Annual Report of the Curators of the Taylor Institution - (2) to No 4379


Oxford University Gazette

Annual Report of the Curators of the Taylor Institution 1994–5

Supplement (2) to Gazette No. 4379

Monday, 6 November 1995


Contents of the supplement:

To Gazette No. 4380 (9 November 1995)

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The Curators

The incoming Proctors, Dr J.A. Black and Dr W.D. Macmillan, and the new Assessor, Dr P.A.W. Bulloch, joined the Curators in the course of the year. The Master of St Cross replaced the Warden of Keble as Chairman. Dr D.G. Pattison was co-opted for his term of office as Chairman of the Modern Languages Faculty Board (vice Miss Rutson).

Kolkhorst Exhibitions (Spanish)

Exhibitions were taken up by S. Brannigan, St Catherineþs; J. Bassam, Oriel; K. Quinn, Christ Church; A. Howard, Somerville, E. Merrison, Jesus; K. Smith, St Hilda's, and U. Bhaloo, St Hugh's. The Curators have asked the Spanish Sub- faculty for advice on possible changes to the scheme, given the relatively low uptake of the exhibitions in recent years.

Gerrans Fund

The Curators allocated £4,000 to the Taylor Institution Library, £500 for two travel grants to postgraduate students, and made one further grant of £150.

Gerrans Memorial Fund

Four grants were awarded to a total value of £1,524.

Fiedler Memorial Fund

Two grants of £250 were awarded to postgraduate students, five totalling £3,370 to faculty members as contributions towards the costs of publications, including Oxford German Studies, 23, and a grant of £1,000 was made to the Library for book purchases.

Ilchester Fund

Nine grants totalling £1,825 were awarded to postgraduate students for travel and three grants totalling £825 to faculty members.

Zaharoff Fund

Professor Simone Balayé of the Société des Études Staëliennes in Paris delivered the 1995 Zaharoff Lecture on Madame de Staël et les Français.

The Curators were able to make a further subvention of £12,000 to the Taylor Institution Library for the purchase of rare French material.

They also allocated £2,000 for travel grants for non-Modern Languages postgraduate students and, in response to exceptionally high demand, £3,000 for grants for Modern Languages postgraduates.

Building matters

The excavation of the joint Ashmolean/Taylorian forecourt to provide the former institution with much-needed space for extra services occupied most of the year. The Taylor Curators had agreed to cede their unused coal-shed accommodation under the former lawns (it being understood that other accommodation might result) and work, preparatory, archaeological, and constructional, filled the year (and is expected to finish only with the New Year 1996), necessarily creating noise and dust in the Library, and a diversion for all museum visitors through the Taylorian archway entrance. Double glazing for the Library (long requested for the Main Reading Room, off one of the most polluted streets in central Oxford) was provided by the sponsors of the development on a temporary basis and the difficult resultant ventilation problems were eased by the loan of large fans. The latter proved particularly useful during the exceptional summer heat. Apart from the extra work falling on the porters, who had to redirect numerous visitors, neither staff nor readers have however suffered unduly as a result of these major works, which have even added interest to gazing out of the windows - although few were privileged to see the early-morning unearthing of a mammoth tusk. A major dusting operation will however be required in much of the book stacks after the completion of this work and that of the replacement of the Library's fire alarm system. CCTV cameras have been installed in the building, and a general review of security was undertaken, as a result of which a number of improvements were made.

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THE LIBRARY

In general the year has been a busy one without any immediate major changes and yet, at the same time, the Library has been on the verge of such changes and thus much in the throes of preparation for them.

HEFCE's offer, following the Follett Committee's report, of development grants for `holdings' libraries (with the implied acceptance of more outside readers in the future) resulted, for the Taylorian, both in a number of small grants and in major long-term ones which should ensure that most of the major cataloguing problems facing the Library will be solved in the next five years. The small grants covered the cataloguing of the Yiddish collections and the cataloguing and conservation of the main collection of manuscript material by major European authors, both projects which are now materially advanced. The major grants, given priorities 1 and 2 by the University, cover the automation of the Main Library's pre-1970 catalogue (by outside contract) and that of its entire Slavonic and East European Section card catalogue (by a home team). Both are four-year projects and, while the latter in particular may be complicated by the change from OLIS due in mid- 1996, they will mean that before long all the Library's rich stock will be recorded on the university database and thus be identifiable, locally, nationally, and even internationally. This will also open the way to long- sought automation of library management services such as acquisitions, circulation, and conservation.

The end of the year saw the end of an era in the Library in that Mr David Gilson took early retirement after 29 years' service. Mr Gilson, the acclaimed bibliographer of Jane Austen, had long presided over the library's periodicals, its antiquarian books, and, latterly, its French Section. His accuracy, dedication, and unfailing kindness will have benefited many readers (often unaware of his name) and thus done much to promote the good reputation of the Library. He maintained the highest of standards in his library work and will be greatly missed.

