CityLibrary Staff on their Dream Holidays

We all like to get away from work from time to time, maybe to another city, perhaps to the countryside or a sunny place by the sea.

We asked the CityLibrary staff about their favourite holiday destinations and looked at our holdings, too, to see where they can take you, not physically, but in your mind.

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The poll of the CityLibrary people brought out a mix of destinations near and far with one librarian telling us how they have loved visits to Cornwall since they were a child when they visited their grandparents there in the school holidays.  Elsewhere in the UK, I think Scotland might just be the most beautiful place I have ever visited.


Europe, especially the Mediterranean was a popular destination, with Catie keen Antibes in Southern France and Cince Terre in Italy, Lynn enjoying Malta for “history, sea, sun, lovely food and lovely people,” while Jessica rates Barcelona.

Elsewhere in Europe, Simon recommends Berlin and Samantha is keen on skiing in the Alps: “I really, really like skiing [because] it’s sunny but not hot and you get great exercise and it’s kind of dangerous.  I actually hate hot weather – I only enjoy it in the Alps in March when the sun is strong but the mountains are cold!”


Jonathan and Alex prefer to go further field with Jonathan enjoying great scuba diving in the Maldives and Alex the beautiful beaches and amazing history in Mexico.

Finally, Catherine was less specific about location, saying that she just loves somewhere hot with a beach or pool as “it recharges my batteries and [this] lets me know I’m alive.”

Travelling within the Library

The Cass Learning Resource Centre have a number of Eyewitness travel books (including for Berlin and Barcelona) that allow you to have a gander at possible places to see and what you might want to do whilst there.  But, if you don’t want to stray too far, there are various books across our libraries about London.

As hinted at in one of the above links, there are also various other books about travel as well as novels and plays set in all kind of locations.  In The Histories by Herodotus, for example, you can follow the Ancient Greek writer to Egypt and the Middle East, learning about their ancient cultures and how the Greeks came to fight the Persians.  The whole thing is so much of a web of fact and fiction that Herodotus has been called both the Father of History and the Father of Lies (though, where the latter is concerned, he was probably just a bit too trusting of his own travel guides – “fake news” is nothing new).

Our fiction collections can take you to all manner of places around the around the world, in the past, present and future, as well as off into space.  For example, Jane Austen or Charles Dickens can help you travel to Georgian and Victorian London.  Whereas Margaret Atwood, George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin can take you on less nice trips to dystopian societies based a little too much on reality.  Ursula K. Le Guin can take you on a journey through space to a planet inhabited by people with no fixed gender (also available in Spanish and German) and Mervyn Peake to the fantasy world of Gormenghast with its rigid ancient ways and ceremonies.  Or you can travel around the world and its cultures via Chinua Achebe, Haruki Murakami, Amitav Ghosh, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Toni Morrison, Elena Ferrante and Jorge Luis Borges, among many others.

Alternatively, if time travel takes your fancy, then James Gleick has written a book on the history of time travel, which is a fascinating read about the history of science fiction presented alongside studies towards it in science non-fiction.

Wherever you wish to go, whether in reality or not, CityLibrary can help!

Advanced notice: Library systems downtime overnight 4th – 5th September

We are upgrading our library systems overnight Monday 4th September – Tuesday 5th September.  As a result you may experience intermittent periods of downtime where you are unable to:

  • login to online resources
  • see book availability through CityLibrary Search
  • request items, or
  • login to your CityLibrary Account to renew items.

Please plan ahead to conduct research and manage your account of this period.

Building the Vision

From our Archives

City has been in the news recently for building plans. The handsome design for the new Sebastian Street Building took centre stage at the prestigious Summer Exhibition 2017 at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. Yet City’s history of gorgeous architecture has a rich heritage and her buildings have added lustre to London over a long period.

An arty and crafty City

City’s first building was the College Building, designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Edward Mountford. It was opened in 1898 .


The College Building taken from the Finsbury Library / Islington Museum (over the road)


In the 1920s the building was getting small for the growing institution and extensions were needed.

