More Books – Help us to choose new books for the library

St George’s Library would like to invite all library members to put forward their suggestions for new books to add to our shelves. Whether it is medical and healthcare text books or popular science we are open to all ideas that may enhance our collection. Please complete this form between now and Friday 27th May. Or come along to the library foyer from the 18th May to the 27th May between 12pm and 1pm to complete a book suggestion form.  We will review all requests and decide what to buy on the basis of what is most in demand and most likely to benefit the collection and our library users!

NICE closing selected evidence websites

On 31 March, selected evidence services currently provided by NICE, will be closed down.

The following sites will no longer be available after Thursday 31 March, 2022:

Many of the services provided by these outgoing sites will be replaced by the HEE funded NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

The new hub provides a simple option for NHS staff to search all knowledge and library resources in one place. The hub also links to a new journals library, to key healthcare databases for in-depth searching (hosted by provider websites such as EbscoHost, Ovid and Proquest), and to other key resources such as BMJ Best Practice and UpToDate.

NICE will still host the NHS OpenAthens site which provides authentication for NHS resources.  

NHS staff can visit our NHS LibGuides or our NHS webpages to find out more about these changes, or get in touch at liaison@sgul.ac.uk with any questions.

St George’s Careers Week 2022: 7th-11th March 

This year’s Careers Week runs from Monday 7th March to Friday 11th March. The theme is ‘Fulfilling Futures’ and features a series of virtual activities to support your career planning in 2022 and beyond.  

Join us to hear from an exciting range of speakers and recent alumni, take part in workshops designed to help you find your own fulfilling future, and grab a cake on campus with the Careers and Alumni teams!  

Stay in the loop by registering for updates HERE.  

Activities include: 

Monday 7th March at 11.00am-2.00pm: Careers and cake drop-in (library breakout area) 

Meet the Careers team and guests, eat a cake, pick up careers information and have a chat about your career questions on concerns.  

Tuesday 8th March at 12.30pm-2.00pm: Emerging New Technology Careers in Healthcare (virtual event on MS Teams – join HERE) 

Technology is transforming healthcare, from treatments and training to the patient experience. Join us to hear from speakers in healthcare start-ups, using technology like VR, AI and wearable tech to improve patients’ lives and wellbeing.  

Learn about career entry routes into start-ups and live job opportunities for science and health graduates, so you can be part of this evolution! 

Wednesday 9th March at 5.00pm-6.30pm: Surviving and Thriving – from uni to work (virtual event on MS Teams – join HERE) 

You’ve told us that making the transition from university to the workplace can often be daunting, and you want to be better prepared to bridge this gap. Hear from a panel of recent graduates sharing their tips and experiences on making the switch from student to professional – offering personal stories, strategies and insights to bring you confidence and calm in finding or settling into your new job.  

Thursday 10th March at 1.00pm-2.30pm: Values for Career Choice and Wellbeing BIG READ event (virtual event – join HERE) 

Understanding our values (the things we believe our important in the way we live and work) is crucial to helping us make the right choices for a fulfilling future. Join the SGUL Careers and Counselling teams to learn ways to help you identify your values for career choice and wellbeing, and get tips on channelling your values to help you overcome the everyday mental challenges we face in in our work, study and lives.  

Friday 11th March at 12.00pm-1.00pm: Networking to explore and test your career ideas (virtual event – join HERE) 

Grow your confidence with networking as a tool for exploring your career options and gaining insights into a job or organisation to decide if they are a good fit for your values and interests. We’ll also cover ways to find and approach people in jobs of interest and use LinkedIn and social media to support career goals.  

You can find out more about Careers Week on the Careers Service pages on Canvas.  

Register for more information and updates HERE or contact the Careers Service on careers@sgul.ac.uk.  

The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot

For LGBTQ+ month, we are featuring the story of Mary Ann(e) Talbot, or John Taylor, a patient at St George’s around 1800, who was known as a cross-dressing soldier. We don’t know how they identified themselves, but their story is often featured as part of transgender history. This blogpost was written by St George’s Archivist, Dr Juulia Ahvensalmi.

In 1906, St George’s Hospital Gazette, newsletter for the staff and students of the hospital and the medical school published between 1892 and 1974, included an article titled ‘The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot’. The article detailed the life of Mary Ann (or Mary Anne) Talbot, also known as John Taylor, who was a patient at St George’s around 1800, and was based on Talbot’s autobiography, initially published in Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum: Or, Magazine of Remarkable Characters in 1804.

‘Mary Anne Talbot, a woman who passed as a male soldier and sailor. Engraving by G. Scott, 1804’. Wellcome Collection.

