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Welcome to the New-Normal. Part 1

Monday 14th September 2020

Did everyone have a nice summer? It has been a very unusual one for most of us. Firstly, we found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, then there were the baby steps of opening society back up and a glimmer of what the ‘new-normal’ may be for this year. Then, just as we were allowed out a little more,  autumn seemed to arrive early (this LRC staff member in particular was wanting to turn the heating on). But this ‘refreshing’ weather was soon followed by what appeared to be an endless heatwave. Somebody, somewhere had been playing with the thermostat. 

Added to these weather extremes of a typical British summer, possibly the weirdest and most stressful set of exam results that could’ve been foisted upon the nation’s students arrived. A confusing time for many but one which has now finally begun to settle down for most and we can now start to look forward to the coming College year.

Firstly, the LRC team would like to say  “Goodbye and good luck” to all those students that are moving on to pastures new.

But we would then like to say to our returning students “Welcome back”, and to our new cohort, a very warm and cheery “Hello!”.

College life has yet to return to its old ways so for now we have our own new-normal. Student groups will be socially distanced from classes from other groups, learning and attending college in bubbles, whilst continuing some learning with online lessons. A plan has been carefully made to keep staff and students as safe as possible. Many services have yet to be fully reopened and this includes the LRC. All I can say is watch this space for news on what will be our own ‘new-normal’. I’m pretty sure a blog entry entitled “Welcome back. Part 2” will appear in a few weeks. 

Bookface update photo
Last summer, we had a staff competition whereby each department was asked to produce a team selfie. We came up with a fabulous ‘bookface’ montage but failed to win as technically it was a collection of individual photos of team members rather than a selfie (although, much to our chagrin, the winning photo wasn’t a selfie either!). 

However, we loved our photos and some of us decided to update it for 2020 – with a little bit of home life included to reflect the downtime after a day of ‘working from home’. 

What’s the most popular month for publishing new books?
The answer, of course, is September. But what happens when there’s been a global pandemic? Well, funny you should ask…

As shops closed their doors in March, publishing houses had to have a rethink about when to release their catalogues of new books onto the market. Book launch dates are decided months in advance, and many launches are accompanied by promotional tours by the authors, personal appearances at literary festivals, and with what must seem like a neverending diary of book signing engagements. All of these were cancelled for the foreseeable future. And even online shopping was affected by the pandemic – simply relying on that as a retail outlet wasn’t initially a sure-fire way to sell books. So, many book publication dates were pushed back.

It has to be said that the publication of new books didn’t stop entirely and every Thursday – the traditional day for new releases – new titles would still appear, with virtual launches amidst a frenzy of social media activity. Then, virtual festivals started to happen, bookshops began to reopen slowly with online ordering and click & collect services, authors began supplying signed copies of their books for retail, and then, to the joy of the book lover, book browsing in shops finally recommenced.  

And now we get to September. As mentioned before, this is a popular month for publishers. Summer’s over, winter is on its way. Lets tempt the reader with some new material to feast on. All those titles whose publication date was pushed back are now appearing. And it seems to be all at once (although it’s probably not). However, Thursday 3rd September had the largest ever number of new titles released to the public. And it has been quite a mad day for booksellers. After a period that was all too quiet, they’ve had to hit the ground running. 

We, as readers, are in for a treat. Or 600 if we want to try and read each one.

Many thanks for Jack at The Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh for this picture reflecting a not-so-typical day at work.

Assistant Librarian, Alison was lucky enough to read one of those books already. See her review for “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman here.

Our Displays Are Back!
Once again, we find ourselves temporarily without a physical space for our displays but the LRC team are still working on them.

National Read a Book Day 6th September
Sunday was National Read a Book Day, a day for encouraging people to choose the right book, and to make time to sit and enjoy it. Sarah has put together a presentation about the day and offers awesome suggestions on where to find the right book. 

You could do worse than taking a look at some of our own reviews, either in our previous blog posts or as stand alone reviews. Check out The LRC Blog.

Youth Mental Health Day 7th Septembe
Hot on the heels of #ReadaBookDay was the inaugural Youth Mental Health Day, #YMHD a new initiative instigated the charity Stem4 that aims to encourage awareness and understanding of the mental health of young people. The theme this year was “Bounce Not Break”, looking at the resilience of young people when faced with challenges. Sian has put together a slideshow about it. 

Please remember that the College has its own on site counselor who can be contacted at counselling@brooklands.ac.uk.

International Literacy Day 8th September
The final display to be worked on is this one by Paola. She looked into this United Nations day where the focus for 2020 has been to look at literacy teaching and learning during the Covid-19 crisis and how things look going forward. She put together this presentation.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month September
On average, there are 12 children or young people diagnosed with some form of cancer every day – 12 families being told one of their children has cancer, and  then learning to cope with this devastating news. Of these 12 diagnosed, 2 unfortunately won’t survive.

September has been designated Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The hope is to highlight the impact of cancer on children, young people and their families. Efforts are made by a variety of different children and teenage cancer charities to raise awareness, in order to raise funding, and to fund research into new treatments so that more effective and less harmful treatments may be found.  

“This awareness campaign for September is particularly close to my heart. My son Adam was diagnosed aged 5 with neuroblastoma. It’s a particularly nasty, invasive cancer that affects around 100 young children in the UK every year. After 4 years of often gruelling treatment, he died, leaving our family with an Adam sized hole forever. 

Neuroblastoma wasn’t something I’d ever heard of before and I sincerely wish I still didn’t. However, as a family, we’ve fundraised over the years for the charities that helped us during this dreadful period, and each time we’ve done an event, it’s also raised some awareness of neuroblastoma. Adam’s dad is now a trustee for a charity dedicated to helping families like ours, and has helped steer the charity’s endeavours to further research into suitable treatments – all the while hoping that in the future he will prevent other families being damaged like ours.

For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, there is a small pin – a gold ribbon – to wear (several charities will supply them for a small donation) and I will be wearing mine, mainly around the house as office hours are still limited and I’m happily avoiding shops. It will be proudly on display though during any work or social Zoom/Meets.” Alison, Assistant Librarian

Book Review 
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

Abir Mukherjee’s latest novel featuring Captain Sam Wyndham and his sergeant Surrender-not (actually Surendranath but he’s resigned to this British version of his name) Banerjee of the Calcutta Police in post-World War I India, Smoke and Ashes has been doing the rounds lately and has been longlisted, and indeed shortlisted, for several notable book awards. A Rising Man is our introduction to this crime fighting duo.

Set in 1919, Captain Sam Wyndham, formerly of the Met Police and the trenches, arrives to take up a new post in Calcutta. He desperately needs a fresh start and has more than a few personal demons – most of which seem to follow him across the continents. Whilst struggling with these, he finds himself in charge of an investigation into the murder of a high-ranking British civil servant, whose body has been found in a less than salubrious part of the city, next to a brothel.

At first, the murder appears to politically motivated but Sam isn’t quite so easily convinced and neither is his newly co-opted sergeant Surrender-not, so they continue to investigate despite appearances and a seemingly resolved case.

This is a great story but what makes it particularly interesting is seeing Calcutta and India through the eyes of its newest inhabitant Sam Wyndham.  As a middle(ish) class 21st century Brit, I find it very hard to comprehend the colonial ways of our ancestors and why people in other countries put up with it for so long but Sam, quite literally fresh off the boat, is learning how all this has occurred, how society is as it is, and how it may all be changing. I found myself briefly searching the internet for more details of Brits in Calcutta, looking at photos of some of the buildings (or rather monuments to colonial rule) mentioned in the book, and looking at the weather to see when is a better time to visit. The April of the story seems to be particularly hot, sticky and unpleasant. (It appears December and January would be best).

I look forward to reading more about Captain Wyndham as he fights crime along with his personal demons. And I particularly look forward to the day that we get to call Sergeant Banerjee Surendranath.

We love…

The Secret Barrister is a legal expert who regularly comments on the UK justice system, and has penned a couple of books on the subject. A few months ago. he/she gave a running commentary on Twitter about the legal ramifications of the actions of the characters in the film “Love Actually”. Although no arrests were made, the actions of several characters do seem to verge on the wrong side of the law, and the Twitter thread analysis was most entertaining.

Last weekend, the Secret Barrister gave the same treatment to the film “Taken”. Which turned out to be just as entertaining.
The Secret Barrister legal commentary of the ‘classic’ film, Taken

The Secret Barrister coincidentally also wrote a book that was one of the 600 published on Thursday 3rd September.

Twitter was also the battleground for Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and…er…10 year old Nandi from the UK. A few weeks ago Nandi posted a video of herself drumming to the Foo Fighters’ Everlong and she challenged the rather famous Dave to battle it out. And he accepted the challenge. 
Dave Grohl v Nandi – Battle of the Drums


Students

If our usage statistics of online resources and ebooks for the summer term are anything to go by then they will be very much in demand as we head into this academic year. 

Access our virtual library online
You can search for e-books on the library catalogue or directly through our e-book providers.. Click on the Shibboleth login if requested and select Brooklands College. If you have any problems please do not hesitate to contact us at library@brooklands.ac.uk.
Heritage Online | Proquest 

New LRC website 
Is there no end to our ability to acquire new skills? LRC staff have worked hard over the last few months to provide online access to our resources. Over the summer, we have developed our first ever Google site which contains information about our services, offers links to our resources and also will keep you up to date on LRC activities. 

This site is only accessible to College members. As is…

…the New LRC Google Classroom page
Again, this will contain links and information for our resources and offer practical help for researching and completing assignments. The Classroom code will be sent to staff and students in due course.


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

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