Russia: Culture & History

Our most recent display, created by brilliant volunteer Sheila Bradley, is inspired by Russia and consists of books from the library collection -all of which are available to loan. Here are just some of the titles on display, reviews about them, and a couple of photographs taken in the library.

You can find the display in the glass cabinet in the main reception room. We create a new display with a different topic every month or so -it’s always worth a look in case something that was hidden when it was on the shelves catches your eye.


Click on title for full reviews – Odessa, Letters to Véra, Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People, The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry

Finishing the Stanley Opie archaeology collection

In March we blogged about our progress with the Stanley Opie archaeology collection. It is a wonderful collection of 1001 photographs, mainly glass negatives, covering archaeological and cultural subjects across Cornwall from the late 1920s to late 1930s. The project was kindly funded by Cornwall Heritage Trust.

We are pleased to announce that we have now digitised the entire collection and it is available to browse and search.

All of the negatives have been conserved and repackaged, going from rows like this:

To digitised files with the negatives packaged like this:

The conservation work on the negatives and their new packaging will ensure that each photograph will be in the best possible condition for many years to come. Each negative is now within its own acid free ‘enclosure’ – a slim box – and then 35 or so of these in a row in a larger archive box. This removes any pressure on the negatives themselves.

The digitised files will be more accessible and reduce or even remove the need to handle the originals other than for condition checks. Our digitised master scans of each of the photographs contain enough detail to resolve the film grain on the negative, ensuring that we have captured all of the detail. This is true of all our digitisation activities.

Extract at 100% from the corner of a photograph showing the original film grain.

Extract at 100% from the corner of a photograph showing the original film grain.

There is still work to be done, not least updating the catalogue entries, many of which are brief in the extreme. We will also be editing the “scan masters” to create copies which have been cropped and enhanced. This will be done over the coming months and we ask anyone with extra information about any of the photographs to get in touch with us.

The photographs themselves are fantastic; a real insight into the archaeology of Cornwall in the 20s and 30s. Here are some of the highlights:

Excavation team, Magor Farm Roman Villa

Excavation, Magor Farm Roman Villa, 1932


Excavation team, Magor Farm Roman Villa, 1932


The gateway at Chûn Castle

The gateway at Chûn Castle, 1930s


Excavations at Tintagel, 1930s (O.193)

Excavations at Tintagel, 1930s (O.193)


The Towednack Gold Hoard as discovered in December 1931 (O.58).

The Towednack Gold Hoard as discovered in December 1931 (O.58)


O.510 Is this Stanley Opie?

Selfies aren’t as recent a phenomena as we may think. Is this Stanley Opie taking his own photograph? (O.510)

You can view and browse all photos from the Stanley Opie Archaeology Collection and search them on our Photographic Archive catalogue.

The Morrab Library would like to extend great thanks to Cornwall Heritage Trust for funding this project.

Free Library Tours

Join Dawn or Linda on Friday afternoons at 2pm for a free tour of the Morrab Library.

Explore the nooks and crannies of Morrab House and learn a little of the history of our wonderful Library.

Upstairs, looking towards the stairs

World Book Night 2016

World Book Night 2016_edited-1

We’re celebrating World Book Night on Saturday 23rd April at the Morrab Library with a coffee morning. Join us for refreshments in the Reading Room from 10am – 12 noon and pick up a free copy of ‘Treachery‘ by S.J. Parris, our World Book Night giveaway.

Hope to see you!

Cleaning and repackaging the Stanley Opie archaeology collection

Back in November we announced that we had received a grant from Cornwall Heritage Trust to begin a programme of conservation, digitisation and dissemination of the Stanley Opie collection of archaeology photographs. After a delay while we awaited restocking and delivery of the necessary materials from our conservation supplier, the project has now begun.

Repackaging glass negatives

Repackaging glass negatives

The collection of about 1,000 quarter-plate glass negatives (plus a few acetate negatives and positive prints) is being cleaned and repackaged in batches of 50. Each glass plate must first be removed from the old folded card slip, then be inspected. If in a stable condition the glass side is then cleaned with distilled water and a conservation-grade microfibre cloth, before being lightly brushed to remove any loose dust on the emulsion side. Most of the slides are fairly dirty (residue from development, mould from storage), and the difference before and after cleaning is significant. This will mean clearer digitised images, and provide more stability for long term storage of the negative.

The cleaned negative is then placed into a new cruciform negative enclosure. These arrive flat and we must first number and fold them in batches before cleaning commences. The negative in its new enclosure is then placed into a larger box that can accommodate forty of them. The box is then labelled with the collection name and number range contained within.

Each box of negatives is then carefully digitised and the scan is attached to the corresponding record in our photographic database.

This database will soon be available online, and you will be able to browse Stanley Opie’s wonderful and largely unseen photos of Cornwall’s heritage as seen from the 1920s-50s. We plan on releasing regular updates to the database, adding recently digitised images to their catalogue entries.

We are very grateful to Cornwall Heritage Trust for enabling us to undertake this project.

The old cardboard slips and a new glass negative enclosure

The old cardboard slips and a new glass negative enclosure