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Author Archives: katewilcox


Library collections in the new IHR

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We’ve now been open for two weeks, and the library staff are getting used to the new layout just as much as readers are.  The book move took months of planning, and it’s pleasing to see how well the new arrangement works in practice and that most readers have been happy with it.  A few books ended up being shelved in the wrong order, inevitable in such a big move. The library staff have been finding time to tidy these sections at times when there are few readers about. Much of the shelf signage is complete. The folio sections were especially disrupted while in store, and we are pleased that they are now back on open access and upright.

We’ve moved as much of the collection as possible to the open shelves, and regret that many periodicals have had to remain in closed access. Exceptions include the four most frequently requested periodicals (see below) and many record society and similar source-based series. The Current Periodicals room on the ground floor houses the last three or four years of most titles.

As most people will already have discovered, the 1st floor houses British (including local), Irish, Crusades, Byzantine and Church history. On the 2nd floor are the other European collections. The Military and International Relations collections are in the basement. Still under construction is a further room on the 2nd floor which will contain substantial parts of the American and Colonial collections. Watch this blog later in the year for news of its completion and opening.

Please note that three collections – Scottish, Spanish local and German – are shelved in rooms which double up as meeting rooms. Please check the IHR diary if you are planning to use these collections. Items can be reserved in advance of your visit if necessary. The rooms are:

  • Scottish History: Professor Olga Crisp room (room N102)
  • Spanish Regional: John S Cohen room (N203)
  • German History: Peter Marshall room (N204)
  • German local: Past and Present room (N202)

Some of the older (pre-1750) and rarer material has been classmarked S and is being kept in closed access for reasons of security. These books can be requested as usual, and will be stored in the library office when not in use.

The main changes to where items are shelved are as follows:

Collections moved from closed access to open access

  • Four heavily-used periodicals – Historical Research, English Historical Review, Past and Present and History
  • Most folios (BB and other double letters)
  • A new sequence of oversized folios (BBB and other triple letters)
  • Most International Relations and Military History
  • Spanish Regional
  • Most German and Low Countries
  • Selections from the general collection (all of E.1 Historiography, E.4 Holy Roman Empire, E.6 Medieval European history, selections from E.2 Reference works, E.3 General European history and E.7 Modern European history)

Collections moved from offsite to onsite store

  • Austria
  • European Universities (E.8)
  • Other selections from the general collection (the parts of E.2, E.3, E.7 not on open access)

Signage, catalogue and website updates are still ongoing, but do pop in and see staff in the library enquiry office if you have any questions.

Update on availability of facilities in the new IHR library

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We’re still waiting for the photocopying/printing equipment to arrive, and for the Wifi to be connected. We apologise for the inconvenience the delay has caused. We will provide updates when we have further information. You are welcome to use your own photographic equipment to make copies.

Reader desks are provided around the library. We expect the first floor reading room to be the most heavily used. If you find it fully occupied, remember that there are plenty of desks on the same floor in the Foyle reading room and upstairs on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

The Foyle reading room has book supports and a large table making it ideal for consulting large and fragile material as well as maps.

We have eight PCs currently available and three more will be added once some network faults are fixed. Two of these PCs have our new microfilm scanners attached, but are also available for general use when not required for this purpose.

Thanks for your patience during this time. We will put updates on the blog but please contact us if you’d like any further information on ihr.library@sas.ac.uk or 020 7862 8760.

Availability of facilities in the newly reopened IHR

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The IHR has reopened and the common room is available, with service of drinks and light snacks from 12 til 5.

There are a few outstanding problems still to be ironed out:

  • PCs are now in place on most floors. There will be a delay to their setup in the basement due to a fault with the network.
  • Installation of Wifi has been delayed due to the over-running building works. We expect this to be complete by the end of next week.
  • We are awaiting delivery of our photocopiers. Once these are installed, payment will be made by adding money to an account using your IHR card. Credits from existing cards can be transferred.
  • The lights in the reading rooms are controlled by sensors by the main landing doors. We have asked if these can be adjusted to avoid them going off while people are working further down the room.

The library collections are all in place with more now available on open access. The catalogue update is almost complete, but please ask staff if you need any help locating material.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused. We will continue to provide updates but please contact us if you’d like any further information on ihr.library@sas.ac.uk or 020 7862 8760.

IHR reopening on Monday 1st September

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library

We’re on schedule to reopen on Monday morning and looking forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. Over 3.5 kilometres of books have been moved during the last 2 weeks and merged from 3 locations into the new library, and the movers have done an amazing job and stayed cheerful throughout!

The catalogue and finding aids are in the process of being updated, but staff will be on hand on Monday to help with locating material, and we are happy to give tours around the collections and facilities. We welcome our new library trainee Alex Zaleski on Monday as well, and she will be learning the new layout with the rest of us.

common-room

Please bear with us as we get things straightened out over the coming weeks. Photocopiers and Wifi are not yet available but will be installed as soon as possible. There are some new PCs ready to use on the 1st floor (the rest will be installed next week) and brand new microform scanning facilities.

The much loved common room is fully refurbished and will have catering provided at lunchtimes and afternoon tea. We hope you will enjoy using the new facilities.

Preparations for the library move

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booksWe are beginning to move books and finalise shelving layouts  in preparation for the move. Some books which have been on open access need to be temporarily moved into closed access to be shelved in sequence. This particularly affects books at B.0 (British bibliography), place names series and folios. They can still be requested if required, and will be returning to open access after the move. Please check the catalogue for details of specific items.

The fetch service and staffing of the enquiry office may also be disrupted during the next 2 weeks. We will guarantee a fetch at 9am and 2pm, but other times (11am and 4.30pm) may be affected, and you are advised to check with library or reception staff if a request is urgent (020 7862 8760/8740).

The library will close completely from Saturday 16th August to Saturday 30th August inclusive. We hope to reopen in the north block on Monday 1st September but please check the IHR website and blog for updates nearer the time..

We apologise for the disruption caused during this period, but we have attempted to keep the closure period to a minimum. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR complete with the much missed common room!

2nd Annual History Day

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2014 History libraries & research open day by Kate Wilcox

2014 History libraries & research open day by Kate Wilcox

Save this date: Tuesday 20 January 2015! For anyone studying and researching history or related disciplines, this will be an important opportunity to locate key libraries, archives and collections. Following up on the successful 2014 History Day, Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research Library will be hosting a second History libraries & research open day with the support of the School of Advanced Study. With the open history fair and one-on-one research clinics in Macmillan Hall and training sessions in a nearby seminar room, the event aims to match researchers and historians with the skills and collections they need. Keep an eye on the event website for further details and we hope to see you here in January!

Further update on relocation plans: August closure dates

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SHentranceTo facilitate the IHR’s return to the Senate House north block, it has now been confirmed that the library will close from Saturday 16th August to Saturday 30th August inclusive. Room bookings during this time will be unaffected.

We plan to reopen in the north block on Monday 1st September but please check the IHR website and blog for updates nearer the time.

We apologise for any disruption caused during the move, but look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on ihr.library@sas.ac.uk or 020 7862 8760.

New website section highlights IHR library’s collection history

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Harrison_booksOver the spring and early summer we have been bringing together information on the history of the IHR library, and have now added a new section to the webpages which highlights the origins of some of our collections. In its early years the library was built up by actively seeking donations of books, and much of the collection was formed from bequests and gifts by individuals and organisations. They cross all sections of the library, from the many donations to the Canadian section by Henry Percival Biggar, via the large amount of local history material given by H Guy Harrison, to the controversial donation of 1937 from the German government which forms a large part of our German history collection. Special acquisition funds were created to support some collections, such as the Canadian Lectureship Fund, and in some cases donated books that were surplus to the IHR’s needs, because they were duplicates or outside the collection policy, were sold in order to boost the funds available for purchasing new material.
Beer_bookplate
booksMany of the books that came to the IHR through bequests and donations carry fascinating evidence of their earlier provenance, in the form of dedications and inscriptions to individuals, earlier bindings, interesting book plates, or letters now bound into the volumes. The collection includes, for example, the beautifully bound volumes of the Vincent Wright collection, and David Douglas’s  interleaved and annotated copy of J. Horace Round’s Calendar of documents preserved in France.

