News round-up: March 2017


Image from the Bestiary (MS 24)

4th March 2017 – Local History Conference

The University of Aberdeen’s Capturing the Energy Project Development Officer, Joe Chapman, spoke at the recent ‘Hall of Mirrors’ local history conference. The event at the Beach Ballroom was organised by Aberdeen City Libraries to mark the 125th anniversary of the Central Library, and explored “the way our understanding of the past is often used and abused, blurring the lines between fact and fiction”.

The conference featured a varied programme of speakers, including historical novelist Sara Sheridan and former Scotsman editor Bill Jamieson, with other topics ranging from archaeology and map-making to the evolution of Highland dancing. Joe’s presentation – on the history of oil and gas in Aberdeen and the lessons that can be applied to the recent downturn – was extremely well-attended, with some delegates commenting that their understanding of the industry had changed as a result of what they heard.

The conference also featured a local heritage fair, where the Special Collections team’s stall was manned by Andrew MacGregor and Keith O’Sullivan. Aberdeen City & Shire Archives and NHS Grampian Archives were also among the dozen or so organisations represented. Meanwhile, Joe will be reprising his presentation at the European Oil and Gas Archives Network (EOGAN) conference in Paris in June.

 12th March 2017 – Jewish Festival of Purim

Special Collections assisted with the preparations for the local Jewish community’s celebration of the Festival of Purim. Central to the event is the reading from the Scroll of Esther, a copy of which is held in the archive collections. Paul Logie was on hand to set up the scroll for the event, held in the Chaplaincy Centre, and answer any questions.

The Purim Festival commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from a plot to kill them. The scroll is read by a Rabbi and the community take part in what is a carnival like atmosphere.

Special Collections have rich collections of Judaica and Hebraica and a detailed guide to the collections can be found here. Please also follow the link to see the archive catalogue entry for the Book of Esther (MS 1004).

16th March 2017 – RGU Tour

On 16 March, The Sir Duncan Rice Library hosted a visit by 16 postgraduate students from RGU’s MSc Information & Library Studies programme. Following a talk on the role of Information Consultants from Janet Mackay, the students were given a tour of the building, including the Special Collections Centre, by Keith O’Sullivan and Jane Pirie. The group was accompanied by their course leader, Dr Dina Martzoukou.

21st March 2017 – Thomas Reid Book Collecting Prize competition

Dr Helen Pierce, History of Art, and Keith O’Sullivan launched the Thomas Reid Book Collecting Prize competition on 21 March. Endowed by Dr William Zachs, who attended, this annual Prize is part of the Scottish Universities Book Collecting Prize Scheme, and is in its third year. The competition is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate researchers currently registered at Aberdeen. Dr Zachs gave a short address, and 2016 winner David Rennie spoke about his own collection and formally presented his book choices to the Special Collections Centre. The competition’s closing date is 28 April.

Latin secretary to King James VI, Thomas Reid (d.1624) was a great book collector and benefactor of the University of Aberdeen. Among the more than 1300 volumes he gave to the University was the famous Aberdeen Bestiary. Further information about the prize can be found here.


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