Wodehouse Library

Summer has started

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On a sunny day like this it’s nice to contemplate the holidays.

This blog is taking a break (well earned of course) until September when we’ll be back with our usual mix of stuff.

Have a great summer.

Wodehouse Library team


…completely detached from the syllabus

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A new voice for our blog today. Harry, one of the Yr 13 boys, shares his thoughts on the library:

The knowledge that can be found in books is the primary source of their appeal, novels are important too but my interest is more often than not directed towards the non-fiction shelves. The library is valuable not only for reading around syllabuses, especially as a first point of reference for individual studies such as history coursework (the stock of Very Short Introductions in particular), but also as a place to generally broaden horizons in a way completely detached from the syllabus. Tim Marshall’s ‘Prisoners of Geography’ for example provides a fascinating interpretation of geopolitics based on a geographic determinism that, while dubious at times, is rather illuminating and certainly thought provoking. The reference section is also important, feeding a fondness for apparently useless facts and obscure information, dictionaries of quotations or subjects as esoteric as the burial places of famous people are always wonderful diversions. Building a wider knowledge and understanding of the world, with history as a main focus, has therefore been the biggest influence that books have had on my life from a young age to now and in the future.

Round up

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We’re taking advantage of a quiet moment to round-up the start to Lent Term here in the Wodehouse Library.

Year 11s came back from the Christmas break straight into GCSE mock exams, so the Inner Room in particular has been a hive of activity for the past 9 or 10 days. It wasn’t always a peaceful hive of activity for anyone using the library (although there were moments!) but fingers crossed the results will be encouraging.

Today sees a return to lessons for the lucky Y11 boys so we’re looking forward to welcoming them all into the library for their wellbeing classes on plagiarism avoidance over the next fortnight.

The Periodicals Room has somewhat more than a fair smattering of covers featuring President-Elect Donald Trump. Earlier we ran a few of these covers by some Upper School boys who were in there reading and they agreed that the most striking was the NewStatesman’s Twitter/cuckoo clock effort.

One of the most exciting things to have happened though is the arrival of our new chameleon. Not yet officially named, he is around 18 months old, largely emerald green in colour (we are told he turns yellow at night), quite sociable and hungry! He joins us behind the Issue Desk to the chirping of crickets.










Readers of this blog will recall that the Wodehouse Library has been home to 2 other chameleons, Vernon and Colin.

Finally we should add our current reads in case you need inspiration over the weekend:

Echo Burning by Lee Childs

The Humans by Matt Haig

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Girls by Emma Cline


Ho ho how many items in our tree?

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P. G. Wodehouse sitting pretty above our beautiful book tree
P. G. Wodehouse sitting pretty above our beautiful book tree

We’ve definitely got the festive spirit here in the Wodehouse Library!

There’s a whopping great tree in the Periodicals Room and this tinselled marvel at the Issue Desk.

You can join in the Christmassy fun by making a guess at the number of books and CDs used in this Yuletide wonder. The most accurate guess will win a prize (most likely an edible one) when it is taken apart on Tuesday December 15th and the actual number of items discovered by all at the Pupil Librarians’ Christmas Party (Wodehouse Library, lunchtime, invitation only!).

Come and see us at the Issue Desk and make your guess.


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“A language is a conduit for and repository of a people’s history, tradition, religion and culture. If the language is lost, so too is a particular understanding of the world.”

We’re starting this post with a quote from June 2014’s New Internationalist (NI), which we have here in the Periodicals Room* of the Wodehouse Library. The front cover of the magazine is eye-catching: the words ‘Save our speech!” captured in a speech bubble.

It isn’t long before the NI’s lead article on endangered languages mentions something that often crops up in the mainstream news, attracting attention for a certain amount of time before being submerged by other issues: the use of language by young people. Indeed, language use attracts attention whether we’re aware of it or not because, as far as our listeners or readers are concerned, we’re using the wrong word without apparently realising it or we’re using foul language or perhaps we’re using ‘management speak’ which is really aggravating!

As the NI highlights, so-called minority languages are simultaneously protected and promoted by some whilst facing suppression and gradual extinction at the hands of others. Language is a political issue at a local level, for example, when it comes to council resources allocated to translation services and at national and international levels as the Galician example used by the NI demonstrates.

Meanwhile from Issue 59 (June/July 2014) of Aesthetica magazine we have an article entitled Lyrics With No Limits (p.118) which asks: “Can musicians have success in the global marketplace while performing in their native language?” This is a short piece offering a different perspective on language. In the words of Dutch rapper Brainpower:

“Language is something you can paint different pictures with, and each language has its own colour. If you want to get a certain emotion, you pick words in different languages.”

So why have we chosen to post about language? Well, here in the library you are surrounded by imaginative and informative uses of language and, of course, we are always keen to help you grasp how reading can help you develop your own use of words and your understanding of how others are trying to use them. There are subject reading lists available, fiction reading lists and regular up-dates on literary prize winning titles. We tweet regularly about articles in magazines as well as highlighting how our e-resources can complement your studies by targeting your searches for information more effectively.

Why not try a search of LibCat to see what you can find using the keyword ‘language’? From poetry to prose there’s a surprising amount in the Wodehouse collection that will be of interest for the curious.

*Back issues are available from the Reference Section, near the Issue Desk and you can now find the May 26-Jun1 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek which has an article starting on p.17 about how Chinese authorities are “waging a war on American culture and the use of English”.


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Earlier this month the news that a school, Hampton Court House in Surrey, planned to introduce hours more in keeping with the circadian rhythm of its older teenagers occupied some headline writers and got radio phone-in show callers all fired-up.

A certain amount of the response to this time shifted school day ran to little more than condemnation of the idea as pandering to lazy teenagers and the question was posed: how does this help prepare young people for the world of work?

However, as this article from The Telegraph highlights, Hampton Court House is not alone in adjusting the school day and headmaster Guy Holloway was at pains to emphasize that the decision was based on scientific research, not whim or fatigue at dealing with tired teens.

After hearing the subject of sleep and school day hours versus working day hours come up amongst library users, we had a poke about on the internet in a comparatively quiet moment here in the Wodehouse Library and have added just a few links below relating to why sleep matters, what can prevent good sleep and how much sleep is enough:

Sleep matters

Five things that stop a good night’s sleep

Is there too much light at night?

4 hours a night??

A run of poor sleep changes the body

Then we got a bit carried away and started searching for sleep related articles from the e-resources and had some fun (yes, fun!) with American Scientist and The Economist and serendipitously discovered a poem called The Big Sleep by James Tolan using the Literary Reference Centre. Honestly, once you start delving into the e-resources you WILL find interesting and useful things.

Then we asked the DC librarians to suggest books which have sleep as a theme so you could plunder LibCat for some summer reading:

Mrs. Stein typed ‘sleep’ into the keyword search box of LibCat and found J. Allan Hobson’s Dreaming: a very short introduction amongst 12 other items sharing the same keyword from across all DC’s libraries. Skimming through, this quote caught her eye: “…to fall asleep, we have to assume postures that are immobile; we will not be able to go to sleep if we are unable to stop moving.” We’ve mentioned the VSI series of books before on this blog and there’s plenty of information in this one to snag your attention.

Mr. Fletcher came up with The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe.

Mrs. Forbes in the Junior School Library said of Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Walters “…a brilliant thriller – very easy reading and grabbed you from the first page.”

Of course the kind of sleep that Raymond Chandler’s sleuth Philip Marlowe discovered was not the restorative kind at all but nonetheless The Big Sleep is an engaging read and you can see from the catalogue that we have the story in other formats too.

Mrs. Rowing in the Raymond Chandler Library suggested the rather charming sounding The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan.

We’ll stop there as this should surely offer plenty on the subject of sleep to make keep you going for now but we’ll leave you with a reminder that in the Periodicals Room you can view Old Time Tuition at Dulwich College, 1828 – a painting in which a master can be seen instructing boys from his bed, a solution that we haven’t yet seen made in the ongoing debate around the timing of the school day.

Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery

 DCWodehouse edit 21st May 2014: there’s an interesting article on how a technique used by physicists is being used by sleep experts to help people understand and manage their perceived sleeplessness better. See the May 17th issue, page 33-35.


*Comments on this blog are moderated before publishing.

The Periodicals Room

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Next in our series of posts about the Wodehouse Library and the services we offer is this short piece written by Bede Porter:

The Reading Room has many magazines for anyone to walk in and read, including a full rack of daily newspapers. There is a range of categories to search through with sport, languages, sciences, politics and general interest. The Room is well subscribed with good reading such as Nat Geo, New Scientist and Private Eye. A great place to relax and spend time if you have a spare minute. It also has various DC magazines if you ever want to know what is upcoming. It has comfortable sofas and always feels relaxed.