F for facsimile: T.E. Lawrence’s undergraduate thesis reimagined

The following article by Victoria Stevens appears in the 2017 Jesus College Record.

During the many years that I have worked on the conservation of Oxford library collections there have been several objects that stand out in my memory as being especially remarkable. T.E. Lawrence’s undergraduate thesis is the foremost of this select group, and it is certainly the object with which I have spent the most time. It has just kept on popping up. Having conserved the original binding and text block through the Oxford Conservation Consortium in 2009–10, the thesis and I set off on a short tour of northern Europe, with me acting as courier for its safe installation in a two-centre exhibition on Lawrence in Germany during 2010 and 2011. A second courier trip for an exhibition at Magdalen College, and ongoing advice regarding its storage environment, cemented my working relationship with the thesis. It seemed like a fitting tribute to a ten-year friendship that I should be asked to contribute to the creation of a facsimile of this tactile but fragile object.

Photographic equipment

A digital copy: photographic equipment at the Grove Cottage studio (photo: Colin Dunn)

This fragility had long been recognised, and a digital copy of the thesis was created in February 2010 by Colin Dunn of Scriptura on large-format photographic equipment. Although perfect for research and online content, this cannot give the reader experience of thumbing through the original. In consultation with College Librarian Owen McKnight, it was decided that the facsimile should provide the same layered and dynamic impression that made the original so charming.

Lawrence had stuck and hinged into the thesis photographs, drawings, and outline plans, sometimes directly onto the pages and sometimes on roughly scissor-cut stub guards that were part of the textblock’s construction. The cheap and basic construction of the original binding was also part of the story: it was an undergraduate thesis rather than a fine binding, and we felt that this should be replicated as far as possible.

Printing of the textblock by Colin was preceded by decisions both practical and technical. A suitably thin stock was sourced through specialist paper suppliers R.K. Burt & Company. The digital images were prepared for print, and tests were run to ensure a very close colour match to the original. The differences in the spectral properties of the materials of the original and the facsimile meant that a change of light source could result in the copy appearing markedly different from the original; for this reason, the lighting conditions in the Fellows’ Library were used to establish the match.

Once the facsimile textblock was printed, the first stage in the binding process was to attach the stub guards both to create sections for sewing through and to provide compensation for the extra material that would be hinged in to mirror the original. This extra width has the advantage of enabling the wonderful marginalia to be seen without having to force the binding.

Lawrence's marginalia

No puttees! Humour and character typical in Lawrence’s annotations and manuscript marginalia. (photo: Victoria Stevens; published by kind permission of Jesus College)

The guards were pasted onto the verso of the facsimile pages with an overlap of no more than 2 mm, matching the chain lines and colour (the tone of the paper in the original pages varies considerably).

The facsimile textblock (1)

The facsimile textblock: with stub guards attached (photo: Victoria Stevens)

The facsimile textblock (2)

The facsimile textblock: after making into sections (photo: Victoria Stevens)

After folding the guards and making up the sections, the next stage was to sew the textblock. Thin linen tapes were used for the sewing supports, to replicate the original sewing structure and give greater strength and flexibility.

Sewing the textblock (1)

Sewing the textblock: controlling swell with a consolidation stick (photo: Victoria Stevens)

Sewing the textblock (2)

Sewing the textblock: the finished sewing (photo: Victoria Stevens)

Departing from the original thesis binding structure, the boards were laced on to increase the strength of the binding attachment and help the finished facsimile withstand the handling it was likely to receive. This involved driving an awl at two points through the depth of the board for each support, fraying out the ends of the sewing supports, known as slips, and lacing these through the boards. The slips are fixed both mechanically – the board around the awl puncture is hammered down into place like a rivet – and by adhesion, applying paste to the slips before they are laced on.

The spine was lined with a linen textile to provide support to the sewing structure and add strength. As old starch-filled cloth stock was to be used to replicate the original look and texture of the cloth case, it was important to increase the fold resistance of the covering cloth through this sturdier linen layer. The linen liner was extended onto the outer face of the board, and the laced-in slips and liner were covered with a thin card to provide a smooth surface finish. As cloth was being used as a covering material, a hollow was made off the book and attached to the spine with paste. The binding ready for covering can be seen in the image below.

