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General Hull University Archives Interns Internships Library insider Library services

Things I didn’t know as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library

Starting university can be quite a daunting prospect. There is a lot to learn in a short space of time. When I started at The University of Hull in 2018 I had to find my lecture rooms, meet new friends and discover new learning styles.

It is for this reason that I missed out on some of the excellent features of the Brynmor Jones Library. Now don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time studying in the library and took books out often. But, I definitely didn’t utilise the full potential of the library when I had the chance.

Now I am an intern at the university library and I have finally had the opportunity to explore the space and all it has to offer.

So here are a few things I wish I knew as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library. I hope that this encourages you make the most of your time here and enhance your studies.

The Brynmor Jones Library on a sunny day

The Cube

My tour of the Brynmor Jones Library started all the way up on the 7th floor in a room called The Cube. No, I am not talking about the gameshow hosted by Phillip Schofield. Rather, The Cube is where the library houses its rare book collection in a temperature-controlled environment.

According to my guide, Helen, the rare book collection was started by the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Brynmor Jones, after who the library was named.

The collection boasts titles that are over five hundred years old. As well as many rare, first-edition and signed copies of texts. Some of my personal favourites housed in The Cube include a first edition, signed copy of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a signed Rudyard Kipling collection and first edition copy of Peter Pan (University of Hull, 2020b).

Staff member holding open a rare book from The Cube

The Cube also has ongoing project work that you can see. Here, work experience students and library volunteers get to create themed displays and highlight the variety of rare texts that are available in the library. One display focuses on tragic love and the other, war. This emphasises that it is possible for many students to find a rare book that may enhance their studies at the university. As well as giving students the opportunity to get involved with archive work.

I think one of the most important things to note about the Brynmor Jones Library rare book collection is how accessible it is to students. All you have to do is fill in a form online to arrange an in-person viewing of these marvelously preserved texts.

During my own time at the university, I missed on utilising this collection due to a sense of nervousness surrounding these fragile pieces of work. But, when I did finally see this collection my worries dissipated almost instantly as the staff were welcoming, approachable and passionate.

So, do not miss out on your chance to visit the rare books held at the Brynmor Jones Library and get to hold a piece of history in your hands and enhance your academic research

Philip Larkin’s Office

Next on my tour of the Brynmor Jones Library was the office of Philip Larkin.

In 1955, Larkin joined the University of Hull as a librarian (Orwin, 2021). There he played a vital role in the redevelopment and expansion of the library (Hull History Centre, 2022). To this day, his office is preserved in the library and well worth a visit.

Stepping into this room was like stepping back in time. Here you will find the original electrical fire place and Larkin’s own type writer. Its charm comes from Larkin’s more personal items such as his collection of rather stained, well used mugs and the selection of vinyl records.

A collection of mugs and beverages from a birds-eye view

My time in this room was brief, but certainly very interesting. More Larkin memorabilia can be found at the Hull History Centre which has strong connections with the library. You can also click here to read more about Larkin’s office and his time at the library.

Down in The Basement

One thing I did not know about the library when I was a student was that as well as having eight floors above ground, there is also an extensive space below the library.

Next time you grab a coffee in the university library, just think about what could be below your feet. There is a labyrinth of old journals, books and pamphlets. Most of these have be digitalised or replaced with newer version, and some have been considered too controversial to access. Additionally, there are rooms full of different art works from the gallery and boxes quirky of items.

The Brynmor Jones Library basement

What I enjoyed when visiting the basement was the sheer magnitude of it. I believe you could spend all day down there and not have the chance to discover everything it stores. My guide also told me some eerie stories from staff who have felt and heard strange happenings in the basement.

Most of the material found in the basement can be accessed by the Library Search. This gives students an even larger option for sources and research.

The Gallery

On the ground floor of the Brynmor Jones library is the art gallery. This space is free to access whether you are a student or member of the public.

The collection of art held in the library began with a yearly fund of just £300 (University of Hull, 2022a). Despite this, the gallery is an impressive feature to admire.

The gallery has its staple collection of pieces and an exhibition space that changes regularly. Currently, you can see Larkinworld 2 by D J Roberts, which is part of Larkin’s centenary celebrations by the library (The Philip Larkin Society, 2021). This exhibit is available to view until the 25th of September, but I already look forward to seeing what is there next.

