, manuscripts and objects that illuminate the roots of our obsession with supernatural powers and reveal a world where the Devil was understood as a very real and present danger in daily life.

The exhibition draws on the collections of the John Rylands Library, the Whitworth Art Gallery and Chetham’s Library which contain many rare books, prints, manuscripts and protective amulets that provide unique perspectives on how early modern people feared, engaged with, and sometimes found pleasure in the supernatural world. The years c.1400- c.1800 coincided with major changes in European society, from scientific developments to religious conflicts to a great increase in the number of printed publications. One of the most important changes was increasing contact with other lands. Although the exhibition focuses principally on Europe, it also includes examples of how some non-Western traditions represented and tapped into powers beyond the everyday.

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).
Pseudo-Michael Scot. Franconia, Germany, late 16th century (Latin MS 105).

The Compendium was attributed to the astrologer Michael Scot, whose infamy as a supposed magician was noted even by the famous Italian poet Dante. Intriguingly, the Scot manuscript contained strange elements of Arabic artifice. What appears to be a copy of an earlier spell, transcribed into corrupted or fake Arabic, was included as a precursor to its Latin ‘translation’. This was evidently designed to lend a sense of mystery as well as credibility to the conjurations contained within the book.

Shahnama (Book of Kings).

Shahnama (Book of Kings). Abu’l Qasim Firdousi (‘Ferdowsi’) and unknown artist. Western India, mid 15th century (Persian MS 9).

The Shahnama (Book of Kings) was an epic poem that detailed Persian history from the beginning of the world to the arrival of Islam. It appeared in many manuscript editions and generated a vibrant artistic tradition. The story of Rustam’s fourth task saw the hero enter a land populated by demons and sorcerers, where he was approached by a witch in the guise of a beautiful young woman. Realising her true nature when she recoiled at hearing the name of God, Rustam ordered her to ‘speak and show thy proper favour’. Returning to her hideous, wrinkled appearance, she was quickly put to the sword.

 

 

The Art of Dying was designed to help people achieve a good death. Images of poor deathbed performances (listed as faithlessness, despair, impatience, vainglory and avarice) were contrasted with those showing how the dying person should behave (with faith, hope, patience, humility and worldly detachment). ‘The Temptation to Avarice’ scene, for example, shows a group of demons pointing to the dying man’s possessions and loved ones, reminding him of the things he will soon leave behind.

Ars moriendi (Art of Dying)


Ars moriendi (Art of Dying) Unknown author and artist. Strasbourg, France, c. 1475 (Blockbook collection 10123).

For further details and an online copy of the exhibition booklet, written by Jennifer Spinks, Sasha Handley and Postdoctoral Research Associate Stephen Gordon, see: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/whats-on/exhibitions/magic/

Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World runs from 21 January – 21 August 2016 at The John Rylands Library, Manchester.

You can also find an interview with the curators about the process of putting the exhibition together on the University of Manchester History blog (https://uomhistory.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/magic-witches-and-devils-in-the-early-modern-world-new-exhibition/)

This exhibition has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

AHRC logo

AHRC logo

Julianne Simpson
Rare Books and Maps Manager, Special Collections
University of Manchester Library

All images copyright The John Rylands Library, Manchester and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

University of Sussex catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to announce that the holdings of the University of Sussex Library have been added to Copac.

University of Sussex Library.

University of Sussex Library. Image copyright: University of Sussex

Designed by Sir Basil Spence, the University of Sussex Library has been a central feature of academic life since the campus was established as the first of a new wave of Universities in the early 1960s.

The materials in the Library reflect the wide range of the University’s teaching and research. There are over 650,000 books and journals in its main collection, as well as government publications, audio visual materials, Archives and Rare Books. The Library has a growing number of online resources and is transitioning to a digital library environment.

The library also holds a number of Special Collections at The Keep, a state-of-the-art building and centre of excellence for conservation and preservation, representing the new generation of archive buildings in the UK. It includes:

  • The papers of Rudyard Kipling
    The New Statesman Archive
  •  Bloomsbury Group
  •  Monks House Papers (Virginia Woolf).
  • The Mass Observation Archive containing the papers of the social research organisation of the 1930s and 40s and continues to collect new material in the present day.

To browse, or limit your search to the University of Sussex, go to the main tab on copac.jisc.ac.uk and choose ‘Sussex University’ from the list of libraries.

