Friday, 18 November 2011

Stockton Library

Yesterday I went to Stockton Library as I heard that they have refurbished the main library.

On the ground floor you go straight into the main library

It in corporates the children's section too

Upstairs is a cafe and comfy seating

and the reference library

As I was walking round having a look and taking a few discrete photos, two ladies came up to me and asked who I was and where was I from. I explained and said that I'd made sure that the photos I'd taken hadn't included people etc. They worked there but I'm not sure if they were librarians or worked for the council as the council offices and customer services are within the library. They were really nice and when I said I used to use the library when I was a child they showed me some photos of when it was first built.

It was in the 70s that I would have been using it - I remember the children's library which seemed really big and was upstairs separate from the adult library and definitely separate from the reference library which I never set foot in. I loved the children's library and spent hours browsing and choosing books. I used to go with my sister and friends after going to the swimming baths across the road. Sometimes I went with my Dad and we could go and choose books then wait for him in the entrance foyer which was marvelous as it had a cafe, toilets and a pond with goldfish which is still there.

It's a great library - vibrant, colorful and interesting.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pepys Library Cambridge

The Pepys Library has been on my list of 'University Libraries to break into' for a couple of years now. It is only open for an hour some days so it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. So on Saturday afternoon I persuaded Joe (my son) that we should go and have a look. He is fairly long suffering about looking in old libraries as long as it only takes 15 mins max.
It was one of the fustiest libraries I've ever been in - basically one big room with glass cases of books. I liked the fact they are arranged by size - that appeals. I didn't know that Samuel Pepys diary was written in a short of short hand - that was interesting to see. There was also some books and illustrations about boats and ships. We bought 3 postcards for which you had to leave the right money on an old china plate not give to the librarian.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Disadvantages of reading in bed

I always read in bed before I go to sleep (and on a weekend when I wake up). I fall asleep reading so the book ends up either falling on to the floor or in the bed somewhere slightly crumpled. Sometimes I read paper based books and sometimes my Kindle. The Kindle has worked well as it's quite light so easy to hold and turn pages with one hand and has not taken up much room.
However today I discovered that I must have leant on it in the night as I discovered it in the bed with a slightly broken screen :( It now has a small part in the top left hand corner which is 'smudged' and a couple of lines down it.

It's still ok and usable but it's a bit disappointing - more so than a few crumpled pages of a paperback. I'll keep using it though.
(ps the book is Bulldog Drummond in case you're wondering)

Monday, 17 October 2011

St Andrews

Yesterday was another University visit with Ben, this time to St Andrews. It took about 4 hours to get there, 3 hours to look round and 4 hours back home but it was worth it. We had a really great day and it was good to spend the day together just us two.
As ever we didn't make it to the library as we didn't have time and there were places he wanted to check out - but at least I found it and saw it from the outside and will be able to go and visit it another time hopefully.

Senate House Library - a bit of nostalgia

I attended the FOTE conference in London which was held at Senate House.
It was a great event and provided some nostalgia for me as I spent quite a lot of time in the library at Senate House in the the 80s while doing my first degree. My friend and I were at Kings College but used Senate House library for philosophy books I seem to remember. In our second year it was en route to the flat where we lived so we would call at a launderette near by and go in the library while waiting for our washing :)
I tried to visit the library while at the conference but there was a queue and it didn't seem likely that I would have been able to persuade them to let me in. Maybe next time.

University of Sheffield

I have been visiting some Universities lately with my son as he is in the process of deciding where he wants to apply to. I keep hoping to get to visit some libraries while I'm there but have not been very successful as yet. This is because either the campus tour doesn't take us in the library, we don't have time or Ben insists that I don't wander off being an embarrassing parent by nosing around the library.
We went to Sheffield a couple of weeks ago and liked it especially the Students Union and the mixture of old and new buildings. We were shown round by a post grad student and the last stop was the library which he said was the 'jewel in the crown' etc. etc. So I thought great. We got to the entrance .....and that was it. He said it wasn't possible to look round and just pointed at things from the entrance. So I don't know why - whether it was because the library doesn't admit visitors or whether he didn't want to take us in - but it would have been interesting.

Great Malvern Library - August 2011

After the hurly burly of Birmingham we went to the Cotswolds - we thought that if the riots happen in Moreton in Marsh then surely that is the end of the world. From there we went to Great Malvern which is one of my favourite places. We have had some glorious times there. Anyhow I decided to visit the library (as you do when on holiday). It has beautiful gardens and is a very nice building. In fact it was very civilised, lots of great books but not fusty. It was busy with a wide range of ages using the resources. I liked the signage - bright and cheery and there was a cafe with cake.