People enjoying the art displayed in a gallery

That concludes my list of things I didn’t know about the Brynmor Jones library when I studied at the university. I suggest you make the most of these fantastic facilities when you can. Whether you need to access rare materials for your studies or just fancy a cultural day out.


For Reference

Hull History Centre (2022) Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library. Available online: Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library – Hull History Centre Catalogue [Accessed 25/08/2022].

Orwin, J.L. (2021) Philip Larkin biography. Available online: PHILIP LARKIN BIOGRAPHY – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

The Philip Larkin Society (2022) ‘Larkinworld2′. Available online: ‘Larkinworld 2’ – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2022) Art Gallery. Available online: Art Gallery | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2020) The university library part 1- our buildings, collections and people. Available online: The University Library Part 1 – Our buildings, collections and people | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

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General Hull University Archives Interns Internships

Searching the Archives: a day at the Hull History Centre

If you’re anything like me, you might not have explored archives in your life. They’re just of dusty old documents anyway aren’t they?

Well some may think so, but I certainly don’t!

I went on a tour around the Hull History Centre and got to explore its archive material. Here is my experience of the the archives and how you can use them.

What is the Hull History Centre?

The Hull History Centre is situated in the heart of the city. It’s a building that definitely stands out with its unique architecture and swirly logo. But what actually is it?

An image of the Hull History Centre where Hull’s archive material is kept. It is a building that is beige in colour with lots of grey windows on the lower floor. The right hand side of the building has a unique shaped metal roof that is supported by curved wooden beams along the building. This righthand section is also fully glass.

The Hull History Centre is a collaboration between the University of Hull and the Hull City Council (Hull History Centre, 2017). It houses the archive material from both of them (Hull History Centre, 2017). Their aim, as stated on their website, is to “make history available to all, for research, for learning and for leisure” (Hull History Centre, 2016).

So, what counts as archive material? Archive material includes: dairies, photographs, maps, books, wills and everything in between (Hull University Archives, 2022a). What they all have in common is their “historical significance” (Hull University Archives, 2022b) as they give us a glimpse into the past and how people lived.

Are Archives Useful?

I’ve laid out in simple terms what archives are, but maybe you are wondering why archives are useful.

To put it simply, archives are there to be used! Whether you want to find out a little bit more about your family history, explore the exhibitions or research collections for your studies, there is something for everyone.

For Research and Learning

As I have mentioned, I never used archive material or the Hull History Centre when I went to university. But, I wish I did. After searching through the archives last week, I know there is definitely material that could have enhanced my studies as an English and Philosophy Student. Specifically, the material on Hull’s animal rights activism given that my thesis focused on animal ethics.

A person reading a book in between two archive drawer units. There is a table and chair in front of the person that is covered with books.

The SkillsGuides lay out some reasons why you may want to use archive material in your own studies. This includes to develop or critique an argument and to add historical, realistic context to your writing (Hull University Archives, 2022c). There are also more creative uses listed here which include using raw materials for films, artwork or for character development (Hull University Archives, 2022c). It is clear that archive material can come in handy for lots of different subjects. It is not just limited to history students.

For Leisure

The Hull History Centre isn’t just open to researchers, students and historians. Anyone can go and enjoy the facilities on offer. There is a small library collection of books concerning Hull on a variety of different subjects. Families can visit and see the exhibitions that are currently on display, or find the online exhibits here. There are also refreshments available in the small café.

If you’re interested in researching your family history, you can use their computers and different family history tracing websites. You can then request archive material based on any distant relatives that you find.

I have already planned to take my grandma on a day out!

The Archives Made Easy

In an effort to make sure that you use the archives, here I will highlight the things that I found useful when searching the archives for the first time.

For a more in depth look at using the archives, the Hull University Archives team have created a fantastic, in depth SkillsGuide on the archives that you can find here. But, this is what helped me the most.

1. Firstly, you can find guides on the different themes that are prevalent in the archives

A screenshot of the SkillsGuide webpage on research themes. The different themes include: crime and punishment, leisure, literature, seafaring, politics, war, health and wellbeing, buildings and women.

