Categories
General Hull University Archives Interns Internships Library insider Library services

Things I didn’t know as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library

Starting university can be quite a daunting prospect. There is a lot to learn in a short space of time. When I started at The University of Hull in 2018 I had to find my lecture rooms, meet new friends and discover new learning styles.

It is for this reason that I missed out on some of the excellent features of the Brynmor Jones Library. Now don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time studying in the library and took books out often. But, I definitely didn’t utilise the full potential of the library when I had the chance.

Now I am an intern at the university library and I have finally had the opportunity to explore the space and all it has to offer.

So here are a few things I wish I knew as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library. I hope that this encourages you make the most of your time here and enhance your studies.

The Brynmor Jones Library on a sunny day

The Cube

My tour of the Brynmor Jones Library started all the way up on the 7th floor in a room called The Cube. No, I am not talking about the gameshow hosted by Phillip Schofield. Rather, The Cube is where the library houses its rare book collection in a temperature-controlled environment.

According to my guide, Helen, the rare book collection was started by the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Brynmor Jones, after who the library was named.

The collection boasts titles that are over five hundred years old. As well as many rare, first-edition and signed copies of texts. Some of my personal favourites housed in The Cube include a first edition, signed copy of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a signed Rudyard Kipling collection and first edition copy of Peter Pan (University of Hull, 2020b).

Staff member holding open a rare book from The Cube

The Cube also has ongoing project work that you can see. Here, work experience students and library volunteers get to create themed displays and highlight the variety of rare texts that are available in the library. One display focuses on tragic love and the other, war. This emphasises that it is possible for many students to find a rare book that may enhance their studies at the university. As well as giving students the opportunity to get involved with archive work.

I think one of the most important things to note about the Brynmor Jones Library rare book collection is how accessible it is to students. All you have to do is fill in a form online to arrange an in-person viewing of these marvelously preserved texts.

During my own time at the university, I missed on utilising this collection due to a sense of nervousness surrounding these fragile pieces of work. But, when I did finally see this collection my worries dissipated almost instantly as the staff were welcoming, approachable and passionate.

So, do not miss out on your chance to visit the rare books held at the Brynmor Jones Library and get to hold a piece of history in your hands and enhance your academic research

Philip Larkin’s Office

Next on my tour of the Brynmor Jones Library was the office of Philip Larkin.

In 1955, Larkin joined the University of Hull as a librarian (Orwin, 2021). There he played a vital role in the redevelopment and expansion of the library (Hull History Centre, 2022). To this day, his office is preserved in the library and well worth a visit.

Stepping into this room was like stepping back in time. Here you will find the original electrical fire place and Larkin’s own type writer. Its charm comes from Larkin’s more personal items such as his collection of rather stained, well used mugs and the selection of vinyl records.

A collection of mugs and beverages from a birds-eye view

My time in this room was brief, but certainly very interesting. More Larkin memorabilia can be found at the Hull History Centre which has strong connections with the library. You can also click here to read more about Larkin’s office and his time at the library.

Down in The Basement

One thing I did not know about the library when I was a student was that as well as having eight floors above ground, there is also an extensive space below the library.

Next time you grab a coffee in the university library, just think about what could be below your feet. There is a labyrinth of old journals, books and pamphlets. Most of these have be digitalised or replaced with newer version, and some have been considered too controversial to access. Additionally, there are rooms full of different art works from the gallery and boxes quirky of items.

The Brynmor Jones Library basement

What I enjoyed when visiting the basement was the sheer magnitude of it. I believe you could spend all day down there and not have the chance to discover everything it stores. My guide also told me some eerie stories from staff who have felt and heard strange happenings in the basement.

Most of the material found in the basement can be accessed by the Library Search. This gives students an even larger option for sources and research.

The Gallery

On the ground floor of the Brynmor Jones library is the art gallery. This space is free to access whether you are a student or member of the public.

The collection of art held in the library began with a yearly fund of just £300 (University of Hull, 2022a). Despite this, the gallery is an impressive feature to admire.

The gallery has its staple collection of pieces and an exhibition space that changes regularly. Currently, you can see Larkinworld 2 by D J Roberts, which is part of Larkin’s centenary celebrations by the library (The Philip Larkin Society, 2021). This exhibit is available to view until the 25th of September, but I already look forward to seeing what is there next.

