You will soon find that your work in ASNC depends on ready access to editions of texts, standard reference works, and a variety of learned (and not so learned) books and articles. It is therefore the case that as soon as possible you should acquire the necessary cards which will give you entry into the various academic libraries in Cambridge.
- The University Library
- ASNC Departmental Library
- ASNC Common Room
- College Libraries
- Online Catalogues
- Useful Links
The University Library is a huge and daunting building, but it is very accessible and easy to use once you know how. You should register for access to the UL, and familiarise yourself with its layout, catalogues, main reading rooms, and open shelves. During the first weeks of Michaelmas term, the UL staff provide introductory guidance to the Library’s collections and facilities. There are also audio-visual introductory sessions (each 15 minutes long) available at any time. The UL catalogue is available online, from any terminal (e.g. in college) connected to the Internet; for books published between 1455 and 1978 it may still be necessary to consult the large green volumes in the catalogue room, though almost all of these books have now been added to the electronic catalogue. There are many essential reference works along the walls of the main Reading Room: to browse along these shelves is an education in itself.
The UL is very well provided with photocopying facilities; and you may find that it is helpful to make copies of particular articles, chapters, or sections of texts (within the constraints of copyright legislation), for ease of study, annotation, and subsequent reference. The UL also has a tea-room, which ASNC students have been known to frequent.
Attention should be drawn to the fact that the UL is one of the very best libraries for general academic purposes anywhere in the world, and that it is an extraordinary privilege for us all to enjoy easy access to its incomparable collections. Its distinguishing characteristics (apart from the tea-room) are threefold. (1) Its holdings are superb, in part by virtue of its special status as one of the few ‘Copyright’ libraries in Great Britain (the others being the British Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales), and in part by virtue of its purchasing power. (2) A high proportion of the books and journals in the UL are stored on open access, which means that it generally takes no more than five minutes to find anything; and since the classification is by size and subject, it is possible to browse along the shelves and find all manner of other books on the same subject (and of the same size). (3) Undergraduates in their third year have borrowing rights, which means that it is possible to take books out (with certain fairly obvious restrictions) and read them in the comfort of your own room. Of course it is irritating to find that a book has been borrowed by some other reader; but it is easy to recall a book, on the computer terminals in the library, if you are able to wait a few days for its return.
On the ground floor and first floor of the English Faculty building, you will find the English Faculty Library, where you should register as a reader as soon as possible. The ASNC Departmental Library is housed on the first floor, and has a collection of about 6,000 books and journals, covering all subjects taught in the ASNC Tripos. You are advised to consult the electronic catalogue in the English Faculty Library, also accessible online. Admission to the English and ASNC Libraries is by means of the University Card. Once you have your card, go and register in the Faculty Library; once registered, you will be able to have up to eight books out on loan at any one time for up to two weeks (longer in the vacations).
There is a book, kept in the ASNC Common Room, in which you may make recommendations for books to be bought for the ASNC library. You may also e-mail the Departmental Secretary, and she will pass on your recommendation to the senior member responsible for the library.
You will notice that there are several hundred ASNC books on open shelves in the ASNC Common Room. Many of these were given to the Department by Mrs Pauline Hunter Blair, and are from the library of her husband Dr Peter Hunter Blair, who for many years taught Anglo-Saxon history in the Department, and died in 1982. A few are from the library of Professor Dorothy Whitelock, Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon (1957-69), who also died in 1982. Others have been placed there by senior members, for the common good. You are naturally most welcome to use these books in the Common Room, but they may not be removed from the Common Room for any purpose.
All colleges have libraries of their own, and most of them should have a range of books relevant to our studies. Some are better than others; and you may not find much more than some basic textbooks or editions, runs of the standard journals, and some useful works of reference. It is very important that you should investigate the holdings of your own college library, and establish what it has; for you will soon get to know which books are most necessary for all ASNaCs to know, and for college libraries to have, and you are strongly encouraged, in the interests of all, to build up the holdings of your own. Ask the library staff for a book recommendation form, or draw up a list and give it to your Director of Studies. Most college libraries will have photocopying facilities.
The online catalogues for the University, Faculty, Departmental and college libraries are widely used. They are user-friendly, require no training, and may be accessed from any terminal connected to the Internet. The Newton catalogue allows you to choose between searching the UL catalogue, or the one for Departmental and Faculty Libraries, or for College libraries, all of which are currently held on separate databases. Newton offers two ways to look for a book: ‘basic search’ (for a general kind of search, e.g. to find out all books written by S. Keynes) or ‘guided search’ (for a more specific search, where you supply the author or editor's name, and title keyword, e.g. ‘Keynes’ and ‘Encyclopaedia’ to find copies of the Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England).
The ASNC Library is housed within the Faculty of English Library and is the aim of the Department to provide the highest quiality research resources for its students and research members.