– 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.

termly report Nov 2013 – Feb 2014

A) Reader & visitor numbers by month

November: 7 researchers over 12 days consulting Medieval   mss (3), Swinburne & Clough papers, George Malcolm papers, Nicolson   diaries, Geach papers, Jenkyns paper.  70 non-research visitors.

December: 5 researchers over 6 days consulting Medieval   mss (3), George Malcolm papers. 24 non-research visitors.

January: 7 researchers over 10 days consulting Hill   papers, medieval mss (2), Nicolson diaries, David Urquhart papers, Jenkyns   papers. 11 non-research visitors.

February: 11 researchers over 18 days consulting Medieval   mss (2), RBD Morier papers,  David   Urquhart papers, Chalet papers, AL Smith papers, Jowett papers (2), Pugin   drawings, Mallet papers, Nicolson diaries, Morier family papers. 8 non-research visitors.

Researcher profiles: 30 individuals. Nearly all researchers in person are academics and grad students (mostly external to Oxford), with the occasional family historian, Old Member or independent researcher. Research visits range in length from a few hours to several days, sometimes more; most are a day or two. The length of a visit does not reflect the number of documents produced or the amount of attention/assistance required.

B) Remote enquiries

Nov: 96
Dec: 64
Jan: 86
Feb: 81
total: 327

Number of remote enquiries in 2013: 924 (avg 77/month, nearly 4 new ones every working day)

C) St Cross activities


  • Planning a set of book dummies demonstrating stages of codex construction and composition from Martlet Bookbinders (Dr Allan Barton)
  • Planning ‘Maps & Monsters’ school session with Library staff for Access Officer’s school groups
  • Temporary kitchen hoardings are looking nice with photos (by ACS and Ian Taylor) mostly of items from the college archives & captions from Dr Jones’ 750th exhibition (St Cross in Sept/Oct ‘13)


  • 7600 images posted on Flickr in response to research enquiries Nov 13 – Feb 14. 600 000+ views of individual images (cf 300K in October, 400K December, 500K January).
  • Browning letters project – meeting with project leaders from Baylor University, Waco TX; conference call with them plus head of digitising re technical matters & visit to Texas in May for Browning’s birthday-related events
  • Social media Nov-Feb:
    • Facebook: 29 posts, mostly expanded & illustrated versions of tweets. 295 total likes
    • Twitter: advertising talks/events, Movember heritage photos & quiz based on Balliol portraits (several Old Members liked this!), live tweets during NaNoWriMo sessions, images online notices, WW1 resources notices, Balliol Novelists for NaNoWriMo; 105 new, total 678 followers. I have been recommended as an innovative customer-facing tweeter! (must be a good thing…)
    • Blog: 13 new posts, avg 800 views/month, top search terms: latin grace, Balliol family, chapel stained glass, officer cadets in WW1
    • Volunteer (s) – Will Beharrell from UCL library course, 4 days moving vestry unit collections and listing Richard Hare letters. Very helpful at just the right time!


  • Medieval mss condition survey is well underway, 125+ done since January – not catalogue descriptions or adding to Mynors. This is the first survey of the mss’ physical condition in modern times. We will be able to compare this with reader and enquirer data plus teaching/exhibition requirements to determine conservation treatment priorities, and notify potential researchers in advance of the occasional temporary access restriction where necessary, for years to come.
  • Investigating possibility of test case photography of title deeds with Melissa Terras at UCL with Polynomial Texture Mapping



  • NaNoWriMo Come Write In sessions on Thursday mornings
  • biweekly meetings of medieval mystics reading group (Prof N Palmer, SEH)
  • Unlocking Archives 7 (Ian Mertling-Blake) on the Book of Kells
  • Unlocking Archives 8 (Lynda Dennison) on the Cambridge Index of Images in Oxford College Library Manuscripts
  • MSS and early print seminar for 2nd yr English students by Balliol Fellowsray
  • Adam von Trott exhibition for participants in symposium at Mansfield College

December: tour & display for Latin in Medieval Britain lexicography conference; Anna visit to Durham Cathedral Library

January: Balliol Fellow & group of MPhil students for early printed books workshop (FG)

February: Balliol Fellow and (Balliol +) students for medieval mss seminar


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