Planning Ahead

If Research Days were like Saints’ Days, then my Tuesdays would be Research Day Eves! The arts in daily life - Mrs Playfair of Dalmarnock's journalNormally, I’m busy being a librarian on a Tuesday, but since I have a day’s leave, I can look ahead to what’s in store tomorrow.

  1. Firstly, we’ve had several offers of blogposts, so to help with the planning, I’m contemplating setting up a Doodle-poll (or something similar) so that interested people can commit themselves a bit more definitely, and we get some sense of what’s next.  Research Doodle-poll.
  2. I need to set up some more meetings, after last week’s very productive mission to Edinburgh.  Quite a few meetings, in fact.
  3. I need to tidy up the rest of my bibliography – or what I’ve got so far – so that I can post it online and share it more widely.  I’d love to be notified of any other useful reading that I’ve missed.
  4. Bibliographer to the last, I need to check out the various commissions to examine universities and their libraries, in the Georgian/early Victorian era.  I need precise citations for reports for ALL the legal deposit libraries involved in those commissions.  Not quite sure how I’ll get round to reading them all, but the first objective is to identify them all.  They aren’t always all that easy to trace, and sometimes library copies don’t have title pages – a bit of a setback, you could say!

My apologies that no podcast has happened for a couple of weeks; inspiration hasn’t descended upon me, and at present I’m hoarse, if not speechless.  A podcast will happen soon, rest assured.  (At least 21st century scholars have more effective cold remedies than our early 19th century forbears!)


A Breathless Whirl

Edinburgh_-_University_Library_01-e1478712223864This week, I visited Elizabeth Quarmby-Lawrence at Edinburgh University Library, where we had a very useful discussion about library history, legal deposit, and the fate of the University’s legal deposit music.  Some great ideas arose out of our chat, of which more anon!  I now have more to read, more people to make contact with, and a brand-new copy of the University’s recent publication, Directory of Collections, edited by Head of Special Collections Joseph Marshall, and published by Third Millenium Publishing in 2016 (ISBN: 9781908990891).

This morning, I have made a start on the bibliography that will be one of the outcomes of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research network project.  The coverage is already looking good, but bibliographical pride prevents me from putting it online quite yet!

And if all that isn’t breathless enough, then the press release about a new Adam Matthew Digital online resource, Literary Print Culture: The Stationers’ Company Archive, is enough to make any bibliographer’s heartbeat race.  There’s a video about the database, here.

Sion College Library Provenance Project

Followers of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research project may be aware that Sion College (in London) was one of the original legal deposit libraries, and Karen is planning to pay a visit to Lambeth Palace Library, where the Sion College library holdings ended up, in the next few months.

It is therefore of HUGE interest to note that Lambeth Palace Library is working on a really significant project tracing provenance of the Sion College Library collections.  A circular was emailed to rare books librarians today, explaining precisely what this project is all about.  We have permission to share this notification here, and are more than happy to spread the joy!

“Lambeth Palace Library is pleased to announce the re-launch of the Sion College Library Provenance Project, which has been migrated to a dedicated WordPress account. The new site allows you to search through galleries of hundreds of images (which are being regularly uploaded), including an array of armorial bindings, bookplates, inscriptions and much more from the Sion College Library collection.

“All the pre-1850 material from Sion College came to Lambeth Palace Library in 1996 and is now the focus of a major cataloguing project which is uncovering a wealth of provenance evidence. Viewers are warmly invited to not only search the database to discover its fascinating contents, but are encouraged to actively contribute by helping us identify marks of provenance within the collection, providing information with which to supplement and enrich our detailed catalogue records. Please do have a look and try your hand at some transcriptions and identifications. We look forward to hearing your comments!”

Sion College Project

Open Invitation to Join the Conversation

Stationers Hall fabricAnyone with a research interest in early UK legal deposit music, its publication, its distribution or subsequent curation and use, can join the network.  If you let us know your email address, you can be added to the mailing list.  (You’ll find our contact details here.)  You can also follow on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

To take your involvement to the next level, why not consider joining our Jisc mailing list, which allows us to discuss with one another in a safe and supportive environment.

The AHRC-funded Claimed From Stationers Hall music research network gets a JiscMail Discussion List

JiscMail offers the facility to set up discussion lists about education or research interests on a particular topic, carried out by email.  Correspondents generally have some connection with higher education, but this is not compulsory.

We have set up a list for sharing information about research interests in the historic British legal deposit music registered at Stationers Hall, and our groupname is MUSIC-FROM-STATIONERS-HALL.

How to subscribe?  Basically, there are two ways of subscribing:-

  1.  You can use this link: New subscribers can complete their details to join the list.
  2. Subscribers can also join the list by sending an email to as follows:-

Subject: Subscribe Message: SUBSCRIBE MUSIC-FROM-STATIONERS-HALL Firstname Lastname

You should receive a confirmation email; if it doesn’t pop up in your inbox, it may be worth checking “junk” or other filter folders.  You then need to confirm the Jisc confirmation, quite promptly (otherwise they assume you didn’t mean to subscribe)!  Please get in touch if you have any problems.


  1. You’ll find instructions at the FAQ for Subscribers page:
  2. What is JiscMail?  Visit
  3. Can I use institutional access?  Certainly.  If you’re in a British HE institution, you can use institutional access (Shibboleth), as you would with most electronic resources.
  4. Are there any rules?  The JiscMail Service Policy document, describes the way in which Jisc expects the service to be used, by list owners and subscribers.


We’re also aiming to set up a workshop of some kind in early Spring 2018, so do watch this space.

Social Media Activity

Please feel free to tweet, “like” or share on Facebook, and generally make a big noise about this exciting new venture.   (I made a Pinterest board, for what it’s worth – I read that it was a good marketing tool.  At the moment I’m not quite sure …!)

Could You be a Guest Blogger?

I’m trying to blog at least weekly, and have also posted three podcasts to date, so do keep looking in.  But this is a network – so we need more bloggers!  Here’s your opportunity to raise your research profile.  Could you offer a guest-blogpost to this blog on any topic that has some loose connection with early British legal deposit music, its libraries, the publishers, the composers or music users? Or do you know anyone who has any expertise about legal deposit in other nations in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?  This would all be exciting, too!  (We’ve had two offers along these lines already, which we are very much enthused about.)  If anyone has even a little half-idea about something that you could share, please do get in touch.  Blogposts should be approximately 500-1000 words, but please run your idea past us first before you start writing it.  We’re hoping to post a guest-blogpost roughly once a month, but more would  be welcome, of course.

Professors as Gatekeepers

In my doctoral research, I encountered a few instances where learned individuals acted as informal gatekeepers, or intermediaries, between Scottish song (and custom) devotees on the one hand, and new knowledge on the other – I could name people such as George Paton or John Ramsay of Ochtertyre in the late 18th century, or John MacGregor Murray in the Georgian and Regency era, and of course David Laing, who became librarian to the Society of Writers to H. M. Signet in the 19th century.  These unofficial gatekeepers were seen as sources of information, and were often surprisingly generous in the sharing of it.

Today, in the latest University of St Andrews’ Special Collections blog, Echoes from the Vault, I was reminded of these luminaries.  The latest blogpost, ‘Banned Books at the University of St Andrews‘, shares early 19th century Senate discussions as to which books should remain banned to Divinity students; it also describes the Senate’s efforts to regulate public access to their library books.*

Banned books – be they novels or otherwise – are outwith the scope of the Claimed from Stationers’ Hall music research network, but public access is another matter entirely!

The loan records, you will recall, faithfully record every single loan of the copyright music volumes to anyone, professors or students, or the professors’ friends.  Between 1836-1839, Dr Gillespie even borrowed the music catalogue itself on several occasions!

Bearing that in mind, the Senate’s deliberations between 1820-21 to restrict the public’s direct access to library books are actually quite significant.  We learn that in 1820, the Senate decided,

to consider of the Propriety of restricting the Public at large in the use of books which they are at present allowed to have out on Professors’ pages  (Minutes of Senatus, 14 December 1820. UYUY452/13, p. 110)

The subsequent decision was clear: the public were neither to borrow directly, nor to send their servants to do so on their behalf:-

The committee farther recommend that all persons not members of the University whom the Professors may be desirous of accommodating with the use of Books should henceforth receive such books through the Professors themselves & not by going directly to the Library or sending their Servants to it for the purpose of taking out Books in the Professors’ names.  (Minutes of Senatus, 13 January 1821. UYUY452/13, pp. 114-116.)

So University Gates St Andrewswhat we actually have here, is the professors acting as intermediaries, or gatekeepers, to the collection.  Considering the materials were valuable, and many of them had been deposited under copyright legislation, this is quite understandable.

What it means, in terms of the music collection, however, is that if we are reading this correctly, and if the rules were subsequently interpreted strictly, then all the friends’ music loans after 1820 were actually made by the professors and not selected by individual townspeople standing at the shelves on their own account.  So, who chose the music?  We’ll never know.  We cannot tell how strictly the rules were enforced, nor for how long, and we certainly cannot guess how often Miss X asked for a particular kind of music, or a particular piece.  Unless they knew what was in individual volumes, it is quite probable that their professorial friends were asked to, ‘just find me some piano music’, or perhaps on occasions to ‘bring back something new’.  Who knows?

Does this drive a coach and horses through my analysis of who borrowed what, and when?  I don’t think it does.  We really don’t know the precise circumstances of all those hundreds and thousands of music loans.  Even if the professors were more involved in selecting music than we might have imagined, the statistics we’re left with give us a picture of what kinds of music different borrower types were exposed to.  Maybe the professors made assumptions about what their friends might enjoy singing or playing.  But they must have got something right, or the music wouldn’t have continued to fly off the shelves!  Moreover, a strict rule in 1821 wasn’t necessarily strictly enforced even a few years later.

The Senate’s restrictions do, however, serve to remind us that we need to keep an open mind about many aspects of the library’s lending patterns.  It does no harm to be reminded!


*Echoes from the Vault post,  29.09.2017, celebrating Banned Books Week

Following Other Networks: EAERN

Followers of the Claimed from Stationers’ Hall music research network might also be interested in EAERN, the Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network.  We’re taking the liberty of sharing a fascinating series of workshops that commences next week!  Maybe we’ll see you there?


Claimed from Stationer’s Hall – Update

There’s a Scottish saying, “What goes around, comes around”. I didn’t realise, when we selected the image from Challoner’s New Guida di Musica for this University of St Andrews Echoes from the Vault blogpost, that I would encounter it again in a later stage of my research! Whilst tweeting for the new AHRC-funded music network, Claimed from Stationers’ Hall, I idly looked to see what was registered “on this day” a couple of hundred years ago. Stretching a point slightly, I chanced upon – yes, Challoner’s piano instructor, for that’s what it actually is – registered at Stationers’ Hall on 24 September 1812. Checking my records further, I learned that the volume containing it was actually bound – and borrowed – within three months’ of registration, and clocked up 14 loans between 1812 and 1849. If you really want to, you can even “play like it was 1812” because it has been digitised at Baylor University:-

Echoes from the Vault

Earlier this year we published a blog post by Dr Karen McAulay of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland about her research using the St Andrews Copyright Music Collection –

Copyright Music Collection in the stacks Copyright Music Collection in the stacks

An example of a volume in the copyright music collection - Challoner’s New Guida di Musica, ‘improved edition’ (London: Skillern, [1812]), St Andrews University Library sM1.A4M6; 141’] An example of a volume in the copyright music collection – Challoner’s New Guida di Musica, ‘improved edition’ (London: Skillern, [1812]), St Andrews University Library (sM1.A4M6; 141). Karen has continued her research and has now written an update, available on her blog at:

Karen will be returning to St Andrews in due course – we look forward to welcoming her back to the Reading Room and to future updates as she continues to unravel the history of this collection.

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