UL Library Science Collection

The introduction of RDA (Resource Description and Access), the new cataloguing standard, has meant one of the biggest changes in cataloguing practice in recent years. RDA is intended to provide increased access to resources in ways which were difficult with previous standards such as AACR2. Older standards primarily dealt with print materials but the increase in digital output meant that things needed to change.

RDA is based on the FRBR (Fundamental Requirements for Bibliographic Records) model. This is a conceptual model which describes relationships between different entities such as the author, editor or subject of the item in hand.

Library of an Interaction Designer (Juhan Sonin) / 20100423.7D.0If all of this terminology leaves you scratching your head then don’t worry, you’re not alone!  Luckily, the Library Science Collection includes a variety of resources on RDA. We have works on the background of FRBR, the practical implementation of RDA and works on cataloguing specific types of resource

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When you start forgetting about having studied for a good three quarters of your life in an arrays of shitholes that delude themselves into an array of pompous names, you find yourself getting pissed off by the most minor and inconsistent incidents.

The WiFi in the halls is down, so you curmudgeonly head to the library to get some studying done, because good old fashioned books don’t mean no thing anymore, and you need the internet to read ebooks and download journal articles. But hey! Your uni library is awesome, you keep telling that to everybody and that, where you came from, the library was not even a floor of this one.

Of course, in this giantnormous library you cannot find a seat close to a power outlet for your life. Of course, the only desks close to power outlets are taken, and by people without any evident reason to be so close to a power outlet, unless they’re all cyborgs and at some point will surreptitiously plug their power cod in the wall. It’s like that guy that keeps sitting at the desk right in front of the photocopier, a thing that keeps making me me stop dead in my tracks and go upstairs to the other level because, in fairness, making photocopies wedged between a chair (plus its occupant) and the machine is just awkward.

So you settle for a desk as close as possible to any hole you can plug your laptop into (oh, and did I mention the horrible feeling of seeing a desk beside a window AND a plug, but the plug is broken? I die a little inside everytime I think about it), already dreading the moment when somebody will come over and have you unplug the cord because stepping over it apparently is not an option.

People whispering sounds like you’re trapped in a buddhist monastery, or being followed by an army of old ladies at rosary time or by a bunch of parseltongues gossiping.


All the glaring and scowling and heavy sighing in distress in the world won’t be enough this time, so you either stop being passive aggressive, go up to the nice ladies and silence them with anything at hand, or just turn the volume up and suck it. Ironic how you go to the library for some peace and quiet (and the internet connection of course) because your fine neighbor is so damn noisy that you start thinking walls are not that necessary anymore after all, and then you have to keep blaring music in you ears to cut out unwanted sounds.

The point of this apparently pointless rant is that I was surprised at how quick you get use to having this little luxuries around you, like having your own laptop, having an awesome library,  having classes that actually mattered to you career-wise, having teachers that don’t require students to worship them and address them with their multiple, useless titles. It’s almost a compulsion to whining about something, that same attitude that will let the guilt kick in after one of those tear-jerkers with terminally ill patients or seriously disabled people that keep rockin’, no matter what life throws at them every single day. It makes you really question you sense of morality, all this complaining about the lift being broken for two days, when for some people two steps with no wheelchair ramps is an actual problem.

And all of a sudden this became very serious and insightful. But it’s probably the sky suddenly clouding over that makes me shift towards the depressing and guilt-ridden side of life.

Five uses for a dictionary you never knew about

Tales of One City

You use a dictionary to look up meanings and spellings, and, well that’s about it, isn’t it?

Not with the Oxford English Dictionary it isn’t. Here are five ways to use the OED online you maybe didn’t know about. Log on with your library card and try them for yourself:

1. Find words the same age as you

Use the ‘date of entry’ field in the advanced search to see which word were first used in a given year. So, for example, if we look for 1985 we come up with a list including annus horribilis,snowboard and double click.

2. Finish that crossword

Use question marks instead of blanks in the search box and you’ll have the s?l??ion in no time!

3. Is there a word for…?

If you want to find out the proper word for a beer mat collector, or the term for believing yourself…

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Condition Assessment of the Jane Austen Manuscripts

Current Projects

By Keira Mckee

An important stage in the treatment of any object is for the conservator to thoroughly assess the object “as is” before any work gets underway, if any work is in fact needed. In the books conservation department, we fill out a condition and treatment report that documents the exact condition of a book, when received by the conservator, identifying all issues that may require attention. As times goes on, all work will also be logged in this same document so that a thorough report can go back with the book to the owner, and possibly inform future treatments if another conservator works with the book in the future.

I was asked by David Dorning to create a condition report for the sample of Jane Austen handwriting that the department has been commissioned to treat. You can read about the project here.

The full condition report is…

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A novel without letters

It’s always a pleasure when you stumble upon a book you never heard about that intrigues you almost from the first pages and compels you to get to the last page as quickly as possible.

Being a huge, shameless Potterhead, the first time I was up all night reading was when I found under the Christmas tree three amazing books – when Harry Potter wasn’t a global phenomenon yet and people weren’t queuing outside of their favourite bookstore to get the latest book of the series. I was twelve years old, and I was sorely disappointed when I realized that no owl would ever bring a letter from Hogwarts for me, and that I would have to stick to my dull high school.

A novel without letters. With a subtitle like that, this book screams to be read – and if you’re one of those readers who like to flip through the pages to read the very last sentence before beginning a novel, well brace yourself, because Ella Minnow Pea has a very interesting surprise toward the end, that doesn’t come that much as a surprise if you start from the beginning, as everyone usually does.

The original subtitle used for the first edition is, however, more menacing and appropriate at the same time: a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable, that is a story in letters that looses more and more letters of the alphabet as the plot progresses. In the beginning, there was a pangram,  the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. This sentence, crafted using all the 26 letters of the alphabet with minimum repetitions, was the gift of Nevin Nollop, a honored citizen of the country of Nollop, a utopian community dedicated to the study and practice of liberal arts and scholarship where language is “elevated to a national art form”.

The premise of the story might be utopian, especially when I think of all the doomed futures I got used to with the likes of Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury and P.D. James The Children of Men, but it  becomes strickingly dystopian when one of the letters of Nollop’s pangram comes crushing down from the monument where the phrase was immortalized. No big deal, everyone thinks, let’s just glue the fragments back together and put the tile with the letter back to its place.  The High Council, however, swiftly assumes that the fall of the Z must be a sign from Nollop himself, a sign that a letter discarded from his monument must be equally discarded from both spoken and written word by all Nollopians.

As the story goes on, more letters fall, more people are affected by the government’s ban, a government that is quickly verging towards nothing less than a tyranny, more and more we become aware of how precious freedom of speech is and how obtuse the Council’s claim is. What if Nollop wants to draw the attention on those letters, so that we use them more? What if it’s just that the glue holding the tiles in place is just slowly disintegrating?

One of the themes developed in the novel that stroke me most was perhaps the Counncil’s way of twisting truth to their own advantage, explaining a mere physical event like the erosion of the glue as, again, a sign of Nollop’s will – try and get into a similar discussion with some priests or orthodox catholics (or any other religion, for that matter), and you’ll get almost the same answer “God’s will”. Only when and if it is convenient, of course. Why only men are allowed to say mass? God’s Will. Why did a tsunami, an earthquake or an hurricane level a whole city? Oh, it must be that they should’ve not built the city there, and Nature wanted its righteous revenge.


Maybe the best answer to the first question was that well, men can say mass, but women have their privileges too that men can never have, like giving birth. Like giving birth. How’s that for a silver lining?

Mark Dunn
Ella Minnow Pea. A Novel Without Letters.

25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Godfather’


On this day in 1972, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather had its debut screening in New York City. “The lights come on, and it was the eeriest feeling of all time: there was not one sound. No applause. The audience sat there, stunned,” producer Albert S. Ruddy said of the premiere. Despite a series of casting struggles, firings, accidents, and behind-the-scenes drama, The Godfather helped usher in the era of the modern blockbuster (something Steven Spielberg’s Jaws would solidify a few years later) and became the highest grossing film that year. We’re taking a look at some fascinating, fun facts you might not know about the crime epic that Stanley Kubrick once called the greatest movie ever created.