People enjoying the art displayed in a gallery

That concludes my list of things I didn’t know about the Brynmor Jones library when I studied at the university. I suggest you make the most of these fantastic facilities when you can. Whether you need to access rare materials for your studies or just fancy a cultural day out.


For Reference

Hull History Centre (2022) Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library. Available online: Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library – Hull History Centre Catalogue [Accessed 25/08/2022].

Orwin, J.L. (2021) Philip Larkin biography. Available online: PHILIP LARKIN BIOGRAPHY – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

The Philip Larkin Society (2022) ‘Larkinworld2′. Available online: ‘Larkinworld 2’ – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2022) Art Gallery. Available online: Art Gallery | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2020) The university library part 1- our buildings, collections and people. Available online: The University Library Part 1 – Our buildings, collections and people | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

Categories
General Hull University Archives Interns Internships

Searching the Archives: a day at the Hull History Centre

If you’re anything like me, you might not have explored archives in your life. They’re just of dusty old documents anyway aren’t they?

Well some may think so, but I certainly don’t!

I went on a tour around the Hull History Centre and got to explore its archive material. Here is my experience of the the archives and how you can use them.

What is the Hull History Centre?

The Hull History Centre is situated in the heart of the city. It’s a building that definitely stands out with its unique architecture and swirly logo. But what actually is it?

An image of the Hull History Centre where Hull’s archive material is kept. It is a building that is beige in colour with lots of grey windows on the lower floor. The right hand side of the building has a unique shaped metal roof that is supported by curved wooden beams along the building. This righthand section is also fully glass.

The Hull History Centre is a collaboration between the University of Hull and the Hull City Council (Hull History Centre, 2017). It houses the archive material from both of them (Hull History Centre, 2017). Their aim, as stated on their website, is to “make history available to all, for research, for learning and for leisure” (Hull History Centre, 2016).

So, what counts as archive material? Archive material includes: dairies, photographs, maps, books, wills and everything in between (Hull University Archives, 2022a). What they all have in common is their “historical significance” (Hull University Archives, 2022b) as they give us a glimpse into the past and how people lived.

Are Archives Useful?

I’ve laid out in simple terms what archives are, but maybe you are wondering why archives are useful.

To put it simply, archives are there to be used! Whether you want to find out a little bit more about your family history, explore the exhibitions or research collections for your studies, there is something for everyone.

For Research and Learning

As I have mentioned, I never used archive material or the Hull History Centre when I went to university. But, I wish I did. After searching through the archives last week, I know there is definitely material that could have enhanced my studies as an English and Philosophy Student. Specifically, the material on Hull’s animal rights activism given that my thesis focused on animal ethics.

A person reading a book in between two archive drawer units. There is a table and chair in front of the person that is covered with books.

The SkillsGuides lay out some reasons why you may want to use archive material in your own studies. This includes to develop or critique an argument and to add historical, realistic context to your writing (Hull University Archives, 2022c). There are also more creative uses listed here which include using raw materials for films, artwork or for character development (Hull University Archives, 2022c). It is clear that archive material can come in handy for lots of different subjects. It is not just limited to history students.

For Leisure

The Hull History Centre isn’t just open to researchers, students and historians. Anyone can go and enjoy the facilities on offer. There is a small library collection of books concerning Hull on a variety of different subjects. Families can visit and see the exhibitions that are currently on display, or find the online exhibits here. There are also refreshments available in the small café.

If you’re interested in researching your family history, you can use their computers and different family history tracing websites. You can then request archive material based on any distant relatives that you find.

I have already planned to take my grandma on a day out!

The Archives Made Easy

In an effort to make sure that you use the archives, here I will highlight the things that I found useful when searching the archives for the first time.

For a more in depth look at using the archives, the Hull University Archives team have created a fantastic, in depth SkillsGuide on the archives that you can find here. But, this is what helped me the most.

1. Firstly, you can find guides on the different themes that are prevalent in the archives

A screenshot of the SkillsGuide webpage on research themes. The different themes include: crime and punishment, leisure, literature, seafaring, politics, war, health and wellbeing, buildings and women.

This is a great place to start if you’re unsure of what is available in the archives.

Within each of these themes, there is a list of key subjects and collections. These lists give you a place to start when it comes to searching the archives. This will further narrow down your research and help you find what material could be useful to you.

For example, within the theme of ‘Women’, there is a collection of materials on Winifred Holtby. I could then use this reference (L WH) to search the Hull History Centre catalogue for all material related to Holtby. This can cut down your search time massively.

