Creating a tutorial

Over the course of the last couple of months I have been working the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) to produce an interactive online tutorial titled Your Reading List and Beyond.

This tutorial is part of ‘phase 2’ or our overall tutorial programme. Phase 1 was designed, constructed and delivered in 2020 and consists of 6 tutorials which are available individually, whilst also designed to fit together to support the needs of dissertation students, whilst been available to all as standalone tutorials.

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Intelligent, demanding, and meticulous: getting to know Bishop John Cosin

Over the last year, History PhD student Lily Chadwick has been cataloguing the correspondence of Bishop John Cosin, founder of Cosin’s Library on Palace Green in the centre of Durham. Reading through his letters, she caught a glimpse of his personality.

Cataloguing the correspondence of Bishop John Cosin over the course of the last eight months has provided considerable insight into the personality and mind of one of Durham’s most imposing figures. Certainly, there are limitations to the source material, which mean that we cannot draw definitive conclusions about Cosin as a person.

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Waving goodbye to REF 2021

Last week, staff in the Library waved off 12 boxes of books and other publications authored by current and former Durham staff as a final (for now) step in our university’s REF submission. This submission involved a huge commitment from staff across the university, across professional support and academic departments. Colleagues from across Durham University Library and Collections service have been involved in collecting publications, enabling open access and reviewing compliance with REF requirements, supporting Impact case studies and providing support for our poor academic colleagues tasked with drafting Research Environment statements.

Here we provide some brief figures to show some of the effort made to be able to wave off the final boxes one sunny morning last week…

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The miraculous cure of Sister Aloysia Gonzaga O’Connor: Spotlight on the collections

One of our archivists, Dr Jonathan Bush, retells the story of a miraculous cure that stunned doctors and caused quite a stir in 19th-century England. The account of Sister Aloysia’s healing is found in the archives of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, which Jonathan has been cataloguing.

The substantial archive of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, dating back to its foundation in Liege in 1642, documents the rich and colourful history of an English convent abroad. The records in the collection tell the story of the community in Liege, its evacuation to England during the turbulent years of the French Revolution, and its subsequent flourishing as a school and convent at New Hall, near Chelmsford, Essex.

One of its more remarkable personal stories concerns the extraordinary ‘cure’ of Sister Aloysia Gonzaga O’Connor. News of the case caused something of a sensation in a country where Catholics and their tales of ‘miracles’ were treated with suspicion and derision by a predominantly Protestant media.

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Conservation training during Covid-19

Katie, one of our conservators based at Palace Green Library, is studying for her ARA certificate in Archive Conservation. A significant element of her training is getting practical experience – not the easiest thing to accomplish at the moment. But last year, in between lockdowns, she managed to head to Flintshire Record Office for her placement with Conservator Mark Allen. In this post, she shares the results of her training.

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Foraging for theses

Recent headlines have highlighted concerns over unscrupulous third parties attempting to make money off the back of researchers by attempting to sell (for pennies) copies of Masters and Doctoral theses online. These have been taken from universities around the UK, including Durham University, and resold without permission (and often in breach of copyright). But for many years, Durham and other universities around the world have endeavoured to provide free access to theses, moving from what was previously rows of shelves of hard bound theses in our libraries, to digital repositories sharing the knowledge and expertise of our community online.

We often get asked by students, staff and others outside of the university if we have a specific theses available, or how to access theses and dissertations more generally, so we thought we’d highlight some of the resources available to you and why we make our theses available.

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Journeys: Reading the World

This February saw the launch of our new online exhibition Journeys: Reading the World, showcasing material relating to travel and tourism from our rare books, archives and manuscript collections. David Wright, Assistant Curator (Exhibitions), gives us a preview of the exhibition, which we would encourage you to visit for yourself.

There is a certain irony to us launching an exhibition about the pleasure, value and excitement of travel when are all mostly stuck indoors, unable to venture much further than the local supermarket, but so far visitors seem to be finding it a pleasant escape from the mundanity of lockdown.

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University Library and Collections – favourites from our collections…

As part of our World Book Day celebrations, we’ve been exploring the theme of ‘Choice – curiosity has no age limits and neither do books.’ There can be no better examples of this than from our very own collections held within our archives, special collections and museums. With a vast range of books that are as fascinating today as they were when first written, they continue to generate a desire to discover and learn and will cultivate this curiosity for many, many years to come. 

With that in mind, we’ve asked some of our librarians and curators to choose their favourite book from our collections and share their insight into these incredible items… 

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