Birmingham City Library - August 2011

We visited Birmingham in August at the beginning of a holiday. We stayed at Malmaison for two nights which was great despite the riots which happened on our second night. However on the first day we looked round the city and as usual I took the opportunity to visit a library.

I was impressed with the library - it had a good atmosphere and was busy with lots going on. There was a wide and diverse range of resources and was welcoming and accessible. The only thing I didn't see the point of was having a sign to say no mobile phones as it would make no difference whatsoever as it was noisy with chatter and goings on. Apart from that it was great.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Holiday reads - 6 books in 7 days

While on holiday and having a break from technology, I managed to read 6 books in 7 days and enjoyed them all. I really enjoyed having the time and space and peace of mind to read more and it felt reassuring that I wasn't bored. We still did lots of other things but it reminded me a bit of being a teenager or of life before children or technology.

The Perfect Proposal and Seagulls in the Attic were easy and happy endings. I like a good murder mystery or whodunit so enjoyed The Shooting in the Shop - I've read all of this series by Simon Brett. The Dick Francis biography was interesting although I skimmed through some of the early stuff until I got to the horse racing parts. The White Queen was quite good although I'm not usually into historical novels. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon was really good - sort of swashbuckling and riproaring. I had read the Final Solution a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it so decided to try this one.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A break from technology and time to read books

While I'm off work for a few days I've decided to have a break from technology

and these are the books I'm going to read in the next week

Friday, 29 July 2011

Disdain for my 'read classic novels in easy readers' plan

My time saving reading plan which I mentioned in a blog post in May is continuing but I have not had any positive feedback whatsoever. The plan was to read classic novels but the 'easy reader versions' as there is not enough time to read all the books I would like to read. I would continue to read other books as usual which would include some classics as well as a wide variety of other genres.
However no-one that I have mentioned this to has had a good a good word to say for it - it has been greeted by blank looks, quizzical stares, guffaws - from colleagues to friends to family. It has brought out the self-righteous comments and logical objections "It's just not the same", "You're not actually reading the proper book", "Why would you do that - it's not the correct language or words". I agree with their comments to some extent - I'm not claiming that I have read the complete works of Jane Austen or every word of Dickens - but I have read the story which is no bad thing.
So I'm carrying on - this morning I read 1984 by George Orwell which was not particularly upbeat and I can safely say that I will not be reading the 'full version' in the future.
Next is My Family and other Animals by Gerald Durrell which I have read the proper version of in the past but need something to cheer me up after 1984.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Paperback v Kindle race by T1 & T2

My two sons, T1 who is 20 and T2 who is 17 are having a race / competition to read the same book at the same time. The book is A Game of Thrones - I've never heard of it but it was recommended by a friend of T1. They sometimes read the same sort of books if it is something fairly generic like Agatha Christies but then T2 goes off on a tangent to read Wilkie Collins or some other 'interesting' novel. He is still plodding his way through Clarissa! T1 reads science books or humorous comedies.
Anyhow the race or competition is because T1 thinks it is much better to read books on the Kindle.
T2 is sticking to his guns with the paper copy as he likes the feel of the book and wants more for his money i.e. content plus an artefact.
So far the advantages of the Kindle version are that 'I didn't have to move off the settee to buy it or download it' and I can make the text bigger. The advantages of the paperback book are that you can flick backwards and forwards more easily to look at the maps and details at the front of the book.
To be continued as they read on......

Book Club books for the summer

For our Book Club we usually choose three books to read over the summer rather than two. We don't meet over the summer as it is usually too difficult to find a date to fit with everyone's summer holidays and family commitments. We do see each other at other events so it is not too bad.
The books we have chosen are

Lionel Shriver - We need to talk about Kevin
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua

which are both coincidently about mothers.

I wanted to read something English and 20th century so The End of the Affair - Graham Greene was suggested.

The first two books I'm reading as paper copies as they are being passed round.
The Graham Greene one I've downloaded onto my Kindle.

