The Big Read has arrived at St George’s

The idea behind the Big Read is for everyone at St George’s to come together over a shared reading experience. This year The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was chosen and every first-year student receives their own SGUL copy of the book.

The Big Read project centres around making students, returning or brand-new to St George’s, feel welcome. It will help those of you who are feeling slightly nervous about being in a whole new environment, possibly away from home for the very first time and meeting lots of new people. As everyone takes part in this big book club, you have a conversation starter ready-made.

This year marks the first time St George’s University has its very own Big Read Project and to celebrate the occasion, Library staff have got together to discuss Harold’s pilgrimage over a cup of tea and a biscuit (or two). We had a lively discussion about Joyce’s novel and as in any good book club, we found that we all had slightly (or very) different opinions on the protagonists and key themes.

Below you can read our (spoiler-free) thoughts on the novel.

Beth, Liaison Support Librarian (IMBE)

It’s easy to see why The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was picked for this year’s Big Read title: it’s packed full of big topics that readers from all backgrounds will be able to relate to in some way. As the plot unfolds, it tackles (among many others) themes of grief and loss, loneliness, kindness, addiction and friendship. It’s an enjoyable easy read too, despite some difficult subject matter, as we accompany Harold on his pilgrimage across the UK. When I originally sat down to gather my thoughts for this post, I found myself wondering whether this had quite as profound an impact on me as previous Big Read selections. However, I was forced to re-examine that opinion after getting involved with our staff book group – this is certainly a story that deserves some unpacking and discussion. I’ve found myself revisiting and reappraising the way in which this book tackles these big issues and actually, it appears it’s definitely left its mark.

Anne, Liaison Support Librarian (Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education)

The themes in Harold Fry are universal to the human experience and include loss, regret, dysfunctional relationships and ageing. However, for me the power of the narrative lies in the portrayal of seemingly more minor topics, such as the importance of spending time outside in nature, mindfulness, and connecting with others regardless of how different they are from us. Along with Harold, the reader learns, or rather is reminded, that we are all unique and yet the same. We are often struggling with very similar problems, but ordinary human life is also full of wonders and human connection, which are always around us if we take a minute to appreciate them.

While the book unquestionably addresses really big topics, and can be emotionally challenging at times, it is a real page-turner.

Jenni, Research Publications Assistant

I thought that the portrayal of the beginning of Harold’s pilgrimage was very effective: he increases the length of his journey to post his letter by increments, unable to truly admit to himself that he doesn’t want to return to the home that represents his emotional stagnation, and once the idea of the pilgrimage occurs to him, giving him the excuse to keep going, he seizes on it. His inability to think about the practical reality of his pilgrimage, or to make any active plans other than to continue it, worked well as a mirror for his inability to entirely face his own emotions and past all in one go: like his pilgrimage, he has to tackle it piece by piece, at an angle, without admitting that’s what he’s doing until he’s already doing it

Dan, Information Assistant

I enjoyed Rachel Joyce’s book. There are many themes running through like isolation, grief and loneliness. However, my favourite chapter in the book is when Harold on his pilgrimage meets with Martina a qualified Doctor from another country and although she has problems of her own to address she nonetheless dresses his wounds from excessive walking and takes care of him for a few days when he clearly is exhausted.  It highlights one of the major themes in the book which is the unexpected kindness of strangers when you most need it.

Michelle, Research Data Manager, had a different take on the novel

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is an inspiring book about illness, suffering and loss, and how these expressions of human existence transcend the various skins that hold them. Unfortunately, for a book about the fragility of skin and the universality of the human condition, Harold is hard to relate to. Harold is of a particular time and place and even as he challenges his own lens he is caught within them, making this a conflicting read at times.

At the end of the Library’s own book club, we couldn’t agree whether the protagonists have more to celebrate than to mourn or whether Harold’s journey has a “happy end” or not, so get reading today and join the discussion on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter today.

Previous years’ books

Organised since 2015, Big Read has been growing every year. In 2018, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine was picked, which proved very popular with Library staff. This and previous years’ short-listed titles are available on loan from the Library, as well as all the winning titles of course. You can read our thoughts on the books from previous years by clicking on The Big Read tag.

Current students and SGUL staff can pick up a copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry from the help desk in the Library.

Author’s visit

Join us on 6th November for the Big Read Author talk at St George’s where Rachel Joyce will speak about her book and signs your copy! Find out more here. Booking is essential!

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Library Induction Tours

Yesterday’s Postgraduate Fresher’s Fayre was a great success – we met over 100 new and returning St George’s students to tell them about their new online induction (SGUL login required) and the fantastic prizes they could win for completing it!

The Library’s stand at Fresher’s Fayre – we’ll be back on the 23rd September for more!