In the Gazette article, her life is briefly sketched from her birth at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1778, being orphaned and taken under the guardianship of a Mr Sucker aged 16, leading to the events that were to determine the rest of her life:

‘Here, she became acquainted with a Captain Essex Bowen, whom she accompanied to London, and by whom shortly afterwards, under threat of being deserted, she was induced to assume the dress of a drummer-boy and the name of John Taylor, and to accompany his regiment to the West Indies.

After suffering many hardships there, the regiment was ordered to Spain, and in the siege of Valenciennes, her evil genius, Captain Bowen, was killed and she herself received two slight wounds which were cured without medical aid ‘by the assistance of a little basilican, lint, and a few Dutch drops’

There is a lot packed in those two paragraphs. ‘Accompanied’? ‘Induced to assume’? ‘Her evil genius’? From this account, it is unclear how much agency she had over the events.

(As a little aside on the medication: in traditional Indian Auyrvedan medicine, the so-called ‘holy basil’ or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) has been used for various medical complaints, including to treat insect and snake bites; this is separate from the variety used as a culinary herb. ‘Lint’ is a surgical dressing, and ‘Dutch drops’ refer to an ointment made from oil of turpentine or a tincture of guaiagum (rather than Dutch liquorice), chiefly used as a diuretic, but also for dressing wounds.)

The article goes on to describe her desertion from the regiment, travelling on foot through France, employment by a French privateer (essentially a pirate sanctioned by a government), capture and work as a ‘powder-monkey’, manning the naval artillery guns on a British war ship, a job in which she is severely wounded. After her recovery, she takes part in Sir Sidney Smith’s expedition during the Napoleonic Wars, is imprisoned in France for 18 months where she ‘incidentally learned to weave gold wire from a fellow prisoner’.

‘The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot’ by W.F.B. [unknown author]. St George’s Hospital Gazette 1906, Vol XIV Issue 3, pp. 57-60. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

A prisoner exchange between the countries enables her to take up on an offer at Calais to travel to New York on an American merchant ship, overseeing the cargo. We are told that the skipper’s niece fell in love with her, ‘and at parting an affecting scene is related to have taken place between them, probably with little regard for the truth’ (that is the one bit the writer finds unbelievable in the whole story?).

Back in England, she escapes ‘the dangers of a press-gang’ (the capture of men into the military or navy by compulsion) by revealing her gender. She continues to wear men’s clothes, however, despite a strict court order telling her to ‘break … the masculine habit’, and in her autobiography she notes that she ‘frequently dressed .. and took excursions as a sailor’.

After this, it seems her life went from bad to worse. Disabled by her wounds, she was also said to have acquired ‘habits of intemperance’ during her naval career. After a spell at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, she turns to jewellery-making, the skill she had learned in the French prison, but after her wounds begin to suppurate she seeks help from St George’s Hospital. Her stay at St George’s lasts seven months, a time of ‘tedious confinement’ under the supervision of surgeons Robert Keate and John Griffiths.

St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. Engraving (Wilkins, William, 1778-1839); and ‘London slums, Gustave Dore. Wellcome Collection.

Prior to the introduction of the NHS in 1948, St George’s was a charity hospital, with few conveniences and luxuries beyond the strictly medical attention given to the patients. Despite its location at Hyde Park Corner, most of the patients came from the nearby slums of Westminster and Soho. Saving measures at the hospital at this time led to cheese and butter being removed from patients’ diet, to be replaced with milk porridge or gruel.

Social work at the hospital was conducted by volunteers under the umbrella of the Almoners, who provided guidance and assistance to patients. Mary Ann Talbot’s own account names Emma Raynes, who, besides attending to her whilst she was confined in her hospital bed, supported her and helped her find lodgings after being discharged.

She also notes that students took part in providing for her stay, and that she ‘procured some little necessaries from a subscription made by the young gentlemen pupils who attended the hospital’.

Not all of her encounters with the students were pleasant, however. She recounts how one of these students, called Saife or Scaife

‘(I imagine) in joke, offered me half-a-crown a week while I lived to have my body when dead. However he might mean it I knew not, but it procured such an aversion to physic in me that while I remained under care I would take no more medicine, fearing it would hasten my death; and I remarked my wound healed faster than before’

‘Saife’ was probably James Safe, who enrolled as a pupil at St George’s in 1798, and who, according to St George’s student records and the records of the Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison, became an army surgeon, and died at Trinidad in 1817. His widow Eliza appears in the Legacies of British Slavery database as a beneficiary of compensation awarded for the enslaved people on an estate in Trinidad in 1835.

