Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday

A post by Learning Coordinator Charlotte Spink.

On Sunday 15 May the Oriental Museum hosted Buddha’s Birthday celebrations. This event was particularly special after a two-year break owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was wonderful to welcome back our visitors and see the museum full of people.

Buddha’s Birthday, also known as Vesak or Wesak, is celebrated around the world and commemorates the birth of Buddha in around 563 BCE. Born a prince, Buddha went on to renounce his privileged royal life and become a holy man, ultimately reaching Enlightenment. 

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back again with a long-awaited intern update. I’m glad to have the opportunity to sit myself down and reflect on these last few hectic and varied months. It’s been a busy year so far – just how I like it!

One of the largest and heaviest books I’ve ever had to retrieve – the Hartlepool Antiphonal, yes that is the size of an entire trolley!
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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back with another update on my Archives and Special Collections internship. This month I’ve been with the Learning and Engagement team who are based at the Oriental Museum and here at PGL. I’ve seen them around the building and requesting material for their sessions so I’ve been curious to see what they actually get up to – I certainly found out!

Do remember, (for how could we forget) that a lot of what the learning team did while I was with them was adapted to COVID restrictions, i.e. being unable to have large groups in the building or to go out to schools. However, this does mean they’ve fine-tuned their digital learning sessions to adapt to remote teaching and I was lucky to witness how they manage it.

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The Student Art Prize

The Student Art Prize launched in October 2019 to expand opportunities around creativity and to develop a new permanent student art collection, housed within the university’s wider art collection, but available as a resource for the whole community.

Want to know more about the University’s annual art prize, see works by previous winners, meet other artists, find out more about our ‘Art Prize Art School’ programme and, most importantly, find out how to apply? The launch party for the 2021/22 Student Art Prize will take place on Tuesday 9th November, 5.30pm-7pm at the Oriental Museum. Spaces are limited and booking is essential.

To get you in the mood, here are 3 of the shortlisted works from last year’s prize where the theme was HEROISM, accompanied by some words from the artists:

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello, Beth again here with an update on my Archives and Special Collections internship. This time, I’ve been spending the last month with Visitor Services – an entirely different side to the building I’m used to seeing so far.

In my first week I was introduced to what Durham University has on offer for members of the public to visit. In the Palace Green Library (PGL) building, we currently have two exhibition spaces open to the public – the Museum of Archaeology exhibit and the Durham Light Infantry Collection Gallery upstairs. These are free to access and while they can be booked online via Eventbrite, we do have spaces available to curious visitors who walk in subject to availability. We also have the UNESCO World Heritage Site Visitor Centre that has recently been relocated into the building and is freely open to the public without any booking. We also have the front desk, where visitors can ask for directions or assistance and buy tickets to tour the Castle, tourist information leaflets and a gift shop.

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Graduate intern update: Elisabeth

Graduate intern Elisabeth Prestgard updates us on what she’s been up to in the last month or so…

Hello again everyone! Here is my update for the month. The Document Delivery Service team has recently changed its name to Interlibrary Loans team. I’m still part of both the ILL and Customer Service teams. I have been working more days onsite, which has been nice as it allows me to learn more about the different queries at the Help and Information Desk, and it gives me the opportunity to meet friendly and interesting people in person (especially since a lot of my time has been spent working from home.)

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University Library and Collections – favourites from our collections…

As part of our World Book Day celebrations, we’ve been exploring the theme of ‘Choice – curiosity has no age limits and neither do books.’ There can be no better examples of this than from our very own collections held within our archives, special collections and museums. With a vast range of books that are as fascinating today as they were when first written, they continue to generate a desire to discover and learn and will cultivate this curiosity for many, many years to come. 

With that in mind, we’ve asked some of our librarians and curators to choose their favourite book from our collections and share their insight into these incredible items… 

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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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Digital Diwali – November 2020

Another impact of Covid-19 has been on how museums engage with their communities. In previous years, the Oriental Museum has hosted large-scale Diwali celebrations on site, attracting over 400 students, staff and people from the local community. In 2020 the celebrations moved online, and museum staff found new ways to get people involved. We invited people to create videos showcasing how they celebrate Diwali, what this time of year means to them, their favourite food and recipes and reflections on how things will be different this year.

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#Hist2020: History Day 2020, celebrating our collections

Every year University College London organises a day for academic, cultural and heritage institutions to come together to showcase the enormous range of historic collections in archives, libraries and museums. In pre-Covid times, the day would be held at Senate House and would be attended by anyone in London with a serious interest in historical research.

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