Showing posts from June, 2015

Home: A time traveller's tales from Britain's prehistory

Digging around the back of his nightshelf, Stephen Town has found another couple of great reads to donate to the Library.

Pryor, F., Home: A Time Traveller's Tales from Britain's Prehistory in the University Library at EA 2.942 PRY

As many students depart the university, the thoughts of some will turn to home, the subject of my next donation. The author, Francis Pryor, is well-known for his popular writings on archaeology and his appearances on Time Team. We already have most of Pryor’s more academic contributions in the Library, but surprisingly not his ‘Britain BC’ which I found an engaging, readable and informative survey of British prehistory, informed by Pryor’s own field experience on Bronze age sites. I will therefore also add this to my intended donation as this week’s bonus.

Pryor's 'Home' covers some similar ground to Britain BC, but from the perspective of the family, their homes and lives. There is an initial focus on Star Carr, the Yorkshire Mesolithic…

Wifi: not as easy as you might think

Why is managing wifi on a large scale so tricky? Matthew Seymour explains.

For those who remember a time before wifi, when internet access was via a slow modem and viewing videos an impossible dream, it often seems amazing we can move so much data, so quickly, without wires.

Wifi is now everywhere, almost... It's such an ubiquitous technology that we just expect it to be there, we rely on it and make the mistake of thinking it's an easy thing to implement.

The impression of simplicity is understandable because on a small scale, wifi is pretty easy. Scaling it up to a large building and campus is a different story.

To understand why wifi gets tricky for big networks it's helpful to know a little bit about how it works and one crucial way in which it's very different to a modern wired network. So here's a tiny bit of history.

Most computer networks are built with Ethernet. It was designed in the early 70s and has seen a lot of development over the years. In its early…

The buried giant

Taking a step away from academic literature, Stephen Town adds a lighter, but no less compelling read to his Nightshelf donations.

Ishiguro, K., The buried giant, coming soon to the University Library

I have steered clear of novels in my gifts so far, although there is no reason why these do not fall into the category of popular but serious, and I do have a lot of fiction on my nightshelf. As holidays approach it might be helpful to identify at least one item for possible summer reading. I read this book as one of my ‘airport’ selections for a week in Lake Como. Normally I load up my Kindle, but lack of preparation and the need to occupy waiting time meant selecting a hard copy, and as the library already has an electronic version, this can go on the shelves for traditionalists.

I chose this book not only because of Ishiguro’s record of producing great works (Never Let Me Go I found particularly chilling), but also because of my interest in what used to be called the Dark Ages and spe…

The Magna Carta manifesto : liberties and commons for all

Marking 800 years since the Magna Carta, Stephen Town adds another compelling read to his Nightshelf donations.

Linebaugh, P., The Magna Carta manifesto, in the University Library at H 2.1 LIN

This is the week of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, and so this subject is hard to avoid. The bandwagon of new publications on the topic is large, but I have decided to make a gift of a work published some time ago which I came across in the University of Washington Bookshop in Seattle while at a conference.

Whilst this is an academic work, like probably most books written on the Charter, it has a bias and a polemical style. It is unusual to commence such a work with a Monty Python quotation.

The book concentrates not solely on the Magna Carta itself, but also the accompanying Charter of the Forest created two years later. This other document may not generate much interest this week, but the Forest Charter was much more significant to ‘common’ people than the Great Charter, and has modern d…

Confessions of a 'technically' well behaved library user

James Lythgoe looks back to darker times in the Library...

Picture the scene: A peaceful Friday afternoon in the Library, the phone rings:

"University of York Library, how can I help?"

Silence on the line, a disgruntled sigh, then: "Oh damn, never mind, but hi anyway."

It transpired that a postgraduate friend of mine was calling in an attempt to blag their way out of some fines, but as soon as they heard my voice they knew it was hopeless. 1

"I can't help with this, but I can help you get out of lots of fines in the future"


"Yes: just remember to click the ‘renew’ button every couple of weeks!" 2

"Oh, great... thanks. You could have just cut me a break you know, anyway how many fines did you have when you were a student Mr just-click-the-button?"