Entry for James Safe in the student register, pupil under Robert Keate in 1798. Register of Pupils and House Officers 1756-1837, SGHMS/4/1/16. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

He may not have been exactly joking, either, when he offered money for Mary Ann’s body after her death: the supply of cadavers for students was meagre, but they were required for anatomy lessons. The only legal source for bodies in medical schools was from executed criminals (since the 1752 Murder Act), which led to short supply in anatomy schools and the proliferation of bodysnatching. William Burke and William Hare famously even resorted to murdering people to keep up with the demand in 19th century Edinburgh.

It was not until 1832 that the Anatomy Act decreed that the ‘unclaimed’ bodies of paupers, who had died in institutions such as hospitals or workhouses, could be used for dissection.

Dissection room at St George’s, 1860 with students and staff, including Henry Gray, author of Gray’s Anatomy. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

Mary Ann was, however, did not end up in the St George’s dissection room. Her life following her successful discharge from the hospital appears to have been similarly colourful, varying from being sued for wearing hair powder (which was heavily taxed and required a specifically bought licence) to confronting her former guardian to a tragic story of her child minders drowning her baby (the first time the baby is mentioned!). Queen Caroline was said to have felt so sorry for her that she was given an annual grant of £50. She was said to have become an actress, before falling into ‘squalid and vicious poverty’.

The article in the Gazette ends, rather piously, with

‘In what manner and place Mary Ann Talbot met her death the writer has been unable to ascertain, but it is probable that both were such as would be amply sufficient to deter any other ‘lady’ from following her example’

Life for a disabled woman in 19th century London was not easy. Mary Ann’s life story was her only currency, and this was what she was attempting to use when she recounted her life to Robert S. Kirby for his magazine popular for its stories of unusual characters and ‘freaks’.

She had lived in Kirby’s household for several years prior to this as a servant, and is in several sources stated to have had a long-term ‘female companion’, although we know nothing of her identity. Mary Ann notes in the account that she was supported whilst imprisoned by ‘the constant attention of a female who lived with me some time previous to my being arrested … she has remained a constant friend in every change that I have since experienced’.

After her death only a few years later, in 1808, Kirby published a fuller account of her life, titled ‘The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot in the name of John Taylor, A Natural Daughter of the Late Earl Talbot’. She was 30 years old when she died.

‘The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Ann Talbot, in the name of John Taylor’. Printed for R.S. Kirby, 1809. Source: Digital Commons, University of Nebraska.

But was her story true? The records do not stack up, according to some researchers, although others argue that even if the details are not presented entirely accurately, the story as a whole might still have some factual basis. Whether or not the story was fabricated, or partly so, it certainly roused the interest of her contemporaries – and still continues to stir debate.

Want to find out more about St George’s history and archives? Check out our website or email us archives@sgul.ac.uk.

Festive feedback

Thank you to everyone who added their comments to the Festive Feedback Tree that was located in the library during December 2021. We enjoyed reading your comments about the service, and your wishes and hopes for the new year.

You said – our response

More fiction and non-science related books . . . . just because we are a healthcare uni, doesn’t mean books can’t help us grow”

Due to space limitations, it is not possible to dramatically increase the size of the fiction collection. However, we have a collection of general fiction, LGBTQ+, and Black History titles, and are happy to receive specific book suggestions to add to our ‘reading for pleasure’ section.

No wobbly tables”

We are sorry to hear about the wobbly tables. We will be undertaking checks to ensure all the tables are stable.

“More group study room please!”

We know the group discussion rooms are popular, and are currently exploring options for increasing the number of these.

“Can we have study break passes for longer than 30mins”

Study space is at a premium at certain times of the year. Reserving spaces for longer than 30mins means others are potentially denied a space. 30mins is enough time to have a comfort break and grab something to eat.

“We love our Library – please bring back the blankets”

Please bring back the blankets”

During the COVID pandemic, the sharing of blankets was seen as a transmission risk, and removing them was the responsible thing to do. We keep this in constant review, and we hope to bring them back in due course.

Sign up to one of our free skills sessions

Did you know that alongside sessions built into the curriculum, the library offers a rolling programme of open skills sessions you can sign-up to to help you make the most of library resources?

Our courses, still currently online, range from focusing on key databases such as Medline and CINAHL to find health literature to support your learning, assignments, dissertations, practice or research, to use of specialist resources such as RefWorks to help you manage your references. You can learn in-depth advanced search techniques to underpin systematic reviews and, new for 2022, we are offering sessions on the Web of Science platform which, uniquely, provides a range of multi-disciplinary searchable citation indexes- ideal for researchers wishing to track literature in their fields.

All these databases, and more, are available through our A-Z databases page, via NHS OpenAthens accounts for our NHS members or network logins for University members; targetted sessions are available for all our key audiences including NHS staff, researchers, academic staff and, of course, students.

Here’s what people have said about our courses:

I am very happy for having this opportunity to learn such an important skill from a great teacher!

Found the interactive part of the session ( ie doing my own searches) very helpful

To see the latest programme and book-on, visit our Library training calendar today or email liaison@sgul.ac.uk for more information.

Healthcare evidence and knowledge now a simple search away

A new NHS Knowledge and Library Hub (the ‘Hub’), coordinated by Health Education England (HEE) and NHS librarians, now makes it easier to find journal articles and other evidence resources across NHS England.

The Hub is a ‘one-stop’ gateway which, for the first time nationally, connects NHS staff and learners in England seamlessly to articles, reports and other evidence-based resources all in one place.

You can access and search the Hub at https://bit.ly/NHSKLH, and sign-in with your NHS OpenAthens username and password to take full advantage of time-saving benefits, including:

  • Cross-searching across a wide range of databases to locate journal articles and e-publications such as reports and conference proceedings
  • One click access to PDFS where available, or request a copy via our NHS Article Request service
  • Searches that can be carried across to clinical decision support tools such as Uptodate, BMJ Best Practice or the Royal Marsden Manual and even selected e-books
  • Access to individual databases such as Medline, CINAHL and Embase for advanced literature searching
  • A national NHS system available to you wherever you work in NHS England via your NHS OpenAthens account, connecting you to library services such as our NHS Articles Request Service.

Try a search today or learn more about how to make the most of the ‘Hub’ with our short user guide.

The Hub is an exciting new HEE initiative, designed with all NHS staff  and learners in mind- please send any queries or feedback on the ‘Hub’ to liaison@sgul.ac.uk, so we can keep working with our providers to enhance and improve this new service.

If you have any questions, please contact Karen John-Pierre, NHS and Liaison Manager at St George’s Library on kjohn@sgul.ac.uk

SGUL’s Open Research New Year’s Resolutions

It’s 2022 and we have some New Year’s open research resolutions to help you find open services and make your research more findable and accessible. We shared them on Twitter throughout last week, and in case you missed any, we’ve collected them all together here to give you some ideas for what you could do to make your research more open in 2022. 

Ddecorative image, text reads

To make your research practices more open in 2022 you could… 

  1. look at this jargon busting poster on Open Research Demystified: 10 Things You Need to Know About Open Research. We presented this poster at Research Day in 2019 – did you see it there? 
  1. create records in the CRIS on acceptance for new publications and upload the accepted manuscripts. We’ll then be able to make your articles open access via SORA for anyone to access without needing to pay (publisher restrictions permitting). 
  1. read up on finding existing research data: here’s eleven quick tips for finding research data, published in PLoS Computation Biology, which will help you find and assess data to use in your own research. 
  1. install the CORE Discovery browser extension to help find open access copies of paywalled research articles. Haven’t heard of the largest aggregator of open access research papers? Here’s a short video about CORE
  1. get up to speed with The State of Open Data Report 2021 for perspectives from around the world on open data, data quality and curation, and more. 
  1. learn more about how open science is gaining global momentum. As a starting point, you could take a look at this post from cOAlition S welcoming the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.  
  1. link up your ORCID and Figshare accounts to connect your research outputs to your unique identifier: see Figshare’s help page on how to sync ORCID to find out how. (Don’t have an ORCID yet? Register here – it’s quick, easy and free!) 
  1. investigate the options for corresponding authors to publish open access at no direct cost. SGUL has signed up to a variety of publisher deals for free or reduced cost open access publication – for more details and to see which publishers are included, see our page on Paying Open Access Fees
  1. upload your supplementary data to the SGUL data repository. For help with this, see Figshare’s help article on publishing a dataset at the same time as the associated paper
  1. start a conversation with your colleagues and collaborators on how you can make our research practices more open. You could think about publishing via an open research platform (such as Wellcome Open Research), or consider what other types of research outputs you create and could make available (and get credit for), eg datasets, protocols, code, posters and presentations. 

And don’t forget to keep an eye on our twitter feed for information about open research events throughout the year. 

Any questions? Get in touch with us: 

We look forward to hearing from you. 

Jenni Hughes, Research Publications Assistant 

Jennifer Smith, Research Publications Librarian 

Liz Stovold, Research Data Support Manager 

Free training sessions January- March programme

Decorative image of a person using a laptop and mobile phone at a desk. There is a coffee cup and pair of glasses on the desk.

All of our online training sessions are completely free and open to NHS staff, academics, researchers and students as indicated.

Booking is easy- identify a time below you can attend and visit our calendar at https//sgul.libcal.com/calendar/infoskills to sign up. Or, to arrange a bespoke departmental, group or 1-2-1 session, email liaison@sgul.ac.uk

Finding the evidence (NHS staff and placement students)January: Tuesday 18th 11:30am – 1:00pm, Thursday 27th 12:00pm – 1:30pm  

February: Wednesday 9th 12:30pm – 2:00pm, Thursday 17th 1:00pm – 2:30pm  

March: Friday 11th12:00 – 1.30pm, Tuesday 29th 11:30am – 1:00pm
Introduction to Web of Science
(Students, academics or research staff)
March: Wednesday 9th 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Literature searching for your dissertation,
review or research project (Students, academics or research staff)  
January: Thursday 20th 11:00am – 12.30pm

February: Wednesday 23rd 11:00 – 12:30pm

March: Tuesday 22nd  11:00am – 12.30pm
NHS Library Induction
(NHS staff and placement students)
January: Thursday 20th 1:00pm – 1:30pm

February: Wednesday 16th 12:30pm – 1:00pm

March: Tuesday 22nd 12:00pm – 12:30pm
RefWorks (Students, academic or research staff)February: Thursday 24th  12:00pm – 1:00pm
March: Tuesday 15th 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Systematic reviews: finding
and managing the evidence (All)
January: Wednesday 19th 1:00pm – 3:00pm

February: Tuesday 22nd 11:00am – 1:00pm

March: Wednesday 23rd 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Visit https//sgul.libcal.com/calendar/infoskills to sign up to any of these sessions

Holiday Library Update

As more of our students start to drift away from St George’s for the winter break, we’ve put together a quick reminder of some of the resources and study support you can always access from the library, no matter where you are. (Of course, we hope you all get a well-earned break as well!)

1. Find e-books and articles in Hunter

You don’t need to visit the library to use our resources; a large amount of what we offer is online in the form of e-books and electronic journal articles. You can find both through Hunter – if you’re offsite, you’ll just need your SGUL username and password to access them.

(See below to reset a forgotten or expired SGUL password.)

  • select Books and more from the dropdown menu to search for books and e-books. Then choose Online Resources on the left to limit your results to e-books only.
  • select Articles and more from the dropdown menu to search for e-journal articles. Find a specific article using the first few words from the article title, or use search terms to find all available articles on your topic.

Our short video shows you how to log in to access e-books and articles from offsite. There’s also help and a troubleshooting guide on our website.

View our video guide to Accessing resources offsite

Forgotten/expired password?

If you’ve forgotten your SGUL password or it’s expired, you can reset it here. (Please note, you’ll need to have registered an alternate email address to use this link – if you haven’t done this before, email studentlifecentre@sgul.ac.uk to set one up.)

If you’ve registered an alternate address but still can’t reset your password, email ITAV@sgul.ac.uk.

2. Discover online learning tools

Also accessible with your SGUL login are online learning tools – including BMJ Learning, JoVE Science Education, Acland’s Video Atlas of Anatomy and more – that use video, quizzes and other interactive features to enhance your study. Two of our newest resources are highlighted below, or you can view a full list here.

Complete Anatomy is a 3D anatomy app using models and videos, with an extensive library of structures and muscle movements.

Download the app to your device then activate it using the SGUL activation code – you’ll find full instructions in the SGUL Library Canvas module (requires login).


BMJ Learning features hundreds of accredited, peer-reviewed learning modules in text, video and audio formats.

On your first visit you’ll need to sign in with your SGUL login, then create a BMJ personal account. After this, signing in with your SGUL login will take you to your personalised BMJ Learning homepage. Find more information here.

3. Find help with assignments and referencing

If you’re working on an assignment, project or dissertation over the break, we have books that can help with the planning and writing process – including e-books that you can access from anywhere. Click on the Hunter searches below to see what’s available. (Use the Online Resources filter to the left of the results to see e-books only.)

You can also find help with referencing. For a quick overview, the Referencing section in your course-specific LibGuide is a good first stop – find the guide for your course in this list.

For more in-depth guidance on the Harvard referencing system used at St George’s, have a look at our Referencing LibGuide, or the Referencing Essentials Unit in the Library Module in Canvas (requires login). For Vancouver referencing, you can find guidance in the online version of Cite Them Right – just make sure to select Vancouver as you view the sections.

Your liaison librarians can also offer one-to-one advice on all your research and referencing queries. Email your query at any time to liaison@sgul.ac.uk. Even over the Christmas break we can respond to queries until 23rd December, and again from 4th January when the library reopens.