X Close

LibNet staff news



Rare editions of Dante from UCL Special Collections on display

Helen Biggs20 March 2017

Rare editions of Dante from UCL Special Collections

Monday 27 March 5.30pm

The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, WC1H 0AB

Admission free.


Image from an 1869 edition of La Divina Commedia with illustrations by Gustavo Dore [DANTE FOLIOS DD119 (1869) vol. 1]

There will be an opportunity to see some of UCL’s rare editions of Dante’s works, and hear the Rare-Books Librarian talk about the history of the poet’s work in print, on Monday 27 March, 5.30-6.30pm, in the Common Room of the Warburg Institute in Woburn Square (immediately south of Gordon Square). The event will continue 6.30-7.45pm in the Institute’s Lecture Room with readings from the text and discussions from UCL’s Professor John Took and the Warburg’s Dr. Alessandro Scafi.

Want to know more about who Dante was and why his writings are important for us today? Try the weekly Dante readings on Monday evenings at the Warburg Institute or fortnightly talks on Tuesday evenings at the Italian Cultural Institute. The readings on Monday 27th will feature the moving passage in which Dante and Virgil emerge from the abyss of Hell on the shore of Mount Purgatory, leaving you, we hope, in an improved mood for the holidays, albeit on a cliff-hanger until readings recommence next term. The Tuesday talk on the 28th will be on the relation between Dante, Classical mythology and Islam.

Best wishes from the UCL Special Collections Team, UCL Italian and The Warburg Institute.

Text courtesy Tabitha Tuckett.

UCL Press wins UCL Brand Ambassador award

Alison Fox16 February 2017


UCL Press was thrilled to win the UCL Brand Ambassador award at the UCL professional services awards yesterday. The award was made for the global reach UCL Press’s books and journals have achieved, with download figures now close to 200,000 in over 200 countries since its launch in June 2015.

When UCL Press launched, it was the first university press to set up from scratch with an Open Access model. As such, it was a brave step, and since such a venture had never been attempted before in the UK, it was hard to predict the outcome. The idea for the Press was that of Dr Paul Ayris, Pro Vice Provost, UCL Library Services, a leader in OA advocacy for many years, and the Press was the flagship addition to strong OA services and policies already established at UCL.

From the outset, the reaction at UCL to the Press has been unfailingly positive: authors have submitted proposals in the hundreds, many of them already committed Open Access advocates with few other OA options for publishing their monographs. For those early adopters, and for the Senior Management team at UCL who supported the setting up of the Press, their belief is now paying dividends, as research published by UCL Press reaches a huge global audience. Many of those reading UCL Press’s books would not be able to access a print version, either because they would be unaffordable to individuals or to local universities, or simply because print book distribution to many countries around the world is severely limited or indeed non-existent.

UCL is committed to being a force for good and enlightenment in the world, and ensuring that the products of its research are made as widely available as possible helps to support that commitment. UCL Press is excited to be contributing to the institution’s global presence, and proud that its books and authors are acting as UCL Brand Ambassadors worldwide.

I would personally like to thank the whole UCL Press team, our wonderful authors, David Price, Paul Ayris and Martin Moyle for their unfailing support and encouragement, our colleagues in Library Services, and our colleagues around UCL who support us – all of them make this happen.

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

Weekly Dante readings begin today – Mondays 6pm

Tabitha Tuckett30 January 2017

Readings from Dante’s Divine Comedy in English and Italian

Mondays 6-7.30pm, The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square

(Admission free)

Is a passage from Dante’s Inferno just what you feel like after a day’s work on a Monday? Or have you always wanted to know what all the fuss was about? Today you can find out, for free, at 6pm at the Warburg Institute off Gordon Square/Woburn Square with an introduction to Dante’s life and works, followed by readings on subsequent Mondays.

The annual collaboration between UCL Special Collections, the UCL Italian Department, the Warburg Institute and the Italian Cultural Institute has proved popular enough to resume this year, with a slightly different selection of passages and the chance, later in the term, to view some of the treasures from UCL Special Collections’ outstanding early and rare editions of Dante.

If Mondays aren’t a good time for you, try the themed Dante sessions on alternate Tuesdays at the Italian Cultural Institute in Belgravia. The next is tomorrow, 7-8.30pm.

