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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.


UCL East Housewarming event

utnvbsc25 May 2016

Last week, I attended a workshop in West Ham hosted by UCL’s public engagement team. The aim was to bring together groups from a range of stakeholders to begin discussing what the museum and engagement space should look like at UCL East. There were lots of people from PACE (Public and Cultural Engagement) – especially from the UCL Museums. I was joined by colleagues Tabitha Tuckett and Peter Field in representing UCL Library Services. The first thing we learnt is that it is imperative that engagement with the local community begins well before the building space itself is constructed – and this demonstrated to me how UCL East is so much more than just a building.

A point of discussion which exercised us for quite some time was how to ensure we create a space which can accommodate a disparate range of users. It was felt that a range of suitable spaces for debate and dialog was important in enabling connections between researchers and residents in Newham Borough to be created. Also, that whilst many specific activities might be catered for on the site (e.g. swimming), people would also want a place to congregate, network, and socialise and find information. What better place than a UCL Library Hub for such a venue?

As the new KPA Outreach representative for UCL Library Services, this was a great opportunity to meet colleagues in PACE and learn more about what UCL is trying to achieve with this project. It was great to be able to contribute ideas which will help place the library at the centre of this.