Monday, 7 December 2015

The 1950s blog - an insight into life at Bedford College of Physical Education

Lots of you probably know that what is now the Bedford campus of UoB has a long history of offering higher education in the local area, beginning with the Bedford College of Physical Education. Opening in 1903, it provided training for female students in PE at Lansdowne Road, until it became the Bedford College of Higher Education in 1976.

Here at Bedford Library we have the fantastic Physical Education Archive, which contains lots of material from the college days. The archivist has now started a blog, sharing letters home written by a student called Alice who studied there in the 1950s, which offer a fascinating insight into life at the college. It's well worth a read for anyone interested in the history of PE teaching or just social history in general. Take a look here.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Five reasons why students should be blogging

I remember well from my student days the pressure to be on top of everything; to be collecting skills and knowledge which we could put on our CVs. It seemed like something new came up every six months, and it was a battle against the physics of time to fit everything in.  I know it can be difficult to know where to start and what to focus on. So today I want to suggest to you an activity which can help you to develop and demonstrate skills in various ways: blogging. Here are five reasons why I suggest you give it a go.

1. It can be quick and easy
You may well be thinking that you don’t have time to set up and maintain a blog, but it doesn’t have to be onerous on time or effort. There are several platforms which allow you to set up a blog for free using nice and easy templates – is my personal favourite, although many people like too. And your blog posts don’t have to be long and philosophical every time – just a few hundred words reflecting on something you’ve read in the news or looked at for your assignment is enough.

2. It’s a great way to showcase your engagement with your subject area
We’ve all been there – you get asked a question in a job interview and you know that you know the answer, but it doesn’t quite come out right! It’s likely you’ll be asked about your thoughts on challenges or developments in the area in which you’re seeking employment, and getting into the habit of blogging your reflections on new stories, developments, policies or issues will give you loads of specific examples to offer of your current awareness and engagement with your subject area. Plus you’ll be contributing to your area itself too in your blogging - sharing your thoughts with the wider profession – which is another brilliant thing to mention in job interviews. I am pretty sure my personal blog has helped me to get the jobs I’ve had in Libraryland so far.

3. Blogging helps to develop your writing skills
It’s a cliché that practice makes perfect, but when it comes to reading and writing, the more you do, the more you will improve. Blogging is often reflective – thinking about an issue and offering your thoughts on it – which will help you to develop those reflective writing skills your tutors so often want to see. It’s generally believed in the blogging world that readers lose interest after about 500-600 words in a post, so this is an opportunity to practise writing clearly and concisely. You’ll want to be checking your spelling and grammar too before publishing something for the world to see, so you’ll improve in that area as well. Better writing = better marks in assignments, of course!

4. You can practise being critical
At university you are expected to not just read and digest information, but to think about it critically. This can be daunting, and it can be hard to know where and when to start. Blogging is an easy way to start doing this; for example, when a story appears on the BBC News about a new study of physical activity levels amongst children, you might look at the evidence used and write about how robust you believe it to be, or compare it with a study that you know of which contradicts it. Critical thinking is a vital skill not just for your studies, but for life, and your blog can help you to develop it. 

5. Blogging can open doors or attract opportunities
Some people actually make a living from blogging. It’s not easy or common so you can’t rely on this as a career path (though if you find yourself becoming passionate about your blog, by all means do your research and give it a go!), but you may find that your blog attracts attention sometimes, which can lead to opportunities or networking. I have made some great contacts in the library world through blogging about library-related things. I also run another, non-work related blog, on a personal interest, which has blagged me some freebies and free event invites! You’re becoming a part of the discourse around your subject area, even if you only get a few post hits a week, and getting involved in this way could lead to all sorts of things.

Blogstock is the world's only bloggers' festival, and it takes place in North London!

A word of warning…
You know this already but I’m going to reiterate it; remember that anything you put out there on the internet stays out there. Be critical, be radical, be controversial even (as long as you can back it up and you’re not just saying something inflammatory for the attention), but don’t be an idiot. Used properly, your blog can be a great tool to get involved with your subject area and to improve your employability. So what are you waiting for…?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Why are we not participating in sport?

