Going out with a launch

So here we are at the end of another term – the time seems to go by so quickly (and no doubt more quickly when you have a deadline or two!) As I said in my last post, it really has been a busy and exciting term for us in Special Collections. As well as sharing the enjoyment of the Night at the Victorian & Edwardian Theatre exhibition launch last week, yesterday we were able to celebrate student success once again.

A display of the new writers' work

A display of new writing

This time, it was the turn of students of the School of English, who had taken Simon Smith’s Book Project module. This very popular module includes a visit to Special Collections to investigate our Modern First Editions collection, particularly looking at self-publication and small presses. The module culminates in the creation of a piece of original creative writing, which the students then publish themselves using online software to design every last detail of the physical book. This in itself is an exciting achievement, but to celebrate the occasion, Special Collections hosted the book launch for all of these writers to talk about their work, perform readings and generally share their enthusiasm.

Enjoying the event

Enjoying the event

Among the guests were friends, family, academic and library staff, and all enjoyed hearing these new writers read their prose and poetry, each unique and with their own, clear style. With subjects ranging from the experiences of a 20-something, family and identity, conformity, disability and mystery, we were entertained over two hours by the students’ talent, vision and their ability to engage the whole audience.

A reading

Engaging the audience…

A reading

… and sharing the story

Once the books have been marked and moderated, copies will be deposited in Special Collections, so that we can showcase the talent which this University has inspired. This module also ran last year, and we are currently in the process of transferring the completed books from 2012 into our collections.

Celebrations and events aside, this term has seen us make great strides with our collections, thanks to the hard work of regular staff and a committed core of volunteers. The sermon notes of Hewlett Johnson have now been completely catalogued and are searchable on the Special Collections website. Similarly, a large chunk of the new B. J. Rahn Collection of twentieth century theatre programmes has been catalogued and added to the website. Work is also ongoing on our deed boxes of legal materials relating to Dion Boucicault and on the significant research papers of Andrew Hendrie, a UoK student whose PhD researched the Coastal Command during the Second World War.

Suffice it to say, the work here is always varied!

We have plenty planned out for the next few weeks, when the reading room and all of our services should be running as usual, from 9.30-4.30 Monday-Friday. Expect new collections, new discoveries and more to blog about as we head into (what I hope will be) the summer. In early May, we’re looking forward to a new exhibition to mark the changing attitudes towards women, which we hope will incorporate materials from UoK Special Collections, the Gulbenkian Theatre costume store and Christ Church Canterbury University Special Collections.

So as I sign off for another term and wish everyone a good Easter vacation, I’d just like to remind you to come and take a look at our current exhibition, curated by students from the School of Drama. Or if you can’t make it in person, try the digital exhibition, accessible via the website and let us know what you think.

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