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The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris20 August 2019

Medieval Mysteries from UCL Special Collections

Today’s meeting of the UCL Rare Books Club took a fresh and insightful look at UCL’s medieval scientific manuscripts. An outstanding scholar, Professor Charles Burnett from the Warburg Institute, gave a masterly personal commentary on many of the items on display.

Professor Burnett is here seen describing his favourite item on show, MS. Lat. 15, described in some detail in D.K. Coveney, Descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of University College (London, 1935). It consists of 33 leaves and 1+2 fly leaves. The MS. is a palimpsest, which means that the original text has been erased and over-written. The original text is still visible on some folios.

The contents are in handwriting thought to date from the 14th century and the text is accompanied by diagrams in red or red and black.  The MS. contains various texts, and the one most discussed by Professor Burnett was Johannis de Sacrobosco, Tractatus de Sphera. This main text constitutes one of the most famous fundamental tracts on astronomy and cosmography being circulated from the 13th to the 17th centuries. It is based on Ptolemy and discusses the terrestrial globe, the rising and setting of stars, and the orbs and movements of planets.  Johannis De Sacrobosco (otherwise John of Holywood, or Halifax), is thought to have been born in Yorkshire and he settled in Paris around 1220. He was a mathematician and astronomer. He wrote texts on arithmetic, astronomy and cosmography. He died either in 1244 or in 1256 (see the UK Archives Hub here). The manuscript was formerly in the Graves collection, no. 3496, bequeathed to the Library in 1870. John Thomas Graves (1806-1870) was a mathematician and Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London, whose collection included manuscripts dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, relating mainly to mathematics.

My own personal favourite, being a church historian of the English church, was the Perspectiva Communis of John Peckham, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury 1279-92, being a treatise on optics. He was a prolific author of treatises on science and theology. This manuscript dates from the 15th or 16th centuries and is MS. Lat. 31, bound  (perhaps from the first) with two printed works, the Arithmetica of Jordanus Nemorarius, edited by Jacques le Fêvre (Johannes Higman and Wolfgang Hopyl, Paris, 1496), and the Geometria speculatiua of Bradwardine (Paris, 1495) (see AIM25 here). The manuscript also formed part of the library of John Thomas Graves, and was formerly Graves no. 3950.

The session today was well attended by UCL staff, students and external visitors. As Professor Burnett remarked, the medieval holdings of UCL Special Collections deserve a wide and appreciative audience.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris13 August 2019

R.D. Laing and UCL’s underground press material

13 August saw a public lecture from UCL Special Collections’ first Visiting Fellow, Professor Adrian Chapman. Professor Chapman is Professor at Florida State University and based in London. He has a PhD from UCL and two English degrees from the University of London. He has publications (academic articles and creative work) in the area of Literature and Psychology / Medical Humanities and a research interest in Rhetoric and Composition. His research is particularly centred on R. D. Laing (the radical Scottish psychiatrist) and his network. For the announcement of his appointment in Special Collections, see here.

Around 50 people, perhaps half of them from outside UCL, attended to hear Professor Chapman talk about the influence of R.D. Laing and his network on psychiatry, using as source material the matchless collections in UCL Special Collections from the underground press. Wikipedia says: ‘Ronald David Laing (7 October 1927 – 23 August 1989), usually cited as R. D. Laing, was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing’s views on the causes and treatment of psychopathological phenomena were influenced by his study of existential philosophy and ran counter to the chemical and electroshock methods that had become psychiatric orthodoxy. Taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of mental illness, Laing regarded schizophrenia as a theory not a fact. Though associated in the public mind with anti-psychiatry, he rejected the label. Politically, he was regarded as a thinker of the New Left. Laing was portrayed in the 2017 film Mad to Be Normal.’

During his talk in UCL, alas cut short in the last few minutes by a fire practice, Professor Chapman gave a number of examples of Laing’s influence, as displayed in the collections on view, accompanied by recorded music of the period. Take, as an example, musical illustration no. 12: The Doors, ‘Break on Through (To the Other Side)’. (The Doors, Elektra, 1967). Like Dylan, Jim Morrison was, and continues to be, an icon of the ’60s. The Doors took their name from The Doors of Perception, a book about mescaline and the expansion of consciousness by Aldous Huxley, whose nephew, Francis, was a great friend of Laing. Aldous Huxley found his title in a line from William Blake, the English Romantic poet, who wrote that  ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite’. According to a review in It 39, The Doors’ ‘Break on Through (To the Other Side)’ is ‘very natural, like breathing’. The need to break through convention and the ‘false self’ to a region where one can at last breathe freely – a liberated zone of playfulness, creativity and authenticity – was a desire shared by The Doors, the Laing network and the underground on both sides of the Atlantic (Programme Note from Professor Chapman).

