Libraries, reading (and daydreaming)

Posted on

The start of a new school year is a busy time for everybody and here in the Wodehouse Library, as well as welcoming back the Year 10s, 11s, 12s and 13s, the library team have been introducing Year 9 pupils to the collection and facilities.

Working in pairs or small groups, every Y9 student has had a chance to:

  • meet the staff
  • see how the Wodehouse works, and
  • learn how and where the different parts of the collection are to be found.

Of course we’ve mentioned our few library rules but more importantly we’ve had a chance to emphasise our focus on on reading for pleasure (R4P). In the news this week author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell have shared their passion for libraries, reading and daydreaming in a rather lovely way. Acknowledging their bias, they make their case for what reading does for us as individuals and, consequently, as a wider society.

We look forward to continuing to welcome everyone in the Middle and Upper Schools into the Wodehouse Library throughout the school year, to share the space respectfully and productively and to benefit from the opportunity to get into the habit of using libraries for learning, reading what we enjoy and, yes, daydreaming a bit too.


Returns from the summer

Posted on Updated on

After hefting his school bag onto the Issue Desk, one of the boys unpacked his summer reading.

Of 9 books returned 2 were DNFs*, 4 were good and 3 were great reads. The 3 greats were The Outsider by Stephen King, The Sellout by Paul Beattie and White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock, OA.

Tom Pollock visited Dulwich College towards the end of the summer term and we don’t think any of the multiple copies of White Rabbit Red Wolf were left on the shelves for the long vacation. We’ll try and gather some more comments as and when they are brought back but this morning’s brief review can be summarised in the single word “Boggled!”

If you’ve arrived back for the 2018-19 academic year looking for a book that combines cleverness with mystery, White Rabbit Red Wolf is for you.

We’ve also been catching up with some staff recommendations from summer reading. Mr Thomas read his way through 6 volumes of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. Six more left for next summer as this is a 12 volume commitment and differs from Mr Thomas’s term-time literary diet of poetry and philosophical essays.

Mrs Cartwright enjoyed Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Miss Akrill Felix Holt the Radical by George Eliot.

Mrs Stein had great hopes of Hemlock Jones and the Angel of Death by Justin Carrol, OA, but a sloppy ending ruined it. Charlotte Gilman Perkins saved the summer along with Oscar Wilde so if you’re looking for a quick but thought provoking read try The Yellow Wallpaper and for something available in multiple formats The Picture of Dorian Gray.

In their own words now, first Mr Fletcher:

22.11.63 by Stephen King: a gripping novel of time travel and assassination! In 2011, Jake Epping, an American school teacher, travels back in time to the late fifties where he experiences drive-in cinemas, big cars and High School bops but his mission is to attempt to change history by stopping the assassination of JFK in November 1963. Does he succeed and what could be the consequences of saving the President?

Prussian Blue / If The Dead Rise Not / A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr: three novels featuring Berlin detective Bernie Gunther. Gunther’s police career takes in the inter-war years in Berlin, witnessing the rise of the Nazis who he despises and the post-war occupation by the Soviets (who he also hates!) The novels are peppered with real-life characters and are full of historical details as well as being fine crime stories in their own right.

and Mrs Robinson:

The left hand of darkness by Ursula Le Guin –  A science fiction and feminist classic about a planet where the inhabitants are hermaphrodite and the implications that has for their society. A fascinating read that’s still very relevant today.

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge – A book that grew out of a blog post with the same title and, ironically, resulted in the author having many more conversations about race with white people. It’s one of those books that makes you stop and think and is really important in pointing out hidden prejudice.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – Longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. This book is amazingly rich both in language and in information, with an impressive depth of knowledge and research for a fiction book. It argues passionately that life on this planet is interconnected and that trees, in particular, are vitally important. It was an interesting and unusual read although I felt it flagged a little towards the end.

Sabrina by Nick Dmaso – The first graphic novel ever longlisted for the Booker Prize. This story of a woman’s disappearance and the effect it has on those connected with her is sensitively written/drawn with the pared down, rather flat, drawing style making the largely unexpressed emotional suffering of the characters more poignant. An excellent example of how well graphic novels can tackle serious subjects.

Snap by Belinda Bauer – Another from the Booker longlist, this is a cut above the normal thriller. It has the gripping opening and fast paced plot that you would expect, but also examines the long term effects of an unsolved crime on the victim’s family. Very enjoyable.

*DNFs = did not finish

Sporty library

Posted on

On Tuesday, we blew up some red balloons and, inevitably, some of the boys started playing balloon tennis in the Periodicals Room.

But that was after the real sport happened in the Wodehouse Library! Yes, in support of Sport Relief 2018 we issued the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology Challenge to all comers.

Preparation for this challenge pretty much amounted to reminding yourself of the alphabet, maybe flexing your fingers, concert pianist style. Then, on the DING! of the Wodehouse Library bell, your task was to shelve the 20 encyclopedias in the correct alphabetical order, with the Index at the end, as quickly as possible.

Up against the clock, our contestants found the heavy-ish encyclopedias tricky to manage what with them constantly falling over and “turning themselves upside down”. The “trolley kept shifting because it has wheels“, and the “alphabet is trickier than it looks” etc. Some contestants wondered about strategy: would the task be easier if all the encyclopedias were first loaded willy-nilly onto the trolley? Or was it best to leave them where they had been randomly stacked on the desk? Hmmm…

So, yes, some contestants had more than one go – at 50p a time – only to find that giggling slowed them down, or it was the alphabet again. Our winner, however, swaggered in late, had one attempt and carried all before him with a stunning time of 61 seconds which was faster than the library staff trial run last Friday. Well done Sam!