Latest contributor to Copac: Historical Texts service

We’re pleased to announce that records from Historical Texts, a Jisc sister service, have been added to Copac.

Historical Texts is a full text digital archive enabling you to cross search, view and download over 350,000 texts published in the late C15th to the long C19th from three key collections.

Image from British Library via Historical Texts

Image copyright British Library via Historical Texts

Records are included on Copac for:

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO) (1473-1700)
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) (1701-1800)

Further records will be added to Copac in the future for 65,000 British Library 19th Century texts (1789-1914).

The Historical Texts service encompasses a wealth of content ranging from the Romantic to the Victorian period and covers a wide range of subject areas including English literature, history, geography, science, social science, religion and medicine. Materials include books but also pamphlets, sermons, prayer books, sheet music, broadsides, newsbooks and much more.

The service is available via subscription to UK HE and FE institutions and Research Councils who are full members of Jisc CollectionsHistorical Texts is also available to everyone at the British Library Reading Rooms in London.*

To browse, or limit your search to Historical Texts, go to the main tab on copac.jisc.ac.uk and choose ‘Historical Texts’ from the list of libraries.  When the ‘Internet Resources’ link in a Copac record is selected, you will be prompted to login with your institutional login.

*For more information see: http://historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/about.

From medical handbooks to the Mediterranean: Special Collections at King’s College London

Katie Sambrook, Head of Special Collections at King’s College London, tells us about the collections in her charge and how she and her colleagues are promoting them.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

The Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s College London holds over 180,000 items – mainly printed books, periodicals and pamphlets, but also maps, manuscripts and photographs – in a landmark Victorian building in central London. The grade 2* listed edifice, which also houses the Maughan Library (the university’s largest library), served until the 1990s as the Public Record Office, the home of the nation’s documentary heritage, so its current purpose, as a repository of special collections of international importance, is very much in keeping with that for which it was originally constructed.

Photograph of Maughan Library, Chancery Lane (KCL), taken in winter.

Maughan Library Chancery Lane taken in winter. Part of the Strand Campus of King’s College London.

Our special collections

For me perhaps the most attractive aspect of our special collections, and one which helps to make my role so rewarding, is their wide variety. Ranging in date from the 15th century to the present day and spanning the humanities, social sciences and sciences, our special collections provide endless scope for research, teaching and public engagement.

Image of Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head.

Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head. Manchester Evening Chronicle household medical adviser, 1900.

Medicine is a notable strength; King’s has a long and rich tradition in this area, incorporating not only the foundation of King’s College Hospital in 1840 but the merger in the 1990s with two far older institutions of medical education and training, St Thomas’s Hospital (originally a medieval foundation) and Guy’s Hospital, founded in 1721.  All these institutions assembled large and important collections of rare and historical medical books, supplemented in psychiatry by that of another institution with which King’s merged in the 1990s, the Institute of Psychiatry.  In total we hold over 20,000 rare books and journals in the medical sciences, one of the most significant such collections in a UK university library.  To help promote their riches, we are a partner in the Jisc / Wellcome Trust-funded digitisation project, the UK Medical Heritage Library, which aims to digitise 15 million pages of 19th and early 20th century medical books. And we’re adding to our medical collections too, seeking out items that fill gaps in our holdings, like this attractively bound household medical handbook, for example.

Image of a rock warbler, 1822.

A rock warbler hunting an insect as depicted in John William Lewin’s ‘A natural history of the birds of New South Wales’, London, 1822.

Perhaps the most important of all our special collections – and it’s certainly the largest –is the FCO Historical Collection, the former library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which was transferred to King’s in 2007. Spanning 500 years of history and every corner of the world, this magnificent collection encompasses such themes as travel and exploration, war, peace and diplomacy, trade and transport, the growth and abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the rise, rule and decline of empires and the creation of the Commonwealth.  Many items in the collection are rare; some are unrecorded elsewhere. Items range from sumptuously produced works, such as this early study of the bird life of New South Wales, to cheaply produced but no less interesting pamphlets and magazines, such as the rare Falkland Islands magazine, which documents daily life on the islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Image of Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, 1901.

Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, no. 6, Vol. XIII, October 1901.

Promoting our special collections

I see the active promotion of our special collections, both within King’s and to the wider world, as an essential part of our role.  Our central London location within a historic building that is a destination in its own right makes public exhibitions an obvious promotional tool for us, and it’s one in which we consequently invest a good deal of effort. We run three public exhibitions a year; they are free to visit and attract visitors from all around the world.  Our current exhibition is called West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967, a theme we chose because it plays to the strengths of the FCO Historical Collection, has a compelling narrative with topical resonance and, not least, gives us scope to display some visually attractive and intriguing items.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950's.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950’s, including a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart checking documents at the frontier with Spain and Spanish workmen returning home after a day’s work. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1958.

The exhibition runs until 7 May and you will find full details on our exhibitions web page.

Not everyone can visit our exhibitions, of course, so we also ensure that we make as many of our past exhibitions as we can available in online form. In the last year we’ve explored such topics as the Battle of Waterloo and the fight against infectious disease in both physical and digital form.

One of the characteristics of special collections – their capacity to foster cross-disciplinary research – is closely aligned to King’s College London’s strength in imaginative interdisciplinarity in research and teaching, and this ties in with another way in which we seek to promote use of our collections, by way of seminars with our academic colleagues, introducing them and their students to the vast array of material available to them. Most of the seminars we run are for King’s students, of course – this term we’re running seminars for English Literature and Medicine undergraduates, to give just two examples – but we can also provide this service for staff and students of other institutions; we’ve developed a successful pair of seminars for the MA in African Studies course at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Some seminars are introductory in nature, while others are more in-depth, requiring students to undertake a sustained piece of work on an item or items in our special collections.  I’m interested in developing creative partnerships with academic colleagues and departments further and would like to explore how we can best foster fuller exploitation of the potential of our special collections to generate new research, perhaps by fellowships, perhaps by internships or perhaps by some other means – we have plenty of ideas and this is an area we’re hoping to focus on in the next few years.

www.kcl.ac.uk/specialcollections

Katie Sambrook
Head of Special Collections
Library Services
King’s College London

All images copyright the King’s College London Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Celebration of Christmas

Image from "The Coming of Father Christmas", 1894

Nativity image from “The Coming of Father Christmas”, 1894. British Library images.

For Christmas, we’re highlighting a selection of seasonal books, music and other material from some of our contributing libraries.

Carols and Music

In amongst the many works of Christmas Carols on Copac I’ve picked out a few that particularly appealed.

Chetham’s Library and the National Library of Scotland hold a song sheet entitled ‘The twelve good joys of Mary: a carol, for the twelve days of Christmas’ (also known by the first line ‘First good joy that Mary had’). This is believed to have been printed by George Angus (1783-1829), who was active in Newcastle between 1813 and 1825:

Records on Copac

The National Trust Libraries hold the book ‘Choice carols for Christmas holydays’. Changing tastes are reflected within this book that contains some carols still familiar today but others rather less so. Published in England in c.1800, songs include: ‘God rest you merry gentlemen’, ‘In friendly love and unity’, ‘Upon the 25th. of December’ and ‘When bloody Herod reigned king’:

Records on Copac

The Royal Academy of Music’s collection includes ‘Rumanian folk music. Vol.4 Carols and Christmas music (Colinde)’ by Bela Bartok, published in The Hague in 1975. This volume was formerly owned by the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999):

Record on Copac

Children’s Books

First published in 1785 is the wonderfully named ‘Christmas tales: for the amusement and instruction of young ladies and gentlemen in winter evenings’ by Solomon Sobersides. Copies printed and sold by J. Marshall and Co. “… ordered all the booksellers, both in town and country, to make a present of it to good girls and boys, they paying six-pence only to defray the expences of binding”.

Libraries holding this book include Cambridge University (Special Collections), V & A National Art Library and York University:

Records on Copac

Image of reindeer pulling children in sledges

Image: Reindeer pulling children in sledges (1803). Wellcome Library, London. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

‘The home of Santa Claus : a story of Leslie Gordon’s visit to Father Christmas, and of the strange sights he beheld in the town of toys’ by George A. Best was published in 1900 and illustrated from photographs by Arthur Ullyett. Holding libraries include Oxford University and Liverpool University:

Records on Copac

Published around 1780-1800, ‘Mirth without mischief’, contains the English Folk song ‘The twelve days of Christmas’. It also includes the intriguing sounding ‘play of the gaping-wide-mouthed-wadling frog’. Libraries holding this illustrated children’s book include the British Library, Edinburgh University and Leeds University:

Records on Copac

Classic Christmas stories

Photo of a Christmas tree made of books

Image ‘Bibliojela’ (a Christmas tree made of books) by ToopaGia.

A Christmas Carol

Published in to critical acclaim in 1843 as ‘A Christmas carol: In prose. Being a ghost story of Christmas’, we follow the transformation of Scrooge’s character through his chilling encounters with the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Libraries holding the first edition of this well-loved story by Charles Dickens include City of London, Guildhall Library and University of London, Senate House Libraries:

Records on Copac

The Night Before Christmas

This magical poem was first published c.1870 as ‘Santa Claus: or, The night before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore in New York. Also known as ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, it inspired many Christmas traditions and popular culture An early edition is held by Trinity College Dublin Library:

Record on Copac

***Happy Christmas from the Copac team!***

Middle East collections at the University of Exeter

Afzal Hasan, Subject Specialist Librarian for Arabic and Islamic Studies
at the University of Exeter, explains his role and describes their Middle East collections.

I look after the Middle East, Politics and Security Studies Collections at the University of Exeter. My official role is Academic Support Consultant – or Subject Librarian. This is a fairly specialist role given the languages used: Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Turkish as well as the familiar western languages. I’ve been doing this since 2010, employed initially as the Mid-East Librarian – previously having volunteered at the Bodleian, and having worked at British Councils in the Middle East as a teacher.

Exeter is a major centre in the UK for Arabic & Islamic Studies with Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies [IAIS] and related Area Studies eg Kurdish Studies.

Photo of Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) Building

Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) Building

Besides a growing and comprehensive modern collection on the Middle East especially given the world of today, I will mention a collection which retains uniqueness. At first IAIS contained the nationally recognised Arab World Documentation Unit [AWDU] but now this has relocated to the Old Library. On the collections in AWDU I wrote the following description on our webpages:

The Arab World Documentation Unit – AWDU – located [now] in the Research Commons Old Library provides unique collections, totalling over 100,000 items on Arab Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, United Arab Emirates as well as the wider Arab world including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. AWDU collects mainly documentary reference material such as statistical data, country reports, official publications, political opposition newsletters and Pan-Arab literature. The Unit holds substantial archival, historical and sociological material from the mid-18th century onwards, such as the Bombay Diaries (held in Special Collections – 16,000 selected photocopied pages from 1778 to 1820) which were originally the ledgers of the Secret & Political Department in Bombay, contents guide is here, as well as microfilms from British, American, Indian, French and Portuguese government archives and around 500 volumes of reproduced documents from the British Public Records Office published by Archive Editions. There are also important collections of private papers and diaries such as the valuable Uri Davis collection – containing 2600 volumes of books, 600 pamphlets and 400 volumes/boxes of periodicals mainly dealing with the Arab-Israeli Conflict, as well as microfiche holdings of documents on Palestine during the Mandate period and after 1948.

Photo of Sir William Luce

Sir William Luce

The emphasis on the Mid East gulf you’ll note is a particular strength. The collection of private and personal papers include those of Sir Charles Belgrave (1894-1969), Advisor to the Rulers of Bahrain, 1926-57. Sir William Luce (1907-77), British Governor of Aden, 1956-60; Political Resident in the Gulf, 1961-6; British Special Representative for Gulf Affairs (in charge of Britain’s withdrawal from the Gulf), 1966-72.

The main Library – the Forum Library contains the modern bulk of Middle East material as well as Politics, and Security Studies.

Image of Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon - Cover

Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon, Vol I – Cover

Being the Arabist that I am, I should say my favourite item in all of the collections must be Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon – a work of 30 years’ superlative scholarship. It’s been my constant companion since my undergraduate days. The Islamic Texts Society brought out a superb two volume edition in 1984.

For me, what’s really exciting is the University of Exeter’s Digital First Strategy, the Open Access Movement, the events and dynamics taking place in the world, internationalisation strategy, and how the Library continues to play its part.

Afzal Hasan MCLIP
Librarian: Arabic | Politics | Security Studies
University of Exeter

Explore Copac records for Arabic language materials at the University of Exeter Library.

All images copyright the University of Exeter Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.