"Er, one… in my first term. I misread the due time… and I was so embarrassed I think I was actually blushing when I paid the fine off."

"I s…

56: the story of the Bradford fire

Reflecting on this tragic event 30 years ago, Stephen Town adds another thought provoking read to his Nightshelf collection.

Fletcher, M., 56: the story of the Bradford fire, in the University Library at G 1.823 FLE

Football has been a large part of my life since childhood. I share the earliest memories of the author of this book of a father ‘going to football’, and later being taken along.  As a Leeds United supporter through that great period of success for the team in the 60s and early 70s, one of the players I watched was Terry Yorath, who later was in the Bradford City team on the day of the disastrous fire in 1985. Having been in the crowd as a fourteen-year old when the stand I was in burned down at Nottingham Forest’s ground in 1968, I appreciate the rapidity with which fires could destroy those wooden structures. There were no deaths at Nottingham; 56 people died at Bradford, including the father, brother, uncle and grandfather of the author, Martin Fletcher, who was twelve o…

Customer Service: being excellent

Jackie Knowles talks about our ongoing mission to maintain excellence in the service we provide to our customers.

We are proud to announce that the Information Directorate has successfully been revalidated for the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation.

In the twelve months since first achieving our CSE accreditation in April 2014 we have been working hard at ensuring we maintain our focus on our users and striving for excellence across everything we do. This has meant continuing to listen and engage with our users, making more improvements based on what we find out, continuing to share our good practice and maintaining our overall culture of putting customers at the heart of everything we do.

Our CSE revalidation visit took place in March and took the form of a 'health check' looking both at areas where we had identified where there was room for improvement and those areas where we excel. Our assessor came on site for a day and a half to meet with our staff and custo…

How to write a thesis - the latest donation from Stephen Town's nightshelf

Stephen Town goes back to basics with some advice on academic writing.

Eco, U., How to write a thesis, in the University Library at 029.6 ECO

When I left my first professional library post in 1984, one of my colleagues gave me a present of Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, published in English the year before and rapidly achieving sensational success for this Italian academic’s first novel. The book is attractive to librarians; the byzantine nature of the inaccessible library of the monastery described therein probably has a secret fascination for many in our profession. Eco’s appeal apparently still persists, as all our library copies of this novel appear to be on loan as I write.

As a follower of Eco’s work, and embarking on the creation of a thesis myself, I thought this slim manual (now published in English for the first time) would be a valuable addition to our substantial collection of advice on how to write for academic purposes. Starting to write a thesis can feel like a m…

Kettles and iMacs - how we respond to your comments

Joanne Casey highlights some of the changes and developments we've made in response to your feedback.

Your comments and feedback - whether you pass them to us in writing, by email, in person or on social media - are a crucial element in our service development. Feedback is considered on receipt, and again by managers within Library, IT and Archives. We can't always act on your suggestions, but when we do, we like to let you know.

These recent developments have all been informed by your comments.

Book Delivery Service
This facility has been in place since Summer 2014, allowing staff and students based at King's Manor
to request items held at the main University Library for delivery to King's Manor, and vice versa.

This scheme was well-received from its implementation, but recently we were asked to further raise awareness of the service, especially amongst students at King's Manor. We've responded to this with posts on social media, information on the dig…

The Cello Suites: in search of a baroque masterpiece

Tuning into his musical side, Stephen Town sharpens up his Bach with the latest donation in his Nightshelf series.

Siblin, E., The Cello Suites : in search of a baroque masterpiece, in the University Library at LM 7.3 SIB

A pleasure in retirement will be the opportunity to spend more time on music, and to return to practicing the Bach Cello Suites, which I have been doing (to not much avail) for over 45 years. My next donation, by Eric Siblin, will add to the very few in our collection about cello playing. Siblin is a journalist and a recent convert and enthusiast, but the style is not as irritating as I feared after reading reviews of this work. Siblin is passionate about the music and the story, and whilst there is occasional hyperbole and exaggeration, this is an easy and engaging read. He is of course not the first to tell the tale of the rediscovery of the suites, but it is a story worth re-telling. The greatest cellist of recent times, Pau Casals, found the forgotten scores in a…