About Edith Speller

Library Systems and User Education Manager at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Lives in and loves SE London.

Deeds not words: from Ethel Smyth to Venus Blazing

Library display case titled Deeds not Words showing items relating to Ethel Smyth, suffragettes and Venus Blazing at Trinity Laban

We’re nearly at the end of Women’s History Month, and our current display highlights the history of women in the UK who fought for the right to vote over 100 years ago, finally winning a partial victory in 1918. The display, ‘Deeds not Words’, highlights Ethel Smyth, a renowned composer born in Sidcup, southeast London, who put her burgeoning musical career on hold for two years to join the suffragettes’ struggle for the vote.

John Singer Sargent Dame Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth by John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ethel Smyth’s suffragette activism led to a sentence of two months’ imprisonment for breaking a window. One day she memorably conducted her rousing The March of the Women anthem for the movement from her cell window brandishing a toothbrush as a baton: sadly no photo exists, so in our display we have settled for an image of Smyth supporting her dear friend Emmeline Pankhurst when the police came to arrest her outside Smyth’s home.

Smyth showed an early appetite for direct action, going on ‘strike’ as a teenager when her father refused permission to study at the Leipzig Conservatory, eventually confining herself to her room and refusing to attend meals or social occasions until her father relented.[1]

Her persistence paid off with a long and successful career as a composer, conductor and broadcaster which TL students and staff can read about in Ethel Smyth’s entry in Grove Online, penned by none other than Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Masters programmes![2]


We’re delighted that the motto ‘Deeds not Words’ rings true to this day amongst many people and organisations working towards equality. Trinity Laban’s Venus Blazing initiative for 2018/19 is an example of taking action: at least half (by duration) of the works in TL’s large-scale performances will be by women composers. The name comes from a violin concerto by TL composer Deirdre Gribbin which can be listened to via the library’s listening station.

The library has recently purchased a number of works by women to develop our collection – thanks to a generous financial donation from former Trinity Laban Board member Esther Cavett – a number of which are on display on the new items shelves in the library.

Four shelves showing items purchased by the Jerwood Library to support Venus Blazing

As the Jerwood Library’s systems librarian, I’ve been working on improvements to our catalogue to make these works easier to track down and these are close to fruition: watch this space…

[1] Bexley Civic Society article on Ethel Smyth. 23 Mar. 2018. http://www.bexleycivicsociety.org.uk/ethel-smyth.

[2] Fuller, Sophie. “Smyth, Dame Ethel.” Grove Music Online. 23 Mar. 2018. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000026038.


Changes to downloading Dawsonera e-books

An book held open by a model skull, surrounded by candles

This e-book change is happening at Halloween – let’s hope it’s not a bad omen!

From Tuesday 31 October 2017, Adobe Reader will no longer be used for downloaded Dawsonera e-books. Instead you must use the free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software (available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) or Bluefire Reader (available for Windows, iOS and Android).

This change resolves the problem with downloading e-books to iOS devices (iPads and iPhones).

Dawsonera have created a PDF guide to installing ADE on a Windows PC and their short video below demonstrates how to create an Adobe ID which allows you to open downloaded e-books on multiple devices (in both ADE and Bluefire Reader). Creating an Adobe ID is optional as you can choose to authorise your device without an ID. However this means the downloaded e-book will only work on the device you first downloaded it to. To access a downloaded title without an Adobe ID, please tick ‘I want to authorise my computer without an ID’ in the bottom left-hand corner of ADE when you are prompted to authorise your computer.

As the majority of e-books available from Trinity Laban libraries are provided by Dawsonera, ADE has been installed on all Trinity Laban PCs in preparation for this change.

We still recommend using the ‘read online’ feature instead of downloading e-books wherever possible as this is much more fully featured – for example, you can annotate the text or print/copy text from a limited number of pages.

However downloaded e-books can be read offline (once they’ve been downloaded and opened while you’re online) so can come in handy, for example to read on the move when you don’t have access to wifi or data.

Don’t be spooked (sorry) by these technical changes! Contact the Jerwood Library if you encounter any difficulties.

Update: Trinity Laban students and staff can download an updated guide to e-books from Moodle which covers multiple e-book suppliers.

Renewing items from the Jerwood Library

Picture of a library book's date label showing due date stamps

Photo credit: 140810-08 by waferboard, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Got an email from the library reminding you your items are due back? Or, heaven forbid, that they are overdue and fines are building up?

Have no fear: watch our 90 second video (scroll down to ‘Jerwood Library Catalogue – renew my items on loan’) and discover how to renew your items instantly online via the Jerwood Library catalogue!

If you prefer written instructions:

  1. Log in with your usual username and password (same as Moodle)
  2. Click on My Account then Renew items on my card
  3. Tick the items to renew (or choose Renew all) then click Renew selected items
  4. Make a note of the new due date(s) on the next page. If an item cannot be renewed a message should explain why, and you’ll need to bring it in to the library to return it or renew it in person.

If you encounter any problems renewing your items, email the library or contact us on 020 8305 3951 / the web chat box on the catalogue (during library opening hours only). If you can’t log in at all, please try resetting your password before contacting us.

Edith’s Choice: 15 years of the Jerwood Library

Display cabinet containing items related to the official opening of the Jerwood Library in 2002 (programme, invitiation, photos and a poem read at the event)

Library display commemorating fifteen years of the Jerwood Library

15 years ago today on 9 January 2002, the official opening of the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts took place, which makes the library officially fifteen years old today. I’ve chosen to highlight this anniversary with a small display in the library this month.

I spoke about the library’s move to Greenwich with Walter Cardew, the only current member of library staff to have worked in both the TCM Library and the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts, and David Butler, who now works in the Jerwood Library but in 2002 was studying for a BMus at Trinity College of Music (now Faculty of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

What was it like moving the whole library to Greenwich?

Walter: When I started here in Nov 2000 we knew the move was coming, and things kicked off in earnest when a new head librarian Rosemary Williamson started in 2001. We visited King Charles Court to see the space the library would be in and got an opportunity to explore the building including the attic spaces and even going out on the roof. Everyone was fascinated by the exposed wooden roof beams. I’ve heard various stories about their origins, including that they were timbers retrieved from sunk Spanish Armada ships, though I’m not sure that holds up to scrutiny…

Rosemary gave me the task of planning how the library stock would be packed and then organised in the new space. I had to plan in great detail and I devised an enormous spreadsheet mapping every single shelf in the old library to a specific shelf in the new library.

How did the new library compare to the old one?

David: Like King Charles Court as a whole, the new library was a lot more accessible for the students than the old one. The old building was a complete rabbit warren and the library was across three floors. The sequence of shelves didn’t feel logical, but the Jerwood Library has the whole collection in one space and all in sequence. I remember the old library having a few computers in the basement which were always busy and not the easiest place to study. I definitely used the library more after the move!

Walter: Because of the three floors staff had to put returned items for shelving in boxes and carry them up and down stairs so we were glad to move to one level. It also made it much easier for students to borrow items and get help from us as we weren’t tucked away on the top floor. The new library had closed stacks for our growing special collections including the Almeida Collection which we’d recently acquired and was a big addition to the library. 

The old buildings in central London were cramped and had been added to piecemeal as the institution grew. There were even some staff offices that could only be accessed from the rest of the site via a rooftop walkway! The move to a single building was unifying and we appreciated having a bit more office space too.

Were you at the official opening?

Walter: Yes, all the library staff were invited. My abiding memory is the actor Timothy West CBE reciting a poem he’d written commemorating Greenwich and the opening, which was very impressive. There was also a commissioned jazz piece performed by Iain Ballamy and others with poetry by Matthew Sweeney.

Representatives from the Jerwood Foundation were there too – the library was renamed the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts when we moved, in honour of the generous grant they made towards setting up the library in Greenwich.

Hawksmoor and Wren, come back
to see your palace now.
Look at its new inside –
this library we are celebrating,
tables where beds were,
the original beams overhead
but with a raised, sunlit ceiling –
all is light now, all light

Excerpt from Black Beams by Matthew Sweeney, commissioned by the Jerwood Foundation for the opening of the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts.

How has the library space changed since 2002?

Walter: The refurbishment was done to a high standard except it turned out no-one had thought about ventilation in the summer months. The library’s skylight windows couldn’t be opened and on a couple of occasions it got so hot we had to close the library completely. Fitting ceiling fans and a remote-controlled mechanism for opening the windows soon fixed that, to everyone’s relief.

