Tag Archives: display

LGBT history month

A blog post by Jemima, library graduate trainee.

Each year, over the month of February, the lives and achievements of the LGBT community are celebrated, the history of the gay rights and civil rights movements is remembered and awareness is raised for issues still faced by LGBT people across the world today. Since LGBT history month was last celebrated in 2014, equal marriage has been recognised and legalised in England. Whilst in the world of film, the release of the award winning The Imitation Game has brought attention to Alan Turing, a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s naval Enigma code which helped to win WWII, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality, leading to Turing taking his own life. This last year has also seen Estonia become the first former Soviet country to recognise same-sex partnerships, Michael Sam, an American football star, made sporting history by coming out as gay and Russia’s anti-gay law sparked protests across the world in the run up to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Here at Brunel Library we have our own collections of work by LGBT authors which will be promoted over the month of February through our Pinterest page and ground floor book displays. However, works by or relating to the LGBT community do not exist only on our shelves. If you wish to discover the work of Maya Chowdhry who explores lesbian relationships and female identities in her writing, or to introduce yourself to the Indian photographer Sunil Gupta who produced work on the experience of gay men in India, or if you are interested in the exploring the area of sexual orientation in sport, you need to visit Brunel’s Special Collections.

Bitch lit

Bitch lit

Our Maya Chowdhry collection includes Bitch Lit, a cleverly subversive celebration of powerful, female anti-heroes; Acts of Passion: Sexuality, Gender and Performance, which focuses exclusively on lesbian performance work from representations of lesbian sex in the media to what the term “lesbian playwright” means within contemporary culture, and Lesbian Self-Writing: The Embodiment of Experience, a collection of writing by lesbian women on their own lives and experiences. The Sunil Gupta collection includes information on his gallery exhibits and newspaper reviews of his work, with significant media focus being placed on his decision to document himself receiving treatment for AIDS through photography.

Literature review of sexual orientation in sport

Literature review of sexual orientation in sport

Finally, A Literature Review of Sexual Orientation in Sport was carried out in 2008 by Professor Celia Brackenridge, who worked as Director of the Centre for Youth Sport and Athlete Welfare, here at Brunel University from 2005-2010 and forms just a small part of her large and fascinating collection. Visit Special Collections over February and discover something new this LGBT history month.

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#DayInTheLife

As part of Explore Your Archive week, today we’re looking at a Day in the Life of Special Collections here at Brunel University.

Enquiries
Answering enquiries

 

Most days start with checking for any new enquiries about our collections, answering them, making appointments for readers to visit and checking that reader-related admin is up-to-date. We keep statistics on the number of readers who have come to use the collections, and how many items they have looked at. Most enquiries come in via email, by phone or in person, but we still get an occasional letter in the post. All of our enquiries are logged in LibAnswers, which makes it easy to keep track of statistics, and which also provides a FAQ function for users, to help answer questions we are asked regularly.
Once a week we check our environmental monitoring equipment.

The thermo-hygrograph continuously charts the temperature and relative humidity in our storage area. We have to change the chart paper on this once a week, and, at the same time, we check if there have been any fluctuations in storage conditions over the previous week. We keep the charts to provide us with a record of storage conditions throughout the years.

We use sticky traps to detect insects that might be loitering in Special Collections, as these can indicate further problems that would damage our collections, such as infestations or damp conditions. Fortunately, all we’ve caught so far is one very small spider!

You can find further information about environmental monitoring and pest management on the British Library’s Collection Care webpages.

Environment

The thermo-hygrograph

Pest

A pest monitoring trap

We welcome two of our volunteers in, who are cataloguing part of our Transport History Collection. They have specialist railway knowledge, and their help is vital, as this is a really big collection.

When we have readers in to use our collection we register them and check their ID, get out the items they want to look at, and, if necessary, show them how to handle items correctly. We also invigilate all our readers to ensure that our collections remain secure. In the picture below there is one reader looking at items from our Transport History Collection, as well as our two volunteers. You can find out more about what to expect when you visit Special Collections as a reader on our How to use Special Collections blog post.

readers

Readers and volunteers using the collections

We hold workshops for particular subjects for groups from within Brunel and also outside. You can find out more about them on this blog.

 

 

 

Our collection include both printed books and archival material, both of which need cataloguing, so that users can find the items that they are interested in seeing. You can find items by searching our library catalogue for our printed collections, whilst the archive collections appear on Archives Hub. We fit cataloguing in around everything else that we do and have some help from other library staff members too. Our most recently catalogued collection is the Bill Griffiths Archive, which you can find out more about on this blog post.
Boxes Book shelves

Apart from monitoring the environment, other preservation steps we take, and which, again, are fitted in around other activities, are housing the collections appropriately. For books, this means measures such as having similarly sized books on the same shelf so they are properly supported, and training staff and users in how to shelf them correctly. For archival material we repackage items in Melinex (inert polyester) sleeves and store them in acid-free boxes. We also remove staples, paperclips etc, and replace them with brass paperclips, which won’t rust.

Melinex

Blount Archive packaged in Melinex sleeves, and in an acid-free box

And, once any readers have finished for the day, we reshelve the items they have looked at. Readers are asked to complete a feedback form, and any issues (good or bad!) arising from this are noted so that action can be taken. Two months after a visit, readers who have given permission are contacted with an online survey to complete about whether they have published or will publish work based on their research in Special Collections.

Feedback

Throughout the day we keep an eye on the Special Collections’ social media accounts, this blog, Flickr and Twitter (@BrunelSpecColl), promoting the collections. We design posters to publicise events in Special Collections, and put on displays for these too.

If you’ve got any questions about #DayInTheLife please leave a comment on the blog and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Explore Your Archive week

Picture of a letter from the Blount archive

Letter from the Blount Archive

Explore Your Archive week is an exciting national event in which archives all over the country are showcased and promoted; and we at Brunel Library are getting involved.

Here in Brunel’s Special Collections we have an interesting and diverse range of archival collections and we’re inviting you to come along to one of our drop in sessions and find out more about the archival treasures at your fingertips, and how you can access and use them for your essays and assignments.

You’ll find us on Level 3 of the library, accessed by the green staircase/lift.

Drop in sessions:

Monday 10th November 2 – 4 pm English/Creative writing Come and find out more about our literature collections and the different ways in which they have been used in creative writing. We will have items from the collections out for you to see, and then at 2.00, 3.00 and 3.30 pm brief talks will be given from people who have used Special Collections in their research and teaching. These will be interspersed with readings from creative writing inspired by the collections. There will be plenty of opportunities to find out more and ask questions.

Check out these blog posts to find out more about the collections that have been used for English and creative writing: Writing back and Teaching from the archives.

You can also get a flavour of the collections on our Special Collections guide for English.

Tuesday 11th November 10 am – 12 noon Any subject Maybe you can’t make it to one of the subject-specific sessions, or maybe you’re interested in a different subject to English or History? Then why not join us to find out more about what our collections offer for both English and History/Politics, but also other subjects?

There will be collection items out on display for you to see and handle, plus plenty of opportunity to ask questions and find out more.

Wednesday 12th November 2 – 4 pm History/Politics Drop in to discover which Special Collections you might find interesting for your assignments or dissertation. There will be collection items out on display for you to see and handle, plus plenty of opportunity to ask questions and find out more.  There is more information on our Special Collections guide for History and Women’s history.

Next week…

we’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the official opening of the Channel Tunnel by the Queen and President Mitterand on 6th May.

Look out for our display on the ground floor of the library, featuring images of items from the official opening.

 Further details about our Channel Tunnel Association Archive are available on our webpage, and there is a description of the collection on Archives Hub. Look out for further updates on our blog next week!

Feminism and women’s history resources

A post by Ginny Dawe-Woodings, Special Collections placement student.

Brunel University recently celebrated a week dedicated to Feminism, set up by the university’s Feminist Society to encourage debate and understanding of the ideology.

IMAGE1

An advert from the Ladies Home Journal

In Special Collections I took some time to explore our own collections and create an exhibition of pieces that illustrate women’s history. Special Collections houses a set of The Ladies Home Journal, an American magazine published from the 1880s to the present day. It was the Cosmopolitan of the day and offers a very visual insight into women’s history. We have issues dating from 1939 to 1961. A regular feature in the magazine was an article entitled ‘Can This Marriage Be Saved?” which advised women on how to fix their marriages.

These extracts are taken from issues from the 1950s, they place the responsibility of a good marriage entirely with women:

“The wife who is secure in the knowledge that she and her husband love each other can accept these irritations, and will do so as a matter of course”

“she will not add to his burdens by complaining. Nor will she begrudge him an occasional burst of temper”

“one way she can help him is to be his safety valve”

“We have found in our experience, that when a husband leaves his home, he may be seeking refuge from an unpleasant environment. Could it be that your husband feels that he is not understood or appreciated in his own home? What might there be in your relations to him that could make him feel that way?”

IMAGE2

Fancy TWO new vacuum cleaners for Christmas?!

One of the best examples of sexism in women’s history is in the form of adverts, and The Ladies Home Journal has a lot to offer.

Women’s history can also be studied via several of our other collections, including:

  • Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies
  • SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature & Arts Archive) which documents the contribution made by Asian women to literature and art in the UK.
  • Neglected Voices documents the experience of some disabled people, mostly women.

 

One World Week displays

As part of One World Week on the campus we have a couple of Special Collections displays in the library.

BICMEM display 5

On the ground floor are copies of items from the BICMEM collection. The Brunel Institute for Contemporary Middle Eastern Music, the first of its kind in the world, is a library of scores, manuscripts and recordings, a database of Middle Eastern composers and musicians, and a research centre. The scores, manuscripts and recordings are housed in Special Collections.

In the Research Commons there is a small display from the Dennis Brutus Archive. Dennis Brutus was a Black South African who was a teacher, poet and anti-apartheid campaigner. While he was a teacher he realised that Black sportsmen were not granted the recognition they deserved, and he became a co-founder of the South African Sports Association in 1959. He then went on to help start SAN-ROC, the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee. Brutus was later exiled from South Africa, and moved to Britain and then the USA, where he became Professor of African Literature at Pittsburgh University.

Dennis Brutus

We have a small archive about Dennis Brutus in our Special Collections. It is mainly concerned with his SAN-ROC activities, and his political actions, and holds material such as newspaper clippings and letters.

Some of the items in the One World Week display tell a harrowing story; his application for a visa to South Africa states that he had six convictions under the apartheid laws. There are airmail letters to his wife, written when she was in England and he was in America, with stamps showing Martin Luther King Jr. We have his birth certificate, stating that his mother was “Cape coloured,” and his South African departure permit, with his photograph showing a calm and determined man.

This display will be in the Research Commons until the end of this term. You are welcome to come and discover more about this iconic figure.

MLK stamps