This is a great place to start if you’re unsure of what is available in the archives.

Within each of these themes, there is a list of key subjects and collections. These lists give you a place to start when it comes to searching the archives. This will further narrow down your research and help you find what material could be useful to you.

For example, within the theme of ‘Women’, there is a collection of materials on Winifred Holtby. I could then use this reference (L WH) to search the Hull History Centre catalogue for all material related to Holtby. This can cut down your search time massively.

A screenshot from the SkillsGuide website. The image reads “Key Collections” and is followed by a list of subjects within the theme of ‘Women’. There is a large purple arrow pointing to the subject entitled “Papers of Winifred Holtby (L WH). This is to highlight what I would search the Hull History Centre archives for if I wanted to research Winifred Holtby.

2. There is a specific SkillsGuide to help you find diverse voices within the archives

Given the way that history has been recorded, it can be even more difficult to find diverse voices within archive materials. This includes the voice and perspective of women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of different ethnicities. These are the voices that have often been erased or deliberately omitted from the records.

In order to highlight these voices there is a SkillsGuide on them. Once again, this provides a good starting point for how to search for these voices at the Hull History Centre. There are also external links to other online archives that included them.

A screenshot from the SkillsGuide website entitled ‘Diversity in Archives’. It has four themes along the bottom of the page, these are: Search Strategies, Women’s Voices, Ethnic Minority Voices and LGBTQ+ Voices.

3. How to request archive material

I think one of the most nerve-wracking part of the archives is requesting the archive material. But like all things, it seems like a daunting task until you actually do it.

Let’s say you have found something in the archive collection that you think is useful to your studies or an interesting piece of family history. How do you go about requesting it? And why can’t you just pick it up off a shelf?

I recommend requesting archive material from the Hull History Centre in advance. The best way to do this is to directly contact the team there. Don’t worry, they’re all friendly! With the team, you can directly arrange to visit when it’s best for you within their opening times.

In order to preserve the material that is housed at the Hull History Centre, it has to be stored in a controlled environment. This includes the temperature and humidity. Trust me, having a jumper is a must when it comes to visiting the Hull History Centre. Especially if you’re like me and start to feel the cold very quickly. But, for these reasons, you can’t just wander in and pick up a pamphlet from the 1600s.

A close up photo of an Adélie penguin. It is stood on the snow, which looks both white and blue in colour, with it’s wings stretched out.

I think this is part of the reason why students and people in general may not use the archives. These items seem untouchable when they’re all locked away. But, I found last week that this isn’t the case. In fact, the materials are there to be used! They just have to be looked after so that future generations can also use them.

4. What to expect on the day

So, you have requested your archive material by having a lovely chat over the phone with one of the team. But, what will it be like on the day?

I can guarantee you one thing and that is, you will get cold, so take a jumper first and foremost! This is because the Searchroom, the place where you view the archive material, is also temperature controlled.

A picture of one of the windows in the Hull History Centre. On the window, it has a matt, light grey sign that reads “Library & Search Room” with an arrow pointing to the right. The window has a lot reflections.

In the Searchroom, you can have your laptop, paper and a pencil (no pens!) (Hull History Centre, 2017b). The rest of your personal items can be stored in the lockers (Hull History Centre, 2017b). If you get a little hungry, then you can leave the room and buy some snacks or a coffee in the café. You’re going to have to fuel your brain for a day of research.

And like all things, it is not as scary as you think.

What I Found

Finally, I am going to end this post on my experience of the Hull History Centre.

Exploring the archives for the day and getting to see behind the curtain can only be described by me in one way. It’s like when you clean your messy room or start packing to move house. Bare with me on this analogy, you will see where I am going. As you’re cleaning or packing, you’re rediscovering different trinkets, old gadgets, books and pictures. Maybe you find a Now That’s What I Call Music CD and have to listen to the pop hits from 2007. All of these items are things you have forgotten about. But now, all the memories of your past are coming back to you. As soon as you put down one item, you find another and the cycle continues. Then, when you look at the time, you see that you’ve spent hours looking at a pile of belongings.

Well, that was my experience of the archives.

