Newsletter Meet the new University Librarian: Friends

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Newsletter Meet the new University Librarian: Friends
Friends of St Andrews University Library
Meet the new University Librarian:
notes from a chat with John MacColl, December 2010
John MacColl, European Director of OCLC Research Library
Partnership, will be taking up his new post as University
Librarian and Director of Library Services in St Andrews on
7 February 2011.
John is not new to the town. Of West Highland background,
he was the first of his family to attend university when he
came to study English Language and Literature in
St Andrews. His direct personal experience of using the
present library as a student when it was nearly new gives
an interesting perspective on the present refurbishment!
After studying Librarianship at Robert Gordon University
in Aberdeen he began his career in academic librarianship
in Scotland. At Glasgow University Library he worked on
a national collaborative project promoting the JANET
network; at Aberdeen University he was Information Officer
within the Computing Centre and taught in the University,
as well as managing the IT library; at Abertay he was Deputy
Librarian responsible for reader services and front of house
and was part of a convergence initiative which left him
managing budgets, technical services and administrative
computing as Assistant Head of Information Services;
in Edinburgh University he was a member of the Senior
Management Team working with the Faculty of Science and
then in online services, ultimately becoming Head of the
Digital Library.
Since 2007 he has worked with the Research Libraries
Group, making the Library here the base of European
operations. He says, “it has been a privilege to have so
many opportunities to visit and meet with the staff of so
many wonderful institutions – university libraries, national
libraries, archives and museums – across Europe.” He
worked closely with colleagues in the USA, where OCLC is
headquartered, and has gained international experience
which he hopes to bring to bear on St Andrews. He has a
broad perspective and an awareness of the significance
of the specific and unique in what is now a global market
in Higher Education. John’s work with OCLC has included
research into scholarly communications, changing
researcher behaviours, and has given him an insight into
the value of primary sources: “it has felt a bit like an
sabbatical at
His vision for
St Andrews
includes all the
library spaces
on campus
and recognises
the special
place of Special
upon which he
will put heavy
emphasis. He
wants the Library
to celebrate the
University and
to become its cultural hub whilst reflecting the research
profile of St Andrews. The challenges to be faced are those
common to all small research universities which want to
make an impact with limited resources. Specifically, he
highlights the historic underinvestment in the Library which
he is glad to see has begun to be addressed, he wants to
spend successfully and to continue to raise the profile of
the Library and specifically its Special Collections both
nationally and internationally. In the digital sphere, he wants
to show the relevance of library services to the researcher
and is excited by the challenge of the Library stewarding
the output of the University and continuing the traditional
library role of managing information for the University. He
believes that it is critical for the Library to understand the
way in which disciplines behave and change and that there
is a vital role for the Academic Liaison team. John is looking
forward to taking up his post at the start of semester 2. “The
University means a huge amount to me and I want to do my
best for it.”
Rachel Hart
Special Collections
Spring 2011 • Issue 7
Friends of St Andrews University Library
01334 462317
Spring 2011 • Issue 7 • Friends of St Andrews University Library • 01334 462317
Library Redevelopment is on track!
Plans for the first stage of a larger overall redevelopment project
of the Main Library are well under way. The University has made an
initial commitment of £7 m to fund this stage, which sits alongside a
commitment to invest £4 m in Library collections over the next four
years and £3 m to build a new Library store, which was completed in
the summer of 2010.
resources will be available on
and off campus, and borrowing
entitlements for postgraduate
students and staff
will be extended for print
As well as delivering improvements to heating, ventilation and lighting
on all levels, the redevelopment will provide an increase in the number,
and variety, of study spaces on levels 2, 3 and 4; a more accessible
entrance on the west side of the building; upgraded furnishings and
fittings, including new carpeting on all levels; a café and more bookable
study rooms.
In preparation for the work this
summer, our Special Collections
department is in the process of
moving out of the Main Library
Service desk and Short Loan collection
to the University store on the North
Haugh. A dedicated team of eight project assistants and a Project
Manager have been in place since October 2010 to plan and expedite
the move, and have thus far logged, wrapped, packed and transported
50,000 items from level 1 of the Main Library to the North Haugh.
The building work for the first stage of the project will be spread over
two summer vacations, 2011 and 2012. To allow work to take place
over the summer of 2011, staff, students and other users will not
be able to access the building between 30 May and 18 September.