City’s flirt with Art Deco

In 1932 the building was opened by H.R.H. The Prince George. This was not the later King George VI, but his brother a good time prince who knew how to make a celebration go with a bang.

A program for the reopening of College Building.

A new building was opened across the road, called the Connaught Building.

A photo of the newly opened Connaught Building
Photos of the new entrance way and automobile laboratory


Les trente glorieuses

Due to growing numbers of students after the second world war an extension was needed.

Graph to illustrate growth of Polytechnic work 1913 – 1947
College Building architect’s drawing of Schemes II and III
The original plans for proposed building work on College Building are carefully unraveled by the expert hands of a member of the City Archive and Special Collections group.
A delicate scroll is opened for the first time in many a year.

An area plan of the area and not a single gastro-pub in sight. Times have changed?

Note the difference between the original pencil draw plans and the printed version.

Block plan of proposed development.
Printed site plan showing proposed development of Schemes I – VI


A booklet outlining building plans for College Building from 1956.

In 1964, the third floor of College Building was further extended.

Plans for the extension to the third floor of College Building in 1964.


Mid-century classic City

After receiving her Royal Charter, The City University needed to extend once again. In 1976 the Tait Building was opened by Dr O A Kerensky, the brilliant bridge designer (and son of Aleksandr Kerensky).

A program for the opening of the Tait Building in 1976

We look forward to more architectural adventures in the future as City strives to be bigger and better.

More detailed information about the City Archive and Special Collections can be found on our library guide.


What’s you favourite City building (past or present) and why? Let us know in the comments below.

Changes to accessing online resources

Today we are making some changes to our login screens for access to:

  • Your City Library Account
  • Online resources
  • Requesting items

These should make the pages much more user friendly.

As a result you may experience some brief disruption to accessing the resources today, Tuesday 29th August.  This should not last too long.  If you do find you cannot access an online resource or your City Library Account, please try again later.

new login screen
A sneak peek of our new login screen



Requested items collection at Northampton Square

You can once again use the self issue machines to borrow your requested items, CDs and DVDs at Northampton Square Library.  Apologies for any disruption this caused you.

We are awaiting delivery and installation of new self issue machines to improve reliability of this service.

Start your City journey with a Library win

Congratulations newbie!

Whether you aced those ‘A’ Levels, cruised through clearing or impressed your interviewer, you’ve made it- a place at City to study your dream course. You feel like a winner and so you should. You’re excited, eager to get going, ready to roll.

With that mind, what if I told you there’s a way to start winning at University right now? I know right? Now, this very second.

Two words: Library Essentials.

Think of it as a gateway to the house of knowledge. For when it comes to your weekly readings, research for assignments or projects, or even exam revision, you’re going to want to make full use of the Library: to unlock its doors to information, statistics, argument, critique and more.

And there’s no better place to start than Library Essentials. It will guide you through everything you need to know, from how to access the Library to finding information and getting help when you need it most.

Seriously, a look at Library Essentials before you arrive will not only give you a head start with you studies, but will also mean you can advance your expertise as a researcher faster.

Have a look. Start exploring. Keep winning.

Out and About in London during the Summer

We asked staff at CityLibrary about their favourite London places and things to do in summer and, despite the recent weather, they mostly like to be outside, listing a number of favourite spots.

Although, of course, we feel you should take a break and get and about to see these places when in London, a number can also be visited in a virtual manner via CityLibrary’s collections – so click those links to find out more!

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Pretty Places and Views

A clear favourite place to go is Hampstead Heath with two librarians mentioning how close it feels to being in the countryside.  Other highlights on the heath include Kenwood House, swimming in the lidos and ponds and the view from Parliament Hill.  Although a bit depressing as I recall it, the film Scenes of a Sexual Nature was shot on Hampstead Heath and is a good way to visit it in the sun when it isn’t actually sunny for reals.

Speaking of views, Catherine picked out the view from Shooter’s Hill for its “great views of the City” that provide “inspiration that anything is possible in this great City.”

