Category Archives: Uncategorized

50 objects 50: the people behind the books

In this blog series we’ve discussed many items and collections the Library makes available to staff, students, and visitors, but we haven’t discussed the mechanics of how that happens. The reality is that the Library couldn’t function in the same ways to support research and teaching without its staff.

The Library employs some sixty staff. Some of them you see often doing outward-facing tasks such as staffing the enquiry desk, helping find particular items, and teaching information literacy, but the ones behind the scenes are no less important to the smooth running of Library services.

There are people who buy the physical and electronic resources, who catalogue them, and who work on the systems and databases that enable you to search for them online. Staff work in research data management, meaning that data generated by research at Brunel is made freely available for further study. Others build displays and generate posters and social medial posts. There are administrative staff who make sure everything runs smoothly, and there are the Library Management Team who fight for and direct the Library’s budget, resources, and best practice.

In addition there are around fifty student staff members, who do invaluable work in helping to keep the library open 24/7 in term time. The Library is a more pleasant environment because of  those who move the furniture to accommodate different teaching and learning styles, and who clean the floors and empty the bins.

Of course people aren’t objects, but the objects we’ve discussed in this series are made accessible and meaningful by people: a library is always more than a space with books in, and Brunel is fortunate in having a team of skilled and dedicated staff who make the Library an excellent resource.

Advertisements

50 Objects 49: Miami Vice DVD

miami-viceA post by Oliver Thompson, Library Assistant.

A skilled martial artist single-handedly defeating 30 opponents whilst blindfolded. A Miami cop speeding in a Ferrari after a drug baron in a Lamborghini. An iconic grunge band performing live. One may not associate such things with a University library, but they can all be found on the shelves at Brunel. Although it exists primarily for academic purposes, the library hosts a wealth of material that can be enjoyed purely for its entertainment value, including fictional works, DVDs and Music CDs, all available free to check out for Brunel students and staff.

novel-the-shining

There are many popular and critically acclaimed novels available, from authors such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George Orwell, JG Ballard, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and Terry Pratchett. Popular series such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and His Dark Materials are also available.

 

dvd-nirvana-live

There is an eclectic library of movies that cater for every taste, including blockbusters such as Avatar, and Back To The Future, comedies such as Spinal Tap and Little Shop Of Horrors, horror films such as 28 Days Later and Psycho, martial arts films such as The Raid, and anime such as Ninja Scroll. The library also holds an extensive collection of public lectures, documentaries and musical performances on DVD.

 

CD - Jeff Buckley.jpgYou can also find a wide library of musical recordings in the library, including Jazz, Classical, Electronic, Rock, Pop, Soundtracks and music from around the world. Beethoven, Jeff Buckley, Miles Davis, and countless others can all be found in the music department.

 

magazine-qOn the top floor of the library there is an extensive selection of journals and periodicals dealing with a very wide range of subjects, including dance, sports, theatre, politics and video games amongst many others, so whatever your interest it is likely that there will be something of interest. Whether you want to take up a new hobby such as photography, learning a new language, film-making, or become adept at chess, learn to paint or get to grips with a new software program, it is likely there will be a book or electronic resource available from the library.

 

There are many things to discover here at the library, so next time that you visit keep an eye and an ear out for the unexpected.

Explore Archives

This week is a great time to get involved in archives and special collections that interest you! Have a look at the Explore Your Archive main page to see what’s happening near you, and look at the #explorearchives posts on Twitter and other social media.

Find out about our collections:

Special Collections at Brunel is home to a huge array of material that can support your research. You can find out more by using our A-Z list of collections, or consulting our Special Collections guide, where we’ve highlighted collections of particular interest to English or History students.

You can search our collections by subject or keywords – use the library catalogue for printed material and the archive catalogue for manuscript.

Browse the Special Collections blog, where you can use the tags to find posts on particular themes, such as the First World War or trains.

You can see more about us on Twitter and Instagram too.

If you are looking for collections beyond Brunel you will find a list of resources on our guide.

Using Special Collections

Our collections are kept on closed access, so you will need to make an appointment with the Special Collections Librarian to come and see them once we re-open in January. If you haven’t used Special Collections or archival material before there is a guide on our blog.

 

50 objects 46: register of parcels going through Padstow station

Everyday administrative records can give valuable insights into aspects of life in the past, and often become more interesting with age. This book is a register kept as part of the standard records at Padstow station in Cornwall, from 1921 to 1952.

This station, the terminus at the western end of the North Cornwall Railway, was opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1899. As railway companies changed and merged the station changed ownership, and when it closed in 1967 it was owned by British Railways. The station was served by the Atlantic Coast Express, which ran direct from London Waterloo.

As the port at Padstow sent out a great deal of fish, the station had a separate fish loading platform. This was closed in 1950s as the trade in fish declined. This website gives more details on the freight trains, including the dedicated fish service running to Nine Elms.

The register’s full title is “L. & S. W. Ry – Register of traffic forwarded or received unentered account to follow: [blank] station”, and each page comes with instructions and ready-labelled columns to complete. This was a standard printed LSWR book issued to their stations. “Padstow” has been filled in on some pages of this one.

padstowbig

The register keeps note of parcels or goods being sent by train for which there is some anomaly or for which a payment is due. The information filled in by hand or stamp for each individual transaction varies in detail and legibility, and the precise directions are not always followed, but the entries as a whole give snapshots over a thirty-year period of the range of goods being sent, the stations to and from which they were sent, and the costs involved.

Many of the entries are for fish or other foodstuffs, but there is also an entry for a corpse, sent in December 1940 to Stepps in North Lanarkshire: perhaps a fallen soldier? Kept in the pages for 1940 is a loose memo, written in pencil and dated 20th September 1940, concerning a delayed delivery and noting that “during the current emergency” (that is, during World War Two, owing to the disruption to rail services) the special charges for fish sent to London Waterloo would also apply to fish sent to Paddington.

fishnote1

 

50 objects 45: The most borrowed book of 2015-2016

A post by Oliver Thompson, Library Assistant.

All kinds of statistical data is whizzing around the library and being recorded, with the ultimate purpose of improving the student experience through increased efficiency. This includes the number of books in stock, the number of students in the building at any time and the number of PC’s being used in any specified area. One of the most interesting uses of statistical data is to record how many times an item has been checked out. This measures the relative popularity of a title and can indicate whether the currently held quantities of a particular title are sufficient or should be adjusted.

business-2015During the 2015-2016 academic period the most popular title borrowed from the library was Business Research Methods by Alan Bryman and Emma Bell, which was checked out a total of 684 times. This particular title is currently available from the library in four different editions, having originally been published in 2003 (HD30.4.B78) and most recently in 2015 (HD30.4.B78 2015). Adapted from Bryman’s own ‘Social Research Methods’, according to the blurb this title provides students with ‘a comprehensive introduction to the area of business research methods. It gives students an assessment of the contexts within which different methods may be used and how they should be implemented.’

business-2003Alan Bryman is Professor of Organisational and Social research at the University of Leicester, which he joined in 2005 after working at the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University for 31 years. He has contributed to numerous research publications and is well-known for his 1988 book Quantity and Quality In Social Research. Emma Bell is Head of the Centre for Economics and Management at Keele University. She is also the current joint Editor-in-Chief for Management Learning, the ‘Journal for Critical, Reflexive Scholarship on Organisation and Learning’.

The rest of the ten most popularly checked out books of 2015-2016 are mainly business research focused, reflecting the strong popularity of this subject and its importance to many Brunel students.

The following table presents the entire top ten most checked out titles from the library during the 2015/2016 academic period:

Author in catalogue Title in catalogue 2015/16 circulation counts
Bryman, Alan, Business research methods 684
Saunders, Mark, Research methods for business students 517
Bryman, Alan, Social research methods 318
Crane, Andrew, Business ethics : managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization 310
Banfield, Paul. Introduction to human resource management 305
Jacques, Ian, Mathematics for economics and business 274
Rollinson, Derek John. Organisational behaviour and analysis : an integrated approach 259
Keegan, Warren J. Global marketing 251
Hall, Susan J. (Susan Jean), Basic biomechanics 241
Collis, Jill. Business research : a practical guide for undergraduate & postgraduate students 235

engineering-mathematics-qa37-s87-2001 Going as far back as records will allow to the mid 1990s, the most checked out individual book is a copy of K. A. Stroud’s Engineering Mathematics (item ID 6025957295, call number QA37.S87 2001), which had been checked out 1161 times as of the time of writing. It has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide in its various iterations and is hailed as a classic in its field. Author Kenneth Arthur Stroud was a mathematician and Principal Lecturer in Mathematics at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry, England. According to Wikipedia he was ‘an innovator in programmed learning and the identification of precise learning outcomes’. Stroud passed away in 2000 at the age of 91. Engineering Mathematics continues to be updated since his passing, with contributions from Dexter J. Booth, a holder of a PhD in Theoretical Physics and a former Principal Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield.

50 objects 35: Railway posters

Nostalgic images of railway travel have been popularly recreated on everything from calendars to mouse mats, but once this approach to advertising the pleasures of the railway was fresh and new. Our Transport History collection holds several beautiful posters that look back to this time.

GreatWindsor1897

1897 poster promoting day travel to Ascot

Initially transport notices served a function, to give information about timetables or list rules of conduct. They were text heavy, with little in the way of images or embellishment. However, several things happened that changed the nature of these posters; the growth of tourism, increased competition amongst rival rail companies and the development of printing technologies. As railways networks grew and developed affordable travel was open to larger groups of people. Day trips and holidays further afield became a possibility and resort towns such as Blackpool flourished.

Tenby

1908 Print advertising the health resort of Tenby and its Golden Sands

Railway businesses proliferated in the late 19th century, in fact some locations had several lines running through them. The need to differentiate themselves and their assets became more important to railway enterprises in the drive to secure custom. The means to produce such enticements in the form of colour advertising posters with images was made more commercially viable with the development of colour lithography techniques that enabled mass production.

AirLikeWine1

Weston Super Mare’s intoxicating climate

 

Railway posters served not only to induce people to use a railway line, but to promote travel as a pleasurable end in itself.

Cornwall

Great Western Railways poster on the delights of Cornwall

 

Attractive images played an important role to evoke the romance of the rail or the attractive aspects of the destination, with sunshine, coastlines and leisure scenes as important components. Several early artists and illustrators, such as Norman Wilkinson and John Hassall became specialists in the field.

As railway travel boomed these images became a common sight in stations, but the quality of their design and composition make them a lasting pleasure today.  

50 0bjects 28: The Ladies Home Journal

A post by Graduate Trainee, Becky Tabrar

The Ladies Home Journal was an American monthly lifestyle magazine which was established in February 1883. By the turn of the century it was the leading women’s magazine in the US, and reached one million subscribers in 1903. Within our collection we hold editions spanning from 1939 to 1961, and studying the Journal allows us an insight into the attitudes and opinions of the time.

Persistent themes can be seen throughout the editions we hold; the most prominent of which is sexism. Advertisements frequently urge women to look their best for their husbands, as seen in an advert for Lady Esther cosmetics in the July 1939 edition, which states ‘the wrong shade of powder can turn the right man away’. Women are also advised on the best methods of keeping an orderly home. An Annual Report to Housewives, featured in the July 1961 edition, advertises the newest domestic appliances available, but exclusively addresses women. The article advises the reader to ‘ask a user what service she gets before you buy’; the assumption being that only women will ever use the domestic appliances. Moreover, adverts for domestic products universally feature women, and even when only a hand is shown, nail polish is used to ensure femininity is represented.

Another frequent theme is consumerism. Since the late 19th century, shopping had been changing from a functional role for women, to a leisured and respectable activity. Companies began to see women as the ‘chief purchasing power’ for households and the adverts seen in the Ladies Home Journal reflects this. In fact, the journal itself was enforcing the link between women and consumerism, which was further strengthen by technological inventions in the domestic sphere, allowing women to spend less time on the household and more time shopping. The most frequently advertised items in the Ladies Home Journal include new domestic appliances, make up products and cleaning products.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

However, apart from tracing overarching themes through the editions, we can also gain information on the reaction of the American public to specific historical events. An article in the July 1945 edition documents the shocked reaction of the American public to the discovery of extermination camps following the collapse of the Third Reich. It claims that a cynical world, which has lost morality, and is obsessed with power, was to blame, and urges the world to return to religion. Similarly, reactions to the signing of the United Nations Charter can be seen in the September 1945 edition, whereby an article surmises that the agreement signed at San Francisco will not eradicate greed, but ‘can keep the peace when the inevitable threats of war arise again’.

Though attitudes differ, the special features of the Journal are still recognisable in today’s magazines. Each month a novel segment was included, and Eleanor Roosevelt, like celebrities today, was a regular columnist, answering queries from financial woes to the most fashionable hairstyle. Similarly, interviews with Hollywood celebrities were a frequent trend, along with fashion segments. In later editions, ladies could receive advice from a medical column, and letters of readers were published within the magazine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.