Sporty library

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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

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#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 🙂



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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

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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

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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!

Screen break

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Certain areas of the school have become mobile free zones.

The Periodicals Room in the Wodehouse Library is one of them, although mobile phones and other devices (switched to silent mode) are still permitted in other parts of the Wodehouse for study purposes.

Given this new set of circumstances, we are discouraging gaming on personal devices and asking that boys instead reclaim the Periodicals Room as a place for quiet reading.

Furnished with comfy chairs and the latest issues of dozens of magazines and newspapers, the Periodicals Room offers boys and staff the perfect opportunity to take a screen break.

For anyone looking for a longer, more challenging read we would suggest picking up a copy of The Atlantic or Prospect, although other titles also offer in-depth journalism and comment. Prospect’s March issue includes a set of articles on free speech and one of our newest books –Feel Free, by Zadie Smith – might be of interest to you if you read Lionel Shriver’s words on the ‘call-out culture’. Smith’s foreword sets up her essays nicely and any of the them would divert you during a free-study period in the middle of the school day.

We hear you when you say that you haven’t got time to read – we’re busy too! – but nobody can make time for you to read except you. With that in mind, keep a look out for our Short Reads recommendations, coming soon to the Periodicals Room!

Reading is a good way to relax
Topping up on satire with Private Eye

Bringing the past to life

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Boys have been using both archival and electronic resources to discover information about Old Alleynians (OAs) who died in the First World War.

From photographs to memorial inscriptions, this project offers our current Year 9 boys the chance to connect with ‘their OA’ – finding out what they looked liked, where they lived and where they are buried, or commemorated. Ormiston (the College Register) records scholarships, sporting achievements and family connections, while the War Record includes the various roles undertaken and honours won.

Many Year 9s have been able to use the information they have found in the archival materials to decide whether they have found the correct records for their OA on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Ancestry Library websites where further information regarding households is retrievable from the 1911 England and Wales Census.

Mrs Lucy helping the Year 9s decipher the abbreviated terms in Ormiston
Using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website








Drawing together information from all these sources the Year 9s are able to compile a dossier about their OA which helps bring the past alive.


Our 2017 post on the Year 9 History Project is reproduced below…

The Year 9 History Project is underway in the Wodehouse Library.

Either side of half term we’ll be welcoming Year 9 classes into the Wodehouse Library for the ‘Old Alleynians & the Great War’ Year 9 History Project.

Each Year 9 boy has been allocated an OA to research and their library sessions will offer them a chance to use Dulwich College Archive materials, such as Ormiston (a record which offers a summary of every OA since 1619). Boys will also use the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to find memorials and final resting places of the OAs they are learning about with a little family history being added by the 1911 Census on Ancestry Library.

The project also prompts boys to look at more of our online resources, like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ONDB) and undertake some detective work on sites around the school campus too.

9t-history-project-books 9t-history-project