Working from home for the foreseeable future, locked-down librarians are wistfully recalling the rustling of pages, the gentle bustle of readers, and that unmistakable eau de bibliothèque. Whilst the Bodleian is working hard at ‘keeping the University reading‘, and we’re all getting used to Teams and Zoom, a VPN’s no substitute for being among the books. So, while we’re all yearning for more library in our lives, what better time to revisit our 2019 trip to the Bodleian Storage Facility — which holds more books than anyone can imagine.
Some quick facts:
The BSF opened in 2010, with an initial capacity of 8.4 million items
It sits on a 17-acre site just outside of Swindon
The BSF replaced the New Bodleian (now the Weston Library) as the main storage site
Following reconfiguration, the BSF now holds over 12 million items
A book delivery service to departmental libraries operates twice a day on weekdays
In October 2015, the BSF fulfilled its one millionth book request
The Grand Tour
Our visit began with a talk by Boyd Rodger, the (then) Logistics Manager of the BSF. Boyd gave us a run-down of the BSF and the book delivery service. The BSF differs from a library in a few important ways. Items at the BSF are organised only by size, which should scandalise any librarian. You won’t find any readers here, either, and you can’t browse the BSF’s shelves in any conventional sense — but you can order any book from the BSF to arrive the following weekday, or that afternoon if you got your order in before 10am. Every item is barcoded, so requests placed via SOLO are logged by the BSF’s computer system, which tells staff where to find books and the optimal order in which to pick them. Once gathered, requests are boxed in the processing area and loaded onto vans for delivery. At their destination libraries, deliveries are scanned in and returns loaded back onto the van. Efficiency is key, because book delivery is a vital part of Reader Services at the Bodleian Library. Boyd told us that e-books aren’t threatening to close libraries — in fact, the Bodleian is buying more physical books than ever.
So how do you store 12.5 million books — and not only books, but maps, manuscripts, microfilms, periodicals and newspapers too? By 2009, the New Bodleian (which had 11 floors of space) as well as facilities at Nuneham Courtenay and a salt mine in Cheshire (yes, really) were at capacity. Costing approximately £25 million, and involving the biggest book-move in the Bodleian’s history (6.5 million items!), the BSF needed some serious storage. As we entered the main warehouse, it became clear that they really pulled it off.
The BSF is huge. Its shelves are 11 metres high and over 70 metres long. Before the automatic lights kick in, the narrow aisles seem to converge into darkness. We wore high-visibility jackets to alert staff driving the book-retrieval vehicles to our presence. A cross between a cherry-picker and a forklift, these vehicles are configured to fit exactly between the shelves, allowing staff to retrieve an impressive average of one book per minute. Although I personally wouldn’t like to be 11 metres up in the air, Boyd assured us it’s a very safe operation!
During downtime, staff at the BSF conduct stock-takes and look for ways to consolidate and optimise the available space. For us trainees, Boyd’s most important lesson was that future-ready libraries must be logistically and spatially adaptable:
Low-use books kept in storage might suddenly become grow in demand and require relocation ‘on-site’, or vice-versa;
Renovation or building work might require temporary storage (in fact, the BSF currently holds several thousand volumes from Cambridge), so could your facility accommodate for that?
Existing space can always be reconfigured to meet new challenges and needs;
Since an off-site facility means books always moving around, could it also offer research facilities? Some libraries are considering specialised reading rooms to avoid transit for fragile or valuable material.
Perhaps most importantly, as the current crisis forces libraries everywhere to re-imagine services, the BSF’s dual role in storage and logistics brings it to the fore of the Bodleian Libraries’ updated Scan & Deliver service. Pre-lockdown, photocopies of material in storage were useful for scholars who could not visit a library; in our cautious post-lockdown world, it’s clear that the ability to provide resources remotely will be vital.
All of this is a far cry from what the librarians of yore imagined. As a trainee at the Weston Library, I was aware of the building’s history as the old stack, and of the early-century conveyor belt that famously transported books underneath Broad Street to the Old Bodleian. I wondered how books were kept before it was built, and the archives obliged…
A Brief History of Space
In 1908, the incumbent Bodley’s Librarian, E. W. B. Nicholson, made a public plea to save the Proscholium from a grim fate as a glorified bike shed. The idea is barely conceivable to us now: the Proscholium, refurbished in 2009, has become a central hub for students and tourists alike. But in Nicholson’s day the Library was short on space, and every available nook was in danger of being turned into storage. The acquisition of the entire Old Bodleian quadrangle by 1859 (which had, according to Thomas Bodley’s vision, housed examination and teaching rooms) and the Radcliffe Camera in 1860 couldn’t match the rapid growth of the collections. In 1909, work began on the Underground Bookstore beneath the Radcliffe Camera (which now houses the Gladstone Link), the Library’s first purpose-built storage solution. At the time, it was the largest bookstore of its kind in the world. The Oxford Chronicle for 29th November 1912 recorded the opening speech of Nicholson’s successor, Falconer Madan, who even at that moment was conceptualising more storage:
‘Then will be the time for the engineers to set to work burrowing on the other side of the Camera, so that another quarter of a century’s growth may be provided for by a second subterranean chamber’.
The prophetic Madan foresaw that ‘within fifty years every college and institution will have a receptacle for its stores beneath its front quadrangle’ — in recent years, St John’s, Magdalen, and the Queen’s College have all completed very similar projects. What’s also interesting about Madan’s speech is the admission that even the Bookstore represented borrowed time. Sure enough, within that quarter of a century, designs were drawn up for another new storage facility that would provide some respite for the Bodleian’s beleaguered librarians and cataloguers. Giles Gilbert Scott’s design for the New Bodleian won him the contract, but here are a few proposals from the archives that didn’t make the cut:
One particularly dreadful design would have seen the Old Bodleian’s Quadrangle roofed over and the resulting central compartment turned into stacks. Although in concept this isn’t too far removed from the New Bodleian, I’m sure we’re all glad it was rejected…!
In 1602, Thomas Bodley could not ‘rest as yet satisfied’ with the small number of books in his new Library, but predicted correctly that an influx of donations could only influence more. Centuries on, and the Bodleian has benefited from enormous donations, greatly increased buying power, and the strengthening of its historical legal deposit. It’s anticipated that the Bodleian Storage Facility will get an extension within the near future, as more and more items pour in. A modern history of the Bodleian, then, is one of exponential growth — 220,000 printed books in 1849; one million books in 1914; some 12 million today — and a far cry from the modest 2,500 tomes that once comprised Duke Humfrey’s Library.
Interesting Find: Goethe’s Hair at the Taylor Institution Library
As promised, here is a longer post all about this most unusual artefact!
If you may not know already, the Taylor Institution houses a vast array of collections on Modern Languages and Literatures. We also house some amazing special collections. Including a lock of Goethe’s hair! The hair even has its own shelfmark: MS.8º.G.26. The shelfmark is an octavo. Professor Henrike Lähnemann of the University’s Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages finds this amusing. This is because the octavo refers to the original German paper slip holding the hair. Lähnemann has said that the slip is like a secular counterpart to the authentication papers which comes with saint’s relics. In the Middle Ages, they were called cedulae, where the name of the saint was noted and then tied to the relic. This placement of slip and hair in a small envelope appears to indicate the treatment of Goethe’s hair as if it were the relic of a saint. Today, Goethe’s hair continues to fascinate visitors of the library. The hair is displayed in a frame alongside a pressed violet and a portrait of Goethe, with the German paper slip and a little, ‘English’ envelope. Why does the Taylor have such a mysterious artefact, and how did the library even attain it in the first place? All will be revealed.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was considered to be the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. He was a statesman, and from 1775 joined the court of the Duke of Weimar. Goethe held several, responsible, administrative and advisory posts in the government. Yet, political duties got in the way of his writing. Eventually, Goethe left on a two year trip to Italy (without telling anyone!) in order to come to terms with his art. Upon returning to Germany, Goethe was no longer involved in public affairs. Instead, he cultivated his passions, including his plays, poems, and novels, but also his scientific studies. Goethe’s works include Faust (Part One and Two 1808 and 1832, respectively), Roman Elegies (1795), and The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Goethe also found the time to translate works into German, write an autobiography (Poetry and Truth, 1811-33), and also edit and publish several literary reviews!
Goethe died unexpectedly of heart failure, and left behind a vast legacy. He had a profound impact on later literary movements, including Romanticism and Expressionism. Goethe’s lifetime spanned some of the most monumental disruptions in modern history, and is often referred to as the Goethezeit or Age of Goethe.
Presumably, as was common place in western cultures, when a person was gravely ill or had died, locks of hair were shorn from Goethe’s head. The locks were then distributed to close family and friends. As creepy as it may seem to us in the 21st century, a lock of hair may have been comforting to the grieving and also act as a sign of prestige. By the end of his life, Goethe was highly celebrated, and to be seen to possess a lock of hair from the head of the man himself, certainly conveyed privilege. Those of you who are Goethe fans may have noticed this was in complete contrast to how his friend Eckermann viewed removing locks from Goethe’s head. In the final passage of Conversations with Goethe, Eckermann, upon seeing Goethe in his death bed, remembered how he ‘wished for a lock of his hair; but reverence prevented me from cutting it off’.
Clearly, the sheer, celestial monument of Goethe on his death bed, did not stop everyone from taking a small keepsake. There is no record whether Goethe gave his permission for a lock of his hair to be cut. Susan Halstead is a Social Sciences Subject Librarian at the British Library. According to her, Goethe’s reaction to such a request would have depended on who made it. Ottilie von Goethe, his daughter-in-law may have received a favourable response, as she cared for the elderly Goethe until his death. Whereas, Bettina von Arnim would have received a much dustier response. After all, her friendship with Goethe was ended, due to Bettina’s ‘insolent behaviour’ towards Goethe’s wife.
It is unclear how many people were able to obtain a lock of Goethe’s hair, but one person who did was Johannes Falk. Whilst there is no mention of Falk in any accounts of Goethe’s illness in 1823 and eventual passing, chronologies of the day were compiled by scholars collating diaries, letters and conversation in the 20th century. So, it was only people who were actually there at the time, who could have known that Goethe was convalescing. At the time, Goethe was recovering from a near fatal heart illness. It is possible that the lock of hair was cut, unbeknownst to Goethe, whilst he was enjoying a restorative sleep.
Falk (1768-1826) was a German publisher and poet. Frequenting the literary circles of Schiller and Goethe, he became a close friend of Goethe. Therefore, Falk may have been one of Goethe’s visitors when he was taken ill. One inscription accompanying the hair was possibly penned by Falk himself (see Figure 2). The inscription is simply entitled Goethes Haar (Goethe’s hair) and reads as follows:
Diese Locke(n) wurden ihm 2ten März in den Tagen seiner Genesung von der Krankheit abgeschnitten.
This lock was cut from him on the 2nd March in the days of his convalescence from illness
There is currently, no direct evidence that Falk was the true author of this inscription. To establish true authorship, handwriting analysis would have to be undertaken. Manuscripts penned by Johannes kept in the Falk Archive in Weimar, would need to be compared with the inscription. Despite this, there is still a high possibility that Johannes wrote it.
According to the testimony of John Falk, the living descendant of Johannes Falk, he passed on the hair to a daughter, who then proceeded to pass it onto John’s great grandfather. A second inscription also accompanies the artefact and seems to confirm this, with the heading of Goethe’s hair (see Figure 2). The text is in English and is as follows:
Given me by my Aunt, Mrs Gabriele Saeltzer, of Weimar, the only surviving child of my Father’s Uncle, Johannes Daniel Falk, the Satirist and Friend of Goethe. Given me at Catsclough, Cheshire on Fri Aug. 19. 1881. H. John Falk.
The inscription is on the English little envelope in which the lock of hair was kept for 58 years. It is unclear if Gabriele Sältzer was visiting Catsclough or if she was a resident. It is very possible that she was one of Johannes’ daughters, as out of the ten children Johannes had with his wife Caroline Rosenfield, only two daughters survived. If Gabriela was Johannes’ youngest daughter, she would have been in her sixties in 1881. Therefore, she must have treasured the hair for most of her life. It may be natural to assume that she wanted to pass it and other small relics such as the portrait of Goethe and the pressed violet onto the next generation. Gabriele or Falk may have added these items, intending them to be accompanied with the hair wherever it went. Presumably in a similar act of veneration, H. John Falk may have framed the three little items (see Figure 1).
A violet seems to be an odd choice to accompany the hair. But the reason for this, as Lähnemann explained, is due to the popularity of Das Veilchen (The Violet), which is a poem by Goethe. The last stanza of the poem is:
Ach! aber ach! das Mädchen kam
Und nicht in Acht das Veilchen nahm,
Ertrat das arme Veilchen.
Es sank und starb und freut’ sich noch:
Und sterb’ ich denn, so sterb’ ich doch
Durch sie, durch sie,
Zu ihren Füßen doch.
Das arme Veilchen
Es war ein herzigs Veilchen!
But alas, alas, the girl drew near
And took no heed of the violet,
Trampled the poor violet.
It sank and died, yet still rejoiced:
And if I die, at least I die
Through her, through her
And at her feet.
The poor violet!
It was a dear sweet violet!
Goethe’s poem was composed as a song for voice and piano by Mozart in 1785. Mozart’s composition would have made Das Veilchen a staple piece to be enjoyed in the 19th century drawing room. The violet is a tad masochistic, but its addition is a romantic touch, alluding to the popular ‘crush’ on Goethe.
The sketched portrait has been observed to be similar to other portraits of Goethe. In particular, in Goethes aussere Erscheingung: literarische und kuenstlerische Dokumente seiner Zeitgenossen by Emil Schaeffer, we can see striking similarities between it and the porcelain painting by Ludwig Sebbers (1826) in Figures 3 and 4.
There are also noted similarities in a lithograph by Grevedon, a copy of a lost drawing by Orest Adamovitsch Kiprensky (1823) in Figure 4. In both portraits, we can see the same receding hairline. However, the Kiprensky portrait differs from the sketched portrait and Sebbers’ porcelain painting as Goethe’s facial expression is more severe. It is interesting to note that one these portraits, Goethe’s hair is depicted as being quite frizzy, whilst the actual lock of hair appears to be straight. Yet, in the chalk drawing by Karl Christian von Vogelstein (1824), Goethe is depicted with much straighter hair (see Figure 5). Vogelstein’s sketch of Goethe is not as flattering as Sebbers’ and Kiprensky’s portraits. Goethe is depicted with large, liquid eyes and a prominent nose. Depending on the artist, Goethe’s appearance will differ. Overall, considering the three portraits, there are features which do bear resemblance to the sketched portrait. Therefore, the unknown artist of the sketched portrait may have been inspired by other, contemporary portraits of Goethe.
At the start of this post, I mentioned Lahnemann’s observations regarding the hair as if it were a relic of a saint. Johannes Falk and his daughter may have intended the lock to be revered as something holy and immortal. This appears to be a sentiment that Taylor librarians have also shared. In 1953, John’s grandfather, Oswald, agreed to have the hair displayed at the Taylor. The librarian at the time, Donald Sutherland, promised Oswald that the hair would be kept in a show-case in one of the reading rooms. For nearly 70 years, the hair has been either on display or (at present!) kept in the rare book room at the library. It has never been taken out of its frame, nor separated from the crushed violet or sketched portrait.
Nick Hearn, French and Russian Subject Consultant at the Taylor, adds that in the lock of Goethe’s hair the comical and frivolous seem to combine with the eternal and the hagiographical.
Our obsession with Goethe continues.
I would like to thank my colleagues at the Taylor Katie Day, Emma Huber and Nick Hearn- for their assistance. Thank you for lending me notes and forwarding some very interesting email chains.
Thank you Professor Henrike Lahnemann and Susan Halstead for your intriguing interpretations surrounding the lock of hair.
Eckermann, Johann Peter. 1839. Conversations with Goethe in the last years of his life. Hilliard, Gray, and company: Boston. Translated from the German by Margaret Fuller.
As part of my traineeship at the Weston Library, I’m undertaking a project to improve access to the Broxbourne collection—some 4000 items, including 2000 specimens of fine binding from the 12th to 20th centuries, donated by John Ehrman in 1978 in memory of his father, Albert Ehrman. The project has two major objectives: capturing high-quality images of these excellent examples of bookbinding, making them available online on a public platform; and writing the copy-specific notes for each book in ALEPH (our library management software) so that they are searchable on SOLO. To date, over 350 books and their descriptions are available on the Bodleian Rare Books Flickr page.
The latest batch of uploads (the capture process is always evolving) clock in at around 100MB per photo, and are available for download in high resolution. From elaborate Grolieresque gold-tooled bindings to outstanding examples of blind-stamped religious panels from England and the Netherlands, the Flickr platform is so far a visual success. This is due (in no small part) to the nature of the collection: Albert Ehrman amassed one of the greatest collections of fine bindings in Britain. Many possess fascinating provenances, such as a presentation copies (Broxb. 24.3, bound for Robert Dudley with his bear-and-ragged-staff emblem, comes to mind), or even a book whose boards have been hollowed out to house a dead man’s will (Broxb. 14.8). Some exceptionally beautiful items include embroidered bindings (typically executed to a pattern, but unique each time), books with painted enamel plates (Broxb. 12.16), and several fine Louvain ‘Spes’ panels.
At the start of my traineeship, I loved books and appreciated a good binding, but was inexperienced in describing them, let alone in recognising ‘sixteenth century Saxon pigskin, rebacked’. Even the best compendia of bookbindings rely strongly on an informed readership, taking for granted many bibliographic terms and descriptions. Six months ago, when I began my traineeship, I had no idea what most of these things meant. The Flickr project has been a revelation, providing visual reference-points for these often complicated descriptions—and I hope that it will be useful to others in this way, too.
Nevertheless, even the copious eye-candy that digitising provides does not make a collection ‘accessible’. Our Flickr platform is designed to complement—not replace—the proper catalogue records (no matter how good it might look!). Physically, these books are still located in the Weston Library’s vast underground stacks, sitting in grey conservation-grade boxes. This isn’t to say that Broxbourne has been underappreciated (it hasn’t, and great studies of bookbinding have been written about it) but we want them to be found by anyone, not just the specialist who already knows where to look. Albert Ehrman’s books are a highly valuable scholarly resource which can contribute to research not only about bindings, but also into the book trade, ownership, art and cultural taste, and so on. To that end, all the information they contain must be findable as metadata in the Bodleian’s library catalogue. Writing copy-specific descriptions for these books continues the work of the incomparable Paul Morgan, who compiled the card index to Broxbourne in the 1980s, and is a matter of putting in all the valuable information (such as its country of binding, time period, material, style, provenance, and bibliographic references) to transform the findability of our records. Here’s a Broxbourne record, with all the new bibliographic data highlighted in yellow:
Before, there were no descriptive elements; anyone looking for ‘lions rampant’ would have missed Broxb 28.6. The metadata simply wasn’t there. It’s a bit dramatic—but not too much of a stretch—to say that a significant amount of Ehrman’s collection, beyond the really famous stuff, would have gone to waste. And that’s only if you know what you’re looking for!
Another, major advantage to taking libraries into online spaces is the ability to share resources and research. Even in these early stages of the Broxbourne project, we’ve been enabled to bolster our own records (and even challenge assumptions written about binders in the bibliographic canon) thanks to other projects—notably the British Library Bookbindings Database, Philippa Marks’ exemplar after which many decisions about my own project have been modelled. The short version of one of our best discoveries is that Broxb. 24.4 was bound by the ‘Salel’ binder not Etienne Roffet—a discovery that would not have been possible without digitised resources (see below).
I would encourage anyone with a manageable selection of books, especially fine bindings, to consider creating a digital collection. In this, I’m guilty of propping up a bad habit of ignoring trade bindings and cheaper books, but, as is widely known, finer books are more likely to survive (and carry their artistry, provenance, waste paper, marginalia, and all manner of treasures with them). As a teaching resource they have great potential to provoke an interest in materiality and histories; as topics of academic research there is great benefit to a system that allows straightforward and immediate side-by-side comparison (not in the least because many are too fragile to handle regularly). And they’re even nice to look at on a rainy afternoon at home, when a global supervirus threatens life as we know it.
We are currently six months into our trainee year (where has the time gone?!). Every one of us is enjoying the experience so far and are even *gasp* starting to consider our careers after this year. When discussing how our work is going at our individual libraries, we have begun to realise that each library is different in its environment and history. Therefore, no two trainee experiences are going to be alike. To illustrate this best, we decided to collaborate together on a (longer than usual) post to showcase the most interesting finds or objects in our libraries. These range from interesting books to some quite unusual artefacts on display. So quickly grab your chosen beverage and get cosy as you go on the unseen tour of Oxford’s libraries!
Upon first glance, Arch.8°.F.1495 looks much like the rest of the rare books alongside which it sits at the Taylorian. Its green Moroccan binding is so dark it appears nearly black, lending its exterior a non-descript quality that reveals very little about its fascinating contents. Surprisingly, this unassuming volume contains two important incunables, Guielmi Castelli’s Due Elegie and Augustine of Hippo’s Confessiones.
I began exploring this volume’s history by researching its maker. A binder’s mark pasted over the vibrant orange endpaper in the upper right corner of the book’s inside front cover states it was bound by “J. Faulkner of 8 Queen Street, Little Tower Hill.” In a London street directory from August of 1817, I discovered a listing for a J. Faulkner at 8 Queen Street, while Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide from May of 1818 lists a “John Faulkner, bookbinder” at that same address. Thanks to an entry in the Glasgow Incunabla Project, I confirmed that Faulker’s bookbinding shop was in business from 1809 to 1833. It seems clear, then, that Arch.8°.F.1495 was bound during this period.
It is possible, though not certain, that the volume’s disparate works were brought together for the first time then in this 19th century context. The Confessions is the much better known of the two works it contains, not solely because of the controversy it caused in the 4th century when Augustine rejected paganism in favour of the rapidly spreading Christianity, but also because of his role in shaping Christian tenets of faith for centuries thereafter. During the Renaissance, amid a revival of interest in the classical “greats,” figures like Augustine were venerated and texts like the Confessions were spread throughout Europe with the aid of the newly invented printing press. The Elegies and its author are, by contrast, much less famous. Castelli, also known as Guillaume Castel, was a French poet and clergyman who lived and worked in Tours from 1458 to 1520, and his Latin text does not appear to be well known. I can only speculate about how two such different texts came to be bound together by Faulkner in London over 300 years later. It’s possible that they were joined when they were printed in the early Renaissance since they share a consistent gothic type, but a shift in the rubrication and the paper quality suggests that they were not previously bound as one. Perhaps Faulkner believed there was money to be made from a volume that combined Augustine and Castelli’s works, but more likely he had a patron who saw an educational value in combining them.
The first clue to the identity of this patron can be found, ironically, at the back of the book, in the form of a donation plate for the Fry Collection. In 1955, the daughters of Joseph Forrest Fry and Susanna Fry donated their family’s collection to numerous libraries across Oxford University. Arch.8°.F.1495 was among those that arrived at the Taylorian. Two family crests on the inside of the front cover of the volume offer further clues about the book’s provenance. The bookplate pasted in the centre of the inner cover identifies the book as having belonged to the personal library of William Horatio Crawford, a collection he would have inherited along with his family estate in the mid 19th century. After researching the Crawford family history, I ascertained that the book must have joined the collection prior to William’s death in 1888. An 1891 newspaper clipping which reads like an advertisement for those interested in purchasing incunables is attached a few pages into the book and is almost certainly a record of sorts for the sale of the Crawford collection. The second crest, that of the Inglis family, may have been attached at this point, indicating that they purchased the book in 1891. Alternatively, it may have been attached much earlier, in which case someone in the Inglis family may have been the patron at whose behest Faulkner bound the Elegies and Confessions together sometime between 1809 and 1833. Given that in 1788 a Dr. Charles Inglis founded my high school, King’s-Edgehill in Windsor, Nova Scotia, I was surprised to stumble across this possible (albeit tenuous) Canadian connection, and I plan to delve further into the relationship between Arch.8°.F.1495 and the Inglis family.
Battershall, Fletcher. Bookbinding for Bibliophiles: Being Notes on Some Technical Features of the Well Bound Book for the Connoisseurs. Greenwich: The Literary Collector Press, 1905.
Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide. London, 1818.
Hughes, Jill. “The Taylor Institution Library.” In David Paisey (ed.): German studies: British resources. Papers presented at a colloquium at the British Library 25-27 September 1985. London 1986, pp. 196-204.
Marks, P.J.M. The British Library Guide to Bookbinding: History and Techniques. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.
Pearson, David. English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2005.
Saint Augustine. Confessions. Translated by Henry Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Sotheby’s: Six Centuries of Book Binding. London: Sotheby’s, 2002.
Street directory of London. London, 1817.
Washbourne, Henry. The Book of Family Crests. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, 1840.
Zaehnsdorf, Joseph William. The Art of Bookbinding: a practical treatise, with plates and diagrams. London: George Bell & Sons, 1890.
Jaron Lanier, Who Owns The Future?: Tom Vickers (Sainsbury Business School Library)
Honestly – I picked this off the shelf for its cover. For such a provocative title (evoking the mega-corps of cyberpunk dystopias that lurk in every popular sci-fi rendering of what’s to come) it’s a calming, quite beautiful image. It even ends up being resonant to Lanier’s argument too – a graceful representation of a collective of individuals, and of iteration, algorithmic or otherwise. There’s two pieces of media calling themselves ‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’. One is the original 1967 poem by counterculture grandee Richard Brautigan and the other is a 2011 documentary by another Richard, this time Curtis that bleakly shreds the utopian visions of the 60s. This book reminds me of both, and I suspect its author knows and thinks well of both as well. It also has the crucial quality of a book about the future of having been right so far – about fake news, the erosion of democracy, and a whole host of contemporary horrors. Somehow, while reading it, I’m not as depressed about that as I perhaps should be. Lanier has a wry sense of humour about reality which you get the feeling is as much a product of his perceptiveness as the book insights, insights which Lanier makes disarmingly often in a much wider variety of topics than the stated subject fields of technology and economics. He’s honest, personal, and explains things well, and so the book is and does these things too. I have a close friend I’ve known since university who has unnervingly high scores in an Economics & Economic History degree and a subsequent career advising governments on long-term investments, and talking points in here helped me start really picking up what he’s been putting down for years in half a dozen areas of conversation. I may well buy him a copy for his 30th.
Amelia B. Edwards: Erin McNulty (Sackler Library)
While researching for a book display that I was putting together to celebrate LGBT+ History Month at the Sackler Library, I came upon the work of Amelia B. Edwards. Edwards, born in 1831, was an English novelist, journal, and traveller, who contributed greatly to the field of Egyptology, co-founding the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882. She was also the founder of the Edwards Chair of Egyptology at University College London. Edwards died in 1892 from influenza, and was buried alongside her partner, Ellen Drew Braysher. In 1877, she published a best-selling travelogue that she had written about her journeys in Egypt, titled A Thousand Miles up the Nile.
I discovered that an 1877 edition of this work was stored in the Sackler’s Rare Book Room, where we house some of our special collections. The book contains illustrations by Edwards of various sites that she visited during her time in Egypt, and its cover is beautifully decorated. The work even has a dedicatory message and signature from the author written inside! Some pictures of the book are included below:
Unfortunately, I was not able to display this older edition, but a newer edition was also available. However, anyone with a valid University or Bodleian card can view our Special Collections materials, such as the above work by Edwards, on request; just ask at the Issue Desk. Also, feel free to come along and have a look at our LGBT+ History Month display, or visit the Sackler blog for more details: http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/sackler/ .
The Elizabethan Zoo: Emma Jambor (English Faculty Library)
One of my favourite books from the English Faculty Library is The Elizabethan Zoo (edited by M. St. Clare Byrne, published in 1926) from our Rare Book Room. The book describes a variety of normal and fantastical beasts, from the authentic rhino to the extraordinary Hydra and Mantichora. The sources for the text and illustrations come from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts (1607) and The History of Serpents (1608). I particularly love the fantastical and frightening illustrations.
Tiny Books!: Evie Brown (Bodleian Library)
My interesting find in the Bodleian collections was a very ordinary transit box…full of tiny children’s books! I love to collect early additions of children’s books – there is something about the illustrations which never fails to bring a smile to my face – so this was an exciting discovery for me. Many of the books in the collection are by Ernest Aris, an early 20th century author and illustrator with an impressive CV of 170 titles to his name.
Aris’ books are beautifully illustrated, with bright and personable characters and it definitely makes a change to the traditional dusty classics and theology books held in the Bodleian!
As well as Aris’ collection of books, the box also contains some re-written classics – The Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe and Alice in Wonderland to name but a few – by Kathleen Fitzgerald. These are interesting as they are bound in suede with gold lettering – beautiful but makes for some grubby fingers!
The final piece I wanted to share was a beautiful book, with a cardboard cover and no binding – the pages are simply held together with string. I love the illustrations, and the tiny matchbox sized box that the book came in. I have included a picture of the book next to my Bodleian reader card to give some perspective – it really is tiny! This book is definitely my favourite as it reminds me a little of the type of things I used to love to make when I was a child, and you can’t help but smile when you see it!
I hope you enjoyed my little interesting find; it’s definitely something a bit different!
Wonders of the Stereoscope – John Jones (London: Roxby Press Productions, 1976): Rhiannon Hartwell (Bodleian Library)
Can you ever be sure you’re seeing the same thing as someone else? How do you teach another person to see what you see?
In addition to providing ample entertainment to Reading Room staff at the Old Bod, Wonders of the Stereoscope has raised a lot of interesting questions about perception and vision!So, what is a stereoscope, exactly? Stereoscopy was developed in the mid-19th century; two images, called ‘stereographs’ are developed side-by-side, showing the left- and right-eye views of a single image. When viewed through a specially-designed stereoscope lens, at the right distance and with relaxed, unfocused vision, the near-identical images should overlap until one, three-dimensional image appears.
According to Brian May (yes, that Brian May, of the band Queen), who formed the London Stereoscopic Company in the early 2000s as a result of his lifelong experimentation with stereoscopy, such images can also be ‘free-viewed’ without the use of lenses – though success with this method has been limited at the Old Bod!
Wonders of the Stereoscope is my favourite item I’ve seen come through the Old Bodleian reading rooms because of the sheer joy it provokes in the reading room team, as everyone shares in the camaraderie of learning a bizarre and intriguing new skill. The images provided by Wonders of the Stereoscope certainly don’t hurt, either – from Charles Blondin perilously balanced on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls, to a walrus in trousers kissing a man on the lips, the often hilarious variety of images provided endless amusement even before they were seen in 3-D!
Thomas Hearne, Remarks and Collections: Harriet David (History Faculty Library)
Tucked down in the local history section in the Lower Gladstone Link (the lowest level of the Bodleian, so close to the water table that it has a pump lurking discreetly in one corner) are the eleven volumes of Thomas Hearne’s Remarks and Collections, published between 1885 and 1921 by the Oxford Historical Society.
Thomas Hearne (bap. 1678, d. 1735) was an antiquary, librarian, and indefatigable gatherer-up of old books, remarkable tales, and Oxford gossip – Hearne matriculated from St Edmund Hall in 1695, and rose rapidly through the academic ranks. His Remarks and Collections are one of the great eighteenth-century diaries, a daily record of Hearne’s life, scholarly discoveries, and political vituperations spanning the years from 1705 to 1735. During this time, Hearn rose to become Second Librarian of the Bodleian, in 1712, and by 1715 had been appointed to the splendidly-named University posts of Architypographer of the Press (responsible for maintaining the standards of the University Press, then lodged in the basement of the Sheldonian Theatre) and Superior Beadle of Civil Law. A glowing future within the Bodleian seemed assured.
Later that same year, however, Hearne was to be ousted from all these posts. So ‘inraged’ was John Hudson, then Bodley’s Librarian, that Hearne records ‘he had the Lock & Key of the Library Door altered on purpose to exclude me from going in and out when I pleased, my own Key being now perfectly useless’ (Remarks and Collections, vol. V, pp. 137-8). Hearne didn’t just get himself fired from the Bodleian – his boss literally changed the locks to keep him out.
This dramatic fall from grace was the result of awkward political and social affiliations. Hearne was a committed and vocal nonjuror (he refused – except on his initial entry to the University – to swear the required oath of loyalty to William and Mary) and Jacobite. Even in the distinctly conservative atmosphere of early eighteenth-century Oxford, his outspoken loyalty to the Stuarts was an embarrassment for the University, which took measures – however inelegant – to protect itself. Hearne’s account of his dismissal, which involves him taking care to read out John Hudson’s ‘false spellings’ (‘Upder Library Keeper’) verbatim, throwing the Vice-Chancellor into a ‘Passion’ (Remarks, vol. V, p. 181), does not show Enlightenment Oxford at its most dignified.
Hearne endured, however. Denied access to Bodleian manuscripts, and refusing – especially towards the end of his life – to spend so much as a single night away from Oxford, he nevertheless refashioned himself as an independent publisher, printing scholarly editions of pre-Reformation texts for a list of dedicated subscribers. And, all this time, he was making a daily entry in his Remarks. They record much valuable bibliographical information, several vigorous (if often one-sided) feuds, and many local curiosities: Hearne was evidently a collector of old people as well as old texts, and the volumes are peppered with his accounts of the remarkably aged, and with their accounts, as told to Hearne, of lost buildings, noted ancestors, and Oxford history. They also give a vivid sense of a stubborn, punctilious, and learned man, as ready to note down ‘Strange lights in the air […] in and ab[ou]t Oxford’ (Remarks, vol. V, p. 181), or a student riot occasioned by a bull-baiting at Headington (the students wished to tie a cat ‘to the Bulls Tayl’; locals objected. The fate of the cat is not recorded (Remarks, Vol. IX, p. 295)), as to chase down early editions of Leland or record the falling prices of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (once ‘a common-place for filchers’ of Burton’s learning, now ‘disregarded’; even Isaac Newton’s works, Hearne reflects, may ‘also in time be turned to wast paper’ (Remarks, Vol. XI, p. 298)).
Hearne died in his lodgings in St Edmund Hall in 1735. He kept his old set of keys to the Bodleian until his death.
If you may not know already, the Taylor Institution houses a vast array of collections on Modern Languages and Literatures. We also house some amazing special collections. Including a lock of Goethe’s hair! The hair is kept in a frame alongside a pressed violet and a portrait of Goethe, with the German paper slip and a little, ‘English’ envelope.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was considered to be the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. He died unexpectedly of heart failure, and left behind a vast legacy. Goethe had a profound impact on later literary movements, including Romanticism and expressionism. His lifetime spanned some of the most monumental disruptions in modern history, and is often referred to as the Goethezeit or Age of Goethe.
It is unclear how many people were able to obtain a lock of Goethe’s hair, but one person who did was German publisher and poet Johannes Falk. At the time, Goethe was recovering from a near fatal heart illness. It is possible that the lock of hair was cut, unbeknownst to Goethe, whilst he was enjoying a restorative sleep. According to the testimony of John Falk, the living descendant of Johannes Falk, he passed on the hair to a daughter, who then proceeded to pass it onto John’s great grandfather.
In 1953, John’s grandfather, Oswald, agreed to have the hair displayed at the Taylor. The librarian at the time, Donald Sutherland, promised Oswald that the hair would be kept in a show-case in one of the Reading Rooms. For nearly 70 years, the hair has been either on display or kept in the rare book room at the Library.
Personally, I find the hair absolutely fascinating. As creepy as it may seem to us in the 21st century, a lock of hair may have been comforting and also act as a sign of prestige. By the end of his life, Goethe was highly celebrated, and to be seen to possess a lock of hair from the head of the man himself, certainly conveyed privilege. Nick Hearn, French and Russian Subject Consultant at the Taylor, adds that in the lock of Goethe’s hair the comical and frivolous seem to combine with the eternal and the hagiographical. I quite agree, as the hair has never or rarely been separated from its accompanying items. I have written a longer piece, providing more details on the hair and its associated paraphernalia. I will post this soon!
February is LGBTQ+ month and I’ve been putting together a display to celebrate LGBTQ+ in business for the Sainsbury Library. As always happens when digging into it, the past has proven more lively, varied, and knit with the present than expected. The pace of change is remarkable even knowing to expect it, and over the three decades covered here it is also mostly positive change. I hope you find it inspires you a little as it does me.
The books are presented as a timeline from left to right.
Top Row (1990s):
1991 – The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life – Kenneth J. Gergen. Social psychologist Kenneth J. Gergen is an example of academic ally-ship whose work at the start of the 1990s is as sophisticated as current ideas in its approach to LGBTQ+ issues. Although not an overtly queer work, The Saturated Self constructs a theory of modern identity that makes room for and obliges the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ identities. His work on The Social Construction and The Transformation of Identity Politics was also remarkably prescient in 1999 about where the discourse around these questions would go and how it would change in the subsequent two decades.
1994 – Ivan Massow’s Gay Finance Guide. In the UK during the 1990s Ivan Massow was able to use both a new, growing acceptance of homosexuals in public life and their continued stereotyping to his advantage. His London advisory firm completely changed the conversation around gay clients in the insurance industry, who during the AIDs epidemic were being shut out by discriminatory premiums. Off the back of this success he entered politics, shocking many of his left-leaning clientele by calling the Conservative party “the gayest party in Europe”, and was determined to change it from within. While he was briefly close to the Thatcher leadership, by the early 2000s his business was in danger of collapse and Massow agreed to become an agent for Zurich. The legal fall-out after Massow claimed Zurich refused to cover most of his clients almost bankrupted him.
1995 – The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender – Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt is the founder and chairwoman of the board of United Therapeutics, making her the highest earning CEO in the biopharmaceutical industry. Written the year after Rothblatt’s gender reassignment surgery and as a prelude to beginning her PhD in medical ethics with a specialisation in xenotransplantation, The Apartheid of Sex not only argued for a continuum of gender from both biological and sociological grounds before the idea gained public prominence but also laid the groundwork for Rothblatt’s current radical arguments for high levels of financial and social investment in transhumanism.
1997 – Homo Economics: Capitalism, Community, and Lesbian and Gay Life – Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed. Gluckman and Reed’s Homo Economics was the first thorough account of the relationship between gay people and the market. Drawing on experts in journalism, activism, academia, the arts, and public policy, it fully contextualised the state of mixed progress contemporary LGBTQ+ groups find themselves in as well as highlighting its fragility, demonstrating how both the continuation of modern capitalism in its current form and the looming threats of reduced social investment frustrate the LGBTQ+ movement in different ways.
2000 – Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to the Market – Alexandrea Chasin.Selling Out is an accessible, personal, agitative work that blends the academic and vox pop elements of works like Homo Economics and charted what effect the “embrace” of consumerism and capital was having on the LGBTQ+ community. An associate professor of literary studies at The Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, Chasin charts what had been gained and what had been lost in the mainstreaming of the LGBTQ+ movement, as well as what she feared and hoped might happen in the coming decade.
Middle Row (2000s):
2002 – The Pink Pages: The Gay and Lesbian Business and Services Directory. As with numerous previous marginalised groups, the LGBTQ+ community created guides to allow safe navigation through a world that was inherently hostile to them. As acceptance grew, a flurry of travel guides appeared in more public forms. Acting as the name suggests (a Yellow Pages for the queer community) The Pink Pages still operates as a list of ally tradespeople. Now replaced by pinkpagesonline and similar sites, this 2002 copy of the directory was the only print edition.
2005 – Business Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market – Katherine Sender. In this work Katherine Sender, a professor in the Department of Communication and the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Cornell University, refutes two major pieces of conventional wisdom in this work. 1 – that the LGBTQ+ community exists independently of how it is marketed to, and 2 – that LGBTQ+ marketing exists independently of political action around that community. Sender shows how marketing as a form of media has helped construct the community as well as increased visibility for its members, while also inherently creating restrictions in its definition.
2006 – The G Quotient – Kirk Snyder. As inclusion and diversity of all kinds was gaining ground not just as a political and moral orientation but also as a strength of modern teams, Kirk Snyder followed up his 2003 Career Guide for the Gay Community with this work arguing that gay men were making the best managers precisely because their gay lives meant they understood inclusion and diversity best. Snyder’s work is focused around what the business community can learn from the LGBTQ+ community to change itself, rather than change them.
2008 – Queer Economics, A Reader – Joyce Jacobsen and Adam Zeller. Jacobsen and Zeller’s collection of academic works includes extracts from Homo Economics, recontextualised a decade later. Queer Economics presents the results of that intellectual provocation, and its movement into areas of demography, labour markets, consumer representation, political economy, and economic history.
2008 – Opportunities and Challenges of Workplace Diversity: Theory, Cases and Exercises – Kathryn A Cañas. Cañas began editing Opportunities and Challenges of Workplace Diversity in 2008 and new editions were produced until 2014. Cañas works as a member of the Management Department in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, where she has helped shape the department since 1999, incorporating changes in attitudes towards diversity including towards the LGBTQ+ community. Opportunities and Challenges has been a core-text internationally for courses in Diversity, Organizational Behavior, and Human Resource Management Diversity and the Workplace.
Lower Row (2010s):
2014 – The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business – John Browne. Browne was chief executive of BP between 1995 and 2007 and was known as the “sun king” by employees due to BP’s increased interest in renewables under his leadership. Having started his career as an apprentice with BP in 1966, his time as it’s CEO ended acrimoniously when allegations were printed in 2007 by the Mail on Sunday that he had mis-used company funds to support a partner during and after their relationship. Having fought injunctions to stop the allegations being published, Browne resigned. He described later that what “terrified” him was not the financial scandal or potential early retirement, but that his sexuality would become public knowledge. By the time he wrote The Glass Closet Browne was advocating for a wide-spread, top-down corporate policy of LGBTQ+ inclusiveness as proposed by Snyder in 2006.
2015 – Queer Business: Queering Organisation Sexualities – Nick Rumens.Queer Business took the thoroughly business-minded approach of seeing opportunity in problems. He identifies that, despite the developments over the past 25 years, there is a continued lack of association between business studies and LGBTQ+ issues when compared to other areas of scholarship, but argues that there are potential positives to this situation. Rumens describes management and organisational studies as a field in which queer theory may make new advances, and as an area where it “has yet to become exhausted and clichéd”.
2019 – Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level – Leander Kahney. Tim Cook is routinely cited as the most powerful LGBTQ+ leader in business. In 2014 he was the first Fortune 500 chief executive to come out as gay – a remarkable contrast to Browne’s experience just 7 years prior. While before coming out Cook was not overt in his support of the LGBTQ+ struggle, he has since admitted that in valuing his privacy he “was valuing it too far above what I could do for other people, so I wanted to tell everyone my truth” and ensure LGBTQ+ youth knew that he had relied on the work of people who had fought for their rights before him.
2019 – The Queering of Corporate America: How Big Business Went from LGBT Adversary to Ally – Carlos A. Ball. Covering street protests and boycotts during the 1970s, AIDS activism directed at pharmaceutical companies in the 1980s, and the push for corporate non-discrimination policies and domestic partnership benefits in the 1990s, Ball describes how LGBTQ+ activism has changed the business community’s understanding and treatment of the queer community. This is the current way the history of these two groups is being described and it’s vital to consider it in context of the works that have preceded it.
For more information about the month’s celebrations visit https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/
During my weekly late shift in the Law Library I am able to get a sense of the quietness that would usually be a constant presence here. However most of the time instead of hearing the telltale rustling of books and tapping of keyboards associated with students hard at work, we have been subject to drilling and banging going on above us as a team of builders work hard to install our new roof. Currently the large scaffolding structure holding up the temporary roof takes up the majority of the space in our main reading room, with part of it covered in lovely yellow health and safety approved covering. We have definitely made the most of having scaffolding, as a few have been subjected to feature tinsel as the Law Library gets into the festive spirit.
In a nutshell these works are taking place because the roof needs some TLC. The structure of the roof is being replaced to allow for better ventilation, better rainwater drainage and better lighting in general. Even though the scaffolding is a prominent feature, we have still welcomed many readers over the course of Michaelmas term, most of whom were not too fazed by what was going on above them. However, there is no denying that the drilling and banging of building work can put people a bit on edge, and this probably contributed to the high volume of ear plugs taken from the box on our Enquiry Desk daily (again – suitably decorated in the festive spirit.)
So far the project seems to be going ok (except when our lovely British autumn weather decides to get in the way) with a new phase of the project having started in November on rebuilding the roof structure. I am definitely looking forward to April when the new roof is finally in place as myself and Laura (the other trainee here at the Law Bod) have only ever known the reading room encased in scaffolding.
On 20th November 2019, the graduate trainees attended a session on E Developments at the University of Oxford’s Libraries. The first talk was given by Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communication and Data Management. She covered open access regarding academic research, which was featured in a blog post last week. The second talk was given by Michael Popham, and was all about digital developments at the Bodleian libraries.
When I first told my family and friends that I had got a job as a trainee in an academic library for a year, most of them were very supportive and happy for me. Others, not so. The most frequent comments I received was…
‘Do we still need physical books when everything is online?’
As ignorant as that comment seems, the people that said it did have a point. If you have a browse on Solo or any other academic catalogue, many resources have been digitized and are available electronically. My former university’s library advertised its resources available online with posters describing how their collections of physical books was ‘only the tip of the iceberg’. Their E resources appeared to be vast and unlimited in comparison to their smaller, physical book collections.
The physical books are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to academic libraries!
Michael Popham, head of Digital Collections and Preservation, opened his talk discussing how digital libraries are the future. The Bodleian already has a Digital Library. At the moment, the library is purely online, where it pulls all digital collections into one discovery platform. However, Michael suggested how a digital library could become a physical space. It is interesting to think of how this space would look. Would a digital library be a place to study with a few more PCs than a regular library? Michael suggested that the word ‘digital’ implies that the library would be expected to be open 24/7. Anything digital, after all, should be instantly usable and accessible even on Christmas Day! A digital library would contain services and tools to support discovery, access, and reuse of digital content.
So if digital libraries are the future, will we now see less of the printed book? Maybe, but not at such a fast rate as one would expect. There are many issues with digitization and for the Bodleian Libraries, the main problem is that digitization lacks consistency. This is because the university currently relies on grants and funding, in order for projects to go ahead. Books which are earmarked for projects tend to be strongly visual in nature, as digital collections are driven by what the team receives funding for. According to Michael, the funding bodies and even the team behind the digitization process often have an agenda which affects how the digitized books are presented. There could be more of a focus to digitize certain aspects of manuscripts and subconsciously ignoring other areas of interest. These issues are difficult to address, as accessing funds is integral to enable a digitization project.
The Bodleian was the first outside of the US to join the Google Books Partner Scholarship. It was a huge project which aimed to digitize the library’s vast collection of non-copyright material. Google digitized books at an incredible rate. Overall, 300’000 works were digitized, including board games, binding designs, museum objects, CDs, and tapes! However, there were many cases of books which had not been moved or opened in over 150 years, being unable to fit on their previous shelves. During the digitization process, these books had expanded, leading to a huge pile up when it came to reshelving. Books involved in digitization projects are often older and rare manuscripts, so they require further special handling and conditions which affect the cost of projects. In order to digitise such material, the Bodleian uses special scanning machines. The cradle of these machines uses a vacuum which gently sucks the pages down. These machines are certainly cool, but are not without their high financial cost.
Digitization isn’t just for old manuscripts either. The Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts (BEAM) is a digital repository service which manages born-digital archive and manuscripts. The service was established as the Bodleian was receiving an ever-increasing amount of digital material. This material can come in the form of whole computers, disks and other types of external media. This brings the future of digitization into a new light. How do we process information which is already digital? The files stored on devices may appear in older file formats with no equivalent paper form. BEAM’s existence is integral as it allows the Bodleian to adapt to the digital age. Electronic legal depositories are important as in 2003, the revised Copyright Act of 2003 recognised that much of the nation’s published output in digital form was being lost. The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-print) Regulations 2013 was passed to address this. Any digital publication is covered under the Regulations including CD-Roms, works published online that are issued from a UK domain, and items on microfilm. The British Library and the National Libraries of Wales and Scotland collect the material on behalf of all Legal Deposit Libraries. Bodleian readers can access these resources using the British Library’s digital system. Restrictions do apply, as these resources will often display an amber dot next to it on Solo. This indicates that the digital resource can only be accessed on a Bodleian terminal. These restrictions are often annoying for readers who may have to patiently wait their turn to view a resource, as the system will only allow one viewing at a time. However, preservation of digital material is essential to prevent future loss.
Preserving digital material is essential
So is digital preservation the future for the Bodleian? It certainly seems so, but the scale of digitization is not as rapid as one may think. There are 13.2 million printed items at the Bodleian libraries, with only half a million digitized. Overall, that is only 3-4% of all collections. Rare manuscripts are being digitized, but that does not mean they are instantly thrown away! They are reshelved and preserved for future generations to enjoy. So, the printed book isn’t going anywhere. The digital age also poses new problems for digitization, in that digital resources can easily disappear if technology does not exist to access them.
E Developments at the Bodleian appear to be concentrated on adapting to the rise of the internet, either by ensuring that good quality research is freely available and that manuscripts and digital records continue to be digitally preserved. One may say that the concept of libraries is being reinvented. Information does not need to exist physically in order for there to be a need to organise, maintain, and preserve it. Libraries are no longer necessarily physical spaces, they can be virtual ones which are easily and freely accessible. And that certainly makes for an exciting future. Many thanks to Michael Popham; this post is based on his original and fascinating talk.
For More Information:
To see the Digital Bodleian for yourself: https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/
For more information on BEAM: https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/beam
Outside our organised training programme, we graduate trainees also have access to the wide variety of staff development courses on offer. At the beginning of November, a few of us opted to go on a training session on Copyright law and issues. This full day of training was a great insight into the complexities of copyright law, covering what copyright is, the legislation surrounding it and various licenses that cover copyright. We (Rhiannon P and Rhiannon H) were tasked with writing this blog post, and we decided to not only give an overview of what we learnt, but how we are using the training in our day-to-day work at the Bodleian Law Library and the Old Bodleian, respectively.
The first thing that was made clear to us was that copyright is an incredibly multifaceted and complicated subject, especially in the context of academia. This was not an exaggeration as this full day of training felt as if it was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can and cannot do according to copyright law. However, I did feel that when I applied the training to the work I do in the Law Bod, which is mostly scanning and uploading chapters or articles online to Weblearn or ORLO for students, it was a perfectly reasonable introduction.
Copyright is one of five Intellectual Property Rights, with the other four being patents, trademarks, designs and confidence, and is governed as such. Most intellectual property has some copyright belonging to someone, but depending on the context depends on who owns the copyright and how long the work stays in copyright for. For example, copyright does not cover facts or ideas, only what has been expressed in a material form. One piece of material may contain more than one copyright. For example, a piece of music may have one copyright attached to the music itself, and one attached to the lyrics, and these could belong to two separate people. On the topic of ownership: although this is the case more often than not, the author of the work may not always own the copyright. For example, if the author produced the work in their capacity as an employee, then their employer is the first owner of the copyright for that piece of work.
The training also introduced us to a subsection of UK copyright called Crown Copyright that has different requirements for the ownership, transference and the duration of copyright. The legislation summarises Crown Copyright as ‘where a work is made by Her Majesty or by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his duties’ (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Chapter X ss 163). Luckily for us, we were provided on the training course with two handy charts depicting every possible outcome regarding the duration of copyright for both Crown and non-Crown copyrighted materials.