A screenshot from the SkillsGuide website. The image reads “Key Collections” and is followed by a list of subjects within the theme of ‘Women’. There is a large purple arrow pointing to the subject entitled “Papers of Winifred Holtby (L WH). This is to highlight what I would search the Hull History Centre archives for if I wanted to research Winifred Holtby.

2. There is a specific SkillsGuide to help you find diverse voices within the archives

Given the way that history has been recorded, it can be even more difficult to find diverse voices within archive materials. This includes the voice and perspective of women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of different ethnicities. These are the voices that have often been erased or deliberately omitted from the records.

In order to highlight these voices there is a SkillsGuide on them. Once again, this provides a good starting point for how to search for these voices at the Hull History Centre. There are also external links to other online archives that included them.

A screenshot from the SkillsGuide website entitled ‘Diversity in Archives’. It has four themes along the bottom of the page, these are: Search Strategies, Women’s Voices, Ethnic Minority Voices and LGBTQ+ Voices.

3. How to request archive material

I think one of the most nerve-wracking part of the archives is requesting the archive material. But like all things, it seems like a daunting task until you actually do it.

Let’s say you have found something in the archive collection that you think is useful to your studies or an interesting piece of family history. How do you go about requesting it? And why can’t you just pick it up off a shelf?

I recommend requesting archive material from the Hull History Centre in advance. The best way to do this is to directly contact the team there. Don’t worry, they’re all friendly! With the team, you can directly arrange to visit when it’s best for you within their opening times.

In order to preserve the material that is housed at the Hull History Centre, it has to be stored in a controlled environment. This includes the temperature and humidity. Trust me, having a jumper is a must when it comes to visiting the Hull History Centre. Especially if you’re like me and start to feel the cold very quickly. But, for these reasons, you can’t just wander in and pick up a pamphlet from the 1600s.

A close up photo of an Adélie penguin. It is stood on the snow, which looks both white and blue in colour, with it’s wings stretched out.

I think this is part of the reason why students and people in general may not use the archives. These items seem untouchable when they’re all locked away. But, I found last week that this isn’t the case. In fact, the materials are there to be used! They just have to be looked after so that future generations can also use them.

4. What to expect on the day

So, you have requested your archive material by having a lovely chat over the phone with one of the team. But, what will it be like on the day?

I can guarantee you one thing and that is, you will get cold, so take a jumper first and foremost! This is because the Searchroom, the place where you view the archive material, is also temperature controlled.

A picture of one of the windows in the Hull History Centre. On the window, it has a matt, light grey sign that reads “Library & Search Room” with an arrow pointing to the right. The window has a lot reflections.

In the Searchroom, you can have your laptop, paper and a pencil (no pens!) (Hull History Centre, 2017b). The rest of your personal items can be stored in the lockers (Hull History Centre, 2017b). If you get a little hungry, then you can leave the room and buy some snacks or a coffee in the café. You’re going to have to fuel your brain for a day of research.

And like all things, it is not as scary as you think.

What I Found

Finally, I am going to end this post on my experience of the Hull History Centre.

Exploring the archives for the day and getting to see behind the curtain can only be described by me in one way. It’s like when you clean your messy room or start packing to move house. Bare with me on this analogy, you will see where I am going. As you’re cleaning or packing, you’re rediscovering different trinkets, old gadgets, books and pictures. Maybe you find a Now That’s What I Call Music CD and have to listen to the pop hits from 2007. All of these items are things you have forgotten about. But now, all the memories of your past are coming back to you. As soon as you put down one item, you find another and the cycle continues. Then, when you look at the time, you see that you’ve spent hours looking at a pile of belongings.

Well, that was my experience of the archives.

Now, that’s not to say that all of the material held in the archives will bring the same level of joy as finding your old Tamagotchi. It is history after all. As I have previously highlighted, many voices have been deliberately omitted and some material is shocking and even offensive. But, it is preserved as one account of the past. My analogy of the archives only serves to highlight how it felt to explore the Hull History Centre as a whole and the curiosity that comes with searching the archive material. I was intrigued by the volume and variety of the items housed there. Though I realise that not everyone will feel the same way that I do.

Jess’ Highlights

Some of my favourite pieces in the material include one of George Gray’s microscopes and Larkin’s personal book collection (there is a lot of Shakespeare). I also enjoy listening to true-crime podcasts, so the different crime and trial records were fascinating.

An image of six classic literature books in low lighting. The books are in a variety of colours and appear to be old and worn.