Professor Chapman’s talk was received enthusiastically by his audience and marks a further step in the successful development of outreach and academic engagement activities by UCL Special Collections.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

 

Replacing Copac with new NBK Library Hub Discover

Thomas PMeehan8 July 2019

Further to my blog post of 5 February, Copac and a number of related services from RLUK and Suncat will no longer exist from 31 July 2019. They are due to be replaced by a new range of Library Hub services from Jisc, based on data within the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK). Please take note if you use any of the following services:

  • Copac
  • Copac Collection Management (CCM) Tools
  • RLUK record downloading (z39.50)
  • Suncat

There are three “Library Hub” services, the most important one for discovery being Library Hub Discover, which takes over from Copac and SUNCAT and should have similar coverage. UCL’s holdings are now in this service, although I am undertaking a number of detailed tests and would appreciate any reports of missing or strange-looking records on Library Hub. Updates should now be weekly. You can restrict any search to UCL only, by putting “held-by:ucl” at the beginning of any search, e.g. this search for social media books by Daniel Miller. This should be useful for when Explore is unavailable. Real-time availability is not available on Library Hub Discover, but is planned.

The RLUK MARC record downloading service will be superseded by Library Hub Catalogue, a web and z39.50 service. I am currently looking at getting this set up on Alma and will send further information to relevant staff when this is ready.

The third service- Library Hub Compare– is not yet ready but is intended to replace CCM Tools and the SUNCAT Serials Comparison service. Further details will be provided when available.

Please note that all three Library Hub services are still being described by Jisc as “pilot” services but with the imminent retirement of Copac in particular it will be necessary to update practices and documentation.

More information

Jisc have provided a number of extra pages with information about Library Hub Discover, including a general About page, a more detailed FAQ, and lots of search tips in a Help page.

Feedback

Please let me know if you have any feedback, especially about how UCL’s data appears (or if it doesn’t). Jisc are also interested in getting feedback and you can fill in this questionnaire.

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris13 June 2019

Visit of Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

On Thursday 13 June 2019, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, visited UCL with members of his cabinet.

The purpose of the Commissioner’s presence was to re-visit those European universities to which he feels especial affinity. He leaves his position in the autumn of 2019 once the new European Commission takes office.

As Pro-Vice-Provost with a responsibility for co-ordinating Open Science across UCL, I was asked to address him in the Provost’s Office to outline the success that UCL has had in introducing Open Science practice across the institution. I also highlighted the challenges in Europe in moving to embrace Open Science principles. This is the text which I used in my talk, sitting next to the Commissioner as I spoke.

Successes

  1. UCL Press is the UK’s first fully OA University Press. We have published 106 monographs with over 2 million downloads – when conventional sales over the bookshop counter might result in 200 sales per title. Our most downloaded book is from Professor Danny Miller in Anthropology in UCL, How the World Changed Social Media, which has been downloaded over 300,000 times. This shows the transformative effect of OA monograph publishing.
  2. We have also launched a megajournal platform – with the first subject section being the Environment. This has Open Peer review and the submission is made available immediately as Green OA in a Pre-Print repository prior to peer review and final publication.
  3. We have just launched our Open UCL Research Data repository for academics to archive their research data for sharing and re-use.
  4. UCL Discovery is the institutional OA repository. We monitor OA compliance from the Faculties on a monthly basis and have compliance rates as high as 90%. UCL Discovery has just passed the 20 million download mark.
  5. From 2000-2016, Digital Science has shown that UCL is consistently the university in the Russell Group in the UK most engaged with OA.
  6. We have also launched a pilot Open Educational Resources repository to collect educational materials for sharing and re-use.
  7. We have a pan-UCL Open Science governance platform, which monitors the introduction of Open Science principles and practices across the institution; and we lead work in Open Science in LERU (League of European Research Universities).
  8. UCL is one of the first universities anywhere in Europe to include Open Access to publications, research data and software, as a core principle in our academic promotions framework. This policy was signed off and published in 2018.

