Employability Skills workshops at City Library

Sign-up to one of our Employability Skills workshops to find out how City Library can support your personal development and transition into the workplace. 

1. Researching future employers using library resources

When applying for jobs you’ll need to be able to demonstrate to future employers that you keep up to date with news and current affairs in your chosen field of work. You’ll also need to show that you’ve researched thoroughly the organisation or company which you are hoping to work for.

In this practical workshop we’ll look at a number of resources available via the library that can support this research and help you get the job you want.

In this workshop we’ll cover:

  • How to search the international news database Nexis UK to find company, industry and regional news
  • How to find company information by searching financial databases such as Business Source Complete, Marketline and IBISWorld



2. Your digital footprint and keeping your finger on the pulse

This session will provide tips on how to present yourself online to potential employers and using social media to your advantage.

In this workshop we’ll…

  • Discuss the implications of your ‘digital footprint’
  • Explore the benefits of developing your online presence
  • Highlight the role of social media in developing an online identity
  • Show the range of digital tools and organisations which can support your research


For further resources visit our Employability Guide.

Dramatic discovery of medieval manuscript

Last year two members of library staff discovered an unknown manuscript in the City Library Special Collections. The two members of staff, Rob Hodgson and Simon Bralee, unearthed the manuscript whilst auditing the collections.

An illustrated calendar from the manuscript. Note the number of the days in each month in the inner circle, the names of the months in the middle circle and the names of the Zodiac signs in the outer circle.

The text

The manuscript contains two texts – the Algorismus (or De Arte Numerandi) and the De Anni Ratione – written by Johannes de Sacrobosco (aka John of Holywood or Halifax) The Algorismus was the first major text of the Western tradition that dealt with, and examined, the use of Hindu-Arabic numerals. It became a key text of the medieval European university curriculum. Before this date, roman numerals were used. Hindu-Arabic numerals allowed a major advance in mathematics and made possible developments like mathematic calculation of physical properties, double entry bookkeeping and the Dewey Decimal Classification.

The De Anni Ratione is a criticism of the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was the calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE. Due to the complexity of calculating when to add intercalary days (think 29th February), the Julian calendar was prone to error. Sacrobosco was influenced by medieval Arabic astronomy. His theory – to take a day out every 288 years – was later largely discredited probably because he did not have access to more accurate astronomic data (also based on Arabic astronomy). The Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, country by country in a slow process over a period of 350 years from 1582 to 1923. The changes did not take place in Great Britain until 1751-2.

Both texts were very popular. This means that copies of the text were not uncommon.

An arithmetic circle


The manuscript

Both texts are in Latin. This was usual in the medieval West until a very late date. For example Newton’s Principia, published in 1687, was written in Latin. The opening words of De Anni Ratione are: ‘Compotus est scientia considerans tempora ex solis et lune motibus’ [‘The science of calculation are considered from the motions of the sun and moon…’].

Throughout the text the scribe of the manuscript used abbreviations. This allowed more text to be placed on less parchment and made the book cheaper. The abbreviations followed standard practice that was used throughout the medieval period in various languages. The word Compotus has been abbreviated to Compot with a superscript symbol looking (“like a backward ‘c’ or an exaggerated apostrophe”) to represent the final letters ‘us’. First lines are written with red ink. This is called the rubric and makes it easier to read.

Note the fancy initial letter on the first page and splashes of red throughout the text.

The book shows two different styles of handwriting (called hands); one in black and red and another one in a chocolate brown ink. The chocolate brown ink seems to be written around the black text and may be the notes of the first reader. This kind of text, found in manuscripts, is called marginalia. It can be very valuable to historians to reconstruct the histoire des mentalités or weltanschauung of a medieval university. You may sometimes see this form of writing called scholia. These are comments or explanations on the text intended for future reading. Scholia is sometimes copied alongside the main text.

Some learned marginalia at the side of the main text.

At the side of the manuscript you can see several regularly placed holes. These would have been placed there by a copyist or more often the apprentice. The copyist could then draw lines across the page to help them write neatly.