That concludes my day of searching the archives at the Hull History Centre. I hope this has highlighted how accessible and useful archive material can be, whether you’re a student, a historian or just want to know a little bit more about the past.

You can check out more of my blogs here.


For Reference

Hull History Centre (2017a) Our policies. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/about-us/about/policies.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull History Centre (2017b) Searchroom. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/about-us/about/policies.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull History Centre (2016) Our vision and mission. Available online: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/visit-us/our-facilities/searchroom.aspx [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022a) Understanding Common Record Types, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/common-record-types [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022b) What are Archives, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/archives-basics/what-are-archives [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Hull University Archives (2022c) Archives- The Basics: Using Archives, SkillsGuides, University of Hull. Available online: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/archives-basics/using-archives [Accessed 07/09/2022].

Categories
General Interns Internships Library insider

My First Week as an Intern

Jess, the intern, stood smiling in front of a statue of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon

My name is Jess and I recently started my role as an intern at the Brynmor Jones Library.

Find out what I have learnt in the first week and why it has already been beneficial to my future career.

The application process

Up until two weeks ago, I worked in a pub as a supervisor. It definitely wasn’t what I expected to do after getting an English and Philosophy degree from the University of Hull in 2021. But, it meant I could pay for my rent and the cat’s food.

One day, I received an email from Student Futures. It contained a long list of different internships available within the University. I scrolled through and found one entitled ‘Social Media and Communications Intern’, at the Brynmor Jones Library. I got excited as soon as I read it. Working in an academic library had always interested me. I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had to apply.

The downside? The deadline for applying was the next day and I had to start a night shift in a couple of hours. I needed to attach my CV and a cover letter. I had never written a cover letter in my life. The pressure was on.

Spongebob and Patrick running around with a look of panic via Giphy.

Luckily, I managed to apply for the role and make it to the bus stop on time.

The next day, I had an email from Lee who works as an Academic & Library Specialist. We arranged to have an informal chat for later on in the week. I was nervous, but in retrospect, I didn’t need to be. The chat with Lee was very relaxed and gave me a chance to express my interest in the role.

Not long after, I found out that the internship was mine. After we agreed on a start date, I signed my contract. All I had left to do was sort out my sleeping pattern and wait until my first day.

My week so far

Throughout the week, I have been introduced to many different Library staff members. What they have in common is that they have all been extremely kind and willing to help. This has made settling in rather easy.

I have also started to develop skills related to social media, as the title of my internship applied I would. This process started with me learning about which social media platforms the Library use. The team and I also discussed what aspects of the Library social media we believe could be developed. So far, I have been given training on Hootsuite, Canva and the different types of image licensing and copyright. As well as mandatory training on diversity and data protection.

It has also been important for me to learn about the Library facilities and what is available to students, so that I can promote them.

Using all this information, I have been able to draft some posts for social media and I’ve written a couple of blogs. I have found this aspect quite challenging as the last written work I did was my undergraduate thesis in 2021. It has been strange to go from academic writing to writing more informal blog posts. This has been especially hard when my previous job didn’t rely on me being creative. As the week has progressed, I have found it easier to come up with some fun ideas. So, I am sure it is a skill I will develop further over the next few months.

And lets not forget that I have received my very own iconic, yellow Brynmor Jones Library lanyard.

Mayor Quimby stating “This is the most exciting thing” via Giphy.

What I enjoy about being an intern

One brilliant aspect of being an intern at the Library has been the networking opportunity. In one week, I have spoken to a lot of different people, all with extremely different backgrounds. It has become clear to me that there is more than one way to work in an academic library. This has been very reassuring to learn as I believe it will be applicable to many job roles.

My tour around the Brynmor Jones Library with Helen was also really exciting. You can read more about my experience of the tour here.

In the upcoming weeks, I will also get the opportunity to tour the Hull History Centre, which is linked to the Brynmor Jones Library. The team I work with have really encouraged me to pursue my interests and have happily accommodated my request to also gain some experience in the archive sector. This will be important to decide the next steps in my career or studies.

Hull History Centre

Another aspect of being an intern in the Library that I have enjoyed is that it is an environment that is constantly changing and adapting to community needs. This means that my day-to-day routine so far has never been the same.

And finally, probably the best part of being an intern is that the stereotype that librarians love cats is proving to be true. Meeting and office-talk often entail us all talking about our pet cats in some way or another.

Jess’ cat, Mouse. A white cat laid on a wicker chair with an orange cushion.