Beneath the cloth

Beneath the cloth: the in-boards textblock waiting to be covered. (photo: Victoria Stevens)

Covering using old cloth stock is a nerve-wracking business. Modern bookcloths often have a coating that prevents staining to the outer surface through adhesive or accidental contact with damp fingertips, an event not unknown when one uses an aqueous adhesive such as paste. Such convenience was sacrificed for appearance when the cloth was chosen for the facsimile, as a modern cloth would have looked very much at odds with what I was hoping to achieve in terms of close fidelity to the original binding.

Stage one of the covering

Stage one of the covering: the cloth is adhered to the spine and the boards and is ready to be turned in, head and tail first and then fore-edge. (photo: Victoria Stevens)

The last stage of covering was pasting down the endleaves. The inner faces of the boards were infilled with thin conservation-grade card up to the depth of the covering cloth to provide a smooth finish to the faithfully reproduced pastedowns, complete with printed bookplate and original adhesive browning to the flyleaves.

Real or facsimile? (1)

Real or facsimile? The left pastedown and endleaves. (photo: Victoria Stevens)

Real or facsimile? (2)

Real or facsimile? The right pastedown and endleaves. (photo: Victoria Stevens)

The final task was to reattach the loose items, which are so important to the character of the original thesis and the impact of the facsimile copy. The inserts were reproduced identically from the digital image, painstakingly cut out exactly to shape by Colin, and hinged into the textblock in the same position as in the original either by tipping onto the guards or by attaching them to the pages with small tabs of strong but thin Japanese paper pasted onto the verso of the insert. This hinging allows them to be lifted to reveal the text below and creates the same movement in the facsimile textblock as in the thesis.

The bound and complete facsimile copy was provided with a drop-spine cloth-covered box made by Bridget Mitchell of Arca Preservation, constructed to grip the fore-edge of the book to prevent any changes in the board profile due to possible variations in environmental conditions while in storage.

The end result is an attractive, functional and faithful reproduction, with a textblock which looks and feels almost identical to the original, and a binding that bears more than a passing resemblance to it. As a handling copy, it maintains all the hand-made and tactile qualities that make Lawrence’s thesis so interesting and delightful to read.

Victoria Stevens ACR has worked as a library and archive conservator for almost 20 years, mainly in the central library and college collections of the University of Oxford. She now manages a conservation practice and preservation consultancy from her studio in Reading, with a customer base across the UK.

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New staff: Oliver Miller

Several college libraries in Oxford take part in the Bodleian’s training scheme for graduates (of any university) intending to become professional librarians. The fifth trainee at Jesus College is Oliver Miller, who wrote the following piece for the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainees blog.

Hi, I’m Oliver and I am the Graduate Library Trainee at Jesus College. I have just completed my MSc in Security Studies, having previously studied Ancient History (both at UCL) and I am one of three trainees to have made the transfer from working for Buckinghamshire County Council’s libraries to Oxford (all of us somehow unaware at the time that we were simultaneously applying to become trainees). After working briefly for a public library, I decided that a career in librarianship would afford me the chance to interact with many different people with varied and interesting requests, and felt that the Oxford Libraries Trainee Scheme would be the perfect place to start such a career. I managed to convince Jesus College that I could be trusted to help run their libraries, and am now preparing to help all the new and returning students and researchers.

Second Quad

The Second Quad of Jesus College

Jesus College has three libraries: the Meyricke, the Celtic and the Fellows’ Libraries. As Jesus has historically been the ‘Welsh college’ in Oxford, it consequently has a unique Celtic Library that houses a collection covering (perhaps obviously) Celtic languages, culture and history. As I come from a family with strong Welsh and Scottish ancestry, the college’s heritage particularly appeals to me (and is a source of considerable pride to my Welsh grandfather). However, years of holidays in Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons seemingly did little to improve my Welsh, and I am forced to rely on Google Translate when attempting to classify books with titles such as ‘Pwy fydd yma ‘mhen can mlynedd?