Providing another beautiful view across London, and looking back south toward Shooter’s Hill and Crystal Palace (and not far from Hampstead Heath) is Alexandra Palace, where Lynn likes to take a “jaunty bus ride” in order to view “beautiful flowers and plants” as well as enjoy its tea shop.

Perambulating and Promenading

Another theme was walking in London, with the South Bank of the Thames a popular place to visit.  It’s an area that provides a lot, with Alex saying, “There’s always something going on for free. You can sit inside or outside the Festival Hall. Browse book stalls, have a drink, walk along the river;” while Lyn picked out its “History, street performers, shops, pubs and a good breeze from the river” making it worth a visit; and Samantha addded that it’s a “lovely place to while away time – there’s usually something on… there’s the Tate Modern, lots of nice places to eat, food stalls… you can take a boat trip, [and] plenty of things to see and people to watch, [with] lots of lovely bars to break up your work in.”

A further, anonymous, walk lover shared their love of meandering alongside the Regent’s Canal and even gave this suggested walk:

“Start your walk by Goldbourne Road (at the better end of Portobello Market – good for North African food and vintage shopping).

“Walk down the canal through Little Venice and peer at the house boats and the million pound mansions.

“Carry on your walk east past Regent’s Park, through the zoo to Camden Town for a spot of people watching. Then carry on to King’s Cross, Islington and Hackney‘s vibrant Broadway Market.

“If you still have fuel in your legs continue east past Victoria Park then Mile End Park, avoiding speedy cyclists, then end up in historical Wapping where you can go to an old river side pub before limping home. Nice day out.”

Inside and Outside

London Zoo in Regent’s Park got a mention there and is another favourite place for Samantha who, “really, really, really like[s] chilling out in the giraffe house.  They’re very peaceful animals.  But also the zoo funds animal conservation work around the world and is a wonderful place to spend a day off. Also penguins.”

Other enjoyable outside activities mentioned were reading in the park, cricket on the lawn, barbecues and garden parties, visiting Hyde Park and riding in Swan boats.

It wasn’t all about being outside, though.  Galleries on the South Bank have already been mentioned, as were The Barbican and the British Museum.  Alongside the cinema, these are great places to escape the rain and provide a good tip for students in London through the winter.

And, finally…

Finally, and perhaps controversially, London is not for all.  One Librarian stated that they like to get out of London during the summer.

But to where?  Well, our next CityLibrary Summer post will let you know where us CityLibrary people like to go to on holiday.

Until then, look out for us with a book and a flask of tea underneath the bandstand.

No access to requested items collection, DVDs, and CDs this weekend

Due to a hardware fault you are currently unable to collect requested items or borrow DVDs or CDs from Northampton Square Library outside of Library staffed hours (after 5pm Mon-Fri and all day Sat and Sun).

This has been reported to IT and our hardware suppliers and will be resolved as soon as possible.

Northampton Square Library toilets

The toilets at Northampton Square Library are undergoing an upgrade this summer.  Starting tomorrow, Thursday 17th August, the toilets on Level 3 will be closed.  Toilets on Level 2 (male) and Level 5 (male and female) will remain open.  Once work has completed on the Level 3 toilets the toilets on Level 5 will be refurbished.

There will be some noise disruption as a result of this work,  our colleagues in Property and Facilities will endeavor to keep it to a minimum.  If you find that noise from this work is disturbing you then silent study is available on Levels 6 and 4 of the Library.