In the light of the announced retirement of the Librarian in 1996 (one year early), and following university practice in such circumstances, Mr Gilson has not, for the present, been replaced at senior level but a rearrangement of duties and the employment of extra other staff are allowing for both regular and exceptional duties to be met. Apart from the preparatory work for the major conversion schemes referred to above, there is regularly now extensive similar work in connection with the relegation of lesser-used materials to the University Book Repository at Nuneham Courtenay. The Library's central Oxford accommodation has long been over-full and growth can only be achieved by the regular purging of its carefully selected and classified open-access shelves and the relegation of lesser-used stock to storage out there. In the light of demand for central space such a programme is now cardinal to library policy; it is also very demanding in both academic- level and administrative-level staff time. Equally it depends on the University's regular provision of out-of-town storage space (equivalent to annual intake). This matter, particularly important for Arts Faculties, has not received the necessary assured funding over recent years. Overcrowding, with all its attendant evils, displacements, difficult book delivery and replacement, damage to materials, etc., all sources of chaos, are now very present threats. The two modules shortly to be constructed at the Repository will go some way towards easing the present overcrowding from the last few years, but planned and funded provision for current regular acquisitions in the years just after the turn of the century - or some alternative policy - must receive urgent attention at a high university planning level. As the Repository stock increases (it is already the second largest `library' in Oxford, coming immediately after the New Bodleian) so the need of a more frequent van service grows. A very small sum here would make an increasingly important and material difference to service.

The extension of the ethernet to the library and the progressive provision of equipped terminals, not to mention improvements in the general networking of library services in Oxford, have allowed both the establishment of an Electronic Services Room for database searching and printing out (something for which, as for bicycle racks, there appears to be an insatiable demand) and for regular sessions or `surgeries' in this field. Once again a member of staff, usually (and indeed fully) engaged on traditional duties, Mr Simon Trowbridge, has had to be diverted to these important and demanding new functions.

The General Board's review of the Modern Languages Faculty included libraries in its brief, and following the review committee's report a Joint Library Committee (Bodleian, Taylorian, Modern Languages Faculty Library) met to look into the structural relationships and co-operative practices of those libraries working in the European Languages area. There were also other discussions, in which library staff and others were involved, concerning the management of library services in Oxford, the aim being to improve the planning of services, to increase co-operation, to maximise the use of financial resources, and to raise the standards of existing services while also introducing new ones. Considerable difficulties exist, and are likely to arise, and shrewd organisation and management, possibly involving radical change, will be required if teaching and research in Oxford are to continue to flourish.

The Curators endeavoured to ease the old Oxford problem, the closure of both the Taylorian and Bodleian for the August Bank Holiday week, by reorganising summer vacation hours so as to allow the Taylorian not to close. This had eventually to be abandoned since the week is used (together with that after Christmas) for the necessary servicing of OLIS, unfortunately removing catalogue services at that time and thus precluding effective opening. The successor library system will not, it is believed, require this and the possibility of introducing the facility will be monitored.

It must also be reported that although the Library received an unusual number of bequests and gifts (a welcome matter but one which nevertheless increases, beyond normally funded resources, the demands on staff and on cataloguing, conservation, and storage space) the number of works which it has been able to buy with its current acquisition funding is now falling. At a time of increasing world book production this necessarily entails a reduction in the Library's percentage coverage of its fields. Management of purchases requires much time, particularly in these circumstances, and the fact that final book expenditure (including complex arrangements with eastern Europe and Latin America) was within 0.2 per cent of the target figure is a matter for congratulation. The serious fall in the rate of exchange between sterling and the German mark required strong contingency support in order to maintain acquisitions in this field.

Accessions

Apart from the funds for the purchase of new books and periodicals, and for binding, preservation, and other library services, largely provided by the Libraries Board's grant, and from the continuing support of the Rhþs Trustees for Celtic Studies (the latter providing 93 volumes [previous year 85]), the trust funds held by the Curators financed the purchase of older material as follows: Boyd Bequest (earlier German literature), 2 volumes [15]; Fiedler and Gerrans Funds (German literature), 227 volumes [17]; Finch Fund (Italian literature), 8 volumes [14]; Lef Nosi of Elbasan Fund (Albanian), 13 volumes [4]; Slack Bequest (general), 31 volumes [4]; Sutherland Fund (German), 2 volumes [141]. The continuing Voltaire Foundation support grant, used for eighteenth-century books, provided 11 volumes [99]. The Zaharoff Fund grant (French literature) allowed for the acquisition of 432 items [415].

These purchases included the following older or rare items:

Corneille, Le Cid [1642, with Sentiments de l'Académie, 1638], Molière, L'Imposteur, 1669, Madame de La Fayette, Zayde, 1690 (M. Wodhull's copy), Fénelon, L'Education des filles, 1687, de Foigny, Les aventures de Jacques Sader dans la terre australe, 1692, L. Liger, Dictionnaire des termes propres à l'agriculture, 1703, Duval, Nouveau choix de poésies, 1715 (containing early work by Voltaire), Diderot, Les Bijoux indiscrets, 1748 (first edition), Rousseau, Du Contrat Social, 1762, a late eighteenth- century Recueil de ballets et pièces, Genlis, Adèle et Théodore, 1782, Nodier, Histoire du roi de Bohême, 1830 (with autograph letter about his work), and an early run of the Magasin pittoresque, 78 volumes of the Théâtre National Populaire, a remarkable collection of the publications of F. Morel and two modern `livres d'artiste', Mallarmé's Coup de dés, 1989 (illustrated by C. Vielle) and Die Offenbarung S. Johannis, 1994 (Paris, R. Schwarz).

Another outstanding purchase consisted of runs of several turn-of-the- century French and German satirical journals, including L'Assiette au beurre, Jugend, and Simplicissimus amongst others. Italian items included Pirandello, Il fu Mattia Pascal, 1904, and Moravia, Il Conformista, 1951 (2nd ed.) as well as further editions of Guarini's Pastor fido, while German ones were headed by Goethe, West-östlicher Divan, 1819.

Donations

Madame A. Sauvy-Wilkinson presented various French newspapers covering important dates just before and during the Second World War and a remarkable run on the events of May 1968.

Mr J.M. Brunskill contributed generously, through the Campaign for Oxford, to the purchase of the first edition of Diderot's Les Bijoux indiscrets.

The late Dr G. Weiler bequeathed a number of volumes to the University, of which a great number of German and French ones will benefit the Taylorian.

The Slavonic Section is particularly grateful to Mrs Pat Pain for her generous donation of £250 for the purchase of Russian Books.

Other items came from many institutional and private donors, who included Mr V.V. Aristov, Dr P. Beckett, Mr G. Benvich, Sir Isaiah Berlin, Dr B. Beumers, Lorenzo Bianchi, Dr M. Bolton, M.Ya. Boroditskaya, Professor M.M. Bowie, Mr E.L. Broyde, Mr R.W. Burchfield, Mr S.D.P. Clough, Dr M.A. Dening, Mr R. Dergam, Editions Gallimard, T.E. Eglevskaya, Mr M. Everitt, Mrs M. Fennell, Mr I.P. Foote, The Foundation for Hellenic Culture, Miss R. Fotiade, Mr B. Franoli, Mr R.M. Frumkina, Monsieur Garandeau, Dr J.S.T. Garfitt, the late Mr D.G. Gregory, Mr Grosu, Professor F. Haskell, Mrs L. Haskell, Professor M. Haskell, Professor B. Heldt, The Hellenic Foundation, the family of the late Mr M. Hemmingway, Herzog August Bibliothek, Mr R. Howells, Dr H.G.A. Hughes, Professor V.V. Ivanov, Mrs C. Jones, Dr A. Kahn, Dr C. Kelly, Mr V.V. Khorol'ski, Mr P.I. Khoteev, Mr V. Longinov, Miss L. Mackenzie, Mrs T. Mall, Mr M. E. Mallon, Professor Meyer, Professor 1. Michael, Professor A.B. Murphy, Mr M. Murphy, Dr M.A. Nicholson, T. Permyakova, Dr D. Prater, Professor G. Price, Dr J. Raba, Professor A.W. Raitt, Mr A.B. Rogachevski, Mrs E. Sighvatsson, Dr J.S.G. Simmons, Professor G.S. Smith, Mr J.Z. Sobolewski, Mr E.A. Southworth, Dr G.C. Stone, Stichting Ons Erfdeel Publishers, Stiftung Haus Oberschlesien, The Town of Gronau, Mr G. Strachan, Thessalonica University, Mr G. Tihanov, Ms B.Yu. Ulanovskaya, Université de Tunis, Ms C. Vlad, Mr H.R. Vitt, The Voltaire Foundation, Mr J. Warrack, Dr S. West, Mrs J. Wilcox, Mr J.A. Wytrwal.

Administration

The statistics for accessions and for library use are given below, the figures in brackets being those for the previous year. Accessions: books 7,118 (6,055), pamphlets 400 (751), microfilm rolls 17 (15), other microforms 2,088 (4,943), periodical volumes 464 (508), periodical parts 3,099 (2,845), other periodical microforms 0 (136). The number of current serial titles is 1,148 (1,159). The totals for new readers admitted were: members of the University 1,022 (943), external readers 327 (257). Readers borrowed 25,212 (25,917), and 13,410 (12,391) books were fetched for readers from the closed stack areas. Books obtained for readers—loans from libraries outside Oxford—numbered 181 (253), and in the Taylorian's role as a national `back-up' library to the British Document Supply Centre 299 (288) volumes were lent to other libraries and universities. The total number of books sent for binding was 2,710 (2,234) while other preservation work included special book cleaning, making protective covers, and boxing. The total library stock is now estimated as being in the region of 453,000 (445,000) volumes.

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