Burgess Shale Cambrian fossil site discovered 1909

May 26, 2009


animals_of_the_Cambrian_Period     June, 1909. 

The place – London, Burlington House – the then home of The Royal Society [now at Carlton House Terrace].

The reported ‘Court Circular’ of The Times ….‘Ladies Conversazione…The second of the two conversaziones held by the Royal  Society every year, that to which ladies are invited, took place last night at the Society’s rooms in Burlington House, which were as usual lavishly decorated with flowers and shrubs….’  The Times, Friday, Jun 25, 1909; pg. 14; Issue 38995; col D

The ladies who attended the conversazione would have seen an exhibiton of panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains by Dr Charles D. Walcott, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.   These panoramic views were described as ‘one of the most attractive exhibits’  at the event and ‘well illustrative of the general aspect and the physical physical constitution of the mountain mass’.

Two months later, Walcott was to discover one of the most well preserved groups of marine animal fossils ever found, near the Burgess Pass, in the Yoho National Park, in British Columbia.

The Burgess Shale containes fossils of soft bodied animals such as sponges, sea cucumbers, jellyfish, as well as shrimp-type animals and the area became a UNESCO World Hertiage Site in 1980.

Loughborough University Library hold several books on the Burgess Shale :

The fossils of the Burgess Shale /Derek E.G. Briggs, Douglas H. Erwin, Frederick J. Collier ; photographs by Chip Clark – shelved at 562/BRI

Wonderful life :the Burgess Shale and the nature of history by Stephen J. Gould – shelved at 575/GOU

The University Library also subscribes to the e-journals Lethaia –  [Authentication: Athens username and password required for off campus access],   Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecologyGeology,   Science,   and Nature.  

For more information on the Burgess Shale and its fossils, please see the links below.

Burgess Shale fossils

Yoho-Burgess Shale Foundation

Fauna and Flora of the Burgess Shale

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History





One hundred years of Education and Innovation

May 19, 2009


Loughborough University


Centenary exhibition charts history of education and innovation in Loughborough

An exhibition charting the development of Loughborough University and its predecessor colleges is due to open at Charnwood Museum later this month.

Entitled ‘One hundred years of Education and Innovation’, the exhibition will run from 16 May to 5 July at Charnwood Museum in Granby Street in Loughborough town centre.  Produced in conjunction with the Friends of Charnwood Museum, it chronicles the University’s origins from Loughborough Technical Institute through to the leading university of today.

Alongside the historical exhibition there will be a display of the University’s world-renowned research in sports technology, including the science behind the rugby shirts, footballs and trainers used by sports men and women today.

There will also be a mini exhibition on Dr Herbert Schofield, Principal of Loughborough Technical Institute, subsequently Loughborough College, for 35 years.

The exhibition at Charnwood Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4.30pm, and on Sundays from 2pm to 5pm.  Admission is free.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Loughborough University, please see our Centenary website.

Young in years, but old in honours….

May 15, 2009



 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy by James Warren Childe

Mendelssohn first visited London in April 1829 and both his star quality performances and music captured the imagination of the concert going public.    Mendelssohn made a number of  visits to Britain in his short life, and in 1837 he wrote to his mother that…  ‘I must tell you…that I never had such a brilliant success …The applause and the shouts at the least glimpse of me were incessant, and sometimes really made me laugh….’ 

Mendelssohn became a favourite with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – she made him play for her some of his Songs Without Words and drink tea.   Mendelssohn enjoyed his visits to London, playing at the Philharmonic concerts,  to which he brought new music such as The Hebrides and the concert going public  were ‘crazy with delight’ for his performances. He wrote  in a latter  ‘That smokey place [London] is fated to be now and ever my favourite residence; my heart glows when I even think of it’ .

The busy schedule of travelling, conducting, reheasing, composing and performing  all came to a sudden end, in November 1847, when Mendelssohn suffered a series of strokes and died.   ‘It is with deep regret  that we announce the death of this distinguished mucisian and composer, as having taken place at Drissig, on Thursday night last, Nov.4, after a short illness….It is needless to say how he was, year by year, more and more  looked to and waited for as the one man in Europe – let us not have to say, the last of the great German muscians.   Young in years but old in honours; rich in fame and rich in friends …his decease leaves a void it is hard to imagine filled.’  Daily News (London, England), Wednesday, November 10, 1847; Issue 453


If you would like to learn more about Felix Mendelssohn and his music, please see the links below…


Felix Mendelssohn : The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) – Overture 

 Felix Mendelssohn – BBC

Letters from Italy and Switzerland   By Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Julie de Marguerittes, Julie Granville

Letters of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, from 1833 to 1847

Loughborough University Library holds books and scores on Mendelssohn’s works on Level 2 and over 70 music journals available online via MetaLib

Musical Times Obituary

Felic Mendelsshon biography

Book club at Loughborough Public Library

May 14, 2009
Loughborough Public Library

Loughborough Public Library

Loughborough Public Library are running a book club on the third Tuesday of every month, from 6:30 to 7:45 pm.  The first one is on the 19th May. 

Why not bring a long a book you have recently read for discussion?

Feel free to come along or contact June Taylor at loughboroughlibrary@leics.gov.uk or telephone 01509 212985 and 01509 266436

Loughborough Public Library is at Granby Street, Loughborough, Leics, LE11 3DZ

Poetry Matters

May 11, 2009
Philosophy and poetry window at St Mary's Buckland, Berks. Taken from flickr. Lawrence OP's photostream

Philosophy and poetry window at St Mary's Buckland, Berks. Taken from flickr. Lawrence OP's photostream


On  May 1st 2009, Carol Ann Duffy became the UK’s twentieth poet laureate and the first woman to hold the post; she thought “long and hard about accepting the offer” and decided to accept because there had never been a woman laureate before and looks on the honour as “recognition of all the great women poets we now have writing like Alice Oswald“.

Following the death of Wordsworth,  the first woman to be considered for the post was Elizabeth Barrett Browning  but Tennyson was chosen instead. Nearly half a century later, Christina Rossetti was rejected and the position left vacant until Alfred Austin, whom some consider to be the worst laureate ever, was appointed in 1896.

It is claimed that he wrote the following lines on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’ illness : ‘Across the wires, the electric message came/he is no better, he is much the same’

Ben Jonson is said to be the first to hold the Laureateship – conferred on him by James I. Previous modern Laureates include  Cecil Day Lewis,  John Betjeman and Ted Hughes.

Carol Ann Duffy is one of the bestselling British poets and has combined critical and popular success which is not easy to achieve in a field which is often thought to belong a minority taste.   Her book ‘The World’s Wife’ is a collection in which every poem is told from the point of view of a wife or relation of a famous man; from Pilate’s wife, Mrs Darwin to Elvis’s twin sister. She has also written poetry and picture books for children and is currently the creative director of the writing school at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The Laureateship is a government post and its remit is to compose poems about state occasions but Duffy has said that she thinks her new role should be much more democratic than it has been formerly. She hopes to be more people’s poet than a one serving only the Royal Family and that she would “not write a poem for Edward and Sophie – no self-respecting poet should have to”. Like her predecessor Andrew Motion she wants to use her standing as laureate to promote poetry.  She plans to donate her yearly stipend of £5,750 to the Poetry Society to fund a new prize for the best collection published during a  particular year.  The  “butt of sack” (600 bottles of sherry) to which the Laureate is also entitled,  has yet to be allocated to Motion so she has jokingly asked if hers can be delivered up front.

Andrew Motion’s greatest achievement during his time as laureate  was to set up the Poetry Archive with the recording producer Richard Carrington. They felt that while actors can sometimes read poetry very well, it is often more illuminating  and interesting to hear a poet read his or her works. Many poets, even those writing in the recent past, had not been recorded.  Through the work of the Poetry Archive,  contemporary poets have now been recorded and it is possible to buy CDs of their work from the website. Poets whose work is out of copyright can be accessed on the website including Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and W.B.Yeats.

Andrew Motion is the first Laureate to resign the post; all the others died in harness.  Work  written during his  tenure include poems for the Queen’s 80th birthday, the death of the Queen Mother and a rap for Prince William’s 21st birthday. He has advised his successor of the dangers of being thrust into the limelight and to take steps to preserve her privacy. Another disadvantage associated with the post is  the danger of writer’s block: Motion says that he has been unable to write anything apart from poems for official occasions in the last five years.  He read out his final lines as a public poet last week which finished thus: “The duty of writing /Lines sharp and exciting / On this  – it ain’t mine but my heir’s as PL”.

BBC to launch political webcasting service : Democracy Live

May 11, 2009
Motorway sign on M6 7/7/2005. Copyright David Wulff www.flickr.com
Motorway sign on M6 7/7/2005. Copyright David Wulff http://www.flickr.com

The above photograph was taken on July 7th 2005, the day when the London tube bombings took place. On this date the BBC received a thousand stills and videos, 3,000 texts and 20,000 e-mails. According to the director of BBC News, Helen Boaden, this was the day that news gathering in Britain changed forever – ‘it introduced citizen journalism on an unprecedented scale fuelled by the use of mobile camera and video phones’.

In response to the growth in this new kind of  journalism the BBC is to launch a political webcasting platform in the autumn known as ‘Democracy Live’ . The site will offer ‘live and on-demand video from all the main UK institutions and the European Parliament’. Users will be able to search the site for video footage of officials and the topics that are of interest to them.
They will be then be able to follow the contributions of elected representatives in the various parliaments and find out more about their backgrounds.
As well as providing an important resource for current affairs, the site will also include information on the workings of the institutions of the UK government and their powers .
The aim is to make ‘Democracy Live’ a resource that is to be shared with its users who will be able download video and text content and place it on their own blogs and sites.

Diamonds in the landscape

May 8, 2009


 Great Gable

 Photograph: Great Gable View by Alan Cleaver

British national parks celebrate 60 years of protecting the British landscape, providing public access to the countryside, protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity, and helping local economies.  Earlier this year the go-ahead was given for a new national park in the South Downs to be established in 2010.

The new national park will join the 15 other areas of Britain designated as national parks such as  The Cairngorms,  Snowdonia  and Brtiain’s first national park created in the Peak District in 1951.

In 1947 the Hobhouse Committee on National Parks of England and Wales built on the work of the Addison Committee of 1931 and ‘conceived of the National Park …suited to British conditions, as a large, beautiful, and relatively wild area in which “for the nation’s benefit” and by appropriate “national decision and action” the landscape is preserved, access and facilties for open-air enjoyment are provided, wild life and fine or historic places and buildings are protected, and established agriculture is maintained and developed’   The Times, Saturday, July 19, 1947;pg. 5; Issue 50817; col B.

Threats to the national parks such as quarrying,  new roads, vandalism, military activity, building developers, removal of stone from limestone pavements, overgrazing of upland commons, congestion, erosion, etc means that Government has to be constantly reviewing  possible improvements in policy, funding and practice of all the agencies involved in maintaining Britain’s national parks and areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

It is estimated that over 110 million people visit  British national parks each year,  generating millions of pounds to local economies, illustrating the national importance of parks and recreation the the economy as a whole.    For more information on the role of tourism in the British economy Loughborough University Library subscribes to a number of e-journals such as National Parks ,  Parks & Recreation,  Park Science.   Authentication: Athens username and password required for off campus access.  

If you would like to find out more about Britain’s national parks, please see the links below….

Publications from the Association of National Parks Authorities

History of the National Parks

Command Papers (HM Government), available from The Stationery Office (TSO) (was HMSO until 1997):
‘Report of the National Parks Committee (England and Wales) (Hobhouse Report), Cmnd. 7121, 1947 ;  shelved at serial 328/COM on Level 2 of the Loughborough University Library

English national parks

Countryside Act 1968 

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 

Habitats Regulations 1994 

Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 

Hedgerows Regulations 1997 

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2008

CPRE – Campaign to Protect Rural England