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Library cards at the ready

Monday 22nd June 2020

Good news. Library doors are about to reopen. No, not our doors. Summer term for us ends in a few days. This will be our last blog of the academic year and we will spend the next few weeks preparing for the huge welcome back to our students in September. The good news I was referring to is that public libraries are set to reopen.

Public libraries have had mixed fortunes over the last 20 years. In 2002, there were over 16 million active borrowers in the UK. That number has been steadily declining in the years since then and had fallen well below 10 million for a variety of reasons. Statistics show that overall library usage has also fallen, along with general income and government funding. Some libraries have closed and others have significantly cut back their hours.

However – there’s always a ‘however’ – times they are a-changin’. It will be interesting to see what statistics will say about library usage since they shut their doors to the public on March 20th. Obviously, no one has entered the doors of their local library since the country locked itself down – no one has sat and read a newspaper, leafed through a magazine, looked at reference books to plan a trip. And no one has borrowed a book.

Or have they? Ebook borrowing has soared. Surrey Libraries saw almost 33,000 ebooks downloaded from the time they shut their doors until the end of May. Some of those borrowing ebooks would have been one of the 7,316 new customers that have registered to do so (general library membership has increased significantly compared with the same period last year). These new customers also accessed audiobooks (over 25,000 downloaded), emagazines and newspapers (almost 180,000) and mini learning courses. It’s interesting to note that one of the most widely read magazines has been the New Scientist – which isn’t at all surprising during a global pandemic. It will be interesting to see what impact this renewed enjoyment of libraries by the public has going forward. A gradual reopening is expected from 6th July.

It’s very easy to join your local library online and then register to use the various eresources. If you feel tempted here are the links.

Self Registration – Surrey County Council

RBdigital: Home

Since our working from home strategy kicked in, Deborah, one of our Library Co-ordinators, has been a regular visitor to the virtual public library and has explained a bit more about it.

“When I studied for my Librarianship degree the internet as we know it today was still in its infancy. For my final year dissertation I chose to study the development of electronic document supply. After lots of research I concluded that us humans would never fully convert to digital books. And twenty years later I do think that I was right. I don’t think we will ever see the back of the printed book. A published book is a beautiful object – its cover is designed to stand out on the shelves, it fits neatly into your hands and you can flick over the page to bookmark it. But – if you are an avid reader like me a supply of new books can be costly. Added into the equation a daughter who can read a book a day. How to keep up with this habit? Use the public library of course! But we’ve read the books we borrowed before lockdown and we were wanting more.

My local bookshop started taking orders again so a few were purchased. But still we needed more. I always knew that Surrey Libraries members could borrow ebooks through an app but I hadn’t really explored it fully until recently. I’d used the RB Digital app quite extensively to download and read magazines – I love to read home interiors magazines like Elle Decoration and Living etc. And they had all the latest editions free to download. They look amazing on a tablet and it has saved me a fortune and kept me entertained! Since lockdown more and more magazines have been added so I can now read all my favourites plus discover new titles.

I then looked to see what e-books they had and was surprised that there were lots available – including new titles like Hilary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light”. You can’t always “borrow” everything straight away but you can place them on “hold” and unlike hardcopies you don’t have to pay a reservation fee. And you can easily return them at the click of a button. So – no remembering to take your books back on time. And no fines! And I’ve not even mentioned that they also have audiobooks available – (see my enthusiasm for these in last weeks blog). I have even downloaded an audiobook to listen to on my daily exercise and then read the same title downloaded as an ebook on my tablet at home. So if you’ve not tried it before please do give it a go.”

Our other Library Co-ordinator, Angela enjoyed regular visits to her local public library before lockdown and admits that when it comes to reading fiction, she prefers the printed book.

“I’m a Librarian by trade but I’m also a library user and I get a lot of pleasure out of reading books from my local library.

I think ebooks are great for academic, educational or non-fiction books but when it comes to reading fiction, I far prefer to read a real book. I did try using a Kindle for a while and, while I preferred the lightness of it for travelling, I eventually decided that I still preferred the look and feel of a real book. However, if you read a lot, then books can get very expensive, so a few years ago, I decided to go back to using my local library in order to save money. I’d always been a public library user from a very young age but had got out of the habit of visiting them.

I was pleasantly surprised by the vast array of fiction and non-fiction books in my local library in Woking town centre and am now yet again a regular and enthusiastic user of my public library. Ok, you might not always be able to pick up the latest releases immediately (they get snapped up quickly) but you can always reserve them for a small fee. What works equally well is going to the library with no particular books in mind and browsing the new books display and the recommended reads of library staff. I’ve read lots of the recommended books and enjoyed the majority of them. Staff sometimes suggest books that I wouldn’t normally think of reading but then find that they are really good reads.