There was a big piece on BBC Breakfast this morning about how adult participation in sport in the UK has decreased, despite the promised "Olympic Legacy". The Sports Minister is now looking at how funding can be improved in the hope that this will encourage people to take up a sporting activity.

If you scroll down the page I've linked to above you'll find a table which shows the particular types of sport or physical activity which have seen a decrease in participant numbers, and also those which have actually seen an increase. They highlighted some of these on the news this morning and I thought that these figures might actually give some indication of the reasons behind the overall decrease; for example, more people are cycling - could this be because more people are taking it up as a method of transport to work, college, town etc. to save money on their commute? Athletics has also increased - is this anything to do with the free ParkRuns which now happen on Saturday mornings in many towns and cities (including Bedford)? Economic factors surely play a massive part in how and when adults participate in sport; many people simply don't have the spare cash to pay for games or lessons, or court hires, or swimming pool entry, and budgetary pressures in many towns and cities may well have forced local leisure centres to reduce their opening hours or increase their fees.

So what's the solution? The government and Sport England are hoping that an overhaul in funding will help; in the BBC article it is suggested that organisations such as ParkRun will receive more financial support. I think it's free and informal events and activities like these which are likely to encourage adults to take some time out of their busy lives and to give things a go, without feeling pressured financially or personally.

What do you think?

Monday, 18 May 2015

Bedford Physical Education Archive - no access until August

Just a quick post to let you know that we're having work done in Bedford Library to create a Special Collections Room on the ground floor; this means that there'll be no access to any of our Special Collections, including the Bedford Physical Education Archive and the Levick Boyd archive, from 22nd May to 1st August 2015.

Sorry for any inconvenience this causes; however it will be great to have the Special Collections housed together in the Library once the work is done.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Why it's OK when academic reading is difficult

I often see students who say they are struggling to understand a book or a journal article, that they can't read it and make sense of it. Often they think it's their own fault, that they're just not "getting it". But that isn't the case at all, and this blog post from the LSE Impact Blog explains really nicely how academic reading is like exploring and making sense of a new landscape. It talks about PhD students, but the points made apply to all students, so it's definitely worth a look.

The PAD team  can offer tips and advice on how to read academic material; come and see them in Bedford Library at their drop-ins on Monday to Thursday afternoons (1-4pm) or Friday mornings (10am-1pm), or have a look at the helpsheets on the Study Hub Online BREO community (accessible from your BREO Gateway).

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Do you love reading? Tell us about it!

I've been hinting for a while about something coming up involving free books...well, we in Learning Resources are very excited to have been selected as an institutional giver for World Book Night on 23rd April, which means that we'll be handing out some free fiction books at Bedford and Luton that evening, as well as running a fiction book swap.

There'll be more information and promotion to follow, but in the meantime we are setting up a reading blog, where we want staff and students to share their thoughts on reading. Research has found that reading for pleasure can have massive benefits for health and wellbeing, such as improved mood and ability to cope with's getting to that time of year when deadlines are coming thick and fast, dissertations are due, and exams are looming, and we want to help you to look after yourselves and to stay healthy - reading can help!

So what I'm asking from you is whether you would be prepared to write a short review of a book you've read recently, or one you loved (a childhood favourite perhaps?), which you'd recommend to others. You can have your name attached to it or be anonymous, and we're only after short reviews - just a few hundred words. You can send them to me at .

Looking forward to reading your submissions...

Me, circa 199-something

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sexism in football

This has been a massive story so I'm sure you've all seen it already, but just in case you've missed it, I wanted to point you towards the news last week about the problem of sexism in football, with some fairly horrible footage emerging of Dr Eva Carneiro, the Chelsea club doctor, and other female officials being faced with verbal abuse from supporters. There are loads of news stories and opinion pieces about it - you could do a search in Newsbank to find them. Remember anything you use from a newspaper or news site needs to be referenced correctly too; use our pages for guidance.

If you're interested in this topic, a search in DISCOVER will uncover some research articles about sexism in fandom in football and other sports.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy World Book Day!