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Culzean Castle – Ayrshire

Is it actually worth it to spend almost 4 hours on trains and buses to get to Ayr and proceed to Culzean Castle?

Well, yes. At least it was for me. I’d love to have a getaway like that closer to Glasgow, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time without having sirens constantly wailing around my building, drunk undergrads screaming under my window and my next door neighbor shouting on Skype (no, you don’t need to raise your voice to get the tales of your annoying life over to whomever care about that).

Anyways, Culzean Castle, a.k.a. “Cooleen” Castle for whatever reason lies behind spelling in Gaelic languages, was the home of the “powerful Kennedy family” and is the same castle featured on the back of the 5 £ notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

There are some quite interesting exhibitions open during the summer, like the one on U.S. President Eisenhower housed in one of the rooms of the castle (the reason behind this being that the Kennedy family donated the castle to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945, on condition that one of the rooms would be given to then General Eisenhower for his merits during WWII). During the winter, or anyway until April, there’s not much to do, except for roaming about and hiking in the rich and picturesque woods surrounding the Castle.

I wish I had studied the Castle a bit before visiting, some of the things I regret missing out are the caves and the Camellia House – here’s some prep info on Culzean on Culzean Experience and the National Trust for Scotland website.

Highlights of the day: the rocky shore and the cliff – that was one of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen, and that plus the wind plus the overcast, dark grey sky made the perfect postcard for Scotland I guess. The consistency of the clouds here is quite striking I guess, it almost looks like your looking at the sky from a different angle sometimes, like you’re on top of a hill and you can see the bit of atmosphere between the ground and the layer of clouds.

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The castle itself wasn’t particularly exciting – granted, we didn’t visit the inside, since it’s closed during the winter, but the general ensemble was fantastic, I did feel like I was a Scottish lord (or laird) beholding my possessions from the heights of the cliff, keeping a watchful eye on the sea just in case the enemy decided to attack from there.

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This walkway between the Clocktower Courtyard and the castle was built for the servants, so that they could walk to and from the castle without being seen. (NTS)


Daffodils! You can always be sure to find the odd group of yellow daffodils peeking from the ground, which always thrills the literature nerd in me because I instantly think of William Wordsworth’s poem “Daffodils”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


Yes, I got positively wordsworthian when I saw this

The bookshop. I swear I don’t do that on purpose, but I always manage to stumble into bookshops – and God help me, I love bookshops. Especially second hand bookshops like the one at Culzean Castle. I suppose it has something to do with A.S. Byatt’s Possession and the fact that I know I’m destined to come across some lost letter of one of my many favorite authors, something that will turn all the previous scholarship upside down and change the world. Yes, sometimes I fantasize about literary findings that matter more than actual, important and life-saving scientific research. Back to the bookshop, it’s the most adorable bookshop I have ever been in, and I’ve been in quite a few, though not as many as I wish. The walls were lined with shelves, and they set up a nice lounge area in the middle, where you can chill out I guess, or maybe they even hold events there – I forgot to ask. The two ladies manning the counter were absolutely brilliant, we got into a short conversation on what we were studying, were each of us came from, and they had something to say about every book we bought. I do wish to find a bookshop like that in Glasgow, I visited a few, but I’m still far from going through all the ones I listed in my to-visit list.


I guess stating that I got three books from there is completely unnecessary, but I got all of them for a fiver, so I guess I’m excused. Kinda. I got a biography of Muriel Spark, a book of quotations on cats (the nicest small hardback ever, and for just 1£!! Can’t resist to that one) and a retelling of the Canterbury Tales in modern English by Peter Ackroyd. All nice additions to my personal library, which keeps growing even if I vowed to buy no more books unless it’s absolutely necessary and try and borrow as much as possible from the library. I started the biography on the train back to Glasgow (there’s no friggin’ way you could read on the bus, what with the dreadful state of the road and all), and so far it’s quite good.