I've read the Tiger Mother one so far - quick and easy to read and fascinating. It was very enjoyable and I would recommend it.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Clayport library Durham

Clayport library is the main library in Durham and it is situated opposite the Gala theatre in Millenium Place. It is a newish building on three floors. We walk past it quite often as it's between the carpark and the shops. There is always a lot going on - children's activities and I think it was an embroidery group today.
The staff are always very helpful and there is a good selection of books for all ages. The first floor is reference (I think although I've not used it) and the lower ground the media and computer resources.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Books to read this week

The two books I'm meant to be reading for Book Club are The Tent, the Bucket & Me by Emma Kennedy and Money by Martin Amis. The Tent etc was a quick and easy read and was quite funny in parts but not fantastic. I enjoyed it but didn't love it. I'm avoiding reading Money because I don't really fancy it but that is the point of Book Club books, you have to give them a try and often they are really good.
I have bought a few books over the last week so have started to read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan I'm enjoying it but I've no idea what it's about really or how the different people and events match up. Hopefully I'll find out.
Last week when I was in the Oxfam book shop I bought City Lights by Keith Waterhouse. I'm tempted to read that also before getting round to Money.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Check In / Check Out rather than Issue / Return

One thing that I did notice when looking round the Robinson library was that the signs said Check In / Check Out for the self issue and return. Is this common practice?
The reason that it struck me was because I had already had a discussion with a senior manager at work about a brief report that I had produced for him which included the number of issues. He questioned the number of issues that I had stated that we had thinking that 'issues' meant problems rather than loans. I hadn't appreciated that it might be interpreted as such so will have to be more mindful in future. I had already changed visitors to users in order to be more generic.

Newcastle University Robinson Library

Last week I attended a JISC Collections workshop at the Robinson library at Newcastle University.
I made the most of the opportunity for a look round.

City of Sunderland College - Usworth Sixth Form

The RSC Northern e-Learning Group meeting was held at Usworth Sixth Form College which is part of City of Sunderland College. The library was really nice and bright.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Libraries in York

Last week I attended an event at York St John University - a Higher E-learning Event. While I was there I took the opportunity to have a brief look at their library. One of the computer rooms that we were in for a workshop looked over the library. It looked really good, I have seen pictures before of it, and they said that they are going to make some improvements and updates to it this summer.

After the event I walked back to the station and called in at York City library. It is in an older building as you would expect and very much a modern library experience with lounge areas and a cafe - lots of people, lots of information, lots going on.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Same old, same old.....

Some books are precious because you have read them many times, you know what happens, you like the story and they have a happy ending. To me this is important because on gloomy days they provide comfort and solace. This is not quite as wishy washy and feeble as it sounds but some days I want to read without being intellectually or emotionally challenged. Some days I want to escape from reality and enjoy a nice read. Luckily this doesn't happen very often as I'm usually fairly happy and optimistic, but when it does, these are my favourite cheery reads.
Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell. Matricide at St Marthas by Ruth Dudley Edwards. The Eliza Stories by Barry Pain. Love lessons by Joan Wyndham. The Minack Chronicles by Derek Tangye. Escape from Colditz by Pat Reid. Any Agatha Christie book.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Kindles in the LRC

Managing a Learning Resources Dept: Getting Kindles set up and working for use in LRC: "We have been investigating Kindles for the last few weeks in order to have some available in the LRC for staff and students. We are always ..."

Reading classics - a time saving plan...?

I would like to spend many weeks relaxing and reading books and in particular classic novels. I would like to read them for the story, for the language and words, for the feel of the book and pages and also so that I can say that I have read them. I would like to have a list of hundreds of classic novels and be able to tick them off as read, completed, achieved.
However, I don't see how I am going to achieve this ambition as currently if I read a classic, for example Jane Eyre, it takes at least 4 weeks. This is because I tend to read something more modern or upbeat at the same time and also because I'm usually tired from work or social activities so fall asleep before I've managed to read more than a chapter at bedtime. There is often another book that I would like to read or, especially in stressful times, I like to read old favorites or whodunit mysteries.
Today I had an idea, I would read classic novels but the 'easy reader versions' of which we have a selection in our library. This would enable me to read one per couple of days and therefore could achieve my target easily. So I had a quick look today before leaving work and selected Gullivers Travels.
So far so good but then this evening I mentioned it to Teenager2 my 17yr old son who admittedly is a bit particular when it comes to reading (his favorite author is Wilkie Collins). He was horrified at my idea - "that's a complete cheat" he said "you're not reading the proper book nor the real words".
I agree to some extent - it's not "the real thing" but it is the story, sort of. Is it better to have a quick overview of lots of different books and stories than an in-depth read of a few? I suspect he's right but I think there is still some value in it - how else am I going to read all the books that I want to read in the next 30 years? It's not as if I'm not reading some books 'properly' as there are others on my pile. So tonight it's a chapter of 'Scoop' which I'm reading in full plus a gallop through 'Gullivers Travels'. After all if anyone asks if I've read it, I can say "Of course, who hasn't".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Should Book Club book choices always be what you would like to read?