Passages will be read in both English and Italian and illustrated, together with talks from UCL’s Dante Professor, John Took, on what to look out for in the excerpts. You never know: you could feel inspired, as this former member of the audience was, to cook the entire poem in biscuit form:

Dante & Virgil with sins

Dante’s Divine Comedy in edible form, created by audience member Leon Conrad.

Photo copyright David Ward.

Outreach work in UCL Library Services

utnvbsc22 December 2016

We are currently reviewing the methodology by which we collect information on our outreach activities, but I wanted to give you an idea of the range of activities that took place during the 2015/16 academic year in order to demonstrate the diversity of work which goes on in this area.

At present, activities are categorised into one of four different groups:

a. Public (lectures, performances of music dance and the dramatic arts)
b. Exhibitions (permanent or temporary whether held within UCL library services, UCL museums and galleries or overseas)
c. Education (museum or library-based, including work in schools)
d. Other (online outreach, films/podcasts, publications and outreach work conducted by reader services)

We also sub-divide the above into whether events were free or paid-for.

In broad terms, there were 122 “outreach events” (covering all categories) in 2015/16 compared with 80 in 2014/15, a rise of 52% which is very impressive. The vast majority of these are free (92% in 2015/16) which helps us to demonstrate that we are being inclusive.

The following two pie-charts show the distribution of activity across the four categories for the respective academic years 2015/16 and 2014/15:




As you can see, exhibitions have increased somewhat year on year but all areas are broadly similar in proportion. An improved definition of “other” will help us be able to make more sense of this as we move forward. For example, one of the things we will be looking at in the Outreach Steering Group is how to measure online interactions. With social media, blog and website interactions, it can get quite complicated and it is quite possible we are underrecording at present. Watch this space!

In terms of numbers attending (or interacting with) outreach, these figures are in the millions which is fantastic. The largest category is films and podcasts and these massively boosted figures in 2014/15 with the several BBC programmes including  the BBC Horizon  ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’ documentary, which had  UCL presenters and used Special Collections’ early printed books.

Finally, I thought it would be useful to publish the list of work [download pdf] so that you can see the variety for yourself. If you spot anything obvious that has been missed, please let me know so that we can ensure it gets included in future.

We are now part way  through the 2016/17 session. Already this is shaping up to be another good one. For example, there was the Vic Reeves Gaga for Dada BBC programme in September which used material from Special Collections’ Little Magazines Collection; the opportunities presented by the Orwell prize moving to UCL; and of course the Shakespeare exhibition in Stratford library which has just closed.


Cpd25 – Community Engagement and Widening Participation: How Universities and Libraries Reach Out to Marginalised Groups

Sharon A James21 December 2016

On 29th November I attended the Cpd25 course Community Engagement and Widening Participation: How Universities and Libraries Reach Out to Marginalised Groups. This ran for an afternoon and was held at The London Mathematical Society in Russell Square. I wanted to go to this event to find out more about which students are under-represented in Higher Education, what methods are used to overcome this and how we could be more inclusive at the site where I work (the UCL Language and Speech Science Library) and within UCL Library as a whole.

The first presentations were given by two representatives from King’s College London (KCL); Niaomi Collett, Deputy Director of Widening Participation and Tom Claydon, formerly at UCL Library, who is now the Library Liaison Manager at KCL. Niaomi explained that WP candidates are prioritized in terms of ethnicity, disability, gender, mature student status, a background of being in care, or experience as a carer. KCL has sixteen schemes to help young people explore university including their flagship scheme K+, the Sutton Trust summer school and King’s Scholars, which works with local pupils in Years 7-9. Because KCL’s Archives and Special Collections is involved in community engagement the King’s Scholars’ scheme runs an Archive Adventurers session in which pupils learn about archives and how they are used at university.

KCL children 2

Pupils learning about KCL’s Archives and Special Collections

KCL’s Widening Participation strategy is all-encompassing and goes from pre-16 outreach through to student support and career guidance for graduates. The Widening Participation Office collaborates with the library through Tom Claydon whose job includes overseeing the provision of reference cards, inductions and study skills training for WP students. For example, the K+ scheme, which has a yearly intake of 200 children who attend classes over a two year period, starts off with a Library introduction given by Tom and a session about using the library’s resources with a library-trained Student Ambassador. Future plans include the Widening Participation Office giving a library training hour once a year and, in line with KCL strategy, the library working to provide parity of access to all service users. To achieve this it is developing tailored study skills training and investigating ways it can provide borrowing and e-resource access to K+ students.