Challenges and how UCL can help  

  1. Academic concerns with Plan S, not with Open Access, threaten to de-rail the advances made across Europe in Open Science practice. We would like to support Plan S by working with the Commission and others to make Alternative Publishing Platforms, on the model of UCL Press, a reality across Europe.
  2. Those who manage the European Open Science Cloud have not engaged with universities, indeed they ignore my calls for collaboration. UCL would like to work with the EOSC to determine rules of engagement for universities. We have considerable experience, running the DART-Europe portal for OA research theses, which aggregates metadata for 619 universities and provides access to over 800,000 full-text research theses in 28 countries.
  3. The Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform work on Next Generation Metrics is badly stalled and needs a kick for it to produce a set of Recommendations which can be embraced by the global academy. UCL could help as we are out to informal consultation on an institutional Bibliometrics policy, grounded in Open Science principles.
  4. UCL is attempting, with LERU and other partners, to build a pan-European community for Open Science; the Commission could help by providing opportunities for seed funding to encourage growth in community engagement. Open Science, after all, is about people not just principles and practice.

I gave the Commissioner a gift bag from UCL Press containing, amongst other things, a copy of Danny Miller’s How the World Changed Social Media, the most downloaded book from UCL Press. The Commissioner has asked me to follow up with him and his team on a number of the issues I raised. I will certainly be doing that.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Desktop IT support for Library Services staff

MargaretStone24 May 2019

Image of all in one EAPThe support arrangements for library staff desktop IT equipment have changed slightly, as outlined in the Core Brief for May.  Please note that this is in addition to (and complementary to) recent changes in support for Alma and other digital library services.

In summary, the first points of contact are as follows:

  • for support for Desktop@UCL hardware and software, contact servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk as this forms part of their standard service
  • for support for non-Desktop@UCL hardware and software, contact Library IT support (the usual address, listed on LibNet)
  • for ordering, disposal, liaison and escalation with ISD, again contact Library IT support.

This information will be kept up to date on our IT for Staff pages on LibNet.

BEIS launches Knowledge Quarter Science and Innovation Audit

Benjamin G MMeunier15 March 2019

The Knowledge Quarter network is celebrating the release of a Science and Innovation Audit of the area, on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The report, which UCL was a lead partner in developing, identifies the area’s nationally leading strengths in AI, life sciences and cultural and scientific collections and publishing, and recommends opportunities for investment and further developing the area to enhance its potential. A key recommendation is the development of a spatial plan for the area that better enables the next generation of scientific and knowledge-led enterprises to locate in the area. The report is London’s only SIA, demonstrating its unique nature within London’s economy. More here.

 

How does this relate to UCL Library Services? We have a key place in London, and in the Knowledge Quarter in particular, and this is reflected in the full report. The report mentions our 18 libraries, “covering a wide range of specialist subjects ranging from bio-medicine and science to arts, architecture and archaeology”. The report also highlights UCL’s leading role in promoting “innovation in Open Science, including starting UCL Press, the UK’s first completely open access university press.” UCL Press and the launch of the megajournal are referenced in Table 5-5: Open Access Publishers started by universities and scientific bodies within the Knowledge Quarter.

In addition, Box 5-4 illustrates how UCL Special Collections’ Outreach programme is delivering meaningful experiences for non-academic audiences to access, learn about and enjoy our Special Collections. Key projects listed include:

• Time Capsule with Edith Neville Primary School: a whole-school project developed around the building of a new school and the demolition of the old. In collaboration with Museum of London Archaeology, the children explored the concept of keeping things for the future as well as the importance of objects from the past. As part of this, pupils were taught about archives and each class has begun to create a class archive.

• Making East London: with funding from HLF and a UCL Beacon Bursary, this touring exhibition was a collaboration with Newham Libraries and Archives (East) to bring together both organisation’s collections to explore East London’s past, inspired by the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories. The exhibition was a centrepiece around which workshops for community groups were run. The workshops were also opportunities for the recording of local peoples’ stories, experiences and memories of east London; student volunteers from UCL have worked to, and continue to, record oral histories as part of a new digital archive.