Now, that’s not to say that all of the material held in the archives will bring the same level of joy as finding your old Tamagotchi. It is history after all. As I have previously highlighted, many voices have been deliberately omitted and some material is shocking and even offensive. But, it is preserved as one account of the past. My analogy of the archives only serves to highlight how it felt to explore the Hull History Centre as a whole and the curiosity that comes with searching the archive material. I was intrigued by the volume and variety of the items housed there. Though I realise that not everyone will feel the same way that I do.

Jess’ Highlights

Some of my favourite pieces in the material include one of George Gray’s microscopes and Larkin’s personal book collection (there is a lot of Shakespeare). I also enjoy listening to true-crime podcasts, so the different crime and trial records were fascinating.

An image of six classic literature books in low lighting. The books are in a variety of colours and appear to be old and worn.

That concludes my day of searching the archives at the Hull History Centre. I hope this has highlighted how accessible and useful archive material can be, whether you’re a student, a historian or just want to know a little bit more about the past.

You can check out more of my blogs here.


For Reference

Hull History Centre (2017a) Our policies. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/about-us/about/policies.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull History Centre (2017b) Searchroom. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/about-us/about/policies.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull History Centre (2016) Our vision and mission. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/visit-us/our-facilities/searchroom.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022a) Understanding Common Record Types, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/common-record-types [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022b) What are Archives, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/archives-basics/what-are-archives [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022c) Archives- The Basics: Using Archives, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/archives-basics/using-archives [Accessed 07/09/2022].

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General Interns Internships Library insider

My First Week as an Intern

Jess, the intern, stood smiling in front of a statue of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon

My name is Jess and I recently started my role as an intern at the Brynmor Jones Library.

Find out what I have learnt in the first week and why it has already been beneficial to my future career.

The application process

Up until two weeks ago, I worked in a pub as a supervisor. It definitely wasn’t what I expected to do after getting an English and Philosophy degree from the University of Hull in 2021. But, it meant I could pay for my rent and the cat’s food.

One day, I received an email from Student Futures. It contained a long list of different internships available within the University. I scrolled through and found one entitled ‘Social Media and Communications Intern’, at the Brynmor Jones Library. I got excited as soon as I read it. Working in an academic library had always interested me. I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had to apply.

The downside? The deadline for applying was the next day and I had to start a night shift in a couple of hours. I needed to attach my CV and a cover letter. I had never written a cover letter in my life. The pressure was on.

Spongebob and Patrick running around with a look of panic via Giphy.

Luckily, I managed to apply for the role and make it to the bus stop on time.

The next day, I had an email from Lee who works as an Academic & Library Specialist. We arranged to have an informal chat for later on in the week. I was nervous, but in retrospect, I didn’t need to be. The chat with Lee was very relaxed and gave me a chance to express my interest in the role.

Not long after, I found out that the internship was mine. After we agreed on a start date, I signed my contract. All I had left to do was sort out my sleeping pattern and wait until my first day.

My week so far

Throughout the week, I have been introduced to many different Library staff members. What they have in common is that they have all been extremely kind and willing to help. This has made settling in rather easy.

I have also started to develop skills related to social media, as the title of my internship applied I would. This process started with me learning about which social media platforms the Library use. The team and I also discussed what aspects of the Library social media we believe could be developed. So far, I have been given training on Hootsuite, Canva and the different types of image licensing and copyright. As well as mandatory training on diversity and data protection.

It has also been important for me to learn about the Library facilities and what is available to students, so that I can promote them.

Using all this information, I have been able to draft some posts for social media and I’ve written a couple of blogs. I have found this aspect quite challenging as the last written work I did was my undergraduate thesis in 2021. It has been strange to go from academic writing to writing more informal blog posts. This has been especially hard when my previous job didn’t rely on me being creative. As the week has progressed, I have found it easier to come up with some fun ideas. So, I am sure it is a skill I will develop further over the next few months.

And lets not forget that I have received my very own iconic, yellow Brynmor Jones Library lanyard.

Mayor Quimby stating “This is the most exciting thing” via Giphy.