The next two presentations were given by Kirsty Wadsley, Head of Widening Participation at LSE, and Maria Bell who provides Learning Support at LSE Library. Widening Participation at LSE is currently offered from primary school through to undergraduate level with priority given to students who are under-represented such as those from under-performing schools. The presenters stressed that it is key to make connections with schools so that relationships are formed, maintained and strengthened over time. Local events are also looked out for in which the university and library can get involved and engage with the community.

The library has various schemes such as Learning with LSE Collections for Schools, LSE Library Outreach (Young People & Communities) and the LSE Library public lecture programme. Because of this, library staff have training to learn about their role in WP and how to work with younger customers. The presenters also pointed out that they are fortunate enough to have a library Education Officer who creates connections between the library, the Widening Participation Office and schools. Finally the presenters reported that they get lots of positive written feedback from young participants such as: “The library is useful and very big & quiet.”

LSE school children

The final presentation was given by Bernard Scaife, Librarian at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Co-leader of the Outreach KPA. There is a Widening Participation Office at UCL that raises awareness of Higher Education through activities and enhances UCL’s diversity by admitting students from under-represented backgrounds. Because of this UCL was awarded a Buttle Quality Mark for engaging with children in care, encouraging applications to UCL and providing support until after enrolment. The library has a relationship with the WP Office, for example it produces reference cards for the UCL Summer Challenge students, a cohort of 6th Form students from target backgrounds who undertake lessons and an essay on a topic of their choice. In 2014/15, 43% of pupils from this programme went on to make an application to UCL for undergraduate study. However, Bernard mentioned that the library needs to formally develop inductions and information literacy training and he will be working on this in the future.


There is also a library Outreach Steering Group (OSG) which was formed in April 2016 and includes members from various library sites. The OSG is working on the library’s first outreach strategy that will bring together the WP activities of all the sites and share their best practice. A future objective is to find a way to statistically record staff time spent on outreach so that it is recognised as an integral part of library services. Another aim is to look at ways of collecting information on how and if the library is reaching marginalised communities. Other plans include training and working with volunteers to provide library outreach activities both centrally and at the upcoming campus at the Olympic Park. This campus features in UCL’s plans to engage with the Borough of Newham and through outreach to the local community the UCL East hub will be used to raise awareness of the library’s collections.

UCL yr 8 sutton scholars

Museum workshop of Year 8 students from UCL Sutton Scholars

An interesting example of Community Engagement involved learning about Alix Hall, an Archive Education Coordinator funded by the Heritage Lottery. While working at IOE Library she ran various outreach events including one in May 2014 where evacuees talked about their childhood education during World War II and explored the concept of archives. In conclusion, Bernard mentioned that future ideas for library Community Engagement include a Culture Bus to take special collections to UCL East and a Culture Club where people can attend public lectures and events in Bloomsbury.

The afternoon ended with attendees being asked to write down what they had learned from the training on Post-It notes. These were then stuck up on the windows so that others could read and place stickers on those they found most helpful. Popular information included the need to not make assumptions about the knowledge and skills students bring with them to university, using special collections to capture imaginations and library staff knowing what their role is in Widening Participation and receiving training. This exercise consolidated what I had learned over an insightful afternoon and I came away from the course with far more awareness about Community Engagement and Widening Participation than I had before going.

Post its 3

UCL East Library

Benjamin Meunier15 January 2015

Dear colleagues,

Shortly before Christmas, I gave this presentation to colleagues in UCL Special Collections on the vision for a new library in UCL East: UCL East 151214

Searching for suitable images of “East London” from our digital library, I found the cartoon below. How things have changed since 1901 and An illustrated history and guide to East London…

East London

UCL East is a tremendous opportunity for us to enhance our Outreach activities, and it will become a real showcase for UCL Special Collections. Current plans are to base about half of UCL Special Collections in a new building on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP), with a focus on London Social History. The collections and research activity around those will support work on the UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction. Local partners around QEOP include the V&A, Smithsonian Institute and a number of London Boroughs.




The new library in UCL East will also provide hundreds of additional study spaces, to support students who will be living on site and the teaching and learning activity which will be happening there.

These slides give a snapshot of what the Library at UCL East might look like. As for the FAQ on my first slide, the answer is that there won’t be a swimming pool in the library… Do get in touch if you are interested in finding out more, or post any comments below.