Notice the holes pricked into the right hand side of the page. These are to help the scribe write in straight lines

The book contains several holes. Manuscripts are notoriously easy prey to parasites. The word bookworms originally referred to insects who bored through pages of the book. You can sometimes trace their routes through books. Holes that appear after the creation of a manuscript are called lacunae (a single hole is called a lucuna). The word lacuna is sometimes used for gaps in text or missing words. If you look closely at the holes in this manuscript however, you will notice two very interesting things. First the text has been written around the hole and secondly the holes show signs of repair. These holes are not lacunae but were in existence when the book was written. The reason for this is because during the preparation of parchment the skin of the animal was dried and stretched. Any miniscule holes in the animal’s skin at the time of death would stretch in size. The older the animal, the more holes the parchment would likely show. Expensive manuscripts would often use younger animals. Vellum, the luxury writing material of the medieval period, was prepared from calf’s skin.

A rip that shows signs of having been in position at the time of writing.

The book is 18 cm by 12 cm book of 10 pages. The two texts are quite short. The Algorismus is about 5 to 10 folios.  Given its small size and relatively cheap manufacture the book is likely to have been the edition used by a University teacher or even student.

A most learned image

The discovery

Rob Hodgson who discovered the book is the City Law School Law Librarian. A barbate, well-dressed scholar with intelligent keen eyes, he did not expect to find such a treasure as he began auditing the special collections. Asking him about his discovery he says Truth be told whenever I catch the heady aroma of red rot in the air I’m always on the look-out for manuscript leaves used as pastedowns or a Wynken de Worde printers mark … but I never expected to find a full manuscript!” He was trained as a Rare Books librarian at UCL and has had substantial knowledge and experience of rare books. His previous role at The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn Place Inn Library saw him supporting legal practitioners (barristers) and students. The Library also contained a collection of manuscripts and rare books upon which Rob cut his teeth. At City Library he curates the Rare Books collection.

Rare Books as a term correctly means books printed between 1500 and 1800. Books printed before this are called incunabula. Movable-type printing in Europe was developed by Johannes Gutenberg from around 1450. Similar technologies had existed previously in China. Printing in this manner made the production of books quicker, easier and cheaper. Before printing, books were hand copied. Handcopying was more expensive in terms of time. It was also prone to mistakes. As it is felt mistakes accumulate over time, medievalists often trace the mistakes found in different manuscripts of the same text to form family trees (or stemma) from the surviving manuscripts. Through this they can identify, as closely as possible, the original texts. Not only were Sacrobosco’s texts popular enough to be regularly copied they were also printed at a very early date. Algorismus was printed in 1490.

His apprentice Simon Bralee was even more shocked by the discovery. A Coptologist by training, his schoolboy Latin nevertheless helped crack the code and identify the texts found in the books. “Nothing like this was ever to be expected in the Special Collections”, he says when I meet him over a coffee at the Courtyard Cafe. “What struck Rob most about the book was not that it was old, but that the spine looked so new in comparison with the other books on the shelves. Even before he opened it, he had said he wondered whether it was a manuscript”.

Librarian holding book.
Simon reading the manuscript.

Taking the book down from the shelves and opening it carefully, turning the pages of front matter Rob realised straight away it was a genuine manuscript. The hair on the pages, the smell of the pages and the holes at the edges all identified it as a manuscript. After a brief examination of the manuscript the Archives group sought the professional advice of Justin Clegg from the British Library. Justin identified the date and provenance of the manuscript from the handwriting found in the text. He gave a date of late fifteenth century and suggested it was likely from a university setting. The text has not yet been professionally edited.

Rob is sanguine about discovering more rare gems. He says “This may be the springboard I need to start my quest to locate one of the missing copies of Codex Amiatinus and return it to Tyneside… you never know what might be hidden inside a generic Victorian library binding !” Here’s hoping.

Ms Setsuko Thurlow visits City

Last Week City was privileged to host Ms Setsuko Thurlow who discussed her experiences in Hiroshima in 1945.

Ms Setsuko Thurlow was in the UK to receive the Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for the Advancement of Peace on Saturday. A Canadian citizen, she has previously received the Order of Canada Medal, the highest honour for Canadian civilians and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A survivor of one of the most pivotal events in modern history, Setsuko has displayed enormous courage and leadership throughout her long life, sharing her atomic bomb experiences in order to inform people about the real consequences of nuclear war. The audience at City were deeply moved and honoured to hear her story.