Big thanks to all who took on the Challenge and helped us raise money for Sport Relief 2018. It was lots of fun for us sporty librarians, obviously, and we’re really chuffed to have so fired Miss Akrill’s competitive streak, happily accommodating her 2 extra out-of-competition attempts this morning when she discovered that she hadn’t won with yesterday’s attempt.

Sam, the winner with a time of 61.42 seconds

#PopUpLibrary Week

Posted on

#PopUpLibrary week started with the #66 spinner looking as if it were about to be kidnapped.

Bound for the #PopUpLibrary

A couple of boys asked what the ransom was and we jokingly replied it was that all the books must be borrowed and read. After that it was off to the PE Centre where we set up in the reception area. Both copies of Fire and Fury were soon issued.

Easter reading for Mr Davy










On Wednesday we popped up in The Laboratory, the newest building on campus. We set up between the George Farha Auditorium and the James Caird Hall and gave top billing to Stephen Hawking’s books after the sad news of his passing. Unsurprisingly, his works were soon snapped up by borrowers, as were many fiction titles including classics from our #42 Reading List and Alex Wheatle’s Crongton series.

RIP Stephen Hawking
Book 1 in the Crongton series










Thursday saw us rolling our trolleys and #66 spinner into the Lord George Building. We added some politics and economics titles to the selection of books and enjoyed some interesting conversations about books people were already reading (and enjoying) as well as lending more, including Gut by Giulia Enders – a book enthusiastically recommended by Mr Rowney. To add to the Library vibe of our little pop-up, Solomon and Toby settled in to do some prep.

Prep in the #PopUpLibrary
Read and digest










On Friday we decided to leave the spinners behind and set up in the Christison Hall with a selection of titles which drew crowds at break time. We could hardly issue books quickly enough! The #Summoner series was borrowed, as were a number of the Master’s recommendations of OA writers – including the C.S. Forester mystery The Pursued.

Ready for action!
A London mystery










Over the 4 pop-ups, we were able to make 116 new issues, lots of renewals and scoop up some returns too. Best of all, we were able to showcase and talk about  the great collection of fiction and non-fiction books that all staff and students have access to here in the Wodehouse Library.

Many thanks to our wonderfully helpful Pupil Librarians and Prefects: Rohan, Francesco, Luke, Jackson, Felix, Paul, Edward, Sami, Tom, Sam, Solomon, Lucas, Oscar and Harry.

Special thanks also to all the Site Officers who shifted equipment about for us and grateful thanks to everyone who held open doors and made way for us as we rolled around the campus.

Fingers crossed for more #PopUpLibrary adventures in the Summer Term 🙂



Posted on

Look out for the Wodehouse Library #PopUpLibrary at morning break and lunchtime in these locations this week:

  • Tuesday – PE Centre
  • Wednesday – The Laboratory
  • Thursday – Lord George Building
  • Friday – Christison Hall.

We’ll have the #42 and #66 Reading List books, staff recommendations, lots of goodies from our fiction and non-fiction collections and we’re bringing the #ReturnsBox with us too so you can give back anything you’ve finished.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Posted on

Harry Muldowney wrote this review of Angelmaker for us:

“Angelmaker is primarily a fantasy novel that follows the life of Joshua Joseph Spork, an eccentric horologist, who has escaped the criminal life of his father to return to his Grandfather’s profession. However, he now finds himself entangled in an international conspiracy with its roots in a 1950s superweapon. In a book which by turns features world war two covert operations; a pre-Raphaelite like technological monastic sect; an incensed South Asian dictator and a geriatric superspy the eccentric hero, Joe Spork, must somehow save the world from its impending doom. Harkaway flits between these topics nimbly and weaves a satisfying narrative that meanders through a cracked submarine 1000ft under the sea, the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and a supercharged apiary in a thriller that is an elegantly written and fast-paced that is well worth a read.”

@Harkaway on Twitter – Nick Harkaway’s website

Trinity Schools Book Award

Posted on Updated on

What’s the best thing about working in a school library?

The answer, arguably, has to be having the chance to talk about books and reading to just about everyone. Some people may be surprised by the number of conversations we have with our borrowers that focus on what we’ve read, what they’ve read and what we’d all like to read. It’s truly heartening to hear our borrowers share their thoughts so freely. Yes, it’s true we hear both staff and students say “I don’t have time to read” and we understand that because we’re busy too, but still, reading before going to sleep, or even for just a few minutes here and there in the day helps make a difference for us.

Miss Williams recommended The Book of Dust

The Trinity Schools Book Award offers a chance for our young readers to read a themed shortlist of books and to engage with the stories through creative responses and voting for their favourite. Shortlisted authors often visit the participating schools to talk about their work and many attend the awards ceremony. Last year Dulwich College was thrilled to host the ceremony which saw Stewart Foster win with Bubble Boy. Sadly #UKsnow forced the cancellation of the 2018 award ceremony but Sarah Govett was the winner with her book The Territory. Many congratulations to Sarah and well done to the creative response prize winners.

As well as sharing our love of reading, here in the Wodehouse Library we work hard to promote it too. There are always half a dozen displays dotted around the Wodehouse which promote the works of individual writers or genres like fantasy, crime or comedy. Alternatively we use them to highlight anniversaries, events or themes. Often our displays chime with what’s going on in the wider school and draw participation from staff and pupils. Borrowers are welcome to take items that are included on the displays – we can always fill a gap!