During this period the Library will
however, continue to provide a full
range of services from alternative
accommodation on the campus,
including enquiries, reservations,
inter-library loan pickups, access to
our short loan collection and key
reference materials, and a twice
daily retrieval service for any items
of stock held in the Main Library
building. Full access to electronic
Main Library entrance
Between now and May 2011 there will be a considerable amount
of preparatory work to be done and as more information becomes
available the Library will endeavour to communicate that to Library
customers. Presently there is more information on the redevelopment
project, including artistic impressions of the interior of the Library and
floor plans for each level, available to view on our public information
display boards on level 2, as well as on the Library website. In February
2011 a blog site dedicated to providing regular updates on the progress
of the project will be launched.
Kirsty Lee
Library Redevelopment Project Officer
‘Books, Vision and Ambition in an Age of Austerity’
The Friends of the Library Autumn Lecture was given by Faith Liddell,
Director of Festivals Edinburgh, in the New Arts Building on
22 November 2010.
Festivals Edinburgh was set up in 2006 and brings together twelve
Festivals in Edinburgh. It arose as the result of the influential Thundering
Hooves: Maintaining the Global Competitive Edge of Edinburgh Festivals
study, which was published in 2006. Commissioned by the Scottish Arts
Council in partnership with Festivals Edinburgh, the City of Edinburgh
Council, EventScotland and Scottish Enterprise, the study examined the
situation of festivals in Edinburgh and concluded that although all was
well in the short-term, there were some potential threats in the longterm. As a result a high level organisation, Festivals Edinburgh, was
established to lead the strategic development of festivals in Edinburgh.
It is managed by the twelve major festivals and Faith Liddell was
appointed its first Director in 2007.
Faith Liddell outlined the history of festivals in Edinburgh. The
Edinburgh International Festival had been set up in 1947 after the
Second World War in a spirit of reconciliation. It had been brought
about by the innovative approach of a handful of bold people. Similarly,
the Edinburgh Book Festival had been created by group of committed
writers, librarians and administrators. At the time of its creation in 1983,
it had been one of three in the UK, and now there are more than three
hundred. From her own career as Director of the Book Festival, Faith
Liddell outlined some of the innovative choices they had faced. Should
the festival remain small or expand; should it become annual rather
than biennial? Other innovations had been developing the Festival as a
forum for public debate; and abolishing the entrance fee. The common
factors in all these innovations were determination and focused
Another example of innovation in which she had been involved was the
National Short Stories Campaign. It had been brought about through a
partnership which included Book Trust and Book Trust Scotland, NESTA,
the BBC, Prospect and Atlantic Publishing. Out of this had been created
the National Short Story Award, which is now in its fifth year. This
From left: Paula Martin, Graeme Scott, Faith Liddell,
Ann Matheson, Frank Quinault, Christine Gascoigne
innovation had brought together organisations with radically different
cultures and had taught her patience and to be focused on goals.
Faith Liddell expanded on the current work of Festivals Edinburgh,
which has a Board of Directors and six collaborative groups. It
concentrates on marketing the festivals nationally and internationally,
professional development and thinking about innovative ways
of working. She described some of the work in progress on using
technology and innovation to help audiences; and on investigating
ways in which the festivals can achieve more by working together.
Festivals Edinburgh had decided to concentrate on horizon scanning;
innovation processes; innovative people; and knowledge sharing. The
aim is to be a world-leading centre of digital innovation in a cultural
context and to develop cross-festival value.
Ann Matheson
Spring 2011 • Issue 7 • Friends of St Andrews University Library • 01334 462317
A treasure from the collections:
a librarian and an astronomer consider Leonard Digges’
A Prognostication everlastinge of righte good effecte […] Lately corrected
and augmented by Thomas Digges his sonne. Typ BL.B76JC
Leonard Digges was born in 1520, and made his name as a
mathematician, surveyor and writer of popular science. The
Prognostication was first published in 1553 and became a best-seller,
since it contained a wealth of useful information about subjects such
as weather forecasting, navigation, astronomy and medicine, as well as
a perpetual calendar. The woodcut of the Zodiac Man, which appears
on the title page and again within the book, shows which part of the
body was ruled by each zodiac sign, information considered essential
for treating illness and especially for knowing when was the best time
for blood letting.
