Follow the Lines in the Ice at the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoA new exhibition with a decidedly wintery theme begins at the British Library this week.

Lines in the Ice examines why Europeans are drawn to explore the Arctic and, in particular, the fabled Northwest Passage. Arctic exploration has influenced our culture, changed the societies of indigenous peoples, and had a powerful effect on the making of the modern world.

The exhibition displays early European maps of the Arctic, Inuit accounts of the coming of the explorers, writings from the search for Franklin, early Arctic photography and much more. It also unearths the history of the North Pole’s most famous resident – Santa!

On display in the British Library entrance hall, the exhibition runs until March 2015 and is free to visit. Further details can be found via the British Library website here.

Terror at the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoHalloween has started early at the British Library this October, as they open their vaults to a spooky new exhibition entitled Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.

From the literary nightmares of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to the screen perils of Stanley Kubrick and Hammer horror films, over 200 rare objects chart 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre, detailing how the genre has cast a dark shadow across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and every day life.

Iconic works such as handwritten drafts of the classics Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as the more contemporary horrors of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the Twilight saga, are included in the exhibition, which runs through until 20th January. Full booking details are available via the British Library website here:

http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/gothic/index.html

When the Lamps Went Out All Over Europe…

archives new zealand

One hundred years ago this evening Britain declared war on Germany following their invasion of Belguim, embroiling the nation in a conflict that would last over four long, bloody years that would result in the loss of 900,000 lives fighting for the British Army.

In a special event in Liege, world leaders will gather this morning to commemorate the beginning of the conflict, and a national service of commemoration will be taking place in Glasgow Cathedral this afternoon. This evening in Westminster Cathedral an hour-long candle-lit vigil will be taking place, and people at home are invited to join in between 10-11pm by turning off all their lights and leaving only a single candle burning.

This event has been inspired by the words of wartime Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, who remarked as war was declared: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

Last week Cambridge University announced that they had digitised a 4,000 page archive of the work of soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon and made them freely available to the public for the first time. This joins the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War archive and the Europeana 1914-1918 digital archive, a pan-European project involving the British Library. Not forgetting, of course, our own extensive range of material among our history collection, searchable via Library Catalogue Plus.

Image by Archives New Zealand, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Enduring War at the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoA new exhibition has just opened at the British Library as part of their contribution to the First World War Centenary. Enduring War examines how people coped with life during the war: from moments of patriotic fervour to periods of anxious inactivity, shock and despair. 

Through posters, poetry, books and pamphlets from the period, the exhibition considers attempts to boost morale at home and in the field, as well as presenting individual responses to the conflict, such as letters from Indian soldiers on the Western Front, schoolboys’ descriptions of Zeppelin raids over London and examples of the black humour expressed in trench journals.

The exhibition also showcases the Library’s work for Europeana 1914-1918, a major pan-European project to digitise more than 400,000 items from World War One through an audiovisual art installation, as well as a new World War One website, in which the user can explore over 500 newly-digitised historical sources from across Europe, with new insights by experts.

Enduring War is now open until October in the Library’s Folio Gallery and is free to visit. For further details visit the British Library website here.

Discovering Literature with the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoThe British Library has this week posted over 1000 of its greatest literary treasures online in a new website, Discovering Literature, including the manuscripts of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens and Wilde, and other unique artefacts which shed new light on the life and works of these and many other legendary authors.

Discovering Literature features over 8000 pages of collection items and explores more than 20 authors through 165 newly-commissioned articles, 25 short documentary films, and 30 lesson plans, including William Blake’s notebook, childhood writings of the Brontë sisters, the manuscript of the Preface to Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and an early draft of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. More than 60 experts have contributed interpretation, enriching the website with contemporary research. Designed to enhance the study and enjoyment of English literature, it should prove both an invaluable resource to students and a treasure trove to those interested in this classic period of English literature.

These works from the Romantic and Victorian periods form the first phase of a wider project to digitise other literary eras, including the 20th century.

Researching Propaganda at the British Library

britlib_logoThe British Library will be hosting a free hour-long webinar in March that will explore the British Library’s collections related to propaganda.

In Summer 2013 the British Library hosted an exhibition, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion, examining the communication of power, and attempts to persuade, through the use of visually striking material and the objects of everyday life. Examples of these can be found across the British Library’s collections, and this webinar will describe the types of material that were researched, found and used for the exhibition. It will cover posters, leaflets and pamphlets, maps, philatelic materials and recorded sound.

