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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

St George’s Library Then & Now: 1941

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.


This excerpt from a 1941 edition of St George’s Hospital Gazette tells the tale of a very dedicated librarian who kept the library collection intact during the Blitz.

SGH Gazette 1941

Following bomb-damage to this part of the School in the early months of the year, all books were evacuated to the Small Lecture Theatre. With the books in residence the Theatre could not be used by lecturers; the Large Lecture Theatre, like the Library, was open to the sky and the weather, and also unusable. However, this unfortunate predicament could not be helped, and while the books were there the appalling amount of brick-dust and slime that coated the covers and clogged the pages was removed by the Librarian, Miss Bond. By July 16th, the damage to the building was repaired, and on that date the Library once again resumed its part in Medical School activities.

Many books now bear honourable scars, but very few were lost by enemy action: the Library is incomplete, however, as there are still some volumes at Luddington House.

Members of the Medical School are indebted to Miss Bond who, almost unaided, rendered fit for use, replace and re-catalogued all the books now on their accustomed shelves.

The conservation and repair of our print books is still very much part and parcel of library life and mostly takes place behind the scenes. While ‘brick-dust and slime’ aren’t high on our list of worries in 2018, spillages are usually the cause of irreparable damage – leaky bottles in backpacks being a particular culprit.

On average, our collection teams repair around 8 – 10 books per week; using specialist glues and tapes to restore pages and damaged spines. Our popular Oxford Handbooks are regular candidates for repair – their signature plastic covers are resistant to glue and have a tendency to break away from the spines with regular use.

One of our Information Assistants, Georgina Coles, takes us through a simple book repair in the images below:

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Cataloguing and processing books so that they are ready for the shelves is another important part of managing our collection. While we thankfully haven’t had to re-catalogue any bomb-damaged books, our Collections Team have been kept very busy this summer accommodating the large volume of radiography resources being transferred from Kingston University Library. This has involved a large-scale weeding project to remove old and rarely used items from the shelves, before reclassifying the radiography books under our classification scheme. The team have so far processed over 670 books and there are more to follow!

We think it’s lovely that Miss Bond’s efforts were recorded in this way – managing the library in some extraordinarily difficult circumstances is no mean feat. We’re left wondering if there are any other mentions of her or other dedicated librarians in the Archives…

 


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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: 1894

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.


This rather damning excerpt from an 1894 edition St George’s Hospital Gazette highlights a perennial problem for libraries: managing noise.

SGH Gazette 1894

“If we were asked by a reading student to choose some familiar quotation for each room in the School, that to our mind most suited to the Library would be, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” For reading in the Library, becomes, at certain seasons of the day, a matter of impossibility. We cannot even hope that our present admonition will result in improvement. Swing doors will slam, loquacious students will converse in stage whispers, pellets will fall from choreic hands, even though an Embryo dwells in our midst. Yet there is room for great improvement without attaining complete perfection.”

We’re not short of ‘loquacious’ students these days either, but in the intervening 124 years methods of teaching and learning have changed which libraries have evolved to support. One of our ‘great improvements’ to the library has been zoning the space to cater for a variety of study preferences: from quiet, independent reading to collaborative group work.

Arguably, we’ve not attained ‘complete perfection’ either. While you won’t find us ‘sssshh-ing’ users these days (a stereotype library workers aren’t always fond of), we are still on hand to politely remind users to keep the noise to an acceptable level.

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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.

 

 

Libraries Week: 8th – 13th October 2018

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Libraries Week takes place between the 8th – 13th October and this year’s campaign is focused on the concept of wellbeing. Over the course of the week, libraries across the country will be showcasing the ways in which they bring communities together and support their users with their mental health.

2018-Library-facts-for-Libraries-WeekSo how can using the library affect your wellbeing?

– Research has shown that public library users are happier and have higher life satisfaction compared to non-users. Regularly using your local library is also associated with good general health: when valued medically, library engagement saves the NHS just under £30 million a year.

– When it comes to academic libraries (like ours), research into student library usage has indicated that there is a strong correlation between high library engagement and better degree results.

– Libraries are, of course, homes to extensive collections of books. While we can’t always guarantee that reading for study will be a stress-free experience, reading for pleasure has been linked to a reduction in stress and the symptoms of depression.

– Reading fiction is also associated with higher levels of empathy and improved relationships with others, with 76% of adults suggesting that reading improves their life.

By offering a safe space for reading/studying and facilitating access to fiction as well as specialised textbooks, academic libraries like St George’s have an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing of our users – whether they are studying or working within the university or the hospital.

For a taster of the types of wellbeing resources we have on offer, take a look at our Health and Wellbeing collection below. The selection covers topics such as managing stress, building resilience, and mindfulness to support you at work or while studying.

We also have a specially curated collection of Mood-Boosting Books recommended by the Reading Agency, which includes a range of novels, essays and poetry. You’ll find more of our fiction titles on the shelves under PN and PQ if you prefer to browse for yourself.

Click on either of the images below to browse these selections online, or use Hunter to for search for other available titles.

Wellbeing Books
A selection of books from SGUL Library on mindfulness, wellbeing, and managing stress.
Mood-Boosting Books
A collection of poetry, novels, essays and more, selected from a list suggested by the Reading Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might also like to explore our LGBT and Black History Month collections for more fiction titles, biographies, graphic novels and essays.

 

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Over the course of Libraries Week, we’ll be taking the opportunity to dip into our Archives and explore the history of St George’s Library. We’ll offer you an insight into St George’s Library of old, and explore the ways in which we’ve supported our users over time.

Keep an eye out for a series of blog posts next week where we’ll look at St George’s: Then and Now. We’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to share them with us on social media:

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Happy Libraries Week!

 


Inspired to explore other libraries? If you live in London, you’re spoilt for choice!

A top-tip for medical and healthcare students is to check out the Medical Museums website as several member museums have library and archive collections that are accessible to the public. Terms of use will vary, so make sure you check with the institution before you visit.

If you are local to Tooting, why not join your local library? See the Wandsworth Libraries website for a list of their locations.

 

Introducing the St George’s Archive Project

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We’re pleased to introduce to you the St George’s Archive Project, which aims to preserve our archives and make them accessible for research.

St George’s has a long and rich history, dating back to the early 18th century. The Hospital was first founded in 1733 and even before the Medical School was formally established at the Hospital in the 19th century, St George’s already had a long history of training pupils. The pupil registers held in the archives date back to 1756, and John Hunter, one of our most well-known alumnus, is the first name listed on his entry to the Hospital as House Surgeon.

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Entry for John Hunter in the St George’s Hospital Pupil Register 1756-1837

What are Archives?

Archives are a collection of records or objects created or gathered by a person or institution and selected for long-term preservation as evidence of their activities. Our archives tell us about our history, preserving the past and allowing others to discover it.

As well as papers, books and photographs, our collections contain over 300 artefacts, consisting mainly of historic surgical instruments.

Why are they important?

Many of our archives are unique, and if lost, are irreplaceable. They represent our documented heritage, telling the story of St George’s.

The collections provide a rich source for research, not only about the history of the Hospital and Medical School, but also the wider transformation in the teaching and practice of medicine and health since the 18th century.

In support of this project, the University’s first professional archivist started earlier this year.

What is an Archivist?

It is the job of the archivist to preserve and widen access to archives and the information contained within them. This might include assisting users and answering enquiries, promoting the collections through exhibitions and talks, and using curatorial skills to select, arrange and catalogue archives.

An archivist does not carry out detailed research themselves, but instead they facilitate access to collections in support of research.

Before joining St George’s, University of London, Archivist Elisabeth previously worked in the archives at the University of the Arts London, the Guardian newspaper and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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Archivist Elisabeth in the Archive Store

Until now the majority of the collections were inaccessible. Elisabeth is currently listing and repackaging the archives prior to cataloguing. This will allow the collections to be searched more easily, helping interested researchers find the information they need for their research.

Project progress so far has included introducing suitable access arrangements to help to protect the archives for use by current students and future generations.

Looking forward

A lot of the work of the Archive Project so far has taken place behind the scenes but in November 2016 we will be celebrating our archives during Explore Archives week, encouraging everyone to explore archives.

Look out for future blog posts updating you on the progress of the St George’s Archive Project.

We will also be posting interesting things from our archives on Twitter, so be sure to check out hashtag #stgeorgesarchives