David: The computers have shrunk in size and the shelves have filled up quickly! There were lots left empty when the library first opened but now there’s not a lot of free space and we’re squeezing in more shelving wherever we can…

Animated gif showing installation of new shelving in the Jerwood Library, summer 2014

New shelving being installed in the library in summer 2014

Thanks to both Walter and David for sharing their memories of the Jerwood Library’s first year with us.

A display is in the small cabinet in the library showing the programme from the official opening, Timothy West’s poem Ode to Greenwich and other related materials from the TCM Archive, housed at the Jerwood Library.

We’re delighted to have served the students and staff of the Faculty of Music for the last fifteen years and look forward to many more!

Web chat support trial

This term, we are trialling web chat support for library users via the Jerwood Library catalogue. This live web chat is staffed by library staff during library opening hours only.

Screenshot showing web chat button on Jerwood Library catalogu

To use the chat, look for the Need help? button at the bottom-right of the catalogue page, then enter your name and send us a message!

So far users have asked us for help with a variety of topics including details of specific services we offer, finding repertoire and accessing online subscription resources.

I was inspired to try out a web chat service in the Jerwood Library after visiting the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Whittaker Library in Glasgow last summer (you can check out their pioneering blog for yourself – Whittaker Live). They have been using web chat successfully for some time and have found certain groups of library users prefer to make contact in this way rather than in person or by phone or email. Of course we will continue to welcome enquiries made in these ways as well!

The Jerwood Library will review the web chat service after the summer 2016 term to decide whether or not to continue with it. If you’ve used the chat and have any feedback, let us know.

Item of the month, December 2015 / January 2016: Anthony Green at 60

Greyscale photo of Anthony Green

Anthony Green (photo used with permission)

Anthony (Tony) Green has had a long association with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a professor of piano and as a lecturer, and additionally as the composer of a piece (Resurgence) to commemorate the then-Trinity College of Music’s move to Greenwich in 2001.

Faculty of Music staff and students are holding a concert to celebrate Anthony’s 70th birthday on Wed 6 Jan 2016, and in honour of this we are highlighting the CD recording Anthony Green at 60 as our item of the month for Dec 2015 – Jan 2016.

While researching Anthony using our QuickSearch research tool, I found a review of the CD by Colin Clarke in Tempo, where he stated “Green is clearly a superb pianist, and the full spectrum recording (OPR Musikhochschule Stuttgart) enables the listener to fully engage in Green’s structures.”[1] The full review can be read online via our subscription to Tempo, or in the library display.

Ian Mitchell, professor of clarinet at Trinity Laban and former Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion, shared some memories of Anthony with me for this blog post:

Tony and I gave a number of clarinet and piano recitals together [in the 1970s], one of which – in the Nottingham Festival – was particularly memorable. The concert was in a large church and we could have been giving the premiere of the Three Pieces for bass clarinet and piano that I commissioned from Janet Graham, a mutual friend. They are short dramatic movements with extremes of range and dynamics for both instruments. As we played, the equally, if not more, dramatic sounds of a tremendous thunderstorm broke overhead competing with us bar for bar. I’m not sure whether Tony and I or the elements won, but it was certainly some battle! Tony himself went on to write an equally dramatic Duo for bass clarinet and piano, though there was never any such thunderous accompaniment in performance.

My image of Tony at the keyboard brings to mind some paintings of nineteenth century romantic composer/performers such as Beethoven or Liszt: slightly wild looking; slightly unkempt (!), and obviously totally committed to what they are doing. I remember his extraordinary and highly impressive piano technique, infectious laughter and grin. Our paths eventually diverged and it was not until I joined the staff of Trinity Laban where Tony taught piano, that we bumped into each other occasionally. I saw him this year after quite a long gap since his retirement, and was delighted to see that the infectious grin and laugh are still much in evidence.

You can listen to the Anthony Green at 60 CD at the wall-mounted listening station at the far end of the North Library. The library holds a number of scores of Anthony’s work, which you can find by searching for his name in the Author/Composer field on the Jerwood Library catalogue.

Anthony’s birthday concert takes place at 6.30pm on Wed 6 Jan 2016 in the Mackerras Room, Faculty of Music. A preview of the programme is available in the Item of the Month display in the Jerwood Library!

[edited 14 Dec 2015 to clarify the Three Pieces were by Janet Graham]

[1] ‘CD Reviews’. Tempo 251 (January 2010), <http://journals.cambridge.org/action/ displayIssue?decade=2010&jid=TEM&volumeId=64&issueId=251&iid=7126636 > (accessed December 2015).