You might have spotted that the kids on the school run today are in some intriguing costumes...that's because it's World Book Day, a yearly event to celebrate books and reading. Schools will be handing out book tokens and getting dressed up as book characters - perhaps you remember this from your school days? I remember going as Anne of Green Gables one year, and my sister in a brilliant Hamlet costume!

Research has been done which suggests that reading for pleasure has benefits in terms of emotional and social effects (Department for Education, 2012), and a recent report claimed that just a small amount of regular reading can aid relaxation, ease stress and improve your ability to cope with the things that life throws at you (Quick Reads, 2015). So if you've fallen out of the habit of reading, or have never really been into it, why not give it a go? You'll find some fiction in our collections, but for a wider range to choose from, give your local public library a go (it's free!).

I've been a lifelong reader, and writer too. A few years ago I wrote on one of my non-work blogs about "Seven books that changed the way I see the world" -  feel free to have a read to see the impact that books have had on my personal development.

And keep an eye out on the Library's news feeds...we've got some exciting reading for pleasure related news coming up...

Department for Education (2012) Research evidence on reading for pleasure [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 5 March 2015).

Quick Reads (2015) Reading between the lines: the benefits of reading for pleasure [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 5 March 2015).

Monday, 2 March 2015

Free study skills workshops still running

I can't believe it's March already - this term is speeding by! Don't forget that we are still running free study skills workshops in the Library, to help you with:
  • citing and referencing
  • using RefWorks
  • using DISCOVER
  • using other databases
  • dissertation support
  • note-taking
  • assignment planning, writing and proof-reading
  • reading academic literature
  • doing presentations
  • critical thinking
  • computer skills
They're all free to attend and no prior booking necessary.

Check the What's On calendar to see what's happening when.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Researching how exercise affects young people's hearts

This report came on BBC Breakfast this morning; a number of institutions are collaborating to investigate the effects of exercise on children and young people's hearts, using participants with heart conditions and those without. You can read more about the study on the University of Exeter's webpages. Looks like an interesting one to follow.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Getting started with RefWorks

Here at Bedford we're seeing lots of you about RefWorks at the moment! We're always happy to help, but you don't have to come to the Library just to get started - RefWorks is a cloud-based tool that you can use from anywhere with an internet connection.

Search for RefWorks in the Library Catalogue and follow the link through to get set up.

You can then use the "Five Steps to Working with RefWorks" document on this page to learn how to add and create references.

There are some RefWorks workshops happening at Bedford and Luton over the next few weeks - I'll be doing one this Friday at Bedford at 12pm, but check the Study Hub calendar for other dates.

And you can always pop in Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, to speak to a librarian if you have further questions.

Happy referencing!

Monday, 9 February 2015

The National Sports Museum Online

Are you doing, or planning to do, your dissertation on sports history, sports heritage, social aspects of sport, sport participation, or something else along those lines? If so, you might want to have a look at the National Sports Museum Online, where you can search for special collections around sporting heritage (jncluding our very own Bedford Physical Education Archive). Most archives and special collections only take visitors at certain times, so if you find one you'd like to visit, make sure you contact them first to make arrangements.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My library story: a post for #NLD15

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. But my sister and I had an expensive habit; books. It started when we got the taste for reading with picture books at home, but soon we exhausted the supply there, and our parents, seeing we needed our fiction fix, began to take us to the local public library where we could borrow anything we liked, for free, and that was it; we were irreversibly hooked.  Throughout our childhood years we took out our maximum quota of eight books every Saturday, and would have made our way through all of them by the next week, returning to the library to replenish our supply. Now we are both well into our twenties (myself a lot further through the decade than I would care to share!) and still reading, and we owe our love of books and stories to that magical room of children’s books which were ours for no cost.

As a teenager I wanted to do really well in my A-Levels, humanities subjects, and for that I needed to read around my subject. My school library was great but it couldn’t possibly cover the specialist subjects that my friends and I were doing for our A-Level History Personal Study, so off we went to the central library in town (Birmingham Central Library, before it was rebuilt into the fantastic new Library of Birmingham), to find all sorts of gems in the 900s there.

These are my personal stories, but then I also started working as a Saturday Library Assistant in one of my local public libraries, from the age of 16 to 18, and there I saw what the library meant to others: elderly people who did not have much social contact and really valued a smile and a chat with us, adults and children who needed internet or word processor access for job applications, homework or other information and did not have a computer at home, people who needed to know where and how to find advice on things affecting them, teenagers who needed a quiet space to do their homework and had nowhere else to go, people who were lonely or lost, people who knew they wanted to read but didn’t know where to start, and of course, more families like mine, kids with an appetite for reading.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you have a similar story?

Public libraries are about so much more than just books. They offer online resources (ebooks, magazines, newspapers, databases), a space to work or read, a place to get advice, to get online - think about how much is done online, and often only online now…yet last year 16% of UK households were still without internet access (Office for National Statistics, 2014) – a safe space, a place to meet others, and all sorts of other things too.

And then there are school libraries, prison libraries, corporate library services within firms and organisations, libraries in hospitals, and of course, university libraries, all offering a huge variety of important services.

This is why there is a National Libraries Day every year. This year it’s this coming Saturday (7th February), and all over the country people will be celebrating libraries and the role they play in society. You can see what’s going on on their website.

Here, we’re running a #shelfie competition – send us your selfies in the shelves via Facebook or Twitter (have fun and get creative, but remember that what you post on social media stays with you, and future employers may well “Google” you or look you up on Facebook), and we have some prizes for our favourites.

You could go and see what the public library can offer you too. Bedford Central Library is on Harpur Street, round the corner from the Corn Exchange and opposite the side entrance to the Harpur Centre.

I’ll admit I don’t use the library that much anymore. I’m lucky enough to have internet access at home, family, friends and a boyfriend for company, a space to sit quietly when I need it, a good understanding of where to go for advice and information, and disposable income to buy a Kobo ereader and ebooks – although I do borrow ebooks from the public library. However I still think about how important it is to those with different needs and situations to me, so I’ll be sure to visit and take some books out on Saturday, to do my bit in highlighting to those in charge how our society still needs libraries. Perhaps, prompted by childhood memories like mine, some of you will take some time out this Saturday to do the same. 

Office for National Statistics (2014) Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2014. Available at: (Accessed: 2 February 2015).

Monday, 2 February 2015

Free workshops!

Just a quick post to remind you all that there are loads of workshops happening this term, to help you with:
  • citing and referencing
  • using RefWorks
  • using DISCOVER
  • using other databases
  • dissertation support
  • note-taking
  • assignment planning, writing and proof-reading
  • reading academic literature
  • doing presentations
  • critical thinking
  • computer skills
They're delivered by us (Academic Liaison Librarians), PAD and our computer skills tutors, are free to attend, and no booking is necessary - just turn up.

Have a look at the Study Hub What's On? calendar for details of what's happening when.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Your body clock could be affecting your athletic performance

This news report on BBC Breakfast this morning caught my attention; a new study from the University of Birmingham suggests that your internal body clock can have a significant effect on your sporting performance. Therefore, early risers perform better earlier on in the day, and vice versa. The researchers go on to suggest that this could affect top-level performance such as in Olympic events or top-league football (even giving English teams an excuse for not performing so well in the Champions' League!).

We don't have full-text access to the article, but you can read the abstract here (and don't forget that if you're in your final year or a postgraduate, you can use the Document Supply Service to request material we don't have).

Monday, 12 January 2015

#thisgirlcan - encouraging women to get active?

Sport England have launched their "This Girl Can" campaign, encouraging women to take part in sport and exercise "no matter how they do it, how they look, or even how sweaty they get" (Sport England, no date). On Twitter you can follow @thisgirlcan and the hashtag #thisgirlcan to see what women are doing to keep fit and active. 

It's great that initiatives like this exist, but eagle-eyed readers will have spotted the question mark in the title of this post, and if you've been reading for a while you might remember that last year I wrote a post about this issue of women apparently not wanting to exercise because of how it will make them look, where I explained that I'm not entirely sure that this is the only or main barrier to physical activity for women. However, anything to promote the importance of physical activity for any section of the population can only be a good thing, so I hope that this campaign has a positive impact.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below. 

Sport England (no date) This Girl Can: About Us. