The value of journals past and present to your learning, practice, and research

An interview with 3rd year, Fine Art student, Ian Green by Beth Delwiche, Librarian, Learning, Teaching, and Research Services


BD: So Ian, I understand you have an interest in collecting things from the past? Is this right?

IA: Yes definitely, although I don’t really see things ‘from the past’ –

I see them as having different contexts and perspectives. It’s really interesting to see opinions from the time about what are now iconic artworks, it shows the impact they made (or lack thereof) and how different the attitudes in the art world were then.


BD: What sort of information would you use from them in your major project research and/ your practice?

IA:  As I say it’s amazing to understand how different opinions were decades ago and I think it’s really important to understand how attitudes change towards what we may consider important now. It allows us to see a trajectory from the past and an ability to understand where we are now and where we could be heading in the future. It gives us an insight into attitudes of the time and why certain things happened in that way. It’s astonishing how re-contextualisation can change things – it’s almost like re-writing history.


BD: Do you have a favourite journal or book?

IA: I really enjoy Art International – especially the earlier ones (1962 – 73) as it’s fascinating to discover just why certain artworks and concepts made such an impact at the time. The early  issues of Art In America is also curious as there was so much happening and so many concepts, I can see many are recycled now under the guise of cutting edge movement, but the initial impetus is there. It’s easy to miss important info in the ‘reference only’ books because you don’t have the time to sit down and leaf through them.


BD: Do you have any words of wisdom to offer (as a 3rd year) to offer other students about using the library service?

IA: I don’t know about words of wisdom ! …but I do spend a lot of time digging into the books and trying to find artists and movements I’ve never heard of. There are a lot of very rare and important books in the library that have had an huge impact on me and I you won’t find them anywhere else – believe me ! Spend some time checking out artists you’ve never heard of and obscure concepts and theories, often they can help you make a breakthrough in your work you’ve been looking for.

All images (c) Beth Delwiche.

^Posted on behalf of Beth Delwiche.

Words of romance

For Valentine’s Day we are looking at items in our archive collection with the theme of love and romance.



Originally published in 1883, Pan-Pipes is book of old songs, many of which are based on love and romance.  Composer Theo Marzials arranged the songs and accompaniments and artist Walter Crane created beautiful illustrations to accompany them.


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The Birmingham Triennial Musical Festivals

We have been looking at a collection of Birmingham Musical Festival programmes in our Conservatoire Archive.


The first Birmingham Musical Festival took place in 1768 and was performed at St. Phillip’s Church (now Birmingham Cathedral) to raise funds for the construction of a new General Hospital.  From 1784, it became the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, running performances every three years.  The aim of the festivals continued to be to raise funds for the Birmingham General Hospital.  Early Festivals were performed in St. Phillip’s Church or the Theatre Royal in New Street but due to popularity, soon outgrew these venues.

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Forever Green

Spring is just around the corner and we can look forward to spending more time outdoors and enjoying our gardens.

We’ve chosen some items from our special collections with a garden theme.  All of the items are from our collection of art treasures.


This delightful image is of a design for Attingham Park, Shropshire by Humphrey Repton.  Repton was a landscape gardener in the eighteenth century, widely considered to be the successor to Capability Brown. He produced a series of Red Books to show clients what he envisaged for their park. The books are beautifully illustrated with watercolours and explanatory notes. The pictures have overlays to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views of the park.

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LIKE event – January 2019

We had another LIKE meeting on Wednesday 30th January. This is an informal get together of library staff, where we share visits, conferences and any other information that might be of interest to the team. We were joined this time by our former colleague Alison, who now works for the NHS library service. It was great to see her and hear the goings on in NHS library world!

We talked about lots of topics over the course of two hours, but briefly:


A hot topic in the university at the moment, we touched upon it when discussing visits to Nottingham Trent University, University of Birmingham, and a conference attended about digital and physical library spaces.

We talked about the different ways universities are using, monitoring and evaluating space, as well as how library space is used by different people.

We were also interested in seeing space monitoring solutions in action – systems that can tell if a space is being used, which can also then display that information on screens for library users.

We enjoyed Nottingham Trent’s roof garden and thought we could look at promoting our own for the University’s Go Green initiative.

Resources for health students

It was great having Alison in from the NHS. Health students on practice are usually able to register with their trust library, and get access to physical and electronic resources in addition to what they get with the university. Alison updated us on what students have access to, and we discussed how we can promote these services more to our placement students. We also talked about the impact various different changes to resource access within the NHS might have on the services we provide.

Presenting data

One conference attended was about statistics and stories. One thing we’ve often mentioned doing is following up some of our queries/sessions to get a sense of their usefulness in practice, and this is what Public Health England have done to assess the impact of their service on users. Another is using images to present data in a more visual, manageable way, which might be a good way of helping a wider audience digest some of our service/collection statistics.

And finally…

The library contributed to International Women’s Day on 8th March (but celebrated throughout the month) – this was discussed at the LIKE event.