However, the particular importance of the 1576 edition of Leonard’s
book lies, not so much in his work, as in the addition of a short
work by his son Thomas. Thomas was born in 1546, and was only
fourteen when his father died. He was taken under the wing of the
mathematician and astronomer John Dee with whom he worked for
many years, making astronomical observations and mathematical
calculations. In 1573, Digges brought out the first work he had written
entirely alone, his previous books being mainly editions of his father’s
writings. The Alae seu scalae mathematicae is usually considered to
have been prompted by observations of a “new star”, a stella nova, first
described by Tycho Brahe in 1572 and known as Brahe’s supernova,
but more accurately observed by Digges, who used a six-foot ruler
which he suspended from a tree to determine whether it moved in
relation to the other stars close to it in the sky. Some scholars have
recently argued that Digges had begun writing the Alae before the
new star had been observed, and that an anonymous Letter sent by a
gentleman of England, published earlier in 1573, contains Digges’ first
statement of Copernican principles, justifying the heliocentric view
of the universe. Whatever the case, Digges’ observations of the star
proved to him that the standard view of the universe as static could not
Exercising independent thought in the sixteenth century was a
dangerous business. For his part in the protest against the marriage
of Queen Mary and Prince Philip of Spain, Leonard Digges was
condemned to death, and had his property seized. He managed to
avoid the former, and somehow redeem the latter, only to die soon
afterwards at the tender age of 39. Despite all this, Leonard produced
not only some original scientific research, but also a son, Thomas, who
eventually became an ardent promoter of his late father’s work.
Many of Leonard’s writings were augmented and enhanced
by Thomas, and two are of particular importance. One is the
Prognistication described here, with its several appendices by Thomas,
most notably his Perfit description of the caelestiall orbes. The other is
a book first published in 1571, a dozen years after Leonard’s death.
Its long, rambling title is usually abbreviated to Pantometria, and it is
concerned with the application of mathematics to such activities as
surveying, navigation and gunnery. Intriguingly, there are passages
in Pantometria that suggest the idea of a telescope, with mirrors or
lenses bringing an enlarged view of a distant scene to the eye. In his
commentary, Thomas is emphatic that these are not just thought
experiments, but the result of his father’s ‘continual painfull practises’.
Despite this account and a few others elsewhere (for example, in
Giovanni Battista della Porta’s 1589 edition of Magia naturalis),
today’s best scholarship still places the origin of the telescope in
the Netherlands, no earlier than the first decade of the seventeenth
century. Thomas’ eager assertion in Pantometria is fantasy but it is
probably closer to perceptive insight than wishful thinking.
It highlights the essence of the Digges’ posthumous collaboration.
Leonard’s work was solid stuff, whose popular appeal was rooted in
its practical applicability, while his son had an eye both for innovative
ideas and their ultimate consequences. Parts of his Perfit description,
be true. In the Perfit description of the
caelestiall orbes, which he appended
to his father’s Prognostication, he went
further than Copernicus in arguing
that the universe was infinite, not
stationary as Copernicus had believed.
Despite the danger of contradicting the
official Catholic view of the universe,
the book continued to be re-printed
into the seventeenth century and
had a considerable influence on the
development of astronomical thought,
in which Digges deserves a more
significant place than he has.
The Library’s copy is bound with
five other tracts on navigation and
seamanship, all printed in London
Title page showing Zodiac Man
between 1575 and 1578. The first
owner was Thomas Newton, born near
Chester about 1542, student at Trinity
College and Queen’s College, Cambridge, where Thomas Digges was
also a student. He was rector of Little Ilford from 1583 until his death in
1607. He acquired the book in 1578. Newton was a translator, including
of books on medicine, and was a physician and divine. In 1998, the
Library’s copy was lent to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for an
important exhibition ‘Figures du ciel’, which marked the opening of its
new Special Collections department.
Christine Gascoigne
Formerly Keeper of Rare Books and Acting University Librarian
for example, are little more than
translations of Copernicus’ De
revolutionibus of 1543, but there
is a real gem of originality in his
suggestion that the Solar System is
embedded in an infinite ocean of
stars, rather than sitting motionless
at the centre of a star-studded
crystal sphere.
Today, we know that this ocean of
stars extends to the boundary of
the Milky Way Galaxy, which is just
one among a hundred billion or
so galaxies in the Universe. Many
of these stars are known to have
Diagram of Solar System
planetary systems of their own, and,
at St Andrews and elsewhere, they
are the subjects of intensive study.
But just as Thomas grappled with exciting new cosmological ideas in
1576, so do we today. Only five percent of the mass-energy budget of
the Universe is properly understood. The rest is an unequal mix of dark
matter and dark energy, neither of which has shown much inclination
to yield its secrets to scientific investigation.