What i hope to learn in the next few months

One of the initial reasons that I applied for the Social Media and Communications Internship at the Library is that I wanted to gain first-hand experience of working in such an organisation. I have already discovered the large variety of job roles available in an academic library, and I hope to get to know more.

In terms of social media and blogging skills, I am looking forward to engaging my brain in a more creative way of working. I also think it would be beneficial to the Library if I could create content in the form of short, informal and aesthetic videos. The purpose of these would be to showcase the Library and its facilities in a way that I believe modern audiences would engage in. This is something I haven’t tried before, but I am aiming to gain confidence in video recording and editing.

A laptop, phone and camera placed on top of a wooden table

It will also be good to meet the new interns that are joining the Library in the next few weeks. This way, I have a support network of not just staff who have worked in the Library for years, but also those who are in the same boat as me and trying something completely new.

Final Thoughts

I can confidently say that there have already been many benefits to being an intern at the Brynmor Jones Library.

Yes, it has been quite a nerve-wracking process, but ultimately it has been good to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

I am only one week into a ten-week journey, and I have already started to gain new skills from working in a different environment. The training that has and will be provided will no doubt enhance my CV and career prospects. Plus, I have made lots of worthy connections who have already offered a lot of support and guidance.

If there is one thing that you can take away from this blog, it’s that if you get the opportunity to do an internship in an academic library, then do it. You’re sure to learn something new, and you will definitely find a fellow cat lover!

Dwight Schrute with the caption “Do it! Now!” via Giphy.
Categories
Internships

The end of my internship

It’s been an amazing journey for the last 3 months, and I can’t say enough how much I’ve enjoyed my time as an intern. Through it all, I’ve learnt a lot and improved my skills in web design, as well as having learnt a lot about Customer Engagement, a field of work I never fully understood before this role. 

I’ve met so many people and I feel like I’ve had a chance to get to know a little of everything that happens in the Library. It’s amazing how much goes on behind the scenes to bring the fantastic experience we get as students at the University of Hull, and I appreciate it more having seen behind the curtain. 

via GIPHY

So, what have I done? 

Well, it feels like a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve done research into Customer Engagement Strategies, delivered presentations on the same, helped edit SkillsGuides, gave my input on a wide range of stuff to help the Library have a student perspective. I’ve helped design and run Usability Testing sessions and fixed bugs or improved aspects of the Library website.  

I’ve also done some less easily defined things, like learning how a workplace works, making connections, and speaking to a wide variety of people working in different roles so that I can get an insight into what they do. I think these skills will really help me in my job search and future careers. 

Speaking of, what’s next? 

Well, I’m hoping to continue now to get an IT job in another University (or academic library) somewhere in London, where I live. As fun as it’s been to work remote, I’m excited to learn how to work in a physical workplace and everything that comes with that, including interacting with and directly helping customers. Wherever I end up though, I’m planning on keeping in touch with the amazing people I’ve met during my internship here. 

via GIPHY

It’s been really fun, and really insightful. I’m glad I got this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to the future. See ya! 

Categories
Internships

My Internship Progress – The Final Post

My Internship Progress – The Final Post

via GIPHY

Two weeks ago, the public communication skills guide I’ve been working on went live and is now available for all who need/want guidance and advice on these types of assessments, but also for anyone who wants to learn more about writing for the public. I am incredibly proud of myself for completing this guide and the amount of work I’ve put into it.

I’ve also been working on the content for another new SkillsGuide about infographics, using the information provided by Dr Dom Henri, a lecturer at the university, as well as my own research into visual communications and design principles.

Writing these guides has provided me with more research expertise and taught me about how to communicate efficiently to the public; this will help me with furthering my career.

As well as working on the guides I’ve been writing weekly blog posts (like this one). I concentrated mainly on student well-being and mental health due to this being incredibly important to me. I also wrote about my experience as a creative writer and aspiring indie author. Me and the other interns collaborated on a few posts too, to help students with time management and procrastination. Writing these posts alongside the skills guides content has given me the opportunity to be more creative whilst working which I have really enjoyed.

Even though my internship has included a lot of writing, I have also helped start discussions between one of my old lecturers and the Skills Team to provide more guidance to Creative Writing students. This involved setting up a tutorial session for first-years to teach them how to get the most out of the library and skills guides, as well as the Creative Writing department potentially writing content for a SkillsGuide about creative writing assessments. I was very proactive as a student, so am passionate about helping other students as much as I can.   