To complement our welcome talk and online induction we’ll be running tours of the Library where you’ll get the opportunity to meet one of our Liaison Librarians and explore our study spaces. Everyone is welcome and there’s no need to book – tours will be leaving from outside Blossom at the following times:

Wednesday 28th August: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Thursday 29th August: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Friday 30th August: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Tuesday 3rd September: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Wednesday 4th September: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Tuesday 10th September: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Wednesday 11th September: 10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Tours will depart from the seating area surrounding Blossom the cow.

If you can’t make any of these dates, we’ll be running more tours at the end of September for our new undergraduate intake, so expect to see some more dates published on the blog nearer the time.

In the meantime, your can familiarise yourself with the Library and its rules, services and resources by checking out our Library Essentials Libguide.

If you have any questions about the inductions, tours or using the Library, you can email us at liaison@sgul.ac.uk

St George’s Library Prize Draw!

Every year St George’s Library welcomes our new undergraduates and postgraduates with a Library induction: this year we’re changing things up… we’re moving our Library Inductions online!

As well as meeting your Liaison Librarians at your welcome lectures, all new starters will be enrolled onto the SGUL Library module in Canvas, your VLE at St George’s. Here you’ll be able to access course-specific information about Library resources, teaching and learning materials and most importantly for now, your Online Library Induction. You can also find a link to it here (SGUL Login required).

As keen new St George’s students, we hope you’ll be interested in exploring the Library module regardless, but appreciate that an incentive or two might entice you! Therefore, any student who completes their online induction will be automatically entered into a very generous prize draw…

Local businesses have come out in force to show their support for St George’s, so you could be in with a chance of winning the following:

Prize list:

To enter the draw, make sure you complete your online Library induction before Monday 14th October 2019.

Entries received after this date will not be eligible for prizes.

You can also get a bonus entry if you follow us on social media:

@sgullibrary on Instagram
@sgullibrary on Twitter
SGUL Library on Facebook

The Library uses social media to give you the latest information about Library services, as well as drawing your attention to relevant news items and articles relevant to the medical and health field.


Terms and Conditions: St George’s Library Prize Draw

  1. The competition will run from Tuesday 27th August 2019 until Monday 14th October 2019.
  2. The prize draw is open to St George’s, University of London and Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education (Kingston University and St George’s, University of London partnership) students only.
  3. Entry to the prize draw is restricted to one entry per student, per channel. Multiple entries from any participant will be disqualified.
  4. Winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries once the competition has closed on Monday 14th October 2019.
  5. Winners will be contacted via their SGUL email address, or via the social media channel they used to enter the draw. Please be sure to check your emails / direct messages.
  6. The prize can only be collected in person from St George’s Library on production of a valid St George’s University ID card.
  7. Prizes must be collected within one week of notification.
  8. Prizes are not exchangeable, nor are they redeemable for cash or other prizes.
  9. The Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to.
  10. Photos of the prize winners will be taken to be used in publicity on Library social media channels.
  11. One prize draw will take place, unless the prizes are not collected by the deadline, in which case uncollected prizes will be redrawn (once only).
  12. Prize list is subject to change, depending on availability.

*Approximate value. Vouchers are for 2 x burgers, 2 x sides and 2 x drinks per voucher.

Pop-up Library: Thursday 7th March 12-2pm

WBD social media

To mark World Book Day on Thursday 7th March, we’re hosting a lunchtime pop-up library outside the University reception. Come by the stall between 12pm and 2pm to borrow books, hear library staff book suggestions or make your own. We’ll have a range of books from fiction to medical bestsellers, with a particular focus on female writers in fiction and science to celebrate Academic Book Week (4-9 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March). Make sure you bring along your ID card to borrow a book.

St George’s Library Then & Now: 1998

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Libraries Week takes place between the 8th – 13th October 2018. Over the course of the week we’ll be exploring our Archives to look at how the library has – and hasn’t! – changed over time.


In this final retrospective look at the Library, we’ve delved into a really interesting commemorative brochure produced by library staff to celebrate 21 years of being based in Tooting.

Back in the early 1990s staff were singing the praises of their “several CD-ROM machines, word processing facilities and a scanner” which warranted instating an enquiries desk where library staff could be on hand to answer IT related questions.

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It’s interesting to note that even with the differences and improvements in technology over the past 20 years, many of the enquiries that helpdesk staff answered back in 1998 will be very familiar to users and helpdesk staff today!

Needless to say the type of enquiries facing the library staff are mainly computer related. The most common ones are

‘My Printer is not working’
‘The printer has stopped printing half way through’
I can’t open my file on the computer’

The rest of the commemorative brochure makes for an interesting read: it captures a pivotal point in the development of modern academic libraries as the way we access information began to rapidly change. Technology has streamlined many library services whilst also generating new challenges – especially over the two decades that have passed since the publication of this brochure.

For example, the move from print to electronic journals has had a fairly dramatic impact on the physical layout of the library. With most journal subscriptions now online, we no longer require the rows and rows of shelving to accommodate print copies and can offer far more study spaces, which is of real benefit to our users.

 

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The Library now manages access to thousands of journal titles, far in excess of what we ever could have accommodated physically in print, giving staff and students at St George’s access to far more content than before, with the added convenience that in most cases it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time.

However, with online journals the Library typically licenses the content for a specific period of time, whereas with print journals we owned the volumes and issues of the journals we purchased. Our Journals team must negotiate the terms and conditions of these licences with our suppliers each year, making these transactions far more complex.

Supporting access to online subscriptions also requires maintaining a number of key systems, such as our link resolver, which generates the links through to the full text of articles we have access to; either from search results in Hunter or our other healthcare databases.

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The Library also needs to manage the process of authentication: whereby journal sites identify a user is from St George’s and entitled to access that particular resource. The Journals team work hard to make this process as smooth as possible and provide the necessary support for users where difficulties arise. Responding to the pace of change as technologies develop is a real challenge for library staff and will undoubtedly continue to shape the academic library of the future.

On a final note, the brochure also offers interesting snippets of social history too. Present day staff thankfully have much more input over their own sartorial choices!

1977-98 Library Brochure trousers

…and female staff are now permitted to wear trousers for the task.

 


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If you are interested receiving updates from the Library and the St George’s Archives project, you can subscribe to the Library Blog using the Follow button or click here for further posts from the Archives.

 

 

St George’s Library Then & Now: 1977

LibWeekRGB
Libraries Week takes place between the 8th – 13th October 2018. Over the course of the week we’ll be exploring our Archives to look at how the library has – and hasn’t! – changed over time.


In this exploration of the Archives, we’re looking at some of the physical incarnations of the Library throughout St George’s illustrious history. Today the hospital and medical school are located in Tooting, but until the 1970s were situated in central London at Hyde Park Corner.

The Library at Hyde Park had many traditional features: lots of dark wooden furniture, high shelving, and books behind glass cabinets. There also appear to be desks perched very precariously on the balcony below the lovely domed ceiling, which today might cause all manner of health and safety headaches.

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As St George’s moved to Tooting in 1976, the Library settled into a more modern looking space. These photos, from 1977, give us a sepia-toned glimpse into the Library as it was then: slightly more accessible shelving, hundreds of print journals, much lower ceilings and a slightly sterile looking staff office. That said, the black and white image in the slideshow below shows a much brighter, wider study space that isn’t that dissimilar to the library back in 2012, before our last refurbishment.

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Do you have any pictures taken in or around the library from your time studying at St George’s? Whether it was last year or 20 years ago, we’d love it if you could share them with us!

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If you are interested receiving updates from the Library and the St George’s Archives project, you can subscribe to the Library Blog using the Follow button or click here for further posts from the Archives.

 

 

St George’s Library Then & Now: 1953

LibWeekRGB
Libraries Week takes place between the 8th – 13th October 2018. Over the course of the week we’ll be exploring our Archives to look at how the library has – and hasn’t! – changed over time.


The Library gets a very short mention in the 1953 St George’s Hospital Medical School prospectus:

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The Library, which is under the supervision of an Honorary Librarian, contains current textbooks and standards works of reference in Medicine, Surgery and allied subjects. It is open daily from 9.30 am to 8 pm, except on Saturdays, when it is closed at 12.30 pm. A book is kept by the Librarian for students to enter the title of any publication they may wish to be added to the Library.

These days, we’re a little less shy about promoting the variety of services and resources that are on offer to all our users, from traditional books and journals to databases, apps, point-of-care tools and visual e-resources. We’ve developed a series of LibGuides to introduce you to topics such as literature searching and reference management and well as subject guides that will help you find, manage and evaluate the information you need for your course.

We also offer embedded and bookable training sessions and drop-in services, run a literature searching service for NHS/SGUL staff and support researchers through the research life cycle, including Research Data Management and Open Access publishing. We still welcome resource suggestions from users, although through much more convenient web forms.

In short, we run a very busy service! We certainly need more hands on deck than our 1950s counterparts and the rapid technological advances of the late 20th century have helped to both alleviate traditional library duties and create new ones. We certainly wouldn’t be able to run any of the above services without the support of our wonderful helpdesk staff, who are on hand between 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday. While these are not dissimilar staffing hours to the library of the 1950s, the study space and computer rooms are now open 24/7 during term times. We wonder what the Librarian (and Honorary Librarian) would have thought of that.

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If you are interested receiving updates from the Library and the St George’s Archives project, you can subscribe to the Library Blog using the Follow button or click here for further posts from the Archives.