As a 13-year old schoolgirl, Setsuko found herself pressed into action by the Japanese Imperial Army to decode secret messages. Her first official day of work, with about 30 other high school students, was set for August 6th 1945. Just as Major Yanai gave the girls their marching orders, Sestsuko remembers a blueish white flash and a force of wind that lifted her body skyward. She would later regain consciousness in close proximity to ground zero of the world’s first atomic blast used in war. Her beloved city of Hiroshima was destroyed by a single ‘bomb’ nicknamed Little Boy.


A photo of Hiroshima


You may hear more about nuclear disarmament in the news this week. On Monday the UN will host a conference which aims to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. This follows a vote in October 2016 when 123 nations voted in favour of holding this conference against 38 nations who were opposed (including the United Kingdom, Russia and North Korea). Campaigners, including Setsuko, feel positive that this conference will finally see this evil consigned to the history books.

You can read more about Hiroshima and nuclear war through CityLibrary Search.


The Disappearance of Miss Bebb

Proving once again that Library staff are multi-talented folk,  Alex Giles, a member of the City Library team has written a drama to be performed by an all star cast. “The Disappearance of Miss Bebb”, a 90 minute radio-style version of Alex’s screenplay “Justice” will be performed at Middle Temple Hall on 2nd April. 

About the play 

Gwyneth Bebb with her daughter Diana (1919) Image: First 100 Years

Gwyneth Bebb has left Oxford University the top law student of her year. So why can’t she practise as a professional lawyer? Because she’s a woman… 

Based on true events and the infamous case “Bebb v the Law Society”, the drama follows four brave young women on the eve of WW1 as they fight for the right to become our first female lawyers; a tale of faith, hope and bigotry.  

In tumultuous times they battle the mighty legal establishment against all odds, amidst personal feuds, joys and tragedies. 

The title role will be played by Call the Midwife’s Laura Main, other cast includes Martin Shaw, Jason Watkins, Ray Fearon and Hugh Dennis. 

The performance is on behalf of the Kalisher Trust, a charity which supports aspiring barristers, whatever their background, to create a more diverse and socially mobile criminal Bar; unlocking  the skills of criminal barristers, and showing that anyone can aspire to be the advocate of tomorrow. Internships and awards are available.

Alex will be appearing on BBC Radio 4 ‘s Woman’s Hour on 22nd March with Lady Justice Anne Rafferty, to talk about “The Disappearance of Miss Bebb” and the work of the Kalisher Trust.

Researching “Bebb v the Law Society”
Access the original reports of the case Bebb v  The Law Society [1914] 1 Ch. 286 in the various law reports held at City’s lawlibraries and via Westlaw
Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, from the School of Law at Reading University is the leading expert on Gwyneth Bebb. You can access her articles via CityLibrary Search:

Virginia Woolf was a contemporary of Gwyneth Bebb. Could she have been describing her when she wrote the following in 1929?
“At any rate, she was making the attempt. And as I watched her lengthening out for the test, I saw, but hoped that she did not see, the bishops and the deans, the doctors and the professors, the patriarchs
and the pedagogues all at her shouting warning and advice. You can’t do this and you shan’t do that! Fellows and scholars only allowed on the grass! Ladies not admitted without a letter of introduction!
 ……. So they kept at her like the crowd at a fence on the race-course, and it was her trial to take her fence without looking to right or to left. If you stop to curse you are lost, I said to her; equally, if you stop to laugh.
Hesitate or fumble and you are done for. Think only of the jump, I implored her, as if I had put the whole of my money on her back; and she went over it like a bird. But there was a fence beyond that and a fence beyond that.
Whether she had the staying power I was doubtful, for the clapping and the crying were fraying to the nerves. But she did her best.”

Virginia Woolf ‘A Room of One’s Own’: http://library.city.ac.uk/record=b1163691

How to: Create a mind map

How to: Create a mind map. 6 ways mindmapping can support your study

Mind mapping is an active and visual way of representing information. Unlike linear notes (traditional notes written out), with a mind map you can view all of your notes on one page and visually identify structure and relationships more effectively.

You can use old fashioned paper and pencils or mind mapping software to create one. Just add your main idea or goal to the centre, then, using keywords add your main topics, and then your sub topics to those and so on.

6 ways mind mapping can support your studies

  1. Planning: You can use mind maps to help plan a project, essay or assignment. Creating a mind map can help you get all your ideas down, hone the structure, and generate and develop new content. Some software allows you to export your map’s hierarchy to a Word document so you can flesh out the bare bones of the framework. (I made a mind map to plan out this article!)
  2. Revision: Create an overview of the subject area. Some software include a notes field for adding longer sections of text. You could use these to enter answers to main questions and test yourself. Mind maps are an active way of learning. They can be multi-sensory – associating colours, images and keywords with information could create a hook for memory recall. You could think about displaying completed maps on a wall so you look at them often.
  3. Notetaking: Make notes from one study text or more using the chapters as thematic structure. This is a more active way to engage with material where there is scope to add your own thoughts and ideas. Again, you can see the overview while also breaking the subject down into manageable sections, making it understandable.
  4. Brainstorming or group projects: Working collaboratively on a mind map helps all members of the group see discussion areas and/or areas of work allocated to them. Mind maps can help you stick to the chosen topics but also stimulate more ideas. Use the large screens in the group study rooms or the technobooths for maximum effect.
  5. Representing complex ideas and concepts: Mind maps can help you easily see how ideas relate to one another and also see the “bigger picture” when it can be easy to get bogged down in detail.
  6. Productivity: Software allows you to move ideas around on the page, export an outline to Word, and add your own notes and links to reading materials.

    A mindmap representing the 6 ways mindmapping can support your studies
    A mind map about mind mapping: 6 ways mindmapping can support your study.

Tony Buzan the originator of mind mapping says that Imagination + Association = Memory. In your mind map try using colour coding, mnemonics, or “memory palace” (Method of Loci) to make examples really come to life (the more vivid, humorous and unusual you make them the more memorable).

For making mind maps City has a very easy to use software called Inspiration. You can find Inspiration in the programmes menu on all City student computers.

You can also check some of the great resources and guidance available through the Learning Success Moodle module, including a follow along demonstration.

Bookable study spaces at Cass Business School, Bunhill Row

In response to feedback from you, we’re trialling bookable study spaces during the revision and exam period at Cass Learning Resource Centre, Bunhill Row

Students can book a space to study on weekdays from today, 27th March, until 5th
May 2017. Sessions of three hours are available between 9am and 9pm and users can book one session a day, with a maximum of two per week.  Each session can be booked up to one week in advance.  The full terms and conditions are on the bookings page. 

The spaces themselves are opposite the Financial Resources Suite.  They are specially decorated to show which is which, too. Please bear in mind that if you’re using these seats and haven’t booked you will need to move when a student with a booking arrives.

If you’ve any feedback about this scheme, please either email casslibrary@city.ac.uk or fill out a paper feedback form at the desk.

Good luck with your revision!

Resource of the month: ProQuest Refworks

Given up on new year’s resolutions and office decluttering projects but still hoarding lots of research references?  Maybe you would like to try a new reference management software.

ProQuest RefWorks  is a new, updated online reference management tool available to staff, students and alumni of City, University of London.  It can be integrated into your research process and allow you to store, manage, edit and share the references you retrieve.

Some features of ProQuest RefWorks are: 

  • Manage and store your research references from projects and dissertations in folders.
  • Export references from CityLibrary Search and many databases and Google Scholar etc.  into ProQuest RefWorks.
  • Create and format bibliographies in different styles and generate in text citations.
  • Save and annotate PDFs and documents directly from your computer.
  • Collaborate and share references with others.

Great, how do I start using it?

You need to create a new  ProQuest RefWorks  account. Use your City email address for this and if you have used Legacy RefWorks before then choose a different password to avoid any confusion with the previous account.  You can also access Proquest RefWorks from CityLibrary Search.

How do I export references into ProQuest Refworks?

