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Visit to the Royal Astronomical Society Library by Maddie House

By Anne Welsh, on 24 October 2014

RASEditorial Note: We are grateful to Sian Prosser, Librarian of the Royal Astronomical Society for hosting this Induction Week visit. – Anne Welsh, Programme Director MA Library and Information Studies.

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During our induction week, some of the new LIS students were lucky enough to visit the Royal Astronomical Society Library. The Society was formed in 1820, and gained its Royal Charter in 1831. The Society’s aim was, and still is, to promote the study of astronomy and related disciplines. The Society has been collecting books, manuscripts and other works since its inception, which form the basis of the Society’s collections today. The Society’s home is at Burlington House in Piccadilly, where it is neighboured by the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Linnean Society, among others.

 

We were shown round the beautiful building by the Society’s Librarian, Sian Prosser. She told us about the history of the collections and the challenges of managing the Society’s archive and rare book spaces. We were shown the wonderful wood-panelled reading rooms which house some of the collections. The Society holds regular talks and events in these rooms of the library. One of the highlights for me was seeing the Rare Book Room which holds, among many other treasures, a piece of wood from the apple tree in Isaac Newton’s garden. Sian very kindly laid out some unique items from the collection for us to see, including Astronomicum Caesareum by Peter Apian, published in 1540. The book contains many brightly-coloured, moving discs which can be used to calculate the position of planets. There was also a first-edition of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), which revolutionised astronomy at the time of its publication in 1543.

 

After a look at the treasures, we sat down to talk shop! It was fascinating to hear about the role of the librarian in an well-established organisation such as the Royal Astronomical Society. Sian talked to us about the challenges of being a sole practitioner in terms of planning and managing your workload, but also about the opportunities that can be gained by broadening your skill set, taking on new challenges and establishing new professional knowledge and networks: in this case, by learning about the distinguished history of the Society and getting to know current members. She told us about some of her potential plans for the future, which include some retrospective cataloguing (the Library holds 300 current periodicals as well as over 3000 ceased journal titles), liaising with other astronomy libraries and archives internationally to map shared collections of journals and to perhaps plan for digitisation of some titles, and extend the Society’s already impressive outreach activities around its collections. She also mentioned that as a sole practitioner, having a professional support network of librarians to talk to (both in the other libraries at Burlington Place and in the wider world) was very helpful – something to bear in mind as we continue to build our professional networks! In all, it was a fascinating and inspiring visit to a beautiful and unique institution. Thank you very much to Sian for inviting us!

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Maddie House (@thevonfresh) is studying part-time for her MA LIS, while working in an academic library.

Image: Anne Welsh. Used with permission.

 

 

Out of Bounds

By Anne Welsh, on 4 July 2011

Tomorrow MA LIS student Sian Prosser is presenting a paper at the Early Book Society and York Manuscripts Conference Out of Bounds: Mobility, Movement and Use of Manuscripts and Printed Books, 1350-1550. Sian’s paper is entitled ‘Used treasure: manuscript waste in the bindings of Ripon Cathedral Library, including a newly-discovered fragment of Brunetto Latini’s Livres dou tresor‘. She is continuing her research into the Ripon Cathedral binding fragments this summer for her Masters dissertation.

 

Image: from the Playing the Margins tumblog.

 

 

Playing the Margins: the first workshop

By Paris O'Donnell, on 14 May 2011

On Monday 9th May a group of actors, teachers and researchers joined us for the first Playing the Margins workshop. We gathered in the tranquil setting of the Petrie Museum to discuss annotation practices, past and present. The participants had brought along examples of texts or scripts they had annotated, and described their habits and preferences (or, in some cases, their habit of not writing in books) to the group. This discussion gave us valuable insights into the codes of behaviour governing their annotation practices. These codes varied considerably from one participant to another but were internally consistent and strongly related to the context and purpose of annotation and the ownership of the books or scripts. (more…)

Playing the Margins: Get Involved

By Anne Welsh, on 13 May 2011

There’s another chance to take part in a Playing the Margins workshop towards the end of the month. From the project’s tumblog:

Are you involved in the performing arts?

Do you ever find yourself doodling in the margins of scripts?

Do you mark up your prompt books?

If so, please come to an informal, experimental workshop exploring how actors, directors, theatre critics and other readers annotate texts in the past and present.

Explore how earlier readers engaged with play-texts, prompt-books and other texts by taking part in this workshop using texts from UCL Special Collections.

Full details, booking information, and some lovely illustrations of marginalia, available on the tumblog.

Playing the Margins was conceived by MA LIS students Paris O’Donnell and Sian Prosser; is funded by UCL’s Train and Engage Scheme; and makes use of materials from UCL LIbrary Services Special Collections.

Image: Auntie P, copyright commons: some rights reserved

Playing the Margins: register now

By Anne Welsh, on 19 April 2011

Registration is now open for a free workshop run by MA LIS students Paris O’Donnell and Sian Prosser as part of their public engagement project, Playing the Margins.

If you are a drama student or an actor, you can sign up to take part. Full details on the Playing the Margins tumblog.

Image: Playing the Margins

Playing the Margins

By Anne Welsh, on 11 February 2011

MA LIS students Paris O’Donnell and Sian Prosser have been awarded funding through UCL’s public engagement scheme for postgraduate students, Train and Engage.

Working with UCL Library Services Special Collections, Sian and Paris will invite actors and drama students to explore and experiment in annotation practice, sharing their own play collections and annotating digital images of selected plays from UCL’s holdings.

Find out more about the project from its tumblog.

Image: Auntie P, copyright commons: some rights reserved