What I enjoy about being an intern

One brilliant aspect of being an intern at the Library has been the networking opportunity. In one week, I have spoken to a lot of different people, all with extremely different backgrounds. It has become clear to me that there is more than one way to work in an academic library. This has been very reassuring to learn as I believe it will be applicable to many job roles.

My tour around the Brynmor Jones Library with Helen was also really exciting. You can read more about my experience of the tour here.

In the upcoming weeks, I will also get the opportunity to tour the Hull History Centre, which is linked to the Brynmor Jones Library. The team I work with have really encouraged me to pursue my interests and have happily accommodated my request to also gain some experience in the archive sector. This will be important to decide the next steps in my career or studies.

Hull History Centre

Another aspect of being an intern in the Library that I have enjoyed is that it is an environment that is constantly changing and adapting to community needs. This means that my day-to-day routine so far has never been the same.

And finally, probably the best part of being an intern is that the stereotype that librarians love cats is proving to be true. Meeting and office-talk often entail us all talking about our pet cats in some way or another.

Jess’ cat, Mouse. A white cat laid on a wicker chair with an orange cushion.

What i hope to learn in the next few months

One of the initial reasons that I applied for the Social Media and Communications Internship at the Library is that I wanted to gain first-hand experience of working in such an organisation. I have already discovered the large variety of job roles available in an academic library, and I hope to get to know more.

In terms of social media and blogging skills, I am looking forward to engaging my brain in a more creative way of working. I also think it would be beneficial to the Library if I could create content in the form of short, informal and aesthetic videos. The purpose of these would be to showcase the Library and its facilities in a way that I believe modern audiences would engage in. This is something I haven’t tried before, but I am aiming to gain confidence in video recording and editing.

A laptop, phone and camera placed on top of a wooden table

It will also be good to meet the new interns that are joining the Library in the next few weeks. This way, I have a support network of not just staff who have worked in the Library for years, but also those who are in the same boat as me and trying something completely new.

Final Thoughts

I can confidently say that there have already been many benefits to being an intern at the Brynmor Jones Library.

Yes, it has been quite a nerve-wracking process, but ultimately it has been good to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

I am only one week into a ten-week journey, and I have already started to gain new skills from working in a different environment. The training that has and will be provided will no doubt enhance my CV and career prospects. Plus, I have made lots of worthy connections who have already offered a lot of support and guidance.

If there is one thing that you can take away from this blog, it’s that if you get the opportunity to do an internship in an academic library, then do it. You’re sure to learn something new, and you will definitely find a fellow cat lover!

Dwight Schrute with the caption “Do it! Now!” via Giphy.
Categories
General Hull University Archives Library insider University history

‘A Lifted Study Storehouse:’ Philip Larkin and the Brynmor Jones Library

By day, a lifted study-storehouse; night  

Converts it to a flattened cube of light.  

Whichever’s shown, the symbol is the same:  

Knowledge; a University; a name.

Philip Larkin, 1983. On the Brynmor Jones Library, from Collected Poems, 1988.

Larkin at 100

Given what would have been Larkin’s 100th birthday on the 9th of August 2022, our latest blog post focuses on Larkin’s career as head librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library. This includes what Larkin contributed to the library during his employment, and how his presence can be observed within the building today.

The recently developed library is a modern facility at the heart of the campus.
An illustration of the redevelopment of the Brynmor Jones Library. 

Hull University Library in the 1960s

Larkin’s biographer, and a poet in his own right, Andrew Motion wrote that ‘in all the libraries which employed him. Larkin combined the roles of scholar, technician and administrator’ (Goodman, 1999). At the time in which Larkin was employed at the University of Hull in 1955, he had held previous employment at several libraries from 1943 onwards. These being: Wellington Public Library (1943-1946), University of Leicester (1946-1950), and Queen’s University in Belfast (1950-1955). As Andrew Motion states, Larkin’s role as librarian involved multiple duties as part of the position.

This can be evidenced through Larkin’s career at the University of Hull, as he oversaw the transformation of the library alongside the university’s vice-chancellor of the time Professor Brynmor Jones, from which the library now takes its name. As of Larkin’s employment in 1955, the library contained 124,000 items and employed just 12 staff to support the 727 students of the university at this time. Larkin ‘presided over its transformation during the next two decades. A new purpose-built library was opened in two stages in 1960 and 1970, and by 1985 there were over 750,000 items in stock, a computerised catalogue and circulation system, and over 80 staff’ (Hull History Centre, 2017).

Larkin's involvement in the library's redevlopment in the 60s played a role in the modern, technology-enabled library that can be observed as of today.
From the Estate of Philip Larkin.

Larkin and the Library’s Transformation

At the time, the university library was one of the first to be redeveloped in post-war Britain. The task was understood to be challenging, given that Larkin had no previous experience in the architectural field. Larkin’s muse and co-worker Maeve Brennan recalled that Larkin worked on the project ‘far removed from library staff…he spread out the plans for the new building and worked on them most afternoons. We had strict instructions that his whereabouts were not to be revealed nor was he to be interrupted except on matters of urgency’ (Goodman, 1999).

During this construction, the progress was split into two stages and would involve the production of a three storey building complete with the addition of reading rooms. It was Larkin who made several suggestions to the university concerning the library’s layout during this period. This was specifically in regards to the university’s initial idea of separating the book stacks from the students within the building. The university accepted these recommendations, and certain aspects of Larkin’s attention to detail can be observed in the building’s inspired modern lighting and coloured stacks to this day. During this period, Larkin worked closely with the architect for the project and photographed the progress as the building was constructed. 

Larkin as Poet and Librarian

It is evident that during Larkin’s time at the University of Hull, his role blended between librarian and poet. It was during this period where Larkin produced his celebrated works The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). Despite the critical acclaim, Larkin chose to remain a private individual, even turning down the position of Poet Laureate in his attempts to avoid the limelight.

The poet seemed to prefer his role as librarian, once stating in an interview that ‘librarianship suits me…it has just the right blend of academic interest and administration that seems to match my particular talents’ (Goodman, 1999). The university staff and students that interacted with Larkin during this period have given a mixed retelling of their experiences, many of which can be observed in the University of Hull Alumni Association’s blog which highlights particular memories of Larkin.  

The original Librarian sign from the 1959 redevelopment can still be observed on the first floor today.
The original Librarian sign from the 1959 building.

Larkin’s Presence Today

Larkin’s presence in the Brynmor Jones Library remains to this day, within the preserved location of the librarian’s office. This has been the office of the University of Hull librarian since 1959, when the first phase of the library was built under Larkin’s supervision. It was used by Philip Larkin from 1959 until his death in 1985. He wrote to his mother that ‘my room is so beautiful I can hardly believe it. I’m afraid it will make everyone so green with jealousy that I shall be the most hated person in Hull’ (Pearman, 2014). After Larkin’s death, his secretary, Betty Mackereth, with whom he had a secret love affair with, shredded the thirteen volumes of his diary in this office, in accordance to his wishes.

A number of things are original to the room to this day: the bookcase; the electric fire and its surround, the parquet flooring and the desk. The desk has a brass plaque commemorating its use by Larkin. He boasted that it was ‘larger than that of President Kennedy’ (Pearman, 2014). It was restored as part of the redevelopment of the library, and improved. The top of the desk is now real leather in place of the original leatherette. The typewriter is Larkin’s personal Olivetti Lettera DL.

The collection of books in the bookcase is the Brynmor Jones Collection. It was assembled by the library in honour of the university’s Vice-Chancellor Sir Brynmor Jones when he retired in 1972. It consists of first editions of titles published between 1890 and 1940 that were nominated by the university’s academic departments as being of particular importance. The period of 1890 to 1940 is also the focus of the University Art Collection. The ‘Librarian’ sign on the door, pictured above, leads directly into the office from the first floor of the library and is original to the 1959 building.

The original bookcase hosts the Brynmor Jones collection, and is positioned at the back of the room.
The Brynmor Jones book collection.

There were some particular objects that Larkin kept in his office during his employment, one of these being the pottery frog money box from circa 1970. This is a reminder of Larkin’s poems Toads, written in 1954, and Toads Revisited, written in 1962, about the necessity of going to work to earn a living. When asked by an interviewer, ‘how did you arrive upon the image of a toad for work or labour?’ he replied, ‘Sheer genius’ (Phillips, 2003). There is also the Hermes 3000 office typewriter situated near the bookshelf, circa 1969.

As pictured below, there are also three mugs of Larkins on display: a Queen Elizabeth II coronation mug, a D.H. Lawrence mug, and a lettered ‘P’ mug. Larkin’s nameplate can also be observed, as well as a collection of vinyls of Larkin reading his poetry. 

The mugs are part of a wider collection of Larkin's possessions, that are available to view upon request at the Hull History Centre.
Larkin’s mug collection.
A vinyl of Philip Larkin's reading of his popular collection 'High Windows' can be observed.
A selected vinyl collection.

The Modern Day Brynmor Jones Library

Following Larkin’s involvement in the transformation of the library, the building has since had another upgrade. Work began in 2012 and was completed by 2015, with the Poet Laureate of the time, Professor Dame Carol Ann Duffy opening the site. The library’s collection is now slightly larger since Larkin’s time. We now house over one million books in the building, alongside other physical and digital resources. Larkin’s presence within the Brynmor Jones Library is important to discuss, as are the contentious aspects of his character.

This month, the University Library’s Twitter Conversation highlights the contentious aspects of the poet’s life and challenges us to consider how we feel about his poetry in this context. The University Archive and the Hull History Centre contain manuscripts, drafts of poems and novels, photographs and Larkin’s jazz record collection. These materials can be requested at the Hull History Centre for viewing. If you would like to follow the Conversation, you can do so below.


For Reference

Goodman, Richard. (1999). My Particular Talents. Humanities Collections. 1(2), pp.45-60. [Online]. Available at: https://philiplarkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/my_particular_talents_rgoodman.pdf

Hull History Centre. (2017). Philip Larkin. [Online]. Hull History Centre. Available at: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/research/research-guides/philip-larkin.aspx

Larkin, Philip. (2014). A lifted study-storehouse. In: Burnett, Archie. (Ed). The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin. London: Faber and Faber Limited. 

Pearman, Hugh. (2014). After this it will be all Danish butter-factories. [Online]. RIBA. Available at: https://www.ribaj.com/culture/philip-larkin-and-the-architects

Phillips, Robert. (2003). The Madness of Art. New York: Syracuse University Press. p.23.

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Interns Library insider

A Week at the Brynmor Jones Library

In July, the Brynmor Jones Library welcomed two work experience students from local schools. Sev and John both worked with staff for one week, and kindly agreed to tell us about their experiences.

Sev

My week at the Brynmor Jones Library started on Monday with a morning of induction and health and safety with Helen. During the week, I was shown a lot about how the library works.

I got a chance to work with the rare books collection in the Cube and created a display cabinet for the University Open Day. It was themed around tragedy and romance, with books including Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.

Sev’s ‘Tragedy and Romance’ rare book display

Between creating the display cabinet and researching the books used inside it, I got to work in Collections on the library database, and in the basement doing stocktaking. I was also in the Reading Room quite a lot doing available holds and KDL tagging.

Working with the rare books with Helen was my favourite part of the week!

John

This week at the University of Hull has been interesting and really enjoyable. When you mention a library, many people will have the image of a dull and boring place, but that’s not always the truth – some libraries go above and beyond to make it interesting and useful to all, and the Brynmor Jones Library is one of them.

I also started making a display case of some of the rare books, which I found really interesting. My theme being war, I picked out some of the most memorable and impactful books as a way to remember some of the wars that shaped our country.

John’s ‘Remembering War’ rare book display

The library staff were very nice and welcoming, and they kept me busy and engaged. It was fulfilling knowing that I was helping out.

This post is authored by Sev and John, two of our work experience students (July 2022).

Categories
Library insider

The cost of an eBook

This blog post revisits one of our most popular Twitter threads of the year. Now you can read the same content in a convenient article format. Yay.


Why can’t we always buy what you need? How much do eBooks cost? How do we work with you? Sit tight – we’re going to answer a lot of questions and share some shocking figures about how much resources cost!

We talk to Faculties and @HullUniUnion a lot. We find their input massively helpful, and we also talk to students and academics as part of our commitment to deliver excellent customer service.

We talk to our users often (especially with big projects like redesigning our Library Search); you may even be one of the people we’ve spoken to. If so, cheers! ANYWAY >>

We have been talking to a lot of people who say they found it annoying when we have paper copies of books instead of eBooks. I can get them on the Kindle, they say; they’re only £10. How come you can’t buy us enough eBooks?

We have to answer this question A LOT and often, we hear that we should get better at communicating the answer. So! We wanted to tell you why we can’t *always* get the volume of eBooks you need. You right now:

We know not everyone cares about the detail of how we buy things… But we like telling you things, we want to be open about how things work, and for those that are interested, here’s the situation… The tl;dr is: Publishers sell differently to us than they do to you.

So, first things first, we buy eBooks whenever we can. This is for obvious reasons – it’s easier to provide access to people who are not on campus if the book is online. We know some people much prefer printed books and we get that. We still buy thousands of print books too.

We can’t buy Kindle books. We can only buy eBooks that are licensed to universities. And not all of them are….

Some titles are only available to *individuals* as an eBook, and not to libraries. This is a choice the publisher has made. Some titles we simply cannot buy as eBooks.

Some titles we can buy as eBooks, and we do, but the price differences are eye-watering. Here are some examples. There’s a book that costs £40.00 on Kindle. eBook price for us (and it’s not an unlimited eBook, it’s max. 3 users at once)



£1,018.50

There’s another. It’s £32.52 on Kindle. The price to us, for 1 user? A mere £500. It was £167 when we first bought it, which is pricey enough. Then the publisher realized it was a popular eBook and increased the price for libraries.

There’s a book we need which costs £53.25. Quite a lot, right? To us, for an eBook – which only three of you can read at once: £662.

And there is the title that is £40 on Kindle, but we must pay £1,344 for 12-months of access. After a year the access ceases… unless we pay another £1,344! Or more because the publisher will probably increase the price.

Sometimes we just can’t do it. We simply cannot justify buying the eBook and end up buying multiple paper copies. A recent example: a 1 user eBook was £800. £800!

Money-mouth face
Money bag
Money-mouth face

There are worse examples than this, but these are all Hull-specific examples from recent purchases.

Sometimes we get a credit model. We pay x hundred pounds; the eBook can be used 400 times. Then we pay the same amount again to top it back up when the 400 times are used up. *Sometimes* we’re not allowed to top it back up because the publisher has withdrawn it from eBook sale…

Sometimes we get a credit model. We pay x hundred pounds; the eBook can be used 400 times. Then we pay the same amount again to top it back up when the 400 times are used up. *Sometimes* we’re not allowed to top it back up because the publisher has withdrawn it from eBook sale…

This is so unbelievably frustrating for us, and even more so for you.

Exploding head

When you go to the shelf and the physical book isn’t there, it’s annoying but at least it makes some sort of sense.

Pouting face

When an eBook you read yesterday isn’t there today, it’s just maddening.

Face with symbols over mouth

Anyway, this thread is long enough already, there’s some context for eBooks, paper copies, and all that stuff. If you’ve made it this far, WE APPRECIATE YOU.

What we’re saying is, we do absolutely everything we reasonably can to get you eBook access to everything you need. If you end up having to borrow physical copies, or you have to queue for the eBook, believe us when we say we tried everything to avoid you being in this situation!

We buy thousands of books a year (thousands!) and come across this problem many times a day. We’re trying as hard as we can to get you the resources you need. But we can only get what the publishers offer.

We hope you have found this insight helpful. We want our students to know we do everything we can to find solutions to your problems. Our Collections Admin team works tirelessly to get what you need – wherever possible!

We gave Hull examples but it’s happening everywhere. If you’re interested in this, we’d suggest you check out #ebookSOS (not least for some prices which are even wilder than the ones above) which is curating the wider conversation.

We’d also like to thank @UoYLibrary – this thread was their idea and we’re grateful they let us pick it up. We’ve changed it lots and added Hull-specific examples, but a lot of credit goes to them

Smiling face with smiling eyes

You can also check out the website supporting the campaign, there’s an open letter to sign there, which already has over 4,000 signatories.

Lower left ballpoint pen

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