See the Adding references section of our Library guide. As an example, do a search on CityLibrary Search for example on something which interests you. I quite like researching topics such as snow leopards, ankle sprains and/ or digital literacy. Click on the grey box with a cross symbol to the right of any result(s) which are useful to you and the box will turn red.  When ready, click on the white folder at the top right of the screen. From the down arrow next to Export to, click RefWorks.

Then select  ProQuest RefWorks. Export to the new RefWorks.

More information?

If you are using RefWorks Legacy with a document in Microsoft Word using the Write N Cite tool, you are strongly advised to continue working on this in RefWorks Legacy.  It is anticipated that ProQuest RefWorks will replace Legacy RefWorks in January 2018.

See our shiny, new ProQuest RefWorks guide or  ProQuest’s guide

Also check out our Library workshop webpage for workshops on ProQuest RefWorks and other topics. 

Any questions please contact: Diane Bell  – Research Librarian

Colour me calm 2

Adult colouring books have been some of the bestsellers in recent years… Is it anything to do with ever-growing levels of stress? At City Library we’re joining in the craze again by bringing out some new colouring pages (and an old favourite) for you to escape into…

Colour the London Cityscape or Colour the George Daniels Clock

As Nick Scott points out in Director magazine, colouring is a major “anti-stress therapy for the beleaguered business leader”; allowing us to be a care-free child again, and also focusing our mind for new challenges. So it’s not just a bit of fun… Carole Tonkinson, publisher at Bluebird, Pan Macmillan’s wellness and lifestyle imprint, says: “Colouring is tactile and soothing. It’s creative, but not so challenging that it’s draining.”

So, go ahead… Have a break from the studies, and get colouring! Don’t forget to share your creations with us.


Bookable Silent Study Spaces return for 24/7 Opening

As part of our exam season offering, Bookable Silent Study Spaces will return to Northampton Square Library.

To help you plan and organise your exam preparation, Library Services are offering Bookable Silent Study Spaces on weekdays from 24th April – 2nd June.  Sessions of two or three hours are available from 9am to 9pm. You can book one session a day, with a maximum of two sessions per week.  Each session can be booked up to one week in advance.  Full terms and conditions are outlined on the bookings page.

The bookable spaces are for individual silent study and you can find them on Level 5 (on the right hand side as you enter, just behind the Library Help Desk). Each of the bookable spaces is numbered and adorned in the unmistakable and handsome livery of Library Services.

students in silent study spaces

Your Voice, Our Action – Exams special

Thank you for your feedback. We enjoyed getting out from behind the Library Service Desk to talk to you and we loved collecting your comments from the walls over the 2 week period. We especially liked the fact that 97% of comments about library staff were extra lovely! We’ve looked at every single comment. While a few of your suggestions will take longer term consideration, we’re pleased to say that we can make some immediate improvements in time for the exam season.

  • 3.5% of all comments were concerned by noise levels. We’re always trying to create a good mix of study spaces whilst maintaining that the Quiet and Silent Study Spaces stay as such. From Monday 24th April we are trailing a new text (SMS) service at Northampton Square Library. Text us on 020 3322 6359 between 10am – 7pm if you’re finding it too noisy to study.
  • 78% of comments about opening hours wanted 24/7. While we cannot offer 24/7 throughout the year we have expanded our offering during key times across two locations. Our resources to support 24/7 opening are limited and the provision is also subject to the approval of the University Executive Committee, taking account of our location in a residential neighbourhood and other factors.  The current provision gives 24/7 opening during 13 weeks of the year at either Cass or Northampton Square – and these periods are timed to coincide with the busiest revision and exam periods in the academic calendar.
  • Many of you commented that it was hard to find space to study at times. During exams season we have trialled Bookable Silent Study Spaces at Northampton Square Library – we’re pleased to say that this is now a permanent service. We are trialling the same at Cass LRC this year. We’d also like to remind library users to take breaks outside the library and not to forget to take belongings with them so someone else can sit down to study.
  • If you’re looking for a computer – there are many secret computer labs in the lesser-trod corridors of the Drysdale Building, check for availability.
  • We had many positive comments about library resources, and also some feedback that you would like more. Don’t forget to use the More Books and Read for Research schemes, where you can recommend books for the library to buy. We’ve added over 3,111 books to our collections so far.

Take a look at the infographic below:

Library Loves… Feedback by Library Services