Visit to The Sixth Form College, Colchester

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Last week myself, Jake and Katrina went to visit the Sixth Form College, Colchester to meet staff and learn about their library. Our hosts were very welcoming, and it was really good to share experiences of working in libraries as well as see how their library operates. One thing I’ve found with the different visits we’ve been on is that there are a lot of shared experiences, and it’s good to know you’re in the same boat.

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The History of Section 28 for LGBT+ History Month

‘Authorities shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ or ‘promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. Section 28, Local Government Act, 1988.

2018 marks thirty years since Margaret Thatcher’s government introduced Section 28, a notorious policy which prevented schools and local authorities from promoting LGBT+ issues. At the time, the policy announcement was surrounded by a media-driven moral panic over the ‘gay lobby’; despite the fact that homosexual acts were decriminalised over twenty years before. Newspapers such as the Daily Mail wrote that ‘homosexual activists use sex lessons to promote their own lifestyle’, adding that ‘they brainwash youngsters through propaganda in public and school libraries’. (Daily Mail, October 6 1986, p. 9.) Other papers such as the Sunday Telegraph also defended Section 28, suggesting that sexual orientation was dependent upon the company that students choose to keep at school, and even went as far to suggest that the young needed protection ‘from this decadent and disgusting way of life’. (Sunday Telegraph, January 31 1988, p. 22.)

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The thoughtful cataloguer

Life is full of revelations.

I love learning new things and seeing things from a different perspective. As a child I remember the moment of revelation when using a poorly designed household appliance and my Dad pointing out that every object we use has to be designed by someone – either well or badly. I started to think about those people who had designed things well, and how people they would never meet could benefit from their thoughtfulness and skill.

So what has this to do with cataloguing?

On the one hand, cataloguing is a skill that I’ve always been curious about, because I like to know the whole picture and how things fit together. But also, because it’s so important to be accurate when cataloguing because it will affect the end user. There’s not an immediate reward for these skills, and there’s not a little note that pops up on the library search engine saying “catalogued by Eleanor, rate her skills today!”. But there is a sense of achievement when you’re making marks on a bibliographic record and it comes back from checking with no corrections. You know that by doing a good job you’re indirectly helping someone, and making their life that little bit easier.

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Applying to Library School 2017

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On the 9th I journeyed down to Cambridge to learn more about applying to library school. Even though it feels as if the academic year has only just begun I know  next September always rolls around sooner than I expected. As a new trainee eager to learn more about university libraries I also feel it’s important for me to learn as much as I can before attempting to draft an application. I was excited to learn that the event was being held at the beautiful and historic St John’s College Cambridge which is definitely worth a visit in its own right. Present at the conference were representatives from Sheffield, UCL, Northumbria and Aberystwyth as well as a sizeable cohort of aspiring librarians. The conference included an informative and engaging presentation from the Programme Director at the University of Sheffield. The talk provided a brief overview of some of the courses available and identified key areas to consider when choosing a programme.

Module content, assessment, location and even the ‘feel’ of a place can all be important when deciding whether to spend a year or more studying somewhere.

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