Sunday, 10 March 2019

A visit from the CEO of CILIP

From the comments and conversations that flowed way past the evening itself, we would like to thank Nick Poole (@NickPoole1)  for a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging talk, taking us through the changes to our profession and how CILIP is meeting the challenges these bring. A full transcript of Nick’s talk is freely available on the CILIP website and you can explore the #CamLibGroup tweets to follow the conversation further.

Click on the link below to read Nick’s talk in full, which was described as ‘thought provoking and inspiring’ ‘insightful and positive‘ with the ‘joy for the profession reaffirmed’

Link to the transcript of Nick’s talk:

As is customary for all CLG speakers, the committee like to present our presenters with a thank you gift and upon request we would like to thank Nick Poole with a donation to his chosen charity – the ECHO Refugee Library, a mobile library and education hub for teenage and adult asylum-seekers currently stranded in Greece. ECHO Refugee Library operates under the umbrella of ECHO for Refugees - a UK registered charity (Registration No. 1178189) and you can find out more about their amazing work in the link below.

Information on the ECHO Refugee Library:

It was great to see so many new and returning faces and hope to see you at another event soon. Don’t forget our Spring Sale where membership to the CLG is now half price at only £5 for free entry to all events until the end of July!

How do you join, you ask? Just pop along to our membership page below and we will be happy to welcome you.

CLG Membership page:

Don’t forget to keep the conversation going and to find out more about CILIP take a look at the CILIP East Members' Network for CILIP members in the East of England who promote continuing professional development and hold events throughout the year.

Click on the link below to find out more about CILIP East
Twitter: @cilipeoe

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Be the first to find out about our monthly events!

Breaking news! You can now follow the monthly magic of the CLG on Facebook and Instagram.
All welcome to join us for monthly talks and events on all things libraries, books and much more. With our Spring Sale now on this is the perfect time to take a look at our fantastic programme for 2019 and join us for just £5 until the end of July.
Find us on Facebook Twitter or Instagram and come along to join us for an event soon!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The CLG New Year Sale!

Make 2019 the year you join or re-join the Cambridge Library Group and no time is better than now with our half price membership offer. Just £5 to join with 6 exciting events lined up.

Don’t miss the first talk of the year where we are delighted to welcome CEO, Nick Poole to talk about the changes at CILIP in the context of our changing profession.
This event will start at the slightly earlier time of 5.15pm for refreshments followed by Nick’s talk at 6pm and is offered at a special price of £1 (free to members). All Welcome!

Friday, 23 November 2018

Date for your Festive Diary!

Date for your Festive Diary! 

Wednesday 5th December
Cambridge Central Library

One of our members, Mary Burgess would like to invite you to a East Road History Talk on Wednesday 5th December

Need a stocking filler? Mary's book will be available to buy after the talk for just £7.50

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Cataloguing and indexing traditional folk songs - A talk by Steve Roud

To start off November we were thrilled to welcome Steve Roud who gave us a fascinating introduction to the challenges of indexing traditional folk songs.

The write up of the evening is kindly contributed by Natalie Kent (@natalielkent)

At the beginning of his talk, Steve posed us with a question: How many ways can you spell the world ‘old’? It turns out in the world of folk song cataloguing the answer is an incredible 9 (so far), giving a small sense of the challenges involved in creating and finding records for these songs.
Steve has been working for many years to create the Roud Folk Song Index, with an aim of indexing all the English-language folk songs in the world. He was formerly a local studies librarian for the London Borough of Croydon, and brought this specialist knowledge and experience to his work on folk song cataloguing. He describes his interest in folk song and folk lore as a ‘passion’ and an ‘obsession’. He has published numerous books on these subjects.

The folk songs Steve works with are not necessarily what modern audiences would associate with the term ‘folk song’; apparently defining folk song is a controversial area, but for Steve this typically means songs that predate recorded sound, by singers who are untrained amateurs, delivered face-to-face with no accompaniment. These attributes make folk songs a rich resource for social historians. Steve is not interested in modern folk arrangements, and he has a cut-off date of around 1950 when he is indexing.

