Learning, Sharing and Planning for the Year Ahead!

Special Collections and Leeds University Library Galleries started the year with a day of sharing, learning and planning at a staff away day. It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together and reflect on all that we achieved in 2017 across Special Collections and both Galleries.

We started the day with a few exercises to find out more about everyone in the room. We discovered that the most languages spoken by one person is three. We have many musical team members, with the cello, guitar and tuba among the instruments played, definitely enough to start a Special Collections band! Many of our team members hold multiple roles within the University, the most being three by one person. Lots of our wonderful staff have been on television at least once – so much star quality!

The core focus of conversation throughout the day was about further increasing access to our world-renowned collections for students, academic staff, researchers and the wider public. We heard about the ways in which our teams have already been working on this and shared with colleagues what have been the most significant changes.

In the Galleries we have had a Visitor Experience team restructure and welcomed two new wonderful Gallery Assistants, and a new Galleries Events and Marketing Assistant. This has helped us to provide consistent service to our visitors and focus on providing excellent customer service. The Special Collections Reading Room team have updated all of their manuals and documentation to make them more accessible to visitors. This will ensure that researchers using Special Collections have all of the information they need.


Collections and Engagement Managers working across the service discussed the huge amount of material bequeathed to the University’s collections last year and the on-going task of cataloguing it all and making it available for future access and display. Our Digital Content team shared their work around visitor enquires and setting targets to reduce response time. Their aim is to facilitate access to Special Collections material as quickly as possible and continuing to develop the fantastic service they provide.

Medical Manuscripts Image Capture
How the medical manuscripts were captured. Image credit Leeds University Library.

We heard about an exciting marketing campaign being developed for 2018. It will increase awareness of the Galleries in the Leeds to ensure that as many people as possible know what an amazing asset we are to the city, and that we are free and open to all! The Galleries are currently working with a design company to develop new concepts and create eye-catching visuals – be on the lookout throughout May and let us know where you spot them!


Did you know that archives can sometimes contain hazardous materials? We learned what to look out for and how to take precautions when dealing with potential risks in our collections. Did you know that degrading film negatives emit vinegar fumes, called ‘vinegar syndrome’ or that toxic arsenic was used in a 19th and early 20th century conservation technique for damaged paper called ‘silking’? We were encouraged that our Collections Care Team are making sure collections hazards are being logged and managed safely.

With everything from marketing to archives, we had a fantastic day of sharing, reflecting and planning and are looking forward to an exciting year to come! Special Collections and the Galleries are open to staff, students and the public six days a week, so come along and find out more about the amazing exhibitions, displays, archives and research resources we have to offer!


Perronet Thompson – a distinguished, globe trotting family

December was a relatively quiet month for new accruals.  A highlight was a small collection of documents added to our Thomas Perronet Thompson Collection.  The archives include ‘A Pedigree of Perronet and Thompson’ by Henry Wagner, FSA, (1840-1926) showing the families’ ancestry from the early 1600s.  Wagner is mainly remembered today for his extensive research into the family history of British Huguenots in the 19th century.

In the pedigree Wagner traces the family back to the French Benjamin Mestral, Seigneur des Vaux and Catherine Baptiste, of Lausanne, who married in 1621.  Jean, the husband of their daughter Susanne, is the first Perronet listed.  His family came from Berne in Switzerland.

Many of Jean and Susanne’s descendants had impressive careers.  They include Jean-Rodolphe Perronet (1708-1794) a celebrated French civil engineer.  Perronet discovered how to design stone arch bridges with narrower piers.  These created larger areas for boats to pass through.  Best known for the Pont de la Concorde in Paris, Perronet continued to work on the construction of the bridge despite the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.  He was an inspirational teacher and founded the world’s first engineering school in 1747.

William Perronet (1729-1781) was a surgeon and apothecary who, for several years, served as an army surgeon.  Although he was not closely involved with the Methodist movement some letters between him and Charles Wesley exist in the Wesley family archives.  William’s brother’s Charles (1723-1776) and Edward (1726-1792) were Methodists for a time and worked as itinerant preachers accompanying Charles Wesley on his tours.

Vincent Perronet
Vincent Perronet, Mayor of Exeter 1944-1945, brother of Sir John Perronet. Image credit Leeds University Library.

