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LCCOS staff news


News for colleagues within the LCCOS department.


Exhibition themes wanted

By Helen Biggs, on 27 November 2017

The Exhibitions Group currently oversees the annual exhibitions that run in the Main Library, with input from UCL Special Collections, from whose collections the majority of exhibition items are drawn.

Hopefully by now you have had a chance to see the current exhibition, East side stories: Londoners in transition, which is open until December 15. This exhibition has not only been an opportunity to show off some of our lesser-known items, but also to build community links in Newham.

Our 2018 exhibition, “Dangers and Delusions”? Perspective on the women’s suffrage movement, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, and explore how the women’s suffrage movement was perceived through the 19th and 20th Centuries. The 2019 exhibition will focus on the history of academic libraries. We’re now looking at our program of future exhibitions, and we’re inviting the input of our library colleagues for our 2020 and 2021 exhibitions.

If you have an idea for a future exhibition, we’d love to hear it. Typically, our exhibitions are drawn from subject areas of particular interest to UCL, or from upcoming anniversaries, where we have Special Collections materials that support them.

For more information, or to make a suggestion for a future exhibition, get in touch with Exhibitions Group secretary Helen Biggs by January 26th.


Special Collections at Newham Heritage Week

By Helen Biggs, on 20 October 2017

Newham Heritage Week, which runs from 21-29 October, will see the launch of a new pop-up exhibition, Making East London, created as a collaboration between UCL Special Collections and Newham Libraries.

Five banner displays combine items from the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories and Newham Borough’s own archives, to explore two centuries of continuous change in east London.

The exhibition is open now in Stratford Library. From January it will be on tour, visiting the other nine public libraries in Newham.

East London history “open mic” night

As part of Newham Heritage Week, Special Collections’ outreach team are hosting an open mic-style night at Stratford Library, from 6pm on Thursday 26 October. A 30-minute talk on the work behind Making East London will be followed by an opportunity for attendees to share their own research, stories and memories of East London’s past.

For more information, or to book your own space at the talk, get in touch with Vicky at vprice@ucl.ac.uk.

You can learn more about what Special Collections has been doing with Newham Libraries (including poetry sessions and an oral history initiative) and our funders for this project, over at our blog.

To discover what else is happening at Newham Heritage Week, download a programme.

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Taking Stock

By Helen Biggs, on 11 August 2017

Posted on behalf of Vicky Price, Special Collections Education Coordinator.

With most people in summer holiday mode, it has been a quiet few weeks for myself and Helen at SCAR but we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy: collecting statistics, tying up loose ends from past projects and putting plans in place for next year.

As I’ve also been  taking stock of where we are with the Outreach Programme and where we want to get to in the forthcoming year, I thought it would be a good time to give an update on where we’re headed, and share some of the programme’s highlights.  If you attended the session Sarah Aitchison and I gave at July’s Library Conference, you’ll already know about some of our plans. But for those of you to whom SCAR’s outreach work is still shrouded in mystery … let me elucidate!

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
We’ve been building strong relationships with some exciting partners.  As a result, larger, more ambitious projects are on the horizon (and growing steadily closer):

Pupils, parents and teachers added their memories on leaves.

Pupils, parents and teachers added their memories on leaves.

Edith Neville Primary School and Museum of London Archaeology
We are creating a special year-long project to create a time capsule to be buried on the school’s brand new site.  The photographs below shows a ‘memory tree’ that some of the school’s parents made (thank you Maryam and Joygun!) so that parents, staff and pupils could start to collate favourite memories of their current school building at their summer fair.


Maryam adds her memories to the tree.

Newham Library and Archives
We are creating a special mobile exhibition that will tour all 10 of the borough’s public libraries, and we’ll be delivering a programme of family and specialist group workshops alongside.  What is most exciting is that the exhibition will marry items featured in the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories: Londoners in transition with Newham Archive items to create one narrative. We’ll also be collecting local people’s oral histories at the workshops (accessioned and made publicly available through UCL SCAR).

Camden Adult Education


We even used some metallic gold leaf in our work.

We have run several art workshops for a group of adults who meet to colour in while combating social isolation and loneliness (with colouring in sheets derived from our collection of manuscripts!).  Next up for next year are colouring in activities using wood block prints from some of our early rare books. Just one step closer to kickstarting the all-SCAR colouring in book of my dreams…

Colouring in images from UCL SCAR's manuscript collection.

Colouring in images from UCL SCAR’s manuscript collection.

We are also developing a ‘Spotlight on…’ series for Secondary schools: finding collection items that relate to curriculum subject areas to develop deeper knowledge and contextual understanding.  First on the list are Dickens’ London and Shakespeare in theatres of the time.

Systems, Processes and Training
We’ve taken the time to refashion some procedures, and will have a new, easier system for all of Library Services to report their outreach statistics (lead by Bernard Scaife).  We will send around a spreadsheet once a term that will just require some simple information inputting before sending it back – hopefully the annual statistics-fest (as I hopefully call it) will be a lot smoother this time next year!

It has also been a pleasure to deliver some bitesize training within UCL Library Services on various aspects of delivering outreach. I hope to continue and develop this next year, starting with tours of SCAR and the spaces we use on campus… so keep your eyes peeled for an invitation if you’re interested!

We can’t wait for next year and all the projects it will bring.  I’ll be sure to share stories, photographs and outcomes from workshops like ‘Mystery Archives’ with 5 to 11 year olds or ‘Local Heroes Top Trumps’ with families when I can!

Last chance to see Fair Play and Foul : connecting with Shakespeare at UCL

By Helen Biggs, on 14 December 2016

No one living or working in London this year could possibly have managed to miss that it was a big anniversary for Shakespeare fans, with 2016 marking 400 years since the bard’s death. And while celebrations and commemorations took place across the city, the country, and the world, some of the most fascinating Shakespeareana have been on display in the Main Library at UCL.

shakespeare400_bWith rare books, archives and manuscripts from UCL Libraries, Fair Play and Foul : connecting with Shakespeare at UCL shows just how important Shakespeare has been, and still is, to both language and culture. He was quoted in Samuel Johnson’s Plan of a dictionary of the English language in 1747. His life and works were forged, to great effect, by William Ireland in the 1790s. By the 20th Century, Shakespeare’s work was embedded in school curricula for drama, English, and history.

The exhibition has been a great focal point for other activities around UCL this year. In April, UCL Institute of Education hosted “Read to the Bard”, where attendees shared Shakespeare-inspired memories, poetry, research, and even dance. The UCL Chamber Music Club did their best to prove that “music oft hath such a charm to make bad good” at their Bard-inspired evening in October, with a programme that included Débussy, Cole Porter, and William Byrd.

Fair Play and Foul is in its last days, finishing on Monday, 19th December. If you can’t make it, don’t worry – the main body of the exhibition has been reproduced on free standing banners and is currently on display at Stratford Library, Newham. The library location and opening hours can be found on the Newham Council website. And, of course, you can still see the online exhibition, and download the exhibition catalogue to learn more about the significant rare books and archives on display.

With additional text contributed by Steve Wright and Tabitha Tuckett.