25 Summer films you really shouldn’t miss

You’ve seen what they read, you’ve seen what they watch on the small screen. Now we delve further into the library staff’s cultural beach bag.
Read more this summer #CityLibrarySummer.
In our latest CityLibrarySummer instalment we thought we’d share our favourite films and which films in particular mean summer to us. We’ve also highlighted where you can borrow films from our DVD collection or Box of Broadcasts [BoB].
  • Jonathan’s favourite film is Aliens (dir. James Cameron) [DVD] for its “excitement and great story line.”
  • Don’t you forget about… the Breakfast Club (dir. John Hughes) [BoB]. These kids did weekend detention in style while discovering a bit about each other (and themselves). This film reminds Jonathan of being a teenager.
  • Amelie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) [DVD] whimsical and most charming is the choice of another member of Library staff – enchanté. And Grease is their summer lovin’ choice.
  • Catherine loves Wayne’s World (dir. Penelope Spheeris) [BoB]  because it always makes her laugh. Catherine, we’re not worthy.
  • She also loves Point Break (dir. Kathryn Bigelow) [BoB] for its depiction of the technical art of surfing, she forgot to mention the top acting. Vaya con Dios Catherine.
  • Lynn loves that 90s classic Parenthood (dir. Ron Howard). “Family clashes, crazy parents and kids, teenage tantrums and old rivalries shown with humour. It always makes me laugh and it all turns out right in the end.”
  • Lynn’s favourite summer themed film is Something Wicked This Way Comes (dir. Jack Clayton). “The oppression in the film is not only caused by the heatwave but a sinister set of characters rolling into town.  A lovely view of the eternal summers experienced as a child.”
  • Alex G’s pick is the perennially wonderful Some Like it Hot (dir. Billy Wilder) [DVD]. He says “You can watch it over and over and it’s still so funny. Characters, script and performances are such quality.”
  • His favourite summer film is Jaws (dir. Steven Spielberg) [DVD]“Even though I laugh at it, even though I know what happens in the end – I still get SCARED!”
  • The Wizard of Oz [DVD] is good all year round for one member of staff.
  • May the force be with our library staff member who loves Star Wars (dir George Lucas) [DVDs] and also Cocoon (dir. Ron Howard) [BoB], this film about some rejuvenated retired folk gives them a warm summertime feeling.
  • Samantha is keen on The Princess Bride (dir. Rob Reiner) because “Swashbuckling. And the bit where they roll down the hill and end up with the RoUS. OH and the bit when he’s dead but not completely dead.”
  • Nobody is putting Samantha in a corner this summer as she has the time of her life watching Dirty Dancing (dir. Emile Ardolino) [BoB] “The music and the dancing is awesome, but mostly because it looks like a sweet entertaining cult chick flick but it’s actually a treatise on why you should trust your children and the importance of women’s healthcare and reproductive rights.”
  • Annie Hall (dir. Woody Allen) [DVD] got the vote from another member of staff who sums up the vibe with a “La-di-da”.
  • This staff member’s favourite summer film is A Bigger Splash (dir. Luca Guadagnino) “Sunshine, singing and death all on the tiny Italian Island of Pantelleria.”.
  • Catie has recently been impressed with Baby Driver (dir. Edgar Wright) but she’s not thinking about films at the minute “When good weather blesses you with its presence as much as it has this summer, watching films is sacrilege.”
  • Nevertheless, her favourite summer films are Fast Times at Ridgemont High (dir. Cameron Crowe) or Wet Hot American Summer (dir. David Wain), “They are institutions. For real though they evoke the specific feeling of freedom and infinite possibility you get in the summer when you’re an adolescent that summer days could stretch on forever.”
  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (dir. Stephen Herek) [BoB] ranks high on another staff member’s list:
    “Got only 24 hours before a big presentation? This highly relatable story set in the world of San Dimas academia will show you how you can take your presentation from meh to wow, and if you start to lose your audience – end on a “City Uni football rules!”
  • Their summer favourite is Do the Right Thing (dir. Spike Lee)  which “takes place on the hottest day in summer. This is one of the greatest films of all time, it was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress who deemed it “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant””.
  • A Librarian recommends: Canterbury Tales (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini) and A Canterbury Tale (dir. Powell and Pressburger) [BoB] – which is a very different film. The Twin Peaks prequel Fire Walk with Me (dir. David Lynch), which has a great David Bowie cameo, and Dazed and Confused (dir. Richard Linklater) – have you seen this one? It’d be a lot cooler if you did.
There are 3 films on this list starring Keanu Reeves, this has been duly noted and the data will be updated.
What’s your favourite film? Is there a film which makes you feel particularly summery, let us know in the comments section.