Folk songs are very ‘slippery’, which makes them extremely difficult to catalogue! Each time someone sings a song it will be different, so collectors often keep multiple different recordings. However, each recording might have a different name. Conversely, the same name might refer to 25 different songs. There are also issues of spelling to contend with; transcribers might imitate accents or follow spelling conventions of different dialects. In order to cope with these ‘slippery’ songs, Steve devised the system of Roud numbers, where the same number is given to every different version of a song. This system has proved extremely useful in the wider world of folk song, and recordings and song books are now typically published with Roud numbers.

When Steve is indexing he tries to prioritise what the user will find useful over following international standards to the letter (a principle he started following in his work as a local studies librarian). His records include a title, but also a first line, which is often what users will remember. There is a difficulty when specifying the place a song is from, because people moved around and often travelled to London when recordings were made. Therefore, place collected really means the place the performer originated, as that is where the song probably came from. Steve also includes audio files where possible, which is especially helpful for any users who do not read sheet music.
The songs he indexes might exist in any format, including manuscripts, books, journals, newspapers, photographs and sound recordings. The index he has created now has a staggering 250,000 records for songs (with a further 250,000 records for broadsides), all input by Steve.

While folk song is seen as an oral tradition, Steve pointed out that it hasn’t been a purely oral tradition since the invention of print. Broadsides containing words of popular songs could be bought very cheaply and were widely circulated, providing a much more tangible way to research folk song. Steve brought along some wonderful examples of broadsides for us to look at.

Another wonderful treasure Steve showed us was a small scrapbook dating from the American Civil War. Entitled ‘The campfire songster’, it contains an individual’s collection of songs (some printed, some handwritten, and some with musical notation), which they presumably carried with them during the Civil War and sang with round the campfire.

Steve’s index is a huge achievement which is of significant value to folk song enthusiasts and social historians alike. All were impressed by the obvious skill and dedication he has put into this project. Steve’s enthusiasm for this fascinating area made this a very enjoyable evening all round.

The main indexes to Steve’s work are available on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website -

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Open Book - A bookshop holiday

Post contributed by - Katherine Burchell (@katherinehelen)

Have you ever dreamed of running your own bookshop? Have you ever dreamed of running your own bookshop on holiday? That’s exactly what Liam and Rosie Austin did in 2015, and on Wednesday 31st October they came to tell us all about their time running The Open Book in Wigtown as part of a bookshop holiday. This opportunity is available due to the Wigtown Festival Company and this is where all the profits from the bookshop go to.

Wigtown is known as a book town, which is “a town or village with a large number of used book or antiquarian book stores,” which are usually in scenic places. The town is a long way from anywhere and as Liam pointed out “you can’t just pop in”, which means trips to Wigtown for people are usually planned.

Rosie described how when they arrived they met George, one of the volunteers, who showed them the cash tin, the ledger to record all sales and off they went. The first book that they sold was History of Islam for £2.50. The first thing Rosie highlighted that it was important to do was to get to know their stock, much like you would in a library. She described how there was an incredible level of trust, in terms of displays, choosing the opening hours of the book shop and prices of the books on sale.

Liam and Rosie decided it would be a good idea, as a way to get to know their customers, to set up an atlas in the shop for visitors to pin point where they had come from to visit the shop. They described how this was a great conversation point for them. Many of the locals regularly visit the shop to see who the new owners are for that week, and you could often see the marks of previous booksellers, who often would bring their own items with them to sell.

Whilst running the shop, Liam and Rosie were allowed to update and use the shops social media accounts and they used this an opportunity to engage with the locals and planned events. Liam planned a mini escape game, where he hid clues round the shop and the winner got the code for a briefcase with chocolate in, whilst Rosie organised a literary speed dating event, for people to tell others about their favourite books. Both of these events were very successful. 

Liam and Rosie visited a different bookshop every morning, to speak to other booksellers and to learn more about the community. They told us how lots of the booksellers would contact other shops if they knew that that shop might have a book that someone was interested in. Everyone supported each other and there was no rivalry. Liam and Rosie described how there was a real sense of community and everyone wanted to help each other. 

I think it is fair to say that everyone who attended Liam and Rosie’s talk now really wants to go and run Wigtown’s bookshop, but unfortunately it looks like we will all be waiting until 2025 for our chance! 

More information and booking can be found:

Thursday, 18 October 2018

"Context of Display: Suffragette posters and thinking beyond a 'museum model' for library exhibitions."

Post contributed by - Kevin Symonds CLG Secretary

The first CLG event of 2018/2019 was a very interesting talk by Dr Chris Burgess, Head of Exhibitions and Public Programmes with the title of "Context of Display: Suffragette posters and thinking beyond a 'museum model' for library exhibitions."

This brought out ideas that many of us had not contemplated or realised were issues which is exactly why we have these events.

In CLG talks and tours we find out about peoples past careers and how they can sometimes be very different from the position they are in now and Chris was no exeception when we found out that shockingly he is not a Librarian but a museum professional having previously been Head of Collections and Engagement at the People's History Museum in Manchester.

We would like to thank Chris for starting off our 2018-19 programme of events with such a fascinating and enjoyable talk and invite you to find out more below.

Virtually all of the UL's collection of 8 million items (excluding a few delicate masterpieces such as Newtons Principia or the Gutenberg Bible) can be requested by anyone with a readers ticket who will then get access to it within 15 minutes. This is not something you can do in a Museum, the collections in the physical building are normally a tiny percentage of the overall collection and so to gain access to materials you have to wait, and that is even if they are available to people at all. But in an exhibtion you don't get to choose from the whole collection. Someone has already decided what the general subject matter is, and has decided what is going to be available to the people who visit. It is a matter of making the best use of what does exist in the collection and to allow people to gain the most from what has been chosen; to allow those people the bredth of what is available but also show them in a form that gives them the biggest benefits from their short time in the Library.

It is these differing elements of exhibitions in museums and libraries that Chris explained to us in terms of the reasoning behind what they both do.

To educate and inspire. 

What intent is there behind the project as a whole but also in the ways in which it is curated. 

What are the social and interpretive concepts you want to put into an exhibition. 

Who is it aimed at?

Do you say where the material came from and how it entered the collection? Something that is of great importance in many museums where post-colonial feelings have led to demands for restitution of materials.  But also in terms of it filling out the history of an item beyond it's physical look and a little description card. That was something which was very doable in terms of the Suffragette Posters as the UL has the original letter from the then University Librarian Francis Jenkinson asking the National Union of Women's Sufferage Societies for copies after the first election of 1910.

It was Francis's desire to keep ephemera for the future that means we can now see these posters, whereas in many places these posters have just melted away into history. Or, in the case of the Imperial War Museum being used to wrap up objects THEY considered important for the future instead of keeping things for future generations to make that decision themselves.

Even the way that the actual physical dimensions of the Suffragette posters had to be represented had an impact. The posters are too big to be on the walls of the normal exhibtion space so they were in the entrance hall. This added an unusual and different element to the exhibition,  that of natural light. Not something that is normally available in an exhibition but one that is important, as seeing them in this context is how people would have originally seen them, and not in an artificially lighted space. 

Although the last picture he showed proved that this is only part of the story. These posters would not have been a poster on it's own, in a dowdy staid manner, it would have been one poster amongst many others, maybe whole walls of posters, taking in the latest show at the local theatre alongside opposing political views and bordered by adverts for Bisto or various sauces. 

Fortunately we do have an idea of the context they lived in back in 1910, avoiding their impact being a plain piece of what is often seen as just artwork. However without more information having been saved at the time, in the form of photos of these walls to give this context, would we really understand the poster's place  back in 1910?