This webinar will be of most use to people planning to use the British Library collections and Reading Rooms in their research, but will also be of interest to those more generally interested in political history, propaganda and ephemera, and will be hosted by Ian Cooke, the Social Science Curator at the British Library and the curator of the Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition.

It’s being run on Wednesday 12th March from 3pm (GMT). Booking is essential to participate, and to do this, visit the following link:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8462839101017797634

Beautiful Science at the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoA new free exhibition begins at the British Library today on a scientific theme with an artistic twist.

Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time.

From John Snow’s plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the tree of life, you can discover how picturing scientific data provides new insight into our lives.

The exhibition is running in the Folio Society Gallery until 26th May. For further details visit the British Library website here.

Europeana 1914-1918

untitledThe British Library have joined forces with the European Union’s largest historical database to help compile Europeana 1914-1918, the most important pan-European collection of original First World War source material.

Launched this week by Monika Grütters, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media in Germany, the database is the result of three years of work by 20 European countries and includes:

  • 400,000 rare documents digitised by 10 state libraries in Europe
  • 660 hours of unique film material digitised by audiovisual archives
  • The personal papers and memorabilia of some 8,000 people involved in the war, held by their families and digitised at special events in 12 countries.

The British Library is leading the UK’s contribution to the project, and has contributed 10,000 items from its own WW1 collections to the site, including trench journals from foreign troops, iconic war poetry, London schoolchildren’s accounts of Zeppelin raids and many more. The British Library has also produced a new website offering curated access to over 500 digitised historical sources from Europeana 1914-1918, including over 50 newly-commissioned articles written by leading historians.

This site can be visited via http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one. Europeana 1914-1918 can be found here: http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en

Doctoral Open Days at the British Library

blThe British Library is running Doctoral Open Days series for this academic year and booking is now open for events taking place in 2014. These events introduce new PhD students to the British Library’s unique research materials and provide orientation regarding broader information environment for their subject.

The British Library is a hub for research, with vast and varied collections, expert staff and a wide range of events. Students can learn about their collections, find out how to access them, and meet their expert staff along with other researchers in their field.

These events are aimed at PhD students who are new to the British Library. The following events are now open to book:

  • 13 January – Environmental Science
  • 17 January – Digital Research
  • 20 January – History 1
  • 31 January – History 2
  • 3 February – English 1
  • 14 February – English 2
  • 24 February – Media, Cultural Studies and Journalism

All events take place in the British Library Conference Centre, London and cost £5. Lunch and refreshments are provided. It is recommended that to make the most of the day attendees get a free Reader Pass before the event. A small number of £20 travel bursaries are available for each event to students coming from outside Greater London.

Further information and booking details are available at: http://bit.ly/1iZvmmg

British Library Newspaper Collection On the Move

Photo pf British Library gate by pshab

During 2013-14 the British Library is moving the national newspaper collection from its current home in Colindale, North London, to a purpose-built Newspaper Storage Building (NSB) in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

As such all Print newspapers and microfilm will be embargoed from Friday 8th November 2013, at which point the Reading Room at Colindale will close. Periodical titles remain under embargo, except for a small number of high-use titles which will remain available until the Reading Room at Colindale closes.

Future access to the collection will be via a dedicated newspaper Reading Room at the Library’s main site at St Pancras, where microfilm and digital copies will satisfy the majority of requests. Where no ‘surrogate’ copy exists, it will be possible to request the print originals from Boston Spa; if the required item is in good enough condition to travel, it will be delivered to St Pancras within 48 hours.

The moves are part of a wider programme that aims to safeguard the long-term future of the collection, which includes more than 750 million pages of local, regional and national newspapers, along with periodicals covering every aspect of life in the UK and beyond.

In the mean time, the British Library’s British Newspaper Archive website, which offers free-to-search access to up to 4 million fully searchable pages, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland, remains fully available, while our Library has access to a wealth of newspaper resources online, most notably Nexis UK, as well as the electronic archives of individual papers such as the Guardian & Observer, The Times & Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail Archive, all accessible through Library Catalogue Plus.

For further details and updates on the move, visit the British Library’s ‘Help for Researchers’ page here.