What have I learnt whilst being an intern?

I realised that I am good at working on my own initiative, and always have many creative ideas. I can be impulsive, however, but whilst working I learnt how not to jump the gun, instead, I should talk things through with the team to get the best results. I found that I am incredibly passionate about collaborating with other departments/teams to help student experience and engagement. This passion has led me to apply to become a Graduate Ambassador at the university. (Hopefully, I won’t be leaving the university just yet)

What’s next for me?

Image from Pixabay

Being an intern at Hull has offered me many new opportunities. Not only have I applied for the ambassador position, but I’ve also been able to apply for copywriting, marketing and social media positions. I now have more confidence in my capabilities, and I am a lot more ambitious after these 12 weeks.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity of being an intern with the Skills Team and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Oh, one other thing, I am still working on my book and am now a Master of the Arts!

Categories
Internships

My internship journey ends

Ending New Year GIF by Looney Tunes - Find & Share on GIPHY

Well, my internship adventure has now come to an end and I’m writing this after saying all my goodbyes. This has gone very fast the past three months only feel like a few weeks, but it has been a great learning experience for me. I have learned new things got to build on my experience as a copywriter and met some nice people along the way.

If you are a former student and considering an internship at the university I would highly recommend it. You will have a great time whilst also gaining valuable experience in your chosen field.

My Journey

My Internship first began back in August where I was nervously and excitedly pondering where the journey would take me. The first couple of weeks was just about getting to know the basics. Then I really started to get into my job role which was to write and adapt the digital skills course for students. If you want to know more about how this went check out my previous post at the halfway point of my journey.

I have now come to the end of the road I have finished all the content I was writing for the digital skills course. I overcame a few obstacles and actually exceeded my expectations in terms of how much work I completed. Over the course of the university year, you will all get to see my work published on the library blog and hopefully it will be both informative and enjoyable. As I planned with the help of my supervisor Lee the course is delivered in a different format to how similar courses have been delivered so as to hopefully be more engaging for students.

Highway, Wilderness, Yellow Line, Asphalt, Landscape

Goodbye and thank you

I would just like to thank all the staff I’ve worked with as well as my fellow interns, and my supervisor Lee whom I previously mentioned. I will now probably consider taking a taking a couple of weeks off before I get into job searching for copyright work in the London area. Although I’m not ruling out the possibility of working with the university again at a later date. Goodbye and thank you for the experience.

Reaction Goodbye GIF by reactionseditor - Find & Share on GIPHY

Categories
Academic literacies Internships Skills Team

Can Mindfulness Help Your Studies?

Joanna Rawnsley

A student reading a book, looking clearly stressed. Perhaps mindfulness can help them?
Image from: Pixabay: mindfulness

Stella Cottrell thinks so. Cottrell is the author of Mindfulness for Students (2018) which isn’t only a book explaining what mindfulness is and how it can be useful, but it’s also full of exercises which can help you learn how to be mindful.

What do you think of when you hear the term “being mindful”?

You may scoff thinking it’s some mumbo jumbo about meditation and spiritual healing. You wouldn’t be wrong, it is to do with meditation, but there is a reason mindfulness has been practiced throughout the world for at least 2500 years. It helps build your awareness and makes you more focussed. It can teach you techniques to help you in stressful situations and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. These techniques can also help with productivity, therefore can be very helpful for students.

What is Mindfulness?

A student meditating. Meditation is a fantastic way to stay in the moment, keep perspective and practice mindfulness. The student is sat on a pier overlooking a lake - the scene is clearly relaxing.
Image from: Pixabay: mindfulness

Cottrell simplifies it by not simply telling you but showing you by having you do an exercise – something we will do at the end of this post. For now, I’ll tell you this, to experience mindfulness first you must stop. Stop moving, stop doing and simply be in the moment. Take time out of your day, even if it’s five minutes to do nothing but be aware of your surroundings, your mind and body.  

To become mindful, you are asked to simply observe, but this doesn’t mean you must stop thinking. As we know this is almost impossible, and a misconception of mindfulness and meditation. You don’t need to stop thinking but become aware of your thoughts. For example, if you were sat listening to your surroundings and thoughts emerged, you acknowledge them and then refocus on your listening.

As I previously said, the techniques you learn as you become more mindful not only help with your mental wellbeing, but also your productivity. You learn how to refocus your attention, not become as easily distracted and enjoy your studies. Yes, enjoy them.

How can mindfulness help with studying?

A student is biting their pencil while working on a computer. They are clearly stressed with their studies.
Image from: Pixabay: Study

Firstly, you want to start every day mindfully. Don’t worry this is incredibly simple and you will no doubt forget to do it sometimes to begin with but creating a new habit can take time. Be persistent and don’t get annoyed with yourself for forgetting. Just tell yourself you’ll remember next time and be proud of yourself for doing so.

At the beginning of each day, you want to do a meditation or mindfulness exercise, like sitting concentrating on your breathing or listening to your surroundings for 5-10 minutes. If you are unable to do this, you can bring the exercise to an activity such as brushing your teeth or even as you travel to campus. When doing this exercise set the tone of the day, what will you be doing and what do you want to get out of your day. By doing this first thing you are more likely to continue having this mindset throughout the day.

Speaking of the structure of your day, try and set time aside for meditation and/or mindfulness exercises. Again, this could be simply doing a 5-minute breathing exercise to help your concentration. It is also advised to do these before lectures and study sessions. If you’re self-conscious about doing this in public, you could go to the chapel in Larkin or find a quiet place away from crowded areas.

When it comes to your study time you can also learn how to have a mindfulness approach to this time.

As first years we are, usually, eager to get started and excited about our studies, but as we realise how tough our studies can be at times our relationship with them may change and become more negative. We want to change our relationship with studying and how we think – yes this is still about being mindful. Being mindful, as I’ve said previously is becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings and asking ourselves why we may feel negatively at times. Change how you communicate about studying.

Do you have an essay coming up that you’d rather not write? Before you start your assignment why not sit for a moment and think about how this could be enjoyable. Is the topic something you’re interested in, have you enjoyed learning about specific things related to it, what are they? Does this essay relate to something you want to do in future? Try not to divert from your assignment by daydreaming about the future though, set a 5-minute timer and allow yourself this space to feel positive about the assignment. You’ll find yourself enjoying your study time a lot more if you go into it positively.

Continue learning how to be mindful

I have only touched the surface of mindfulness in this post, but I hope you have found something useful here. If you wish to learn more about how mindfulness can help your studies, I highly recommend Stella Cottrell’s book, Mindfulness for Students. It is full of exercises you can do to help with studying.

A mindful exercise

Set a timer for 5-minutes.

Close your eyes and smile gently to loosen your face muscles, then relax your face.

Bring your awareness to any sounds you hear, don’t describe them just notice them.

If you notice your mind beginning to wander, try not to get irritated or annoyed, simply bring your awareness back to what you hear.

When the timer goes off, open your eyes, stand up and stretch.

Now you can go about the rest of your day. Have a good one and remember to stay hydrated.  

Joanna has also written an excellent post on Looking After Your Well-being Whilst at University which links well to this topic.

Categories
Academic literacies Internships Skills Team

Is University Really That Scary?

By Joanna Rawnsley

Image from Pixabay: Halloween

Students have settled into their dorms, now the nights grow long,

Prepare thine selves as assessment season dawns.

Overindulgence crept up on the first years,

Overestimating the time they had before essays were due.

Karaoke cats got thine tongues?

They didn’t realise being a student meant hard work,

October brings chilling realisations.

Books upon books soon cover their rooms,

Emergency study sessions are being scheduled.

Remember thy words: university doesn’t have to be that scary, you know.

Yes, a poem because sometimes you have to let your creativity loose and in my opinion, spooky season is a great time to do so.

What on Earth does the poem mean?

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, try to manage and organise your time, so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed. And, as it is Spooktober, remember to treat yourself when you’ve done enough studying. Go for a walk down Cottingham Road and the Avenues, it’s wonderful this time of year as the leaves begin to fall.

Image by K. Chin, BA Creative Writing and Film Studies

Arrange study sessions with coursemates and friends, you can book rooms in the library for a nice, quiet place to meet. Use the Booking Service to book seats, rooms with or without computers. We now have a lovely Family Room too so parents can have a quiet place to study whilst keeping an eye on their little ones.  

Then you can treat yourself to a nice warm drink in the café on the ground floor, you might even want a cake!

Another way to help you manage your time is by contacting your lecturers and personal supervisors for advice on assignments and how to arrange your time best. Remember, they are there to help.

Most of all remember that university doesn’t have to be full of tricks, schedule in your day some nice treats too!

Happy Halloween!