I think that we are fortunate in our book club that we are all good friends as I think this influences the choice of books that we make. It means that we have some ideas in common, often one of us will suggest a title and a couple of other people will immediately agree that it is a book they would like to read. However the most valuable thing is that if someone really wants to read a title then we will agree even if it doesn't appeal because of friendship aswell as the spirit of the group. In the same way if anyone really doesn't want to read a particular title then that's ok - there's not an obligation. However we did decide that one of our aims was to try and read books that we wouldn't otherwise read - I suppose out of our usual comfort zone for one reason or another. Despite being close friends with lots in common especially children we have a wide range of reading interests. So we try to mix classics with new releases, old favourites with cheery quick reads and books we think we ought to read. This has worked well nearly always even when we read To the Lighthouse and decided we didn't need to read anymore Virginia Woolf. This months choice includes Money by Martin Amis as although no one is looking forward to it, we feel we should read it. To balance it up we're also reading The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The books we have read so far......

I'm in a Book Club with some of my friends.  We all like reading and books and although quite conscientious in general our book club is not very serious or worthy as you fear some book clubs are.  We meet when we can usually every 6 weeks or so and chat and eat cake and drink tea and sometimes talk about the books a lot and other times skim over them as the rest of life intervenes.  We all enjoy being part of a book club and the last 4 years since we began has flown by.
Here is the list of the books we have read so far in reverse order.

The Darling Buds of May - H E Bates
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Room - Emma Donoghue,
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
Operation Mincemeat - Ben Macintyre
Guernica - Dave Boling
 The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper
The Diary of a Nobody - George & Weedon Grossmith
Going Gently - David Nobbs
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
The Bean Tree - Barbara Kingsolver
Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
Girls of Riyadh - Rajaa Alsamea
The Pirate's Daughter - Margaret Cezair-Thompson
Desert Ascent - Simon park
New Europe - Michael Palin
Family Life - Elizabeth Luard
The Elegance of the Hedgehog   Marie Barbey
Dreams from my Father – Barack Obamah
St Agnes Stand – Thomas Eidson
Lady Chatterley – DH Lawrence
The Almost Moon – Alice Sebbold
Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee
Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Gentleman Players – Joanne Harris
Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas
When will there be good news? – Kate Atkinson
Rabbit Run – John Updike
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
Cloning of Joanna May – Fay Weldon
19 Minutes – Jodi Piccoult
Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale
Blood River – Tim Butcher
Join Me – Danny Wallace
Master  & Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Mitford Girls – Mary Lovell
Jekyll & Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 
Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym
What Ho Jeeves – PG Wodehouse
Bitter Sweets – Roopa Farooki
Suite Française – Irène Nemirovsky
The Two of Us – John Thaw – Sheila Hancock
Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin
Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Handful Of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
Matricide at St Martha’s – Ruth Dudley Edwards
History of Love - Nicole Krauss
Promise of Happiness – Justin Cartwright
Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My library tour for #savelibraries

Saturday 5th of February was National Save Libraries Day. There were various events across the country to protest against the planned closures of libraries as part of the government spending cuts.
As there weren't any particular events in this area, the closest being Great Ayton or in N Yorkshire, I decided to do a quick tour of libraries nearby and take books out from each.
First I went to my local library in Sedgefield - it was fairly busy as usual with a few people coming and going getting books and the computers all taken. There are a lot of people who use it on a regular weekly basis. The librarians / assistants are quite friendly, most have been there a long time but they're also quite strict and tell people off. Eg there was a boy who wanted a cut out cardboard sheet to make a dalek from the box on the counter - but oh no, those are for half term & not before. Also I've tried to get fines waived before for son being away at Uni but to no avail. But they are efficient & popular with most users.
Next I went to Bowburn - nice and cheery library - friendly staff. Not very busy but some children and parents were in and it had lots of good books and good atmosphere.
Next to Ferryhill library - it's on the main street and well stocked. The staff looked at me a bit suspiciously but I didn't want to say I was doing a mini tour of libraries for save libraries day in case they thought I was weird. I didn't see any information or details in any of the libraries about the #savelibraries. Got two books out. It's very useful to be able to use the same card across all Durham county libraries. Usually I go to Sedgefield or Clayport library in Durham which is really great.
My last stop was Chilton library - looks grotty from outside but nice inside. Again, lots of good books, only two computers, friendly & efficient staff, got two books out.
I enjoyed my tour and was glad that I did something to support the cause. It would be incredibly sad if you couldn't just walk into a library and enjoy all those wonderful books. Without reading, life wouldn't be worth living.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone