Friday, 28 June 2013

Database Project - St Andrews Biographical Register

I've been fortunate to have Emma Lewsley working with me recently as a student intern.  Emma is a third year Medieval History student and has kindly agreed to tell the blog about how she's been contributing to our new database project.  She writes:

"For the past month I have been participating in the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme, working at the Library on the Biographical Register, a work compiled by Robert Smart, which comprises biographies of students of the University from the 18th and 19th centuries.  My job has been to tag entries in Dreamweaver, to help create a searchable database, which will hopefully be a useful tool to anyone with an interest in the University, family historians and academics.

As well as covering famous alumni and staff, such as Agnes Forbes Blackadder and Sir David Brewster, the Register also addresses the many students of the University whose lives would be otherwise less accessible.  I've learned about the varied origins of students, from those native to Fife to those who travelled from abroad to study at St Andrews, and also the range of careers they went on to have.  While many were doctors, ministers and teachers, there were also inventors, publishers, and much more.  St Andrews alumni also travelled the world, and could be found in America, Europe and Africa, and many more places besides.  Learning about the fates and fortunes of students who came before me has been an eye-opening experience.

I've not only gained much knowledge about the history of the University, but have also attained new skills and learned about the functioning of the Library, and can now better appreciate the work that goes on 'behind the scenes.'  It has been a very informative experience on many levels."

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Digital Books page goes live

I'm delighted to say that the repository's Digital Books page now contains seven whole, page-turning books!  It's been a painstaking but very satisfying process, and I'm indebted to both the Special Collections scanning team for the hours they've spent placing individual pages on the Bookeye machines, and to Rare Books Librarian Daryl Green for selecting the books for inclusion.

Book of Hours TypFP.B00PH

Books which appear on this page will be there either because St Andrews holds the only known copy, or because it's important to St Andrews, is a copy with a specific provenance of interest, or a surrogate copy is required for preservation of the original.  All criteria make the book "special" in some way.  A link to the catalogue record for each book can be opened in a separate tab so that details about the item can be viewed alongside the digitised pages if desired.  Links to the digital versions of the books will also appear soon in SAULCAT which should make them easier to find.  Books on the page so far include Ralph Erskine's The militant's song (1725), R. Lambert Playfair's An account of Aden (1859), and the Catalogue of books, in the public library at Dunse (1780), and there are more to follow - I am currently uploading the many beautiful pages of the 16th century Auxerre Book of Hours with its elaborate woodcut borders and full-page biblical scenes (preview above), and look forward to adding other titles to the list soon.