Image from Pixabay: Happy Halloween

Categories
Internships

John Weightman my internship reflections

John Weightman

The halfway point of my internship journey

It is strange to think that I’m already halfway through my internship, it has been about 6 weeks since I joined the Library Skills Team. As you may remember from my first blog post when I first started, I was a mixture of nerves and excitement wandering where my internship journey would take me. It is always natural to be nervous I think when starting a job. Though it’s safe to say those nerves didn’t last that long working with such a friendly and welcoming team. 

Road, Travel, Winding, Road Trip, Landscape, Street

What have I been up to?

In the first week of my internship, we just had our basic training going through fire safety and things like that. We also met all the staff and I got to meet the other Interns. At first, there was not a whole lot to do but Lee my supervisor gave me an opportunity to write a few small sections for the staff Digital Skills course. I got to write about Fake News and how to avoid online scams like phishing. In addition to this Lee also recommended to me and my fellow interns some MOOCs (Massive open online courses). These courses are very useful and when I had any downtime while working, I took a look at them and enrolled in a couple of courses.

Digital Skills Course

Computer Boomer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So, that was pretty much my first couple of weeks, but things didn’t really get going till it came to adapting the study skills course for students. For this, I first looked through everything that was written for the staff digital skills course and considered what could be useful for students. Some aspects I could use and just change slightly for a student audience, and I found ways to adapt some of the material aimed at teachers to work for students. I also came up with my own ideas and what digital skills I felt were relevant to students.

Later I discussed with Lee how we were going to deliver the content for students. We both felt that students would probably not engage as much with the course the way it was presented on Canvas so, we had to go in a different direction. As I have experience blogging and Lee wanted to get more content published on the library blog, I suggested writing the course as a series of blog posts. Lee seemed very interested in the idea and we came up with the plan for a post each week throughout the year. This way it feels less like a course, and it makes it easier to digest all the content over a full year than over a few weeks. We decided to call it #TechItUpTuesday if you want to see the latest post, please check it out and feel free to give me any feedback you have.

Reflections

Confused Dog GIF by HIF Australia - Find & Share on GIPHY

I am very much enjoying the experience so far; I’ve got to meet some very nice and friendly people. As I am working remotely it has also been most helpful to have a half-hour call almost every day just to talk about things other than work. I have also got the chance to stretch my writing muscles particularly with all the posts I have queued up to write for the digital skills course. I am now anxiously looking forward to what the rest of my internship has in store.

Categories
Internships

My Internship Progress – The Halfway Point

Joanna Rawnsley

I can’t believe it’s already October. It’s autumn which is my favourite time of year, Halloween is upon us, but more importantly, I’m halfway through my internship with the Skills Team.

Let’s Recap

I am creating a brand- new, Public Communications skills guide. One section is all about blogging (ironic isn’t it), because Public Communications are pieces of writing, or visuals like posters and infographics that are created for the public sphere. This guide will go into detail about everything students need to know for such assessments.

What I’ve learnt in the last 6 weeks

By researching what it means to write for the public and the different formats used, I’ve developed new writing techniques and learnt the many factors of what goes into these formats. I’ve realised that the language I use, and my vocabulary has broadened, because writing is a craft. The more you practice, the more skilled you become.

As well as my writing, my proofreading and editing techniques have also developed. These are crucial to me as an aspiring author/poet, but also a blogger. Even though I’ve now completed my masters in English and Creative Writing, I will always be striving to develop my writing and editing techniques and this internship is providing me with this experience.

Something I haven’t had experience in before was copywriting, but it is a career I have been contemplating. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to learn how to copywrite and develop this skill further. The research for the copy was extensive; going down numerous rabbit holes, but if my studies taught me anything, it’s that sometimes these rabbit holes can be fruitful. It just so happens this was the case as I’ve now completed the copy for the guide.

The best is yet to come

With the copy completed, it’s time to build the skills guide. Helping with its construction and design were optional to me, but I want to make the most of the time I have working here. Learning how to design a website and how to use HTML coding is an area I’ve been wanting to get into. After completing my internship, I am looking at working in marketing and/or social media and having some web design expertise will make my applications stand out.

To sum it all up

In the last 6 weeks, I have become more confident in myself and my capabilities whilst gaining expertise in areas that will help me in my future career. A lot can happen in 6 weeks, so who knows what I’ll write about in my final update come November.

Here’s another autumnal image, because it’s pretty. There’s really no other reason for it being here.

Right, back to work for now!