Perhaps the most ostensibly impressive of my duties is helping to look after the Fellows’ Library. The library, dating from 1676–77 and having been refurbished to its full glory in 2008, houses the college’s antiquarian books, and each morning I conduct a small patrol to check that the library is in good order and that no leaks have suddenly sprung from the roof. I have been taught how to handle the collection properly, with every care being taken to ensure the books will both be preserved for future generations, but also still be of use to scholars studying them in the present day. Regardless I still feel slightly nervous when handling some of the collection; it’s not every day that you find yourself carrying a Greek Bible from 1545 signed by Philip Melanchthon!

Fellows' Library

The inside of the Fellows’ Library (© Jorge Royan, Creative Commons)

Most of my time is spent looking after the Meyricke Library, which is the main library for students at the college. Often this involves reshelving books, tidying desks at the beginning and end of the day, processing new books for the library, and numerous other small jobs that are essential to the library’s day-to-day running. I have also used my first month here to create a new signage system for the library, in the hope that new (and perhaps even old) students will be able to find books more easily. Later this week the new students will receive their library inductions, so we will soon find out whether I have helped ease their task or simply sent them on wild goose chases around the library!

Oliver Miller (Graduate Library Trainee, 2017–18)


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The prayer roll of Margaret of Anjou, she wolf of France

The following article by Christopher Muttukumaru CB appears in the Jesus College Newsletter (issue 27, Trinity Term 2017).

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 3, Margaret of Anjou was described by the Duke of York as the “she wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France”. Margaret, who married King Henry VI and who, in 1448, was the founder of Queens’ College, Cambridge, was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. Her marriage had been a pivotal factor in the ending of the Hundred Years’ War. She became Queen Consort in 1445. With Henry VI in fragile health and incapable of wise decision-making, she became a figurehead in her own right and de facto the leader of the Lancastrian cause in the Wars of the Roses.

Yet the prayer roll of Margaret of Anjou, which belongs to Jesus College (Bodleian Library, Jesus MS 124), depicts a pious Margaret at prayer, kneeling at her prie-dieu.

What is the prayer roll?
Psalters, such as the sumptuous Copenhagen Psalter (which is attributed to English illuminators), had been in use in England from the early Middle Ages. They were primarily a collection of the psalms for use by the clergy. But by the fifteenth century, psalters were increasingly superseded by books of hours. Books of hours, while incorporating some psalms, also focused on other readings, prayers and, typically, a calendar. Like books of hours, prayer rolls were pre-eminently a personal aid to devotion.

Margaret’s prayer roll is a precious object of exceptional beauty. It is so rare that it was one of the objects displayed at the British Library’s Royal Manuscripts exhibition in 2011–12. It dates from between 1445 and 1453.

MS 124

The prayer roll, MS 124
(photo: Christopher Muttukumaru; published by kind permission of Jesus College)

The roll, when unfurled to its full length, is about 158 cm long. It comprises two pieces of overlapping parchment. It is likely that it was a royal commission, not a work done by monks. Its creation is attributed to William Abell, a professional illuminator who served an elite clientele in the 15th century. According to the Curator of Medieval Manuscripts at the Bodleian, the script is exceptionally fine. The colours of the images in the prayer roll are startling in their intensity. The text is written in a vivid brown ink. The prayer roll was typically rolled over a wooden pipe in order to be more portable.

Why is it so rare?
First, the Jesus prayer roll is one of comparatively few which have survived — there are no more than 25 in existence. This is a consequence partly of their fragility and partly of the excesses of the Reformation.

Secondly, while the majority of prayer rolls are dedicated to prayers focused on the wounds of Christ, the Jesus prayer roll is centred on the Virgin Mary. Thus she and Jesus are depicted within the ring at the top of the prayer roll, above the kneeling Margaret. In this connection, the visual imagery in the text and the historical context are worth exploring.