 

Making a difference: Library Services Review 2015-18

Benjamin G MMeunier26 February 2019

As we begin to look forward for the next 4 years in the new Library Strategy, we can also take stock of the achievements from the last strategy period and reflect on how Library Services is making a difference to UCL. As a retrospective piece looking at some of the achievements from 2015-18, we have published the Library Services Strategy Review 2015-18.

As Pro-Vice-Provost Paul Ayris states in the Foreword, we have collectively achieved the vast majority of ambitious objectives which were set five years ago to support the vision laid out in UCL 2034. This is down to the work of each member of staff across the service, combining expertise, collaboration, innovation and a large dose of perseverance to ensure that our service is as good as it can be for the benefit of our staff and students within UCL, in the NHS and other users. The Review features a number of colleagues and teams in case studies which provide a glimpse into the varied projects and initiatives which Library Services undertakes. These illustrate how our department is improving the User Experience, delivers best value for money and engages with the world beyond UCL. Inevitably, the achievements listed are not exhaustive and we will be re-introducing Annual Reports effective from 2019, on a similar model to this Review, to present the work of Library Services each year.

Some of the highlights from 2015-18 are listed on the ‘What we do’ webpage, which provides a link to the full text Strategy Review.

New Library Services Strategy launched online

Benjamin G MMeunier21 February 2019

The UCL Library Services Strategy 2019-22 is now available online and in print booklets:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/about-us/ucl-library-services-strategy-2019-22

Our 4-year strategy sets out the specific work the Library can undertake as an outstanding library service to support the long-term goals set out in UCL 2034. Within the Library Strategy, we define our values, based on the contributions of many colleagues from across the service. Thanks again to colleagues who contributed to shaping the strategy through the workshops and meetings at site libraries in the past 18 months. The Library Strategy is organised around six strands of activity, or Key Performance Areas (KPAs):

KPA leaders from the Library SMT oversee each of the KPAs, which contain the specific actions we have committed to delivering during the lifespan of this strategy. For more information, please visit the webpage. If you would like a print Strategy booklet for your team, these can be collected from Daniel Kordik (Main Library room 107, d.kordik[at]ucl.ac.uk). The Library SMT acts as the Library Strategy Steering Group.

We invite all members of Library Services to the Strategy launch event on 20th March and look forward to seeing many of you there!

 

New NBK Library Hub to Replace Copac and Suncat

Thomas PMeehan5 February 2019

Copac and a number of related services will shortly be disappearing, to be replaced by new services from Jisc this summer. Jisc have been working on a new National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) with a view to replacing a number of popular national library services, including Copac, Copac Collection Management (CCM) Tools, RLUK record downloading (z39.50), and Suncat. There are currently three “Library Hub” services planned, two of which now have a pilot interface available:

  • Library Hub Discover (search, to replace Copac). This is now available as a pilot with limited coverage to test now. There is a link to a feedback form on the Search page.
  • Library Hub Catalogue (record download, to replace RLUK z39.50). I anticipate this simply replacing the RLUK profile in the Alma External Resources search although there is a web interface too. This is now available as a pilot with limited fields and data, but this is for libraries that have contributed to the NBK, which we have yet to do.
  • Library Hub Compare (to supersede CCM Tools and the SUNCAT Serials Comparison service). There is no test version of this yet.

Jisc intends for all three to replace the existing services in July 2019. For more information about the Library Hub Services, see the About and FAQ pages. There is a little more information, including about the Compare service, in this post: Driving Transformation with the NBK – where have we got to and where next?. We intend to fully participate in the NBK so our records will be visible in the Library Hub services.

Alma – update on running reports

MargaretStone16 October 2018

As Alma continues to bed in, I wanted to provide an update on the plans for extracting information using reports.

Firstly, under the terms of our contract, we will only retain access to Aleph and its reporting centre, ARC, until three months after the Alma go-live date.  If you are using ARC, please therefore run any reports that you may need by the end of November and save the results outside ARC.

Secondly, some of the information used for collection management, specifically last loan date and total number of loans, has been migrated to Alma, so you will be able to report on this information indefinitely and the end of November deadline does not apply.

Thirdly, we will shortly be reviewing your reporting requirements from Alma and providing information about access to the Analytics module.  To that end, please could you notify digital-library-support of any reports you expect to need from Alma, and we will incorporate that in our planning.

Thank you for your ongoing feedback and patience as issues are resolved.