Wednesday, 26 May 2010

History of the Marshall Library

The roots of the present Marshall Library lie in the small Moral Sciences Library created by Professor Alfred Marshall and Professor Henry Sidgwick from 1885 onwards, largely through the donation of their books for student use. This library was situated in the Divinity School opposite St John's College. Following the struggle to establish Political Economy as a subject in its own right, the Economics books were transferred to the keeping of the Special Board for Economics and Politics in 1906. In 1909 J.M. Keynes became the first formally appointed librarian of the collection, thereafter known a the Departmental Library of Economics. In that year there were only 11 Part 1 students and 8 studying for Part II.

Alfred Marshall died in 1924 leaving many of his books and money to the Library. The two collections were merged and re-named "Marshall Library of Economics" in his memory. The great expansion of the collections necessitated its move in 1925 to rooms in the former Balfour Laboratory off Downing Street. Ten years later it moved again to rooms in the recently vacated Squire Law Library premises (now the Haddon Library). Alfred's widow, Mary Paley Marshall acted as a volunteer librarian at these two locations for nearly twenty years, until she retired at the age of 87. From 1925 until her death in 1944 she gave £250 annually to the library. In addition, she bequeathed £10,000 to the University " for the development and increased usefulness of the Marshall Library". The final move to the present building in Sidgwick Avenue, which was designed by Sir Hugh Casson, took place in the early sixties.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Visit by Daman Singh, daughter of the Prime Minister of India

On Friday, we were delighted to welcome Daman Singh, the daughter of Professor Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India. She visited the Library to look at its collections with Shailaja Fennell of Jesus College. Daman Singh's father, Professor Singh, graduated in economics from St John's College in 1957. She was particularly interested to see the final year examination papers for 1957 which her father took, and also the minutes of the Marshall Society meetings which he attended regularly. She asked to see, and was intrigued by the Phillips machine, built 60 years ago to demonstrate a model of the economy using tanks, pipes, and valves with coloured water pumped by a motor salvaged from a Lancaster bomber. She left with a copy of the final year '57 examination papers and a Marshall Library mug for the Prime Minister.

A quiet week with an average of around 50 students, max 62, in the Library , compared with 92 the previous week.

Examinations start on Monday 24th May, good luck to all our students!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Wynne Godley, oboe, St Michael, and the Cambridge Growth Project catalogue

We were sad to learn of the death of Wynne Godley, Professor of Applied Economics and former director of the Dept of Applied Economics (DAE) who died last week at the age of 83. Described as "the most insightful macroeconomic forecaster of his generation", Wynne Godley continued to use the Marshall Library after his retirement in 1993, and was often in touch, especially when working on his book Monetary economics: an integrated approach to credit, money, income, production and wealth / Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie published by Palgrave in 2007. After reading PPE at Oxford, Wynne Godley studied the oboe at the Paris Conservatoire and began his professional career as principal oboe with the Welsh Symphony orchestra before returning to economics. He subsequently worked at the Treasury and National Institute of Economic and Social Research before taking up the post at the DAE. He continued to play the oboe, sometimes practising in his faculty room before university concerts. He became well known for his opposition to economic policies of the Thatcherites, he once dismissed their policies as "a gigantic con trick", and was described as "Cassandra of the Fens" for his predictions, which came true, regarding the rise of unemployment in the 80s. He was married to Kitty Epstein, former wife of Lucien Freud and daughter of the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, and when Epstein was commissioned to produce a statue of St Michael for Coventry Cathedral, St Michael's Victory over the Devil (1958), he modelled it on Wynne Godley.

Cambridge Growth Project
Professor Wynne Godley's predecessor, Nobel Prize winner (1984) Professor Sir Richard Stone, was the initial leading force behind "The Cambridge Growth Project". Set up in 1960, and later directed by Dr Terry Barker, this large econometric research project developed a model of the British economy. It was used to forecast economic growth of the British economy in the 1970's and was later used for regional and environmental modelling and forecasting. Its archive, comprising 56 archive boxes, is housed at the Marshall Library , and we recently scanned the "growth project" catalogue making it available on the web through the Marshall Library web site.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Easter term projects

There's a different dynamic in the Easter term as students prepare for exams. Still busy, around 50 students in the Library, it's quieter, they're concentrating on revising. Some have packs of coloured pens in front of them and they're drawing mind maps, multi-coloured diagrams, to help them remember concepts. There's less activity at the Library Counter. Only 120 books borrowed yesterday but 366 renewed.

It allows us to get on with other projects. One of these is checking through the stock in the basement, checking whether the books have records, whether we have duplicate copies, checking borrowing figures since 1992, and whether they're available elsewhere. A huge job, we've split it into two projects. The first, checking the shelflist, we've checked almost 50 bays (200+ books a bay) with another 25 bays to go. The second, checking issue figures, availability elsewhere etc. The third phase of this will be to list all those titles which aren't used, are available elsewhere and which we can withdraw from stock. Lots! After going through the usual procedure of course. Thinking of using Zotero for this but would welcome alternatives.

Link to Statistical software manuals
We recently put a page on our website listing all the statistical software manuals in the Marshall's collection with clickable links to their catalogue records, to online support sites and and to other resources.

Lots more ideas and projects in the pipeline for this term and we can really get stuck in over the summer vacation.