Faculty of Music performances now available to stream

At present, the service in this blog post is only available to current Trinity Laban staff and students.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance eStream logo

We’re pleased to announce that TL’s Music Tech team are now making Faculty of Music performances available for online streaming via eStream. Please note that most recordings are audio only.

To browse the available recordings, check out the Student Performances Music category on eStream and enter your usual TL login (same as for Moodle). Alternatively log in to eStream via the Library Links menu on Moodle and then browse Categories > Student Performances Music.

If you know the exact performance you’re after, we recommend searching eStream for it by date (in the format dd/mm/yyyy e.g. 22/06/2015). You can also search eStream by performer/ensemble or repertoire but this is less precise – ask us in the library for advice if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Once you’re listening to a recording, in many cases you can browse the different pieces in the performance via the Chapters tab, or download the programme via the Related Media tab. Current students/staff can download the original recording file via the Details tab (Download button). You can also share a link to the recording with other students/staff via the Share button.

Screenshot showing the location of different eStream features on the page

So far recordings of several lunchtime concerts from this academic year are available, plus a selection of recordings from last academic year to whet your appetite, including a TL Symphony Orchestra concert of Rachmaninov and Mahler and a Senior Jazz Ensemble gig from the Inside Out Jazz festival.

Do get in touch with us or the Music Tech team if you have feedback on this new service. If you have technical difficulties with eStream please contact Ian Peppiatt in the Laban Library (who we are very grateful to for all his assistance in getting this up and running). Happy listening!

Making a Green Impact in the Jerwood Library

NUS Green Impact logo

NUS Green Impact is an environmental accreditation and awards scheme run by the National Union of Students. But what does it have to do with the Jerwood Library?

Well, Trinity Laban has been getting involved in Green Impact for the first time this year, with the support of the University of Greenwich. Green Impact enables student unions and teams of staff to make small changes in their institution which improve sustainability, for example by reducing waste and energy use. The Jerwood Library is one of several Green Impact teams set up this year, with Helen and Edith taking a lead in the library on green issues, and the library team aims to be awarded Bronze accreditation in this year’s assessment.

Here’s a few things we’ve been doing:

Using fewer paper coffee cups and saving money too!

Cappuccino in a reusable Keep Cup

It tastes better for being 10p cheaper!

Did you know that you now get a 10p discount on hot drinks in the cafés at the Faculty of Music and Faculty of Dance if you bring your own (clean) mug? This happened because library staff raised it as a concern at a Green Impact meeting, as we get through a lot of tea and coffee and were using a lot of paper cups as a result! Clive, Trinity Laban’s Head of Estates and Facilities, heard this at the meeting and was able to take it up with the catering company and negotiate the discount.

Transforming waste paper into notebooks

For years we’ve collected scrap paper (only printed on one side) next to our main photocopier and encouraged staff and students to reuse it for taking notes in the library. Spurred on by Green Impact, we’ve started transforming this waste paper into notebooks by adding waste card and metal spirals left over from binding student work. We’ve passed on some of these notebooks to other departments such as Reception and Room Bookings who have been very pleased to receive them!

Four notebooks made from scrap paper and spare binding materials

A few of our home-made notebooks

Greening our working environment

Tall leafy plant in a container in the Jerwood Library office

One of our new office plants

We’ve brought in a couple of plants to green our office. Plants remove pollutants from the atmosphere, give out oxygen and generally help make a healthier and more pleasant working environment. We’re hopeful that next academic year we can get funds to add a few plants to the library itself and improve the working environment for students.


What else should we do?

If you have any ideas about how we could make the library more sustainable, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. If you’re a member of staff at Trinity Laban, why not get your team/department signed up for Green Impact next academic year? We would be happy to talk to you about our experiences.

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Edith Speller

This is the first in a series of blog posts where individual members of staff at the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts talk about themselves and their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

Edith Speller

My name’s Edith Speller, I’m from a small town in north-east Scotland but have lived in England (mainly London) since I was 17, and I currently live and work in my beloved south-east London. I studied Music at Southampton University and Librarianship at City University (London). I’m a bit of a lapsed cellist and bass guitarist – nowadays I enjoy going to concerts and gigs rather than performing at them. I started working in libraries during my summer holidays at university and have never looked back!

I’ve worked in the Jerwood Library since 2007, and my current role is Library Systems and User Education Manager. This is a varied role which includes responsibility for the library’s systems, managing access to online resources, marketing the library and co-ordinating our annual programme of ‘user education’ among other things.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

Something I enjoy about my role is that there isn’t really a ‘typical’ day – what I get up to varies a lot depending on the time of year, current projects on the go and what crops up during the day. Generally I don’t have lots of meetings to attend and I don’t spend a lot of time covering the library desk so I get to manage my own time and juggle priorities.

For example, in the autumn we librarians spend a fair bit of time directly teaching students (this is the mysterious ‘user education’ in my job title) and this takes up a lot of my time. I revise our classes and develop new ones in discussion with library and academic colleagues, brief the other librarians, prepare all the necessary materials and then do my share of teaching as well! We cover things like copyright for musicians, evaluating different sources of information, planning a search for a specific topic or task, accessing and using our online subscriptions, tracking down materials held in other libraries and increasingly we’re asked to cover more general academic skills like referencing as well.

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy helping Trinity Laban students, staff and visitors at all different levels, from giving a quick tour to a brand-new undergrad on their first day here, to advising one of Trinity Laban’s governors about the latest research tools to aid them with preparing for a talk on a particular piece of music. A lot of what I do is behind the scenes which means I don’t get to see any immediate impact on students and staff, so when I do get the opportunity to help someone directly it’s all the more satisfying!

Managing the library’s social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) is also good fun as it gives me a chance to respond to student feedback online as well as sharing interesting and useful links we’ve found and promoting library services and collections.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

I spend quite a bit of time trying to make the process of accessing online resources as streamlined as possible for students and staff across both faculties at Trinity Laban. This includes linking up different systems so students/staff don’t have to keep re-entering their logins and so our QuickSearch discovery tool can link directly to specific recordings, scores and articles held in other databases. It’s still not perfect though and I welcome any feedback and ideas about making access more intuitive.

Recently I spent some time experimenting with TL’s new printers/copiers to iron out any initial quirks, write a quick start guide for students, and revise the library’s guidance on producing booklets for programme notes. As a result my phone’s photo gallery is currently full of photos of copier screens and control panels!

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

I got married in London Zoo – no, there weren’t any animals at the ceremony but the venue (a beautiful former cafe building) overlooked bear and monkey enclosures at the time!

You can contact Edith and the rest of the Jerwood Library team using the contact details on the Trinity Laban website.

Ronald Stevenson: RIP

Photo of Trinity Laban's Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding

Trinity Laban’s Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding (October 2014). Photo used with permission from Karl Lutchmayer.

We at the Jerwood Library are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Ronald Stevenson.

Stevenson was a gifted pianist and prolific composer, mainly composing songs and keyboard works. He was inspired by Busoni, and also drew on influences from Scotland (where he lived for many years) and elsewhere in his work. Malcolm MacDonald, his biographer, writes in Stevenson’s Grove entry that:

[His work] simultaneously draws inspiration from the folk music of many countries and uses the most sophisticated Western techniques.

Trinity Laban lecturer and pianist Karl Lutchmayer was close to Ronald Stevenson, and most recently visited him in October 2014 (as pictured above). Thanks to Karl, the Ronald Stevenson Society made a very generous and comprehensive donation of Ronald Stevenson scores and sheet music to the Jerwood Library. This donation has been fully catalogued and can be found on the library’s shelves. Follow this link to view a full listing of our Ronald Stevenson sheet music, or search our catalogue for Ronald Stevenson as composer and limit by type to sheet music/score.

In addition we own several recordings which feature Ronald Stevenson’s playing or his music, including this CD which combines both in one recording: his own 1964 performance of the 80-minute Passacaglia on DSCH, possibly the longest single-movement piano work in existence.

Martin Anderson describes the genesis of this piece in his obituary of Stevenson for The Independent:

He began a series of variations on DSCH (in German notation Shostakovich’s monogram gives the four notes D, E flat, C and B) and found that the music kept flowing – rather as Bach built the Goldberg Variations on a little lullaby and Beethoven his Diabelli Variations on a cocky little waltz.

If you would like to learn more about Ronald Stevenson or purchase any of his works, visit the Ronald Stevenson Society website. We also have Malcolm MacDonald’s biography of Stevenson in the library shelved at 789 STE.