|Fred Hoyle's telescope|
He was a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, and after his death, his family donated his collection of personal papers, books, and some artefacts to the existing special collections of the College Library, which include medieval manuscripts, early printed books, collections of personal papers and a range of artefacts. The Hoyle Collection is immense, the largest in the library, and covers all aspects of Hoyle's life and work.
Any collection (be it books, papers, objects, images, webpages or anything else) is no good to anyone unless 1) someone knows what's in it, and 2) people can access it. These, to my mind, are the fundamental principals of librarianship: catalogue (i.e. work out what you've got) and make available (i.e. let people at it!).
So the basic aim of the Hoyle Project is to catalogue the Hoyle Collection. Eventually the catalogue will be made publically available on Janus (the Cambridge University archives catalogue), and through nationwide tools such as the Archives Hub and the National Register of Archives. In the mean time, there's a summary listing on the Library website.
But cataloguing is just the start. The Hoyle Project aims to make the Hoyle Collection, and the Library collections more widely, known to as many people as possible, and to increase knowledge of Hoyle, astronomy, the history of science, and the Library.
|Cambridge Science Festival visitors in St John's College Library (photo by wumpus on Flickr)|
- to school groups (both primary and secondary);
- special interest groups (Cambridge tour guides, the University of the Third Age, the British Astronomical Association);
- media companies (the Library and items from the Hoyle Collection were featured in the fifth episode of the recent Channel 4 series Genius of Britain);
- the general public (via the University festivals of Science and Humanities, and National Heritage Open Days);
- and virtually and digitally via an online exhibition and hands-on build-your-own-astrolabe kit.
The work is definitely challenging, but also immensely rewarding. There's nothing like the thrill of bringing to science or history to life by using some of the wonderful documents and books that I'm lucky enough to work with.
The Hoyle Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, St John's College, and the Friends of the Center for the History of Physics, American Institute of Physics.