Many of the family served with the army or became colonial administrators.  One such was Sir John Perronet Thompson (1873-1935) a colonial administrator in Simla and Delhi, India.  He was Chief Commissioner for Delhi from 1928-1932.  Our new accrual includes some of John’s letters to his sister Isabel written from 1898-1932, a copy of his speech to the House of Commons and an address to the Lincoln Diocesan Conference ‘The Problem in India’ both dated 1932.

In his correspondence and speeches Thompson comments on political and social issues in India.  He was evidently an advocate of independence for the country long before it happened.  His letters also include news about the Thompson family.  When Isabel asks about career prospects for her son, Basil, Thompson advises that colonial administration in India is no longer a good option.

Images in the Margins

Riza Hussaini, our Digitisation Assistant, uncovers some magical marginalia in our medieval manuscripts.

The prevailing view of medieval illuminated manuscripts is that they contain purely sacred imagery.  It is true that the main illustrations accompanying the text are of saints and angels, the crucifixion and scenes from the Old Testament of the Bible.  They complement the religious messages. However the margins around the text reveal a world of surreal delight where comic life flourished.

Scribes had much more artistic licence in the margins and their imaginations often roamed free.  Weird and wonderful mythical beasts, hybrid monsters, animals behaving like humans and humour related to bodily functions were all fair game.  It was common for the illustrations to be added after the text was written.  This allowed the artists to scatter it with irreverent depictions.

Images of beasts
Clothed beasts from BC MS 1/55 and BC MS 1/63. Image credit Leeds University Library.

Although traditionally, reading and writing were the concerns of the church, by the late Middle Ages there was an increased desire among the laity to express devotion privately. The Book of Hours was the most common genre commissioned by clients.  The books ranged from the modest through to lavishly illuminated tomes purchased by the wealthy and aristocratic classes. It is the luxurious versions that hold the most elaborate illustrations.

Image of grotesques
Grotesques from BC MS 1/28. Image credit Leeds University Library.

There were recurring themes and imagery in the margins. The most striking are nuns and monks behaving curiously, anthropomorphic animals, dragons and snails. Plenty of illustrations give us an insight and clues into everyday medieval life. All the images in this post are from Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis (Book of Hours) and you can access digitised medieval manuscripts on the Special Collections catalogue.

Sadly, upon the arrival of movable type, marginalia in medieval manuscripts diminished.  The inclusion of marginalia on musical scores continued longer as modern music printing as we know it came about much later.  Doodling and writing notes in margins will never go out of favour as people add their own sketches and comments to texts.

Illustrating the margins of medieval manuscripts provided much more than a break from lethargy for the artisans, it brought levity.  Marginalia shows the modern reader that medieval life was just as complex as ours.

2017, what a year it’s been!

It’s been another bumper year of diverse events and exhibitions in the Galleries.

Over in the Treasures of the Brotherton, our exhibitions have changed from Shakespeare in Yorkshire to the British community in 1917 Russia to cookbooks and their collectors throughout the ages. Such a varied range of themes has inspired fascinating lunchtime talks and innovative interactive events including setting the table for a medieval banquet and Baroque musical concerts.

Perhaps one of the most memorable evenings of 2017 was the annual Museums at Night event in May. We joined forces with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery on the other side of Parkinson Court and provided a variety of thought-provoking activities based on our Caught in the Russian Revolution: The British Community in Petrograd, 1917 – 1918 exhibition. There were spine-tingling pop-up choir performances of Rachmaninov’s Vespers which were banned in Soviet Russia, following the Russian Revolution. We also had a creative writing workshop; dramatic readings by stage@leeds which drew upon striking eyewitness accounts of the Russian Revolution; drop-in embroidery craft, inspired by a precious piece of embroidery on display in the ‘Saved in the Russian Revolution’ exhibition and Rachmaninov’s stirring music was available to listen to on individual sets of headphones.

A night to remember!

Museums at Night 207

In The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery we have had a year of Yorkshire sculpture with exhibitions celebrating two of the University’s Gregory Fellows, and a fantastic FUAM Graduate Art Prize show showcasing the talents of our recent Fine Art and Art and Design graduates.

The prestigious and pioneering Gregory Fellowship scheme began at the University in 1950 under the patronage of Eric Craven Gregory, Chair of Bradford-based printers Percy Lund Humphries. Fellowships were undertaken in poetry, music, painting and sculpture. Kenneth Armitage: Sculpture and Drawing of the 1950s formed part of a programme of exhibitions and events across Leeds that continue to celebrate the centenary of Kenneth Armitage’s birth in 2016. Visitors engaged with Armitage’s striking figures in an artist-led workshop creating interlinking wire sculptural forms. Austin Wright: Emerging Forms, currently on display, explores the artist’s Fellowship as a key period for his practice through an incredible body of work. Seeing the huge aluminium sculptures hanging from the ceiling is certainly a first for the Gallery!

We celebrated the fantastic paintings by Zoe Carlon (Fine Art), overall judges’ winner of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize. Zoe’s works were displayed alongside finalists Olivia Loker (Fine Art), Lucy Davidson (Art and Design) and Miranda Jones (Art and Design). We were impressed with the quality of all the works!

2017 Gallery exhibitions

October saw the Galleries coming together to join the multi-arts and light festival Light Night, celebrated across the city of Leeds. In the Art Gallery we ‘connected the Marshall threads’ with artist Alice Clayden who taught over 100 visitors how to finger-knit and contribute to a unique textile installation. ‘Voices of Light and Dark’ echoed through the Treasures Gallery, treating visitors to a special display of illuminated poetry from the archives of Special Collections and the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. A very moving experience for many.

Light Night 2017

We’re sure you’ll agree that it has been a fantastic year for the Galleries and we already have lots of exciting events and exhibitions planned for 2018.

See you in the New Year!

Give us your search strategies!

Image source: Pixabay (CC-0)

This post is by Library Research Support Advisor, Kirstine McDermid

We’ve had a few researchers through the doors of the Research Hub recently who have told us that their publishers are requesting search strategies in order to publish them alongside papers.

It is encouraging to see that search strategies are becoming more of a prerequisite for some publications – especially for systematic reviews. However we were concerned to hear that one publisher appeared to be suggesting that the author retrospectively add keywords that had not been searched for to the published version of a search strategy. If they thought the search was inadequate it would be reasonable to ask the authors to revise it and take account of any new results but it is clearly bad practice to publish a false search strategy.

Like all good science, search results need to be transparent, open and reproducible.  In systematic reviews we need to see how the study came about the evidence, what search methods, and databases were used so that systematic reviews can be quality assessed, understood and validated, and can also be easily updated in the future. We’ve recently made a search strategies resource to facilitate making search strategies open access.   Openly accessible search strategies can also be used by other information specialists and researchers to develop searches that go on to inform future research projects. It is important to get the search right from the outset and essential that all searches conducted for the project are recorded accurately – not fabricated upon publication.

Rightly so, the researcher in question submitted only the search terms that were actually used, and they did not follow the poor advice of the publisher to improve their search strategies after the event; this would only be appropriate if the review was redone to incorporate the new results the extra search terms brought up.

The Library’s Research Support Team work with researchers to get their searches right from the outset and can advise on how to record all searching activity. If your project is funded we can use our expertise to do the searches on your behalf and provide neat search strategies documentation and search methods text in preparation for publication.

Contact Lucid if you require literature searching support for your next research project.

Seven ways to increase the visibility of your research

This post is by Library Research Support Advisor, Sally Dalton

So, you’ve published your research and you’re now hoping to sit back, relax and get ready for all those citations to roll in?

Unfortunately the hard work doesn’t stop here!

Now you need to promote your research to make sure it reaches the widest possible audience, this is part of the job of being a researcher. By making your research more visible you could potentially open up future collaboration / job / publication opportunities, increase citations to your work and increase the number of people finding, reading and building on your work.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/water-show-fly-airborn-raves-2092402/ (CC-0)

1. Promote your research at conferences

Conferences are a great opportunity to promote yourself and your research. Even if you aren’t presenting your work you can use the conference as an opportunity to meet other researchers and start to develop your research network. Keep an eye out for names of researchers you would like to meet and practice introducing yourself and your research. You may only have a few minutes so make sure you’re prepared!

2. Carefully consider which journals you are going to publish in

Choosing where to publish in an academic matter but there are certain questions you may want to ask yourself before choosing where to publish. Are the articles in the journal easily discoverable? Are they indexed in services such as Web of Science or Scopus? Does the journal have suitable open access options? Have you and your colleagues heard of the journal? The answers to these questions will determine how visible your article will be to other researchers. Think Check Submit provides a simple check list to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.

3. Sign up for an ORCiD 

Having and ORCID can help to make your research more visible. ORCID is a digital identifier that helps to distinguish you from other researchers. You can link all your research outputs to your ORCID and you can keep it throughout your career. It is particularly useful for researchers with common names, who change their name throughout their career or who change institutions. No matter what changes are made you will always have the same ORCID, so other people can easily see details of your research outputs. More details on how to sign up for a free ORCID can be found here.

4. Make your research open access

Open access publishing makes scholarly works available online, free for anyone to find and read. The potential readership of open access articles is far greater than that for articles where the full-text is restricted to subscribers. Making your research open access will make it more visible. There are 2 ways to make your research outputs open access; by self-archiving in an open access repository or by publishing in an open access journal. More information on open access can be found on our open access pages.

5. Share your research data where appropriate

There is growing evidence that sharing data can increase the visibility of research. Sharing your data could allow other researchers to validate your work, build upon it and could potentially help to open up future collaboration opportunities. Learn more about managing and sharing your data on our Research Data Management pages.

6. Promote your research online

Promoting your research online will help you reach your potential audience, connect with other researchers and help you to start developing a network of online colleagues. There are a number of different social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Blogs and LinkedIn. Whichever tool(s) you use it is important to identify who your audience is, engage with them by asking questions, speaking up about issues that interest you and use eye catching images, videos or visualisations. You don’t need to spend a long time keeping your social media accounts up to date but you do need to be willing to write and check your account(s) regularly.

7. Track when your research is being used

Keeping up to date with who is discussing, citing or sharing your research is important. You can use this type of information on CVs and when applying for funding/jobs etc. To check who is citing your work you can look at your articles on sites such as Web of Science, Scopus or Google Scholar. If you are an early career researcher it may be more appropriate to use Altmetrics. Altmetrics looks at who is talking and sharing your research on places such as social media, in news outlets and on course syllabi. For more information on Altmetrics have a look at our Altmetrics pages.

The Research Support team run regular workshops on increasing the visibility of your research focused on different faculties, book online here (N.B. currently for postgraduate research students only, let us know if you would be interested in similar sessions for research staff).

Further reading


November’s new accessions

This month we received a welcome addition to our collection of Glyndebourne Festival programme books 1952-1981.  Our new accession brings the collection up-to-date.  The Glyndebourne Festival of operas takes place annually at Glyndebourne Manor House, near Lewes, East Sussex.  The first festival was organised in 1934 by John Christie  who owned the house and had a specially built theatre installed.  The opening performance was Mozart’s ‘Le marriage of Figaro’ which launched a six week season.

Each programme contains fascinating articles about the season’s operas and composers.  The Glyndebourne Festival Society was formed in 1952 to take over the financial management of the event from Christie.  More recent programmes include updates about its activities which include community and educational projects.  Tours around the UK take Glyndebourne’s operas to thousands of people a year.  The programmes are lavishly illustrated and the artwork, photography and advertisements show changes in society and culture over the years.

Malcolm Quin (1854-1945) was a positivist philosopher who became an independent Catholic Priest.  Positivism is a philosophical theory which holds that people’s definite knowledge comes from sensory experience which they interpret using logic and reason.  A recent accrual to our Malcolm Quin Collection contains five letters and six Christmas cards from Quin to a  Mr Robertson, dated 1906 to 1927.  In each card Quin included one of his own poems on a seasonal theme.

Quin and Robertson had a lively intellectual discussion on positivism, Catholicism and Darwinism in their correspondence.  They debated in particular the views of two positivists, the philosopher Richard Congreve (1818-1899), and the trade union advocate Henry Crompton (1836-1904).

Robertson sent Quin a copy of Susan Liveing’s book ‘A nineteenth-century teacher, John Henry Bridges’ (1926).  Bridges was a positivist philosopher and medical inspector.  Commenting on the book, Quin wrote to Robertson that Liveing faced an ‘almost insuperable obstacle’ in being a woman writing about a man!  Somewhat grudgingly he acknowledged she ‘has gone a long way towards overcoming it’.