– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

monthly report: February 2013

A report on the month’s activities in the archives and manuscripts ancient and modern at the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church…

Researcher services

  • Number of days open: 20
  • Number of remote enquiries: 76
  • Number of researchers in person: 6, + 2 tutors and 17 students using medieval mss for seminars (Balliol English & Year Abroad History)
  • Collections consulted: medieval mss, Pyper Papers, Falk Papers, AL Smith Papers, Nicolson Diaries

Collection care

  • monitoring: humidity and temperature data in all three repositories are more consistent than they have been of late, but not yet as stable as we want them. Pest monitoring turned up lots of woodlice and spiders (thanks to the gaps under the external and repository doors) but fortunately nothing more threatening. We have finished our three months of collecting light exposure data with a monitor in various positions on the shelves in the nave; the conservators will be making recommendations to minimise the impact of natural and artificial light on the books.
  • conservation item returns: several more items for the 750th exhibition in September, which won’t be enumerated here!
  • cataloguing: a number of lists of smaller personal papers collections have been prepared for publication and will be popping up online in March, as will detailed lists of the Leonardo Society papers in the archives and the letters in the Browning collection. We have finally received high-resolution images of the PCF’s photography of Balliol’s oil paintings, so their entries in the online catalogue of college portraits will be updated.
  • digitisation: 2749 images posted on Flickr: MSS 24, 95, 222, 282, 367, items from the Jowett Papers, minutes of the Hanover Society, items from the David Urquhart Papers
Balliol English students looking at medieval MSS, St Cross, Feb 2013

Balliol English students looking at medieval MSS, St Cross, Feb 2013


  • No of non-research visitors (details): medieval mystics seminar (8), Unlocking the Archives talk 1 (16)
  • no of blog hits related to archival paper clips: 18
  • loans & exhibitions incl online: items from the Morier Family, David Urquhart and Mallet Family papers for Unlocking the Archives, 8 medieval MSS for a seminar group of Year Abroad students, a different 8 medieval MSS for a Balliol-led seminar group
  • academics recording for a history of the English carol, to be broadcast on BBC R4 in December
  • blog posts: 4, blog views 690 (cf in 289 2012, 222 in 2011)
  • talks & tours: introduction to medieval MSS for both student seminars, tour for Old Member, Unlocking the Archives talk re Morier, D Urquhart & Mallet papers, in depth discussion of MS 354 for recording


  • meeting about digitisation planning & practicalities with 2 colleagues (I was on the teaching end this time)
  • Learning Institute module


  • in addition to above – conservation studio hosted a demonstration of a multispectral scanner. Unfortunately the technology let us down when it came to actually trying it out…
  • borrowed digital projector, screen and foam blocks for Unlocking the Archives and MSS seminars (foam)


  • Welcome to Naomi Tiley, Balliol’s new Assistant Librarian! we are already planning Special Collections outreach events for next term…

discussing the medieval carol – MS 354, Feb 2013

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