Libraries are not just for reading

A guest post by Liz Mytton, the first of our artist-facilitators in our #CreativeCosins summer workshop programme

“If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the value of moving freely. To travel, to shake hands and embrace. In the early months of lockdown last year, I remember driving to my shift (I was a part-time NHS worker at the time) and on observing the empty streets during what would have normally been rush hour, I felt like a character in some apocalyptic thriller – everyone had disappeared.

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World Bee Day

Almost every day it’s international ‘something’ day. You may not know it, but already in just the past month it has been ‘International Hummus Day’, ‘World Naked Gardening Day’ and ‘World Penguin Day’.

So what is the purpose of such days? Well, to celebrate and/or raise awareness…of hummus. And naked gardening. And penguins. But in short, it’s all about the dissemination of information. And as you can imagine, as a library service we’re all for that.

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Looking back

2020: what a year. What a terrible, terrible year. But, in one of our last blog posts of the year, we thought it would be nice to look back at some of the positives for Durham University Library and Collections.

“Positives!?” I hear you cry. Yes, believe it or not, amidst the unrelenting difficulties of 2020 there have been quite a few. In addition to the reactive services we have offered such as Click and Collect or Browse and Borrow, we have implemented a number of service improvements that will stand us in good stead for years to come, as we (hopefully) begin to edge out of the Covid-19 pandemic in the coming months. So, a few highlights to prove it hasn’t all been bad:

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University Library & Collections Staff @home in Durham, Barnard Castle and other world famous locations.

As with so many of our colleagues across the University, over the last couple of months (has it really been that long??) many University Library & Collections staff have been getting used to saying hello to each other through a computer screen, rather than over a cup of coffee in the staff room or across a desk at the start of the working day.

Whilst we miss our conversations with staff and students within our libraries and museums, and across university sites, we hope you’ve been making use of the range of expanded online services we’ve been able to offer over this period. This post offers a reminder of some of those services we provide, alongside a sneak peak inside some of our working-from-home lives.

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An Audience with Bill Bryson

On Wednesday 29th January, we welcomed acclaimed author and former Chancellor Bill Bryson back to the Library that bears his name.  Bill hosted a Q and A in Small Island Coffee which, fittingly, was named after one of his books, Notes from a Small Island.  He has been quoted as saying,

“I couldn’t believe that not once in twenty years had anyone said to me: ‘You’ve never been to Durham? Good God, man, you must go at once! Please – take my car’.”

We were delighted to welcome Bill back to the town he so loves!

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Early Career Librarians: CILIP* Conference 2019

Earlier this summer, two of our colleagues attended this year’s CILIP conference in Manchester, and we asked them if they would be willing to share their experiences and thoughts. If you’d like to know some of the hot-topics in librarianship, get a feel for the personal and professional approaches of our colleagues behind the desk, or just want that reassurance that you’re not alone in experiencing first (or 101st) conference nerves, read on…

*CILIP: Chartered Institute for Information and Library Professionals (https://www.cilip.org.uk/

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On serendipity and libraries…

Earlier this week, my son’s school played host to a visit from Martin Longstaff, who performs under the moniker of ‘The Lake Poets’. For any fans of quality football, this name may not be familiar – but for those who, like my son, support Sunderland AFC, you may recognise at least one his songs – “Shipyards” – which has been used as the theme song to the Netflix series “Sunderland til I die.”

In an interview a few years ago in the Guardian, Martin noted that the name for his musical persona came from a moment of serendipity whilst studying at a university not too far from this esteemed establishment.

“One day in the library at university Longstaff noticed a book, “It was called Recollections of the Lake Poets that explored the works of 19th century romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coelridge, Southey… I read it and thought “The Lake Poets” would make a great band name.”

Brinnand, E ‘The Lake Poets – New Band Up North #37’ Guardian (30 Oct 2013)

A chance encounter in the library with a real world impact on the direction of a student’s trajectory through life.

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