One of the main questions to ask when using copyrighted material is this: is the use you’ve made of the material be construed as fair to the copyright holder? Usually, using a substantial part of someone else’s work to make money or otherwise profit is considered unfair. However, when it comes to non-commercial usage, there are various exceptions and exemptions to the vast and complex system of rules. These come under the heading of ‘fair dealing’.
The most important of these fair dealing exceptions in an academic library context is the educational usage exemption. This is separate from a CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence, and does not require reporting to an authority. It allows students to copy ‘a reasonable proportion’ of a text for educational purposes. This is usually interpreted to mean up to 5% of a text, or else one chapter or article, whichever is greater. Things get tricky with some items (and resources like databases), since 5% of a five page pamphlet or a single photograph probably can’t be considered ‘a reasonable proportion’ – but how much should be allowed, in that case?
Judging this can be difficult, but this course thankfully did provide some clarity on an issue that we have been dealing with at the Old Bodleian Library quite often: copying material from online databases. Databases have their own right which lasts for fifteen years, but the course confirmed that material contained within them can still be copied in the usual way using the educational exemption or the CLA licence.
‘A reasonable proportion’ of all the material held within a database is of course potentially a much larger amount of material than would normally be available to be copied, but it is safest to stick to the one chapter or article rule wherever possible! It is also important to remember that databases allow access only to members of the institution, so it may not be appropriate to offer scans to non-members. This information has really helped us on a day-to-day basis at the Old Bodleian, when dealing with requests from University and Library members to provide scans of material from online databases, such as a recent request for copies of letters from The Times digital archive.
As part of my work at the Law Bod, I often operate under the CLA licence that we hold and it was great to gain a more in depth knowledge of how this works. As a higher education institute, the University of Oxford also holds an HE licence from the Copyright Licencing Agency (or CLA) which alongside the legislation allows us to scan or copy up to 10% or a full chapter or article of any published edition. We also have to keep a record of the scans we make using this licence to show the CLA when they come knocking at our door to make sure we have complied with the licence. I know in the Law Bod we keep a spreadsheet of the scans we make and as far as I am aware, I have not yet forgotten to record a scan!
Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we’re abiding by copyright law in our academic libraries, and not just because of potential legal repercussions! It’s especially important because the Bodleian is a Legal Deposit Library, which is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland, in order to preserve books for the future. It’s our job to protect the items in our collections, and that includes respecting the rights of authors and copyright holders, while also making sure that we can serve our readers and help them to get the most from the libraries. This course was a necessarily short, but lucid and practical, introduction to the many issues that arise in academic libraries regarding copyright.
On 20th November 2019, the graduate trainees attended a session on E Developments at the University of Oxford’s Libraries. The first talk was given by Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communication and Data Management. She covered open access regarding academic research.
The Oxford Research Archive (ORA) was established in 2007 and aimed to provide open access research to researchers. Its establishment was viewed as important after the research charity Wellcome Trust released a position statement in 2005 in support of open and unrestricted access to published research. They would fund research, but it had to be made freely available.
Before 2012, it was only Sally and one assistant who were the main team behind ORA. The digital repository was established in 2007 and had been plodding along with a mere 100 research articles to process each year. Then 2012 hit and in Sally’s words ‘all hell broke loose’. Suddenly, the team were receiving over 1200 articles to process into ORA, as well as their first budget of £800,000!
So what happened to cause such a barrage of information? The 2012 Finch report was published by the UK government which recommended that all funded research had to be made freely available. The rise of the Internet since the early 1990s appears to have been underpinned by a desire to provide easily accessible information and research. At the time, Tim Berners Lee was honoured at the Olympic Games in London as the inventor of the World Wide Web, where as part of the ceremony he tweeted ‘This is for everyone’.
Was online academic research for everyone? If you tried to access articles on publisher’s sites, they would generally attempt to seduce you into signing up for a subscription fee (and this still happens!). The average cost for a subscription is certainly not cheap as chips. Needless to say, this did not provide an incentive for the public to want to gain reliable and good quality information. The Finch report highlighted this issue and recommended that everyone should be entitled to gain access to information. It was clearly time to tear those paywalls down.
In 2014, the big cheese, the Research Excellence Framework announced a policy which required researchers to deposit publications into their institutional repository within three months of acceptance. This led to ORA beginning to request academics to Act on Acceptance in 2016. This means that when an academic has a paper accepted for publication, they must deposit the final peer-reviewed version into ORA within three months of acceptance.
As you may imagine, publishers have had to slowly come around to the idea of open access. The author pays model as highlighted in the Finch Report is becoming increasingly popular. The author or institute pays a fee to the publisher in order for their research to be published. This enables the research to be freely accessed. According to Sally, you can have a fully open access journal where all contributors are paying to publish. But then, there are hybrid journals which have an author pays model but also a subscription fee for readers. This has been labelled by critics as ‘double dipping’ as the publisher benefits twice.
And it’s not just money that’s another issue with publishers and open access. Academics may end up forfeiting their rights to their own work if they are not too careful. Sally said that publishers started to put restrictions on what could and could not be used when researchers wished to use their work elsewhere. SHERPA/RoMEO is a handy online database which has records researchers can assess, so they can find out what exactly they are permitted to do with work published in various journals. Although SHERPA/RoMEO is undoubtedly a useful source, the publisher’s policies can be so confusing that Sally’s team often have to decipher the terms in order to work out what the researcher can actually do.
Wherefore art thou…a right to own my work?!
This can mean that if a researcher innocently posts their work on sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate, a publisher may take action since they are seen as going against the copyright agreement. The savvy academic will get around this by choosing to remove the terms they don’t like from the agreement with a black marker before signing it. We may assume that this would incite the publisher to come after the badly behaved academic with an iron fist, yet Sally says that often publishers will merely shrug. The Creative Commons, a non-profit organisation, also allows academics to retain control of their research since it enables users to choose a free copyright licence in order to share their work. ORCID is also another way of being able to share research without infringing copyright law. Researchers can apply for a unique identifier which they can use to get credit for their own work.
So what is the future for open access when it concerns academic research? Research Data Oxford (RDO) is a data management plan which provides guidance for each stage of the research process. RDO is a multi-disciplinary effort, involving various teams across the university including Sally’s, but also legal and ethical teams. In this way, researchers can be guided through the minefield that is online publishing.
The Reproducible Research Oxford (RRO) initiative will also come into play in January 2020. This is managed by a group of academics who believe in ensuring that research is bullet proof and good quality- which means that the methods academics use in their research should be made freely available too! Through this, RRO aims to lay the groundwork of a culture of research reproducibility at the University.
Finally, there is the Plan S initiative. Plan S requires that by 2021, scientific publications which result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. This may sound like a policy but it isn’t. Plan S is guidelines funders may choose to use, but don’t be fooled that it’s entirely optional. Supporting funders include The Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and the European Union.
Hopefully, with more policies and initiatives like the ones discussed in this post, the world of academia will be able to continue to adapt to the idea of open access and digitized research. Many thanks to Sally Rumsey who gave the original, interesting talk on which this post is based on. Next week will feature the second talk given by Matthew Popham. It will be all about Digital Developments at the Bodleian Libraries, so stay tuned! Also coming up very soon is a post about the Copyright Training staff can receive.
For a general history of open access in academic research https://osc.cam.ac.uk/open-access/brief-history-oa
We are now recruiting graduate trainees for the 2020/21 intake, starting in September 2020. Details about the roles and how to apply can be found here. Further information about the trainee scheme can be found here. The closing date for applications is 27th January 2020.