Memorial Library Round-up

Thursday 14th December 2023

The Memorial Library Team review a packed Michaelmas Term, which has seen over 2000 loans, over 160 research support sessions, 140 classes, two gaming nights, 10 Remove book clubs, two Harry Potter afternoons, and one pumpkin carving competition…

Research Support Sessions

Michaelmas has a strong research focus for pupils across the College, with a number of major projects kicking off including the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), and the Non-Exam Assessment (NEA) for various subjects. The EPQ in particular has long been recognised as an excellent preparation for university level research, with one academic noting that EPQ pupils are ‘six months ahead of their peers’ in terms of research skills. Fittingly then, the Memorial Library offers a tailored university-style research support service. Pupils are able to book an appointment with a librarian for a bespoke introduction to useful books, online databases, and research strategies.

Once again, this service has proven incredibly popular, with over 160 sessions delivered on subjects as diverse as biblical history, the links between oral health and athletic performance, and the evolution of ski design! These sessions allow pupils to get to know what the library has to offer both in print and online, and to gain the knowledge and confidence to continue researching for themselves.

The Hundred Research Prize

This term also saw our fifth annual Hundred Research Prize. As the name suggests, the prize is open to Hundred pupils and is intended to offer an opportunity to go above and beyond their GCSE studies, as well as to encourage and reward excellent research skills. This year, inspired by Rowan Hooper’s book How to Spend a Trillion Dollars: The 10 Global Problems We Can Actually Fix, we asked: ‘If you had a trillion dollars to fix the world’s problems, how would you spend it?’

More than 20 pupils submitted essays with fascinating ideas, proposals and budgets. Jack H took first prize, with his in-depth look at water security and clean water solutions. Second prize went to Sarah A for her essay on building underwater cities, while Lukas M won third prize with his essay on tackling greenhouse gas emissions through direct air capture technology and nuclear fusion. Special mention was also given to Obaaya A for her essay looking at neo-colonialism and the African debt trap, and to Theo W-B for his two-pronged essay considering addiction and its links to poverty, and how to stop unsustainable farming practices.
Our winners were all presented with their prizes in a special Hundred assembly, and Rowan Hooper himself was very impressed with the entries, commenting via Twitter on the inspiring and brilliant range of ideas on display.

Remove Reading Circles

In partnership with the English Department, we rolled out our Remove reading circles initiative this term. Remove English classes were introduced to a selection of five novels starting with the invitation to ‘judge a book by its cover’: a group discussion about what messages the cover design is attempting to convey and what pupils think the book might be about. Pupils are often surprised by what kind of insights can be gained this way, both regarding the book and regarding their own preconceptions around books and genres.

After this, Mr Burton reveals a plot summary for each book, and pupils are invited to choose which one they’d like to read in Lent Term. Pupils will then form reading circles with others who picked the same book as them and over the Lent Term, these reading circles will be the forum for discussions, creative writing and reviewing, and presentations.

The reading circles are a great opportunity for pupils to experience reading as a social activity, compare ideas, and be introduced to some amazing novels, from exiting Young Adult fiction such as the WW2-set While the Storm Rages (Phil Earle) and the Great Gatsby-esque A Sky Painted Gold (Laura Wood), to literary classics like Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) and In Cold Blood (Truman Capote). We’ve been so impressed by pupil’s excitement to get reading and share their ideas, and to choose novels which will challenge and develop them as readers.

School Visits

The library has also hosted visits from a number of our local partner schools this term, including Swindon Academy with whom we have long-established links. Year 10 pupils came to work on research for their EPQ projects, and each left with a pack of resources put together by the library team and tailored for their topic. Year 7s also joined us to participate in a library escape room activity designed to get them moving around the space, looking up books, and finding things on the shelves. At the end they were able to successfully crack the code and break into a locked cabinet of sweets for a delicious reward!

Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School also dropped by with two of their Year 5 classes, for an afternoon of magical, Harry Potter-themed fun. They have all been reading the Harry Potter books in class, and were very excited to put their wizarding knowledge to the test in a series of challenges, including a scavenger hunt, a trivia quiz, and a play-doh construction challenge. Luckily for us Hagrid was on hand to lead the activities, and tell everyone about life at Hogwarts. The pupils were so excited to meet him that they all wanted autographs at the end of the visit!

It’s been a busy and bustling start to the academic year, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated in a library competition or attended a library event this term.

The Memorial Library team wish everyone a peaceful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in the Lent Term!

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