Take a break

You’re busy revising for your exams. You’re spending a lot of time in the library.

And, now that we’re open 24/7 until Friday June 8th you’re able to spend even more time here if you want to.

You’re working hard. You’re committed. You’re going to succeed.

But it’s important to remember that your health and wellbeing are crucial to achieving exam success too: taking rest breaks, eating and sleeping are extremely important. If you walk into the exam room tired, hungry and stressed, your performance might suffer.

That’s why we’re running our Take a break campaign again, to help make sure you’re feeling at your best when it matters. Here are a few suggestions to help you get through the next few weeks feeling fantastic and ready to go:

Picutre of colouring book, pencils a sudoku and wordsearch
Take a break with our colouring books and puzzles

“Colour me calm” notebooks & pencils

Research has shown spending some time doing something creative is relaxing and encourages the brain to function better. Why not pick up one of our fab notebooks, a pack of pencils and spend a few minutes away from your screen scribbling?

Word search & Sudoku

If colouring is not your thing, pick up one of the word searches created by library staff: there are several to choose from, each with a different theme.

Or, if you’re overwhelmed with words, try our Sudokus: fiendish and fun, they’ll keep your mind off of revision for a good few minutes.

Fiction collection

We have a growing fiction collection in print and online which you can escape into whilst having a cup of tea or afternoon snack. Reading is calming and an excellent de-stresser.

……….

When you do take a break from your studies, don’t forget to share your results on Instagram & Twitter with us: and watch out for more suggestions being posted online #CityLibraryExams. Lastly, please remember, however you’re feeling, library staff are here and available if you need help, advice or a friendly chat.

Good luck everyone!

Bookable Individual Silent Study Desks return for 24/7 Opening

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

To help you plan and organise your exam preparation, Library Services are offering Bookable Individual Silent Study Desks on weekdays from 30th April – 8th 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 desks 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 desks is numbered and adorned in the unmistakable and handsome livery of Library Services.

A student surrounded by books and able to concentrate in silence

24 hour opening at Northampton Square Library

From Monday 30th of April until midnight on Friday 8th of June the Northampton Square Library will be open 24/7 for you to study around-the-clock.

24/7

Library staff will be on hand during normal working hours before handing over to our Security colleagues who’ll keep an eye on things until morning: but don’t worry, if you suddenly think of a question overnight we have a host of Library Guides plus our Ask us section available via the website to help support you.

During 24/7 opening we expect Library users to treat staff, other students and university property with respect, to adhere to the Library Services Code of Conduct and to use 24/7 opening responsibly. As we are situated in a residential area, Library users are expected to treat our neighbours with consideration by leaving the premises quickly, quietly and without causing disturbance.

Please also remember to take plenty of breaks when studying and to keep safe when travelling home from the library late at night.

Good luck everybody!

Late availability group study room trial

From Monday April 30th we will be making Group Study Room 3G at the Northampton Square Library available for last minute bookings only. This is a pilot and will last until June 30th.

This has come directly from your feedback at SSLCs and the recent Library Loves Feedback campaigns.

To book room 3G on or after 30th April then you will need to follow the link to ‘Northampton Square Library – Late availability (pilot)’ from the Library Bookings pages.

As ever, we welcome your feedback on this or any other issue. Please do let us know what you think by completing our online feedback form, or by filling in one of the paper feedback forms at the Library Service Desks.

Charlton Heston, Vietnam and the NUS Grants Campaign

City has a long tradition of its student publications featuring strong and politically charged editorials stretching right back to its founding as the Northampton Institute in the 1890s.

Take this edition of Beacon from May, 1968 as an example:

Black and white front cover of The Beacon, May 1968, featuring the headline 'Vietnam No'
Beacon Front Cover, May 1968

The front cover features a quote from a Royal Shakespeare Company production of a play called ‘US’, used to help illustrate the publication’s anti-Vietnam War stance: and there is a two-page spread inside on pages 6 and 7 which deals with some of the issues involved in the conflict, including examining some of the facts behind the headlines.

But arguably it’s the Editorial which is most interesting. It talks about the dehumanising aspect of war and how it can be easy to forget that it’s not organisations or countries fighting or being bombed, but people- human beings affecting the lives of others. It also talks about the impact of geography on how we understand and interpret events, suggesting that because a country like Vietnam is so far away people don’t see it as having much impact on their lives and so care less about the war and more about what are, by contrast, trivial matters local to them, commenting that “sometimes we should perhaps remember that there is a world outside.”

The piece concludes with a rather stark assessment of the political climate and a hint at the dangers of apathy which often prevails on such matters:

“Thus we look at the gathering storm of protest. The songs, the speeches, the banners. We try and stir the conscience. Not just because a baby was burnt to a cinder by napalm yesterday, but because we let it happen.”

This powerful statement demonstrates the importance of giving voice to people and facilitating freedom of speech and expression, even during the most challenging of times: and how local journalism, including student newspapers, have often provided such an opportunity.

In the classic tradition of tabloid newspapers and The One Show though, the Beacon did like to offer its readers a lively mix of politics, Union society updates and photos of students being silly. In addition, there was regular content such as these film reviews featuring the Charlton Heston classic Planet of the Apes, although evidently the concept of ‘Spoiler Alert’ wasn’t a thing back then:

 

Film reviews from Beacon including for the film Planet of the Apes, May 1968
Beacon Film Reviews, May 1968

 

Finally, from this edition, there’s some handy guidance on how to write a letter to your local MP to complain about the cost of going to university and advocate to back the proposals of the NUS campaign for better student grants- although it’s not clear if the Secretariat covered the costs of stamps as well…

 

A letter template from Beacon in May 1968
Guide to Writing to Your Local MP, Beacon May 1968

Do a good deed on World Earth Day

UN International Mother Earth Day (sometimes called World Earth Day) is on the 22nd April. This day celebrates planet earth and its many interdependent ecosystems. The day reminds us each that we have a collective responsibility to live in harmony with nature and achieve sustainable balance.

The UN have developed a series of Sustainable Development Goals. These range from ensuring there is no poverty and zero hunger to protecting the seas and supporting clean water and sanitation. Following these will mean that everyone can enjoy and prosper in the world.

Good deeds

You can support International Mother Earth Day by making a few simple changes or doing some good deeds.

1. ABC  = Always be carrying, whether it’s a reusable water bottle, a keep cup for take away coffee, or an extra bag for those last minute shopping trips. Don’t use single use plastic. It will end up in the ocean even if you bin it after use.

2. Plan meals carefully to avoid food waste or reuse uneaten food the next day.

3. Walking a few minutes each day is good for your physical and mental wellbeing. It can also support sustainability.

4. Grow a plant at home. Plants are good for clearing the air and it could also produce food. A chilli plant is easy to grow from either seeds or seedlings.

5. Switch off lights or devices when not in use. This is an easy one that any one can do.

bee team around hive
The City Bee Team examine one of the hives on top of Innovation Centre

 

Head to the City website to read more about the variety of schemes which City organises to ensure sustainability at City and to promote sustainable development in the community.

From the archives: Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

One of the gems of our rare books collection is a complete copy of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which was published in 1789.

12 beautiful leather bound books
Twelve books of Decline and Fall

It’s a six volume work. Each volume is split in two making twelve books in total. The complete work covers the story of the Roman Empire from the second century CE (the time when Gladiator was set) to the fifteenth century. It’s not just a history of the Roman Empire but the history of much of Europe, Africa and Asia during this long period.

The first volume was published in 1776, the same year when the United States of America declared Independence. The final volume was published in 1788 (the year before the French Revolution). This was a time of both great change and disruption, but also continuation and tradition.

This period is sometimes called the Enlightenment. During this time scholars around the world (especially in intellectual centres like Birmingham, Edinburgh, Paris, London and Boston) wrote books and articles which challenged previous ways of thinking. Gibbon was part of this movement. He  believed that the fall of the Roman Empire was caused by, and caused, the growth of medievalism. He thought this was a bad thing and that the Roman Empire was a good thing. The Roman Empire was built on colonialism and slavery and saw massive inequality.

Decline and Fall is both an epic work and a piece of sustained scholarship, however it is of its time. Some of Gibbon’s conclusions are not necessarily followed today, but he is still praised for a fine and vigorous prose style.

frontispiece image
The frontispiece

The state of scholarship

This map shows the relative knowledge of Italy and Egypt. Italy was a stopping point on the infamous Great Tour and many rich Britons would have visited it. Very few Europeans had traveled to Egypt at the time Gibbon was writing his work. Now a days a lot more is known about Egypt, almost more than Italy or Greece, due to discovery of extensive papyrus records.

A line drawing map of Eastern Mediterranean
A map of the Eastern Mediterranean
Greece and Italy map line drawing
A map of Greece and Italy
Egypt map line drawing
A map of Egypt

The author

Gibbon was briefly an MP in parliament but his greatest achievement was this history. He was noted for the critical use of primary sources and was a great example of the value and importance of a solid underpinning of information literacy.

He was also a very well traveled man and a part of that great European Republic of Letters which has survived even to this day in places like City, University of London which value and support the importance of internationalism.

Author portrait from frontispiece

For many people, perhaps, Gibbon’s legacy can be summed up in the apocryphal words of King George III ”Another damned big black book, Mr. Gibbon. Scribble, scribble, scribble – eh, Mr. Gibbon?” It’s certainly a big book, bigger than anything by Tolstoi, but just as readable.

In the 240 odd years since its publication, even though few have read it and the world has changed, many of Gibbon’s presumptions and ideas have become commonplace. Returning to the beginning and learning good information literacy, we can learn to challenge many of these ideas and begin to write our own histories.