MS 124 rota

The Virgin and child at the centre of the rota or wheel
(photo: Christopher Muttukumaru; published by kind permission of Jesus College)

Margaret at prayer

Margaret at prayer
(photo: Christopher Muttukumaru; published by kind permission of Jesus College)

Motherhood was, in Maurer’s view (see Select bibliography), the defining moment for a Queen Consort in a system based on lineal inheritance. Therefore, after an unstable period following the sudden death of Henry V, the birth of a successor to the throne became an immediate concern after Margaret’s arrival from France. Against that background, Margaret (who also visited the shrine at Walsingham four times, known to be a place where women sought God’s help in attaining motherhood) is depicted looking upwards and praying to the Virgin Mary. The son whom she and Henry VI wanted duly arrived in 1453.

Moreover, in establishing herself in England, Margaret was expected to intercede with God on behalf of her people — in short, to exercise “good ladyship”. As to this role as intercessor, the keen reader will note the detail in the wheel outside the central ring in which the Virgin Mary is shown. The spokes of the wheel show the classes in society who might be expected to pray to the Virgin, seeking Margaret’s intercession for the purpose. The identified classes include: the poor, the laity, the clergy and religious women.

Thirdly, the prayer roll, in depicting the Queen herself, is, in the view of an expert (Drimmer), very unusual in a late mediaeval manuscript. There are two other such depictions of Margaret. First, she appears in the Talbot Shrewsbury book (1444–5), a book of poems and romances presented by the Earl of Shrewsbury (Talbot) to Margaret upon her betrothal to Henry VI. Talbot had escorted her to England from France. Secondly, she appears in widow’s clothing in the Skinners’ Company Book of the Confraternity of the Assumption of Our Lady.

Margaret of Anjou in the Shrewsbury Talbot Book (British Library)

Margaret of Anjou depicted in the Talbot Shrewsbury Book
(British Library, Royal MS 15 E VI, folio 2v; published by kind permission of the British Library Board)

Margaret of Anjou in the Skinners' Company Book (Guildhall Library)

Margaret of Anjou depicted in the Skinners’ Company Book of the Fraternity of the Assumption of Our Lady
(London Metropolitan Archives, MS 31692, folio 34v; photo: Christopher Muttukumaru; published by kind permission of the Skinners’ Company)

Drimmer concludes: “Together, these images are exceptional in their portrayal of a mediaeval queen in three guises: devotee, recipient and widow.” Curiously, the contemporaneous Talbot family’s Book of Hours (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 40-1950) uses a long, thin format akin to a prayer roll. Talbot and his second wife are themselves pictured penitentially in illuminations in the manuscript.

How did the prayer roll come into the possession of Jesus College?
The college was founded in 1571. The prayer roll dates from 1445–53. Whence came the prayer roll?

Visitors to the Weston Building of the Bodleian will have noted the giant 16th century tapestry maps of parts of England — the Sheldon Tapestries. They were commissioned for Ralph Sheldon (1537–1613). His great grandson was also a Ralph Sheldon (1623–1684). From the time of his wife’s death in 1663, the younger Sheldon spared no expense in enriching the collection in his library at Weston in Warwickshire. Between 1674 and 1681, Sheldon engaged Anthony Wood to catalogue the collection. Wood’s two catalogues provide the clue to the migration of the Sheldon collection.

According to an article in 1939 in the Bodleian Library Record, Sheldon bequeathed most of the collection to the College of Arms. But the article records that Wood had been an “unworthy trustee, for several Vincent-Sheldon MSS, now in the Bodleian, were retained by him for his own use, and were later sold by him to the Bodleian or came to that library with Wood’s own collection”. It later transpired that “over twenty manuscripts destined for the College of Arms, found their way, through Wood, to Jesus College Library, for Wood’s disgust at the lack of a princely fee for his work at Weston …” Jesus College Library contains, besides the eight printed books which belonged to Wood, some forty manuscripts which bear his signature, ABosco, or his initials.

On the back of the prayer roll, Wood has inscribed the following: “the picture within drawne was made for Margaret of Anjou, wife of Hen 6 of England, as it appears by the arms joyning to it//1681 ABosco”.

