26 June – Book swap and new book display

Book Swap

From Monday 26th June – Friday 7th July, we’re putting out a book swap trolley in the Library Foyer. All St George’s staff and student are welcome to pick a book to read for free (initial collection kindly donated by Library staff) and to drop off a book on the trolley for sharing with others.

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Our Summer  2016 book swap trolley.  Pick up a book, drop off a book!

Summer Remix – best of the book displays  2016-2017

Watch out for our new book display in the Library that will go out on Monday 26th June. We’re putting out the most popular books from the displays that we’ve run for this academic year, which includes a selection of fiction and non-fictional titles.

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Holiday Checklist

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Wherever you’re going to be over the summer, our online resources and other services can help you keep studying. Here are three quick steps to consider before you leave SGUL to make this as straightforward as possible.

  1. Reset your SGUL password
  2. Bring books to the library to renew
  3. Register to study in a library near you

1. Reset your SGUL password

With your SGUL login and password, you can use our journals and e-books, and online resources such as Acland’s Anatomy from anywhere with internet access.

We recommend you reset your password before you leave as this ensures you won’t need to change it again for 3 months.

If your password expires or you’ve forgotten your password, you can usually reset it from offsite. Note: you must have already set up an external email address and if you don’t receive the reset link, check your junk mail folder.

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For a refresher on finding online resources, have a look at our Hunter FAQs.
We also have step by step guide to accessing e-resources from offsite [PDF].

2. Bring books to the Library to renew

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Return and reissue your books to extend your renewal limit

If you’re borrowing items over the summer, it’s a good idea to bring them into the Library so you can return and reissue them on our self-service machines.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to renew any unreserved items a further 10 times online by logging into your library account.  This requires entering the 10-digit number under the barcode on your SGUL card, so you may want to note this number down before you go away.

3. Register to study in a library near you

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SGUL Library is a member of the SCONUL scheme, which allows our users reference access to around 170 other university libraries across the UK and Ireland. Postgraduates may also get limited borrowing rights in some cases.

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To use the scheme,  follow the steps on the SCONUL Access page. Within a few days, and provided there are no fines on your Library account, you’ll receive an email from us which you can take to your chosen library along with your SGUL ID card to apply for access.

Like SGUL, many academic institutions in the UK and worldwide use Eduroam for WiFi. If  you are near a university and have WiFi enabled on phone or laptop, you should immediately pick up the network. If you are using Eduroam for the first  time, remember to enter your full SGUL username (including @sgul.ac.uk) and password.

Finally, if you’re staying a bit closer to St George’s over the summer, our Summer Sites blog series has information about medical and other libraries you can visit in London, as well as some nearby attractions. Note: double check with the libraries for their opening hours before visiting.

Our website library.sgul.ac.uk is a great jumping off point for accessing the services and resources mentioned in this post.

Online resources that you can access offsite

If you’re not near St George’s over the summer, there are still many resources that you can access from a computer with internet access (logins may be required).

You can:

  • Find journal articles and e-books using Hunter
  • Or search for articles by on specific databases (Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PEDro etc)
  • Browse the Mobile Resources Blog to see what apps might be useful to you.
  • Get advice and guidance on using our resources, from our website Help page.
  • Log in to your library account to renew* books. Books/items can be renewed up to 10 times provided a hold isn’t put on it.

These resources are available to you all through the year.

Book Review: The Brilliant & Forever by Kevin MacNeil

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A review of The Brilliant and Forever, written by Catriona Robertson, FHSCE Liaison Support Librarian

MacNeil is a wordsmith and the novel delights with beautifully written passages and moments of unexpected humour which bring to light the human condition.

After having read and loved another one of Kevin MacNeil’s books, The Stornoway Way, I was really excited to see that his new book, The Brilliant and Forever, was shortlisted for the KU Big Read and jumped at the chance to read it. I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

The Brilliant and Forever is set on a nameless island where humans and alpacas live unharmoniously side by side. There are lots of parallels that can be drawn between the island and the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, where MacNeil grew up. Anyone from a small town can surely empathise with some of the idiosyncrasies of island life.

The novel centres around an annual book festival held on the island called The Brilliant and Forever. The festival draws an eclectic crowd of locals and literary types from further afield, who hope to make a name for themselves in this remote and strange place. We see events unfold from the perspective of our nameless protagonist, who is best friends with Macy and Archie the alpaca. Our protagonist is a contemplative man who experiences moments of clarity and calm, particularly whilst cycling around the island. As the reader, you can’t help but share his love and endearment for his companions. Macy defies conventions and is full of kooky ideas and witticisms and the funny but anxious Archie is nobly leading a fight for alpaca rights. All three are aspiring writers taking part in the literary festival.

Within the book is a series of short stories which are all individual entries for the festival. Each of these stories are unique, fantastic, humorous and heart-breaking. Even in these individual tales, MacNeil’s voice comes through. There is an unbroken thread weaving the festival stories together with themes of empathy, identity, and loneliness emerging. MacNeil also brings together folklore traditions of storytelling and the modern world.

The island can be seen as a microcosm of our society. There are many divides on the island, from the rich whitehousers to the poorer blackhousers. Black houses are traditional houses from the Scottish Highlands and Islands, which were sometimes viewed as crude and inferior structures to the newer white houses. In the book, these houses represent the privileged and less privileged echelons of society. There is also divide between humans and alpacas. There are elements of segregation on the island, and alpacas are treated as second class citizens. Archie’s entry to the B&F festival is all the more remarkable as none of the judges are alpacas, and the publishers who hold power are all human. The privileged whitehousers have a veneer of respectability and civility but they struggle with perpetual unhappiness due to their materialistic culture. There are strong undercurrents of violence and an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality amongst the whitehousers.

As I read the book I found myself at times despairing and at times full of rage for the injustices Archie and others face in the novel. Ultimately, I felt uplifted by the examples of unlikely friendships and the vision of a fair and shared community for all. I’d definitely recommend this book. If you don’t enjoy it, in the words of Archie, “it’s a jazz thing you don’t get”.


Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Brilliant & Forever, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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17 – 18 June: Work on main library entrance

*Update*

Between Saturday 17 June and Sunday 18  June the main entrance into the Library will be relocated to the side near the lift lobby, and push panels for opening the door will be installed. These measures are being put into place to prevent excess noise filtering into the Library from the Social Learning Space. The Library will be fully accessible during these times.

The current main entrance will become a fire exit only door. The Academic Skills Centre Pod, along with the PCs for resetting passwords and logging IT issues will be moved to the opposite side of the library foyer near the windows.

Book Review: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

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A review of The Penguin Lessons, written by Eduardo R. Garcia, Midwifery student

A foreign country in turmoil. An adventure. An unforgettable friendship.

The Penguin Lessons is a narrative told in first person by the author, Tom Michell, whose family members were distributed all over the world and inspired him with tales and stories about their discoveries, filling his imagination and making him familiar with these places. However, while this encouraged his adventurous spirit to take off, he was also moved by the desire to explore an unknown territory where his relatives had not been before, and hence why South America came as a perfect destination for his cause. Years later, during the 70s, an advertisement looking for staff in a Boarding School in Argentina would become his passage to his longed for adventure, fearless of the economic and political situation that whipped the country in the meantime.

What makes this personal journey especial is not only the wealth of insight into Argentina, its people and the description of a period that is long gone. The real core of the story is the friendship between Michell and Juan Salvador, or Juan Salvado: a penguin that our leading man rescued out of the jaws of death.

Michell’s action could have stayed as an anecdote in an otherwise more formal and serious narrative, however he decided to take the penguin under his arm and continue his travels, bringing Juan Salvado with him into the Boarding School, and making this the story of a lifetime. The bird, or the way that he is presented to us by Michell, makes us think of him as a character with his own personality and decision-making; he is a little fighter that serves as a main narrative thread, providing emotive and funny moments as this peculiar and almost fantastical relationship between bird and human develops.

Perfectly written, and unfolding wit and charm, Michell imagines the replies that Juan Salvado gives him through his eyes or actions, humanizing the character and making the readers understand his desire to protect the animal and why everyone around loves him, breaking the barriers that one could imagine as impregnable between a penguin and the human world. Because, at the end of the day, could a penguin belong with humans?

With the sensitivity of someone who has observed the damage that human actions could perpetrate in nature, the author inspires us to be considerate with the environment. Also, in reference to the title of the novel, Michell learns and demystifies knowledge and ideas about penguins, teaching us some tips in case, one day, we find ourselves in a similar situation and need to parent one of them.

Similar reads: Big Fish, Water for Elephants.


Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Penguin Lessons, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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