Discover Roald Dahl at City Library

City Library doesn’t just do books. We also subscribe to tons of great online resources including access to exclusive streamable TV shows and films with Box of Broadcasts (BOB).

This week sees the release of a “live-action” adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG, starring Mark Rylance. Several of Roald Dahl’s children’s books have been turned into films.

Below are listed just a few of the many films and TV you can watch through Box of Broadcasts.

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  • The BFG , this animated film from 1989, tells the story of Sophie, a  young orphan who escapes from her dreary life with the help of a friendly giant she catches blowing “dreams” into her window one night. Sophie goes on an adventure through Giant Land and Dream Country. The film ends with British military intervention against the sovereign state of Giant Land and the incarceration of the surviving giants in a big pit.
  • James and the Giant Peach is a brilliant movie. It tells about the adventures of a young orphan who escapes his evil aunts aboard a floating giant peach inhabited by friendly giant bugs. Will our intrepid heroes make it to the Big Apple?

    Student holding several books.
    A pile of books ready to read.
  • The Witches is a spooky tale, in which a young orphan is turned into a mouse by a group of witches. With the help of his grandmother, he tracks them down to a seaside hotel for an epic final showdown.
    If you liked Nicolas Roeg’s other great film Don’t Look Nowyou will love this.
  • Matilda is a young boffin, frustrated with her family life. With the help of a library card, and an insatiable love of reading, she develops psychic powers. Will these powers allow her to take on the adult world, which she despises?
    Watch out for Pam Ferris in the stand out performance of her career in her role as Miss Trunchbull.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a charming film that depicts the picaresque adventures of a young, poor boy named Charlie Bucket who wins a prize trip to enter the magical world of master chocolatier William Wonka. Its plot resembles a locked room murder mystery, as one character after another is taken down. Will Charlie discover who, or what, are behind these accidents?“Who can take a sunrise, Sprinkle it with dew, Cover it in chocolate, And a miracle or two?”
    Sweet treats in the library
    Nothing beats curling up with a good book and some sweet treats, well maybe nothing except watching the film adaptation on BOB.


  • Fantastic Mr Fox George Clooney and Meryl Streep star as Mr and Mrs Fox in this pleasant animated film about a group of woodland critters pitted against three evil farmers. In many ways this film can be read as a critique of factory farming. Watch out for a cameo from Jarvis Cocker.

How many have you seen? Watch them all with CityLibrary Search 

Explore the Library Service's Film, Music and Drama resources
Explore the Library Service’s Film, Music and Drama resources


City Library commemorates the Battle of the Somme

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On this day, over 100 years ago, around 20,000 British soldiers died. By the end of the battle in November 1916 there had been over one million casualties on both sides for little military gain. Sadly this high number is not unique and other battles during this conflict, and other conflicts in later years, have surpassed this number.

A commemoration for the 100th anniversary at London Liverpool Street Station #wearehere

The 1st July 1916 nevertheless stands as an important symbol of the massive loss of life during the First World War. That is why there are many commemoration services taking place around the country today. One of the worst tragedies of a terrible century of conflict, its anniversary allows us time to pause and reflect on war’s destruction.


Several writers explored their feelings of the conflict in poetry and prose:

  • Wilfred Owen did not fight at the Somme in 1916, but his poetry depicts the deep tragedy and futility of the war. He wrote in a draft preface that “all a poet can do today is warn”. Tragically he did not survive the war dying the week before its end.  His poetry was set to music by Benjamin Britten in his great “War Requiem”.
  • Pat Barker’s Regeneration depicts the work of psychiatrist WHR Rivers,  who treated soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder during the war. Both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, who were treated by Rivers, are characters in this book. A great book, it explores themes of sexuality and identity.
  • Owen Sheer’s Resistance describes a counter-factual history of World War 2, much like Amazon Prime’s popular Man in the High Castle series. There is a cameo in his book by David Jones, artist and poet, whose epic war poem describing his experiences during the Somme, In Parenthesis, was called by TS Eliot “a work of genius” and by Auden as “the greatest book about the First World War”.

Reading, watching and responding to the artworks inspired by the war must make us realise how terrible war is and how important it is to seek peaceful forms of international co-existence. In today’s post Brexit world this is more important than ever.

See more poetry from CityLibrary Search:


24/7 Library Opening

24/7 opening at Northampton Square Library starts today and will end on Friday 3rd June 2016.

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 causing no disturbance.

If 24/7 opening at exam time is a service you would like Library Services to continue to provide then you are expected to adhere to these requests.

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

For further information please see 24/7 library opening

A busy student working til the early hours.

Happy World Book and Copyright Day

Tomorrow is World Book and Copyright Day. The 23rd April marks the date in 1616 on which Shakespeare and Cervantes, two giants of world literature, both passed. The day, launched by UNESCO in 1995, aims to encourage everyone to discover the pleasure of reading and to “gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity”.

Why not celebrate this day by exploring some of the great classics of literature through CityLibrary Search?


  • Homer During Antiquity the Iliad and Odyssey had become central cultural texts. They were even used in ancient classrooms to teach children basic literacy. Whilst the identity of Homer is questioned, the beauty of both poems are not.  The Lattimore and Fagles translations held by City Library are considered among the best. For the completely smitten we also have online versions of some of the original Ancient Greek books.
Dr Samuel L Johnson

Did you know that every year Unesco along with publishers, booksellers and libraries select the World Book Capital for each year? This year we chose Wrocław in Poland.

  • During her life Jane Austen was a moderately successful author. Since her death her stature has grown and she is now considered a canonical author of the English literary canon. People often have preconceptions of her work but they are worth reading. Lots of readers love Pride and PrejudiceEmma is considered her more mature work. It displays the skills of an author confidently portraying fully developed characters with only a few words. This novel also inspired the classic 1995 film Clueless.
  • Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe is a brilliant book. Set in 1890 in a fictionalised village in Nigeria, the book centres on Okonkwo and follows the tension between two different cultural traditions. A modern classic, the novel invites rereading.

Did you know that in some areas of Spain St George’s Day, on the 23rd April as well, is celebrated by the exchange of books between loved ones? Maybe recommend a loved one’s favourite book for our shelves through MoreBooks.

  • Stephen’s Copyright LibGuide is a classic read. Going through the complexities of Copyright Law he presents it in a clear and easy to understand manner. Not only is it a great read but it is very important to know about copyright – both for students and staff.
    If you only read one text to mark World Book and Copyright Day make it this one.

Books of the Irish

Ireland is known as the land of saints and scholars. This is partly because of its preeminence in monastic scholarship during the early medieval period, but is there more to Ireland than this?

The answer is, of course, yes. Ireland is famous around the world for the massive contribution its writers have made to literature. This St Patrick’s Day why not explore the luscious literature of this much loved land of lays and fae through CityLibrary Search.

Here are five highlights from our collections:

  • Tristram Shandy is a brilliant novel. It was written by the sometime Anglo-Irish priest and novelist Laurence Sterne. Ostensibly it follows the life of an eponymously named young man, however the cumulative effect of its meandering plot can hardly be called a bildungsroman of the classic school. Rather it is, in the words of a great critic, “a post-modern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about. So it was way ahead of its time and, in fact, for those who haven’t heard of it, it was actually listed as number eight on the Observer’s top 100 books of all time“.
  • Ulysses by James Joyce is the archetypal classic of Ireland: brilliant, translucent and at times puzzling. Giddy with gorgeous prose the book follows the lives of three characters over one day, experiencing their feelings and mental processes in a raw and honest state. Every year on 16th June fans of the book congregate in Dublin to reenact scenes from the book. However it’s a big book. It might be good to start now.
  • W. B. Yeats is possibly the great poet of the twentieth century. Producing a large body of work of high artistic merit throughout his life, his style nevertheless changed as he sought to express his own truth.  In 1923 he became the first Irish person to be awarded Nobel Prize for Literature. Yeats is also one of the select group of artists who have been immortalised by the Lord Bragg on his BBC radio show In Our Time.
  • At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien is the great modern classic of Irish fiction. A funny and intelligent metafictional book in which the act of writing becomes the act of genesis as the characters of a young student writer began to write their own plots and that of their author’s.
  • A Girl is A Half Formed Thing from 2014 is a genuine instant classic. Eimear McBride, who grew up in Ireland, received many  rejection letters for her novel from a lot of publishers before the Galley Beggar Press saw its great artistic value and published it. Since then it has gone on to win a slew of awards and has mesmerised audiences around the world. The stage version is even currently playing at the Young Vic.


Celebrating International Women’s Day at City Library

International women's day logo

Today is International Women’s Day. On this day every year we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women from around the world.

City University is proud of its female staff. Whether they have achieved great successes outside of the workplace or led impactful research on a range of issues that affects people from around the world, they have shown great strength and dynamism and brought value to society. They are an inspiration to us all.

City Library holds many books by inspiring women both from City and from around the world. Their work has brought forth much good and their remarkable stories of achievement inspire and push us all. We hope you check out these items and push the boundaries of what can be accomplished for everyone.

  • Malala Yousafzai is a truly inspiring person. She gained international fame at a young age as a fearless blogger and activist for human rights and female education in Pakistan. In 2012 she survived an attempted assassination which aimed to silence her work. Recovering from that attack, she has since travelled the world advocating for human rights and female education, speaking to world leaders and at the UN. In 2014 she was the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. If you have seen it yet, watch this film or read her book today.
  • Annie Leibovitz is one of the foremost photograph portraitists working today. Famous photos have included the Rolling Stones in their early seventies pomp, the last ever portraits taken of John Lennon and photographs of the Queen. She has inspired a whole slew of photographers since.
  • Professor Susan Gathercole through her long career, Susan has researched specific learning difficulties in children. Focusing on understanding memory problems, she has shown how kids can be supported through training and in the classroom.
  • Chloë Fox was a noted Australian politician. Following her postgraduate study at City, Chloë won a stunning landslide election victory in 2006 in an opposition marginal seat. In 2011 she was appointed SA Transport Services Minister. After she left politics in 2014 she became a teacher. She is just one of the great political success stories from City University. You can find out more about the successes at City from the alumni webpages.
  • J.K. Rowling Astute business women and media mogul, Joanne Rowling is best known for creating the Pottermore Empire single handedly from an Edinburgh coffee shop. An icon to startups everywhere, she understood the key to success in business is having a good story. The company mascot she created, “Harry Potter”, now rivals Bibendum Man and Gio Compario in lists of favourite corporate creations. Since retirement she has tried her hand at writing: one of her books even got adapted by the BBC.

Find out more about International Women’s Day at City University London and the City women who have been achieving the extraordinary since 1894 on our #IWD2016 minisite.

Love is in the Library

Today is Valentine’s Day. Sweethearts around the country will be swapping cards and flowers. Sometimes it can be a very expensive day, but it doesn’t need to be. CityLibrary Search has tons of great resources to help you celebrate this festival of love. Here are five of our favourite romantically themed items from our collections.

  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is the classic love story. If you don’t know the play, you will know the story: star crossed lovers from different sides of the track falling in love (think West Side Story or Buffy and Angel). If you are new to the play, this BBC recording from 1978 is a great place to start. Watching it this year will have added resonance as it was also the big onscreen debut of the great Alan Rickman.
  • Pride and Prejudice is a great novel. There’s romance at the heart of the story, but the book contains much much more than that. In it you get a humorous view of the joys and pains of falling in love, a gentle comedy of manners, a sharp and ironic dissection of  Georgian society, and let’s not forget that scene. Very few readers will forget when hunky Mark [sorry, Fitzwilliam] Darcy climbs out of the pond in his wet shirt and kegs #swoon. Set in Regency England, the novel still resonates and enthralls readers today.
  • George and Mildred Box of Broadcasts has tons of great videos, often episodes of shows which aren’t available elsewhere. Choosing one couple from the great TV power couples was hard – Jack and Vera, Homer and Marge, Miss Piggy and Kermit etc – but we have chosen George and Mildred – one of the sweetest TV couples ever. If you have never seen it before, now is your chance.
  • My Beautiful Laundrette directed by Stephen Frears from a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi is one of the great classics of Cinema. Set in London during the Thatcher era, the film explores how the relationships of characters develop  across communities, classes, generations and sexual identities.
  • Wings of desire an angel in 80s Berlin falls in lurve with a mortal circus performer. So beautiful. Look out for cameos from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Peter Falk (aka Columbo). The stand out star is of course the State Library at the edge of the Potsdamer Platz where angels listen in to the readers thoughts.

We want your feedback

Design, Deliver and Develop Library Services

Last year we asked you for your feedback to help improve Library Services and you responded in droves. Over 4,300 students took part in at least one university survey, including 73.9% of final year undergrads who took part in the National Student Survey. You can find out more about the changes that have taken place around the university on the university’s website.

Your feedback is instrumental in designing, delivering and developing your Library Service. We’ve made lots of improvements over the past two years, much of which has been as a direct result of student feedback. So please keep the feedback coming, it really does make a difference.”

Louise Doolan, Director of Library Services

These are just some reasons why you should give your feedback. In the past two years we have made the following changes to Library Services.

Cold Food policy

You can now bring cold food into the all libraries. To stop other students being disrupted we only ask that the food is cold, that it isn’t smelly or messy, and that you use the bins afterwards. So far this scheme has been very successful.


Library Essentials

Library Services have introduced a new series of short workshops to help you get up to scratch on all aspects of Library Services. From Getting to know CityLibrary to employability workshops these series will help you get the most from Library Services during your time at City.

Opening Hours

  • Northampton Square Library and Cass Learning Resource Centre are both open 24/7 during exams (in January and May)
  • Northampton Square is now open between Christmas and New Year
  • We have also introduced regular Sunday opening throughout term time at Gray’s Inn Place
  • The new Graduate School Library Centre is open for the same hours as the University Library during term time.

newsletter entrance exit

More seats for you

Following feedback we have added:

  • More seats than ever in all the libraries.
  • A new Welcome Zone in the Cass Learning Resource Centre designed to support interactive student engagement
  • A new group study room at Gray’s Inn Place Library
  • A completely new silent study computer lab on level 6 of the University Library
  • 53 new study spaces (and counting) on levels 5 and 6 of the University Library

More Stuff on shelves

In the last two years, acting directly on feedback from you, we have:

  • Dedicated funds set aside to buy books recommended by you. Suggest a book to Read for Research or More Books and we will buy it.
  • Expanded print and e-book collections using student-led selection models
  • Expanded e-journal collections across all subject areas
  • Purchased new databases to support education
  • Purchased additional Bloomberg terminals
  • Introduced fiction collections at the University, Cass and Law libraries.

Borrow More Books newsletter

Easier Services

  • We introduced CityLibrary Search, a new resource discovery tool, making it easier for you to search a wide range of Library resources from a single search bar. We have made several smaller improvements to how it works because of feedback from you.
  • You can now pay fines online to help you manage your library account.
  • You can now book a 1-2-1 with a subject Librarian through our “one click” system.
  • You can check our LibAnswers website for any FAQs.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Russian troops. Auschwitz was the most notorious of many such camps in which many millions of people  were murdered during the Holocaust. The majority of these people were Jewish, although many other groups were targeted by this crime: political opponents to the Nazi regime, homosexuals, Roma, ethic minorities and disabled people among others. Tragically genocides like this have happened since. On the 27th January every year we remember the millions of people who have been murdered, or whose lives have been changed by genocide, both during the Shoah and in later conflicts.

Writing in the 1950s, Theodor Adorno wrote that to write poetry after Auschwitz was barbaric. Several writers however, have used the medium of literature to bear witness to this crime and to examine how it happened in order that one day it can be prevented ever happening again.

The library holds several books about the Holocaust and genocide which are both powerful pieces of literature and also calls to action from each of us to stop it ever happening again.

  • Anus mundi : five years in Auschwitz written by Wieslaw Kielar is a very moving and harrowing account of the author’s experiences at Auschwitz.
  • Maus, by Art Speiglemann, is both a biography of the author’s parents, and a depiction of their experiences of the shoah and the effect it had in their lives after the war. A comic book, in which Jewish characters are drawn as mice and Germans are drawn as cats, it is both profoundly tragic and deeply moving. It is surely one of the great books of the 20th century.
  • If This is Man by Primo Levi is a powerful book inspired by the author’s experiences in Auschwitz. A trained chemist, at one time Levi was helping the German war effort, before he was sent to Auschwitz. Levi was one amongst a generation of great Jewish Italian writers, whose lives were effected by the holocaust.
  • Following the war many of the Nazi leaders were put on trial for Crimes against Humanity. Telford Taylor, who was counsel to the prosecution, wrote his memoirs of the trials which was published posthumously in 1992. The anatomy of the Nuremberg trials: a personal memoir is a very interesting and moving book of this aspect of the Shoah.
  • Hannah Arendt examined the illness that grew fruit to such evil, in books such as Eichmann in Jerusalem and The origins of totalitarianism . Her most famous theory, the banality of evil, described the actions of Eichmann a mild mannered man who nevertheless organised the murder of millions. She wrote it as she was reported on his trial in Israel in 1968 for the New Yorker magazine.
  • International criminal law and human rights by City academic Claire de Than explores  how issues of International Human Rights and International Criminal Law overlap. In it she explores how the International Criminal Court can try international crimes such as Genocide.

These books must be read so that we always remember the tragedy and evil that is genocide.

Book Review: Oscar and Lucinda

A world classic from Australia

Oscar and Lucinda is a great little book. It follows the adventures of the two eponymous characters both in Australia and Europe. Oscar Hopkins and Lucinda Leplastrier are Southern star crossed lovers [geddit?] and gamblers from different sides of the world. Their will they/won’t they relationship is just one of the many elements in this novel, that will leave you wanting to read more.

The sweetest things: stress apples and great literature are the best things to relax with.
The sweetest things: stress apples and great literature are the best things to relax with.

Inspired by several great books – such as Gosse’s Father and Son and Patrick White’s Voss  – this novel nevertheless takes its own unique course. As the characters set off on their own visionary journeys, the book becomes, at times, reminiscent of both magic realism and postmodernism , and of the Australian walkabout. This classic of Australian fiction will leave you literally breathless.

Unputdownable and deep

This book is great and should be read. It’s a real page-turner but discusses deep and challenging issues that are still important today. 5 stars.