Showing posts from November, 2014

How do you solve a problem like the start of term?

Jamie Clark, one of our IT Support Specialists, explains how we made the start of term a more pleasant experience - for students, and for our staff.

The start of the autumn term is the busiest time of year for the IT Support Office. Last year we were
swamped with new students keen to get their laptops, tablets and phones connected to the university network. We literally had queues out the door for much of the first week and people were having to wait a long time to be seen. Overall, at the start of the academic year 2013/14, we received 1000 more queries than we had in the same period of the previous year, putting the IT Support Office under a great deal of pressure.

We understand that arriving on campus can be a stressful time for new students and we didn't want to make the same mistakes again, which is why in March we formed a Start of Term working group. We wanted to identify the problems from last year and make arrangements to reduce them as much as possible.

One thing workin…

Do you know your Baskerville Old Face from your Gill Sans?

The books in the York Art Gallery collection aren’t all about art and artists; the collection also includes a couple of books on printing and typography.  We take a look at two on the Library shelves.
Notes on the selection and use of printing types, together with specimens of type faces [York : Ben Johnson & Co. 1921?] This was written and printed by York printers Ben Johnson & Co whose head office and factory was on Micklegate.  Along with notes on the use of printing types, there are also pages and pages of specimens of different typefaces and borders and ornaments. The images below are typical page spreads, showing Caslon and Jenson Old Style (which are still in use today).

The book is available in the Library’s Special Collections section.

A psychological study of typography Burt, Cyril, 1883-1971 [Cambridge : University Press 1959] This book has an introduction by Stanley Morison.  A British typographer, designer and historian of printing, Morison was one of the most i…

The Bletchley Park Codebreakers

The fourth donation from his Night shelf, Stephen Town unravels the mystery behind the Bletchley Park Codebreakers.

Erskine, R. & Smith, M. (Eds), The Bletchley Park Codebreakers, in the University Library at Q 40.548 ERS

Cryptography and classical cyphers feature in both computer science and maths courses in the University, with reference to the breaking of the German Enigma code during the Second World War. The part played by Alan Turing in this story is the subject of the current film ‘The Imitation Game’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and has been documented in a number of books over the past 30 years.

My copy of this book was purchased on a recent visit to Bletchley Park, which is now open to the public. The grounds and estate provide a fascinating experience, steeped in history and displaying reconstructions of the machines that laid the foundations of modern computing.

Whilst the technical feat of this code breaking effort is extraordinary enough, what is perhaps even more …

Faith & Wisdom in Science

In the third edition of his 'Donating my night shelf' series, Stephen Town negotiates the web of theory around faith, religion and science.

McLeish, T., Faith & Wisdom in Science, in the University Library at C 15 MCL

St Peter’s School in York lays claim to being the oldest School in Europe and fourth oldest in the world, founded in 627 AD. It was shortly after this time that the first great library in York’s history was also created by the Archbishop Egbert, and developed by Albert and Alcuin in the following century. In an age when faith and education were inextricably connected all these foundations for learning grew from the Church.

Modern day St Peter’s offers a lecture series of high quality, drawing academics, researchers, other experts and the public together to discuss wide ranging topics from the history of World War I to the art and design of the London Underground. Last week, Tom McLeish of Durham University (and a St Peter’s parent) graced the series with an in…

Music Online - an array of recordings and reference material

Olivia Else, our Academic Liaison Librarian for Music, introduces one of our newest e-resources.
Music Online is a fantastic new resource that the Library has recently subscribed to. It includes a vast array of recordings and videos of concerts and staged musical performances, as well as reference materials such as virtual scores and musical encyclopedias.