As for the history of the prayer roll between Margaret’s return to France in 1476 and 1681, there is no reliable evidence. But it is known that many such objects were gifted by one female to another and so it is possible that the book was left to a confidante before 1476.

The prayer roll is, quite simply, an object to be treasured. As Keats wrote:
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.”

Christopher Muttukumaru CB (1970, Law)

Select bibliography

Helen Castor, She-wolves: the women who ruled England before Elizabeth (London: Faber and Faber, 2010), pages 314–402

Sonja Drimmer, ‘Beyond private matter: a prayer roll for Queen Margaret of Anjou‘, Gesta 53(1) (March 2014), pages 95–120

Eamon Duffy, Marking the hours: English people and their prayers, 1240–1570 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), chapters 1, 2, and 4

Helen E. Maurer, Margaret of Anjou: queenship and power in late medieval England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003)

Scot McKendrick, John Lowden, and Kathleen Doyle, Royal manuscripts: the genius of illumination (London: British Library, 2011), pages 160–161, 400–403

Erik Petersen, ‘Suscipere digneris: et fund og nogle hypoteser om Københavnerpsalteret Thott 143 2° og dets historie [a find and some hypotheses on the Copenhagen Psalter Thott 143 2° and its history]’, Fund og forskning i det Kongelige Biblioteks samlinger 50 (2011), pages 21–63

I.G. Philip, ‘Sheldon’s manuscripts in Jesus College Library’, Bodleian Library Record 1 (1939), pages 119–123

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Supporting students

When I arrived at the Meyricke Library in June 2016, one of my jobs involved returning books to a small subsection of the Lower Library. This consisted at the time of one-and-a-half shelves of books on welfare topics from study skills to student life. I noticed that the collection was very small, and having recently been a student myself, I kept wondering where the resources were on issues my friends and I had faced during our time at university. What help was there for Jesus College students struggling with stress during Finals, or unsure of the next steps after exploring sexual relationships for the first time? I decided to expand and promote a Student Support collection for my trainee project, to reflect students’ ever-changing welfare needs.

I first spoke to college staff who deal with welfare issues, from the Chaplain to the College Nurse, asking what issues students generally come to them with, and whether they currently recommend any particular books or resources to students. I also consulted the Counselling Service’s list of suggested texts and asked on social media. This allowed me to compile a provisional list of books mentioned by several sources. I wanted to ensure that everything I purchased was approved by more than one person as an indicator of quality and usefulness.

When it came to purchasing, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a £500 grant by the Jesus College Development Fund for collection expansion and development. This was my entire budget, but my provisional booklist came to over £1000, so significant cutbacks had to be made. Deciding what to include and exclude threw up some very complicated ethical questions and I was effectively forced to ask myself who and what was worthy of inclusion, while wanting everyone to be able to access the collection and find resources useful to their personal needs. This taught me a lot about my own inherent biases and instinctive decisions on which purchases were more or less important. I believe that constantly reflecting on one’s own practice and beliefs is key to informed librarianship, especially in terms of collection development.

Student Support collection

The Student Support collection in the Lower Library (© Jesus College, Oxford)

Next, I had to work out how best to shelve the new collection. When I arrived, it was available to borrow on an honesty system, so students did not need to check books on sensitive subjects out and nobody could see what they were borrowing. I decided to keep this system as I wanted to protect students’ privacy and save them embarrassment, feeling that this outweighed the fact that some students were not returning books. I also kept the collection in its initial location, but moved the books on writing skills to the English Literature subsection on the first floor in order to create more space. I considered moving the entire collection to the upper floor of the Periodicals Room, a quiet space removed from the main reading rooms, but felt that as the space was so little used, it would be obvious why people were going there, breaching the privacy I was so keen to ensure.

When moving writing skills books, I had to reclassify them in accordance with their new location, and this led to me drawing up a new classification for the Student Support collection. The Meyricke Library uses its own classification system where letters of the alphabet represent different subjects, e.g. P for Politics. I therefore decided on SS for Student Support, and created 9 subcategories from SS1 to SS9. Whilst these did overlap with each other – SS5 was Mental Health and SS6 was Grief and Trauma, which obviously do play into each other – I felt that broader categories better reflected the nuances of different welfare issues and allowed for refinement in future, as student support is a constantly changing field.

I then had to promote the collection, as it was underused and little known about in college. I spoke to both JCR and MCR Welfare reps and spoke on the collection at a Staff Liaison Committee meeting, encouraging staff to mention it to students needing support. The incoming MCR Welfare Officer has already donated books from his personal collection and is looking into getting a block grant for further collection development. I also updated the signage around the collection.

I have subsequently seen the collection in use, as books have been left on the returns trolley, so I feel it has been successful. I would encourage any college library to create their own Student Support collection by taking a balanced approach and examining their own beliefs on students’ needs compared to the feedback they receive from students themselves.

Harry Wright (Graduate Library Trainee, 2016–17)

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Treasures of Jesus College from Cirencester

The following article by Andrew Dunning appears in the 2016 Jesus College Record.

Among the medieval manuscripts owned by the Jesus College library are fifteen from Cirencester Abbey, a community of Augustinian canons. They are beautiful examples of bookmaking in 12th-century England, and the care taken with them over the centuries makes them one of the most unique collections of such material.

Orosius (MS 62)

Opening of Orosius (MS 62, folio 4v, photo: Andrew Dunning, © Jesus College, Oxford)

The most obvious allure of the Cirencester manuscripts is their colourful initials, which are better illustrated than described. Less apparent, but even more exciting for scholars, is the fact that they can be dated with relative precision. In the late 12th century, one of the canons recorded the names of the scribes at the front or back of many of the volumes. For example, Jesus College MS 52 bears the inscription This is a book of St Mary of Cirencester, written in the time of Dom Andrew, the second abbot, through the hand of Dom Alexander, afterwards cantor, and Ralph of Pulham, a scribe, while Dom Adam de la Mora was cantor. This tells us that the book was written between 1149 and 1176: Andrew was abbot from 1147 to 1176, while Adam was preceded in office by a Gilbert, who was still cantor in 1149. Alexander was one of the Cirencester canons, but Ralph was a professional scribe. His employment gives a sense of the importance the community placed on creating a library.

The inscriptions are all written in a single hand. The most recent of them names a scribe Walter, suggesting that the person responsible was Walter of Mileto (fl. 1180-1220), a scribe and administrator at the Abbey. He was later the clerk to the Abbey’s most famous writer, Alexander Neckam (1157-1217), commemorated in a 16th-century gateway installed in the Weston Library in 2015. He also acted as his literary executor, and sought to create a complete collection of Alexander’s sermons. One can sense his urgency in a surviving note to Roger Noreys, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury: Mark on a sheet the beginnings of all the sermons that you have in your possession and send them to me by the first messenger you can find!

Pseudo-Hegesippus (MS 63)

Opening of Pseudo-Hegesippus (MS 63, folio 4v, photo: Andrew Dunning, © Jesus College, Oxford)

The Jesus College Cirencester manuscripts are also highly valuable for their bindings, many of which are original. Particularly from the 17th to 19th centuries, collectors and institutions would rebind their books, not because they were in poor condition, but because they wanted bookshelves that presented a uniform aesthetic. Volumes were bound with matching spines and covers that bore their coat of arms. For this reason, new books in this period were often sold unbound, and manuscripts were subject to the same treatment. Unfortunately, the trend in this period was to bind books very tightly and to trim the edges of pages to make them appear uniform, causing severe damage. We owe the past librarians of Jesus College infinite gratitude for their restraint in not abandoning their collections to this trend. The Cirencester manuscripts at Jesus College are among only a handful of surviving examples of English Romanesque bindings. Occasionally one even finds original bookmarks left by the canons. This allows us to appreciate the books’ original artistry and learn more about how they were used; they are the only evidence that Cirencester had a chained library in the later Middle Ages.

After the Abbey’s dissolution by King Henry VIII in 1539, some of its manuscripts were saved by the administrator Sir John Prise (1501/2-1555). The books now owned by Jesus College appear in the list of those willed to the College by his son Gregory Prise (1535-1600), as the late College archivist Chris Jeens showed in the 2015 issue of the Record. Prise took an interest in the history of England, and it might be because of this that so many works of Bede survive from Cirencester.

Bede's commentary on Samuel (MS 53)

Bede’s commentary on Samuel (MS 53, folio 3v, photo: Andrew Dunning, © Jesus College, Oxford)

In 2017, the town of Cirencester will be celebrating the nine hundredth anniversary of the Abbey’s founding with the Abbey 900 Festival. This will include a special exhibit at the Corinium Museum, in which Jesus College MS 52 will be among four manuscripts on temporary display.

Dr Andrew Dunning is Curator of Medieval Historical Manuscripts, 1100-1500, at the British Library. He was the RBC Foundation-Bodleian Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Book during Hilary Term 2016.

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New staff: Harry Wright

Several college libraries in Oxford take part in the Bodleian’s training scheme for graduates (of any university) intending to become professional librarians. The fourth trainee at Jesus College is Harry Wright, who wrote the following piece for the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainees blog.

Hi, I’m Harry, and I’m this year’s Graduate Trainee at Jesus College Library, where I’ve been in post since June. Jesus is one of the more central colleges, whose students need access to a wide range of information, resources and study spaces, and it’s my job to help provide those things! My role this year involves assisting the librarian with the day-to-day running of the library, from removing damaged and superseded books to helping readers with all kinds of enquiries. I also help look after the beautiful Fellows’ Library and am enjoying learning about rare books.

Fellows' Library

Fellows’ Library (© Jorge Royan, CC BY-SA 3.0)

I’m currently in the early stages of planning my Graduate Trainee Project, focused on expanding our Welfare Library.

Prior to working at Jesus, I did a similar traineeship in a secondary school library in Hertfordshire, after studying English Literature and American Literature & Culture at Cambridge and Leeds respectively. Teenagers are a lot of fun to work with (but exhausting at times) and over the course of my two traineeships, I’ve learned a lot about different demographics’ information needs. While I was there, I helped Sixth Formers with their university applications, which opened my eyes to their desire for good-quality information and differing levels of knowledge on how to acquire it. As a result, I am becoming more and more interested in access to information, and hope to specialise in information management within the academic sector one day.

That’s all from me, but I look forward to seeing how this year progresses and finding new areas of interest as I discover more and more about the library world.

Upper Meyricke Library

Upper Meyricke Library (© Jesus College, Oxford)

Harry Wright (Graduate Library Trainee, 2016-17)

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Organ donation

The completed refurbishment of the organ in Jesus College Chapel provides an opportunity to announce the new John Wellingham Organ Studies Library.


Scores from the John Wellingham Organ Studies Library (© Jesus College, Oxford)

John Wellingham is a distinguished organ teacher and organist who taught at Jesus for over 30 years. The College marked his retirement from teaching last summer by hosting a celebratory recital and reception, at which donations were solicited to establish an Organ Studies Library in his honour. To quote the original invitation:

The aim is to gather a collection of the standard organ repertoire that may be accessed by the university’s organ scholars (and others on application) and borrowed on loan. Literature on the organ and organ studies will augment the collection. To assist students who may not be able to afford to buy their own scores at this early stage in their professional development, it will make available a variety of sheet music and offer a resource that they may explore in order to decide what repertoire they may themselves wish to possess in the future.

So far, the library comprises 150 scores, including anthologies, facsimiles, and hard-to-find editions from Eastern Europe. Many have been donated by John Wellingham himself and others come from the personal library of the late conductor and musicologist Christopher Hogwood. Each has been catalogued individually on SOLO, the library catalogue covering the majority of the library collections of the University of Oxford, as well as in the current list of scores. To see the collection, please email both the Chaplain and the Librarian to arrange a visit.

Owen McKnight (Librarian)

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