Like Thomas, though, we can anticipate the benefits of new technology,
as we stand on the brink of an era of gigantic optical telescopes with
baseball-field sized mirrors. We might hope that our own Perfit
description of the Universe will not be long in coming.
Professor Fred Watson AM (B.Sc. 1967, M.Sc. 1975)
Astronomer-in-Charge at the Australian Astronomical Observatory,
and author of Stargazer: the Life and Times of the Telescope.
Spring 2011 • Issue 7 • Friends of St Andrews University Library • 01334 462317
17th century editions of Jonson’s plays uncovered
I arrived in St Andrews in July 2010 from the Master’s program of Library
and Information Science at the University of Illinois and the University
of York (M.A., Medieval Studies) having worked at York Minster Library.
My first task was to tackle the last remaining uncatalogued portion of
the Typographical collection: the British section.
The majority of this collection has remained relatively unknown to the
general public, with only a portion of it having been recorded in the
old Page Catalogue and reported to the English Short Title Catalogue
(ESTC). I have catalogued close to 900 items since my July start, seeing
the completion of the English books before the end of the year. Most
of these items were not completely unknown to previous and existing
Special Collections staff, but time and resources have not previously
allowed them to be researched in order to produce full catalogue
records. It has been a privilege to uncover and “rediscover” many
unique and extremely rare items that St Andrews has in its collection.
One of the most exciting rediscoveries to-date is the uncovering of a
copy of the 1631 edition (Typ BL.C31BJ) of three of Benjamin Jonson’s
plays: Bartholmew fayre, The divell is an asse, and The staple of newes.
These were published in folio format as a follow-up to Jonson’s 1616
“First Folio”. What makes Typ BL.C31BJ such an exciting find is that it is
one of only seven recorded copies in the world. According to the ESTC,
our copy is the third recorded in the U.K. and the only copy in Scotland.
The 1640 edition (Typ BL.C40DJ) of Jonson’s works, published after
his death, was also rediscovered shortly after the above item. Typ
BL.C40DJ, which is wanting seven of the plays originally issued,
muddies the waters somewhat, as the unsold copies of the 1631
edition were reissued with the 1640 edition. All of
the plays in both Typ BL.C31BJ and Typ BL.C40DJ
are individually and uniformly bound, probably
by a late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century
bookseller, and so it is impossible to tell whether
these two items are in fact the same or two
different bibliographic items.
Typ BL.C31BJ and Typ BL.C40DJ were donated to
the library in 1989, by Mr JB Kitchin (1st class hons.
Chemistry, 1933), and so they were not entered
into the Page Catalogue. Both of these items were
also not catalogued in SAULCAT. The only record
of these items existed in the non-public shelf slips and in various library
reports. Effectively, these items have been hidden and unknown to the
public for over 20 years.
As mentioned above, these plays are not the only exciting rediscoveries
from this collection. Almost every day I come across items of interest
because of their uniqueness, their provenance or their value to the
University’s heritage and I share these with my colleagues and the
public by including each unique feature on the catalogue. I have only
scratched the surface of the overall collection of over 200,000 rare
books in the Special Collections department in my short time here,
and I suspect that many more treasures will come to light as I progress
through the Typographical collection and beyond.
Daryl Green
Rare Books Cataloguer
The Committee of the Friends of the Library meets three times a year and consists of:
Kay Redfield Jamison (Chair), Graeme Scott (Vice-Chair), John MacColl as Director of Library Services ex officio, Paula Martin (Hon Secretary), Norman Reid as Head
of Special Collections ex officio, Alice Crawford as Academic Liaison Librarian, Arts and Divinity ex officio, Elizabeth Henderson as another member of library staff ex
officio, Robert Crawford, Trevor Hart, Cate Newton, Ann Matheson, Frank Quinault, David Corner, Astrid Mackenzie and Christine Gascoigne.
Editorial submissions should be sent to:
Newsletter Sub-Committee, Friends of St Andrews University Library,
University of St Andrews Library, North Street, St Andrews, KY16 9TR
Membership enquiries should be sent to:
Dr Alice Crawford via the contact details below or by visiting our website
Tel: 01334 462317 Email: [email protected]
Website: www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/friends/
The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland SC013532
Spring 2011 • Issue 7 • Friends of St Andrews University Library • 01334 462317
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