Music Online incorporates 12 different collections which can be loosely grouped as follows:

Audiovisual Resources:American SongClassical Music in VideoClassical Music LibraryContemporary World MusicDance in Video SeriesJazz Music LibraryOpera in VideoSmithsonian Global Sound for Libraries Reference Resources:African American Music ReferenceClassical Music Reference  LibraryClassical Scores Library series 1 & 2The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online What does Music Online cover?
Music Online provides coverage in breadth and depth across key musical genres:

All major genres and time periods from medieval to contemp…

Ivon Hitchens: Forty-Five Paintings

Library Collection Space Manager Ruth Elder shares a lifelong interest in a little-known artist.
I admit that this book has now been sitting on my desk for some time in the office.
All through my childhood a Hitchens print hung on the wall of my home. The same print now hangs in my parents' retirement apartment, and I have made them promise never to dispose of it without giving me first refusal. The print has, throughout my life, pulled me in with its sense of silence, shadows and the unshown, and still continues to do so.
I also remember a day trip to York in 1990 to see the  Ivon Hitchens Exhibition at York City Art Gallery. It is the catalogue to this touring exhibition which has now found its way to my desk as part of the York Art Gallery Collection, and which still holds me, absorbed by the shapes and shadows of the images.

Ivon Hitchens' lifetime was marked by two world wars and encompassed a period of enormous change and destruction on a global scale. Unfit for active se…

What the Brownies taught me about the First World War

Armed only with a Brownie Guide Annual and a radio, Joanne Casey has discovered some unexpected facts about the First World War.
This year, the Brownie Guides in the UK celebrate their 100th birthday. My 8 year old is a keen Brownie, with a uniform covered in badges that didn't exist back in my brown bobble-hatted days; Circus Performer, World Issues, Environment, and Disability Awareness. So, at Christmas, I bought her the 2014 Brownie Annual - the centenary special.

Prominently featured is a timeline showing how the Brownie movement has developed and highlighting its involvement in community activities. One little fact captured my attention; during the First World War, Brownies helped to collect eggs to improve the diets of soldiers hospitalised in France.

Let that sink in for a moment.




How on earth did that work?

Very efficiently, apparently. Egg collection points - over 2000 of them - were set up nationwide. A poster campaign promoted the collection, and e…

The Pinecone

The second book in his 'Donating my night shelf' series. Stephen Town explains what women's rights, pinecones and a small church in the North of Cumbria have in common.

Uglow, J. The Pinecone, in the University Library at G 1.761 LOS

In the period of the feminist t-shirt debate, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Remembrance-tide, this week I have chosen a book with some of these contemporary resonances. Now on the Library shelves, nestled (in our curious home grown classification scheme) between tomes on coal miners and dockers, is a small volume on the romantic architect Sarah Losh (1785-1853).

Women’s rights and what makes a feminist has been a debate since my student days. Forty years ago I was part of a campaign to change my Cambridge college’s policy so that women could be admitted. Shocking as it may seem now,
my University at that time had eight times as many male students as female, and the Master of our College suggested that female education might be a passing …

The Neanderthal's Necklace: In search of the first thinkers

The first in his 'Donating my night shelf' series. Stephen Town talks fossils and frostbite, as he donates The Neanderthal's Necklace to the University Library.

Arsuaga, J.L. The Neanderthal's Necklace, in the University Library at XY 9.9 ARS

It is ironic that in the week I decided to retire I also spent one of the most interesting and stimulating days I have experienced in the University. Amanda Rees’ British Academy interdisciplinary workshop on “Excavating Deep History: establishing and circulating knowledge of human origins” assembled an international cast, but also demonstrated a strength of York in bringing together researchers from different disciplines across the University in a fertile exchange. It was also a personal pleasure to be in the same room as Steve Fuller, but more of him in a later blog …

Despite the Atapuerca excavations starting in the first year of my professional life as a librarian (1978), my copy of this book was purchased just last winter, wh…

Donating my night shelf

Stephen Town, Director of Information and University Librarian, talks about why he's donating over fifty books to the University Library

As some of you may know, I have decided to retire at the end of this academic year. As a retirement gift to the University Library, which I have been proud to lead for 7 years, I have decided to donate fifty books, one for each week of my remaining tenure.

These books will be taken mainly from my “night shelf” and so will be a personal, idiosyncratic and broad selection, hopefully providing an interesting and intriguing read for any member of the University community.

The titles I have chosen to donate are intended to supplement the fund for “popular but serious” books, and if the Library already has the book then I will donate an equivalent sum to the general collection fund. This fund was created at the suggestion of the Pro Vice Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Information, John Robinson, to reflect our belief that the University Library …