Prior to lockdown, when we could all sense it coming and the public libraries were still open, I made an emergency dash to my public library and took out 10 books. Two days later the library closed due to covid restrictions. I really appreciated having all those books to read during lockdown.

I’m really looking forward to the reopening of my local library and being able to go along and choose some more books to read. Why don’t you give them a try too? Whatever your reading tastes are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the range of books they have on offer.”

And if anyone has any doubts about the value of libraries and their staff, just read the text of this tweet that appeared on Friday 19th June.

“Wanna cry over something adorable? My colleagues at @Ipswich_Library have a 102-year-old customer who they’ve been phoning. She told them about a book her dad used to read to her when she was young. It’s not available in eAudio so they’ve been reading & recording it for her.”

TV Adaptations
Did you know when not attending the Point Blanc Clone Academy in the very cold snow capped French Alps, fighting off evil doers in Cuba, or foiling the plans of that well-known criminal outfit, Scorpia, Alex Rider is a Brooklands student? Okay, so it’s a fictional Brooklands Comprehensive in London and not our renowned College but still…it’s made us have a look at the TV adaptations of popular books that are floating around for our viewing these days.

First up is Killing Eve. The third series has just finished and another has been given the green light.  The show is based on Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings. Villanelle is a Russian orphan who, after murdering the killers of her gangster father, is rescued from prison and trained as an assassin by a mysterious group called The Twelve. MI5 agent Eve Polastri is in pursuit. The TV show takes this and weaves a wonderful cat and mouse chase between the two characters who are inexplicably drawn to each other.

June has brought with it an adaptation of The Luminaries by Eleanor Caton which won the Man Booker Prize back in 2013 and is a story of love, magic and revenge, wrapped up with a murder mystery in 19th century New Zealand.

Good Omens the book combines the talents of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett whilst Good Omens the TV show combines Michael Sheen and David Tennant. Whichever Good Omens you look at you will find a funny story about the birth of the son of Satan who heralds the coming of the end of times. Angel Aziraphale and Demon Crowley have spent a very long time on Earth and enjoy each other’s company and the book/tv show follows their attempts to stop the end of the world. Neil Gaiman is also behind the books behind current TV shows of Lucifer and American Gods.

Current favourites amongst LRC staff include anything that has been penned by Harlan Coben. Safe was created for TV but The Stranger and now the new show, The Woods are  adaptations of his novels of the same name. The Woods may be in Polish but it proved to be the most watched show on Netflix the week that it was released. Harlan Coben’s advice? Watch with subtitles and not the dubbed version. He even gave a step by step guide on Twitter on how to change the audio/subtitle settings. There are conflicting opinions of The Stranger however amongst LRC staff. One refers to it as “brilliant’, another as ‘bonkers’.

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books were televised in the early 1990s but there has been a recent sequel miniseries, featuring many familiar characters from the books with actors reprising their roles from the original series. The books feature the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane, San Francisco, and their friends and acquaintances. Almost everybody from the LGBT+ community is represented amongst the pages of the books. One LRC staff member says “Tales of the City is one of my all time faves! I adored the books. The tv series – despite Laura Linney being in it – didn’t live up to the books”. Rest assured, the new miniseries isn’t an actual adaptation of one of the books.

There are more shows around to look out for. Amongst others, there are Normal People (Sally Rooney), Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman), The Midnight Gang (David Walliams), His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), Looking for Alaska (John Green), Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng), Shadowhunters (Cassandra Clare), Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy), Cardinal (Giles Blunt). An eclectic mix to say the least. Most of these are available to view on one streaming service or another.

And we are all quite excited with the announcement that Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt is going to be adapted with Ben Whishaw doing the honours in front of the camera. Didn’t we do a book review on that?

British Book Awards 30th anniversary…
Since 1990, the British Book Awards have been seen as the ‘showcase’ for the book industry. It’s not solely about books and their authors but the industry as a whole. There may be ten different categories for books and their creators but there are also almost double that for the people behind the books within publishing. The awards also have a sweet nickname – The Nibbies.

“The Nibbies are unique in recognising that a book’s success is not down to just one factor. It is the author’s creative genius, it is the publisher’s skill and support and it is the bookshop’s championing. The Nibbies’ Books of the Year are unapologetically about success but not ‘just’ who is top of the bestseller lists” says the website for the awards.

Like other organisations, the Awards are going to have a virtual ceremony this year.  Nigel Roby from Bookseller Media who are behind the awards, says “We have been able to assess how organisations like BAFTA have created compelling virtual awards and I am sure that we will have a format that is going to engage everyone from our fantastic shortlisted indie bookshops to our celebrated authors and to the book-buying public”. So on June 29th, the great and the good within the British book trade will be going online for a few celebrations.

As it is their 30th year, there is also to be a special ‘Nibbie’ award. A longlist of 30 previous winners from different book prize categories has been narrowed down to just 10, along with a ‘wild card’ – a book that didn’t actually win an award but it’s felt that it really should have done. The list is quite wide-ranging. Click here to view and check out the wildcard. Didn’t we do a review of that?.

National Selfie Day 21st June
Sunday was National Selfie Day so a few of us thought we would join in. 

Armed Forces Day 27th June
Armed Forces Day takes place on the last Saturday of June. This year it falls on the 27th with celebrations beginning on Monday 22nd June when the Armed Forces Flag is raised on buildings and landmarks around the country.

The Day is a chance to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, from currently serving troops to their families, veterans and cadets. Sian has had a look at what the day means and has created a slideshow. 

National Writing Day 24th June
Glenn has taken a look at this celebration of “the power of writing creatively, inspiring people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression”. Click to see the presentation.

Book Review
“Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay
Rating 5/5

This book shows a glimpse through a festive window into Kay’s working life in the NHS over six consecutive Christmases. It is great to see him move up the ranks from a House Officer to Registrar.

It is pretty fitting as to what’s happening now with the Covid-19 crisis. This book starts off with Kay talking about the weird limbo time in between Christmas and New Year. (This is what it feels like right now in this crisis). He goes on to say that just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t get any quieter on the NHS frontline. While everyone is enjoying the festivities at home, Kay and all his colleagues are working so very, very hard just to keep things ticking along for everyone else. (Just like now in this crisis… and always). (Christmas) hats off to you guys!

When the reader encounters Kay’s first Christmas, he has a job in the Urology department. I knew that from this moment, this book was going to be a winner with me… Well actually, I knew before that bit, even before the introduction, you get a feeling that this is going to be a very funny book!

He tells the reader about all the funny stuff that he experiences. I was laughing so much in my garden that I swear my neighbours think I’m crazy! Kay also writes so heartwarmingly about the sad situations. Kay brings you the stories in such a warm, moving and touching way that you just feel so much for the patients going through what was probably the worst day ever of their lives. It made me cry.

In my eyes, an author who can put together such funny situations and mix them in with such sadness a few pages apart, especially someone who was a Doctor in the NHS, definitely has a place in my heart.

– Sian F

A huge thank you to all those sending in reviews. Any College member can submit a book review. The more the merrier! Simply fill out this form.

We love…

Not Wimbledon Fortnight
In an effort to ease the disappointment of the many tennis fans out there due to the cancellation of the Wimbledon Championships, the All England Lawn Tennis Club have come up with #WImbledonRecreated. Beginning on 29th June, the BBC will be featuring programmes looking at memorable moments from previous years, and the Championships own website will be offering a new digital experience – each match that they show will be accompanied by statistics and additional photos to help bring to life the excitement.

The public have also been invited to recreate their favourite Wimbledon moments by taking to social media platforms. Some LRC staff have decided to join in the fun. Sarah decided to look back on her previous LRC work at Wimbledon – it’s odd to think the astroturf won’t be coming out of storage this year but, as a huge fan of the tournament she has come up with a lovely montage.

Sian decided to recreate Wimbledon on what looks like her dining table in what must have been quite a time-consuming enterprise. The results are rather wonderful.

Beach Libraries
Well, they pretty much do what it says on the tin. There are several of them spread around the world. There should be many more because there can be nothing more delightful right now than the thought of sitting on a beach, getting absorbed in a good book and forgetting about the world around us.  Beach Libraries Are Officially a Thing and We Couldn’t Be Happier

Michael Mcintyre
A 5 minute very funny recap of all the experiences of lockdown? Or are we witnessing a truly remarkable fortune teller who should have, well, already known how to make their own fortune? You decide.  Michael Mcintyre Visits Fortune Teller Before Lockdown!


Students

Looking for PSHE resources? Then look no further than Issues Online.

Issues online is an interactive resource containing images, graphs, infographics, videos, glossaries and thousands of articles to help students understand information covering a wide range of PSHE subjects and social issues.

  1. Login using your usual student login
  2. Select this link Issues Online
  3. Select login option “Your Home Institution”
  4. Select Shibboleth login
  5. Then select Brooklands College from dropdown.

Access our virtual library online
You can search for e-books on the library catalogue or directly through our e-book providers Dawson and Proquest. Click on the Shibboleth login if requested and select Brooklands College. 
Heritage Online | Proquest | Dawson

If you need a little help with ebook access, check out a guide to Dawsonera and a guide to Proquest

LRC Subject Guides
LRC staff have created subject guides for all courses – they are  located in your Tutorial Hub on Google Classroom. Here you will find links to e-books, online databases and useful websites.

Book Loans
Worried about fines? No problem. All loans have been renewed and fines waived while the LRC is closed.

Don’t forget to follow us on @BCLibraryWA. We will be posting useful information on a regular basis.


Please contact us at library@brooklands.ac.uk if you need support with e-books, e-resources or anything else.

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