We are still finding things out about these collections and will be adding to the web pages as research continues. Keep an eye out, too, for blog posts which will highlight particular items of interest. For further information on how you can support our collections please speak to the IHR development office.

IHR move back to refurbished north block: August 2014

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P1160305The refurbishment is going to schedule and we are expecting the move back to the Senate House north block to take place in late August, to coincide with the period when the Institute of Classical Studies closes (16th - 30th August). There will be some disruption to services during this time, and we expect the library to be closed for a minimum of 5 days while the books are moved. You are advised to avoid planning visits during this period. We look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished Institute by early September.

Further details will be announced shortly, but if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on ihr.library@sas.ac.uk or 020 7862 8760

‘Business as usual’: School life in Britain during the Great War

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The IHR library has an outstanding collection of university and school records. Following on the theme of this year’s Anglo-American conference, we’ve been looking at what they contain about the First World War. School registers often have lists of teachers and former pupils who served or were killed in the war. School histories and journals include more descriptive accounts, and there are some vivid records, sometimes poignant, but mostly emphasising how schools attempted to continue as usual.

school war serviceSeveral describe how school playing fields were ploughed up to be used as allotments worked on by the pupils: at St Peter’s School in York a ‘vegetable committee’ was formed (Raine, A., History of St Peter’s School, York, p.189). In A History of Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School, we read how the congested state of the railways made it difficult to get equipment and books (p. 69). Availability of food is often an issue – Records (1909-1992) of the Ramsgate County School for Boys gives praise to Mrs Read: “the fact that we were able to have.. any dinners at all was largely due to the way she managed to secure food-stuffs in unorthodox ways” (p. 115).

The stress caused by the threat of air raids is a recurrent theme. Air raid shelters were created in cellars and cloakrooms and under school lawns. History of St Peter’s School tells of Zeppelin attacks in York and a boy being injured by shrapnel (p.189). At Ramsgate County School for Boys, a bomb fell on the tennis court, demolishing a summer house and breaking windows (p.100). In general people coped, and school life continued, though classes started a little late the morning after a raid (p.113).

The Book of the Blackheath High School gives two first-hand accounts by former pupils. The war affected not only the girls’ daily life at school but also their attitudes to the role of women in the future. At a school speech day, the Bishop of Woolwich said “Now.. is women’s chance to use wisely and well the great force and power of work of which this War has shewn them to be possessed” (p.170).

The girls were keen to help with war work. A former sixth former describes how “It was difficult to read for the University when one was consumed by a desire to go out and do something of immediate use..”, but “well-equipped women would be needed in the post-war future, so we stayed on” (p.171). One girl was called up for service in France and “was seen off by an admiring and envious crowd of seniors who could have given all they possessed to have been going too” (p. 172).

School diary

Girls at the school helped out in their own time by working in allotments, canteens, and factories, packing parcels, and doing Red Cross work. Sixth formers knitted under the table to be “safe from the eyes of the Head and the Staff, who discouraged that mixture of fervid patriotism and intermittent reading which is apt to result in a low place on university scholarship lists” (p.172). Again, the “unchanged and steady way in which the life of the school went on” is emphasised. A younger pupil described school life as a relief from the troubles of the outside world (p. 176-7).

Other school histories recount the departure of male teachers to serve in the war and the arrival of female replacements, the activities of the officer training corps, war savings work, and the planning of memorials for former pupils and masters.

The material can be found in the Biographical section of the British collection. School records are also located in the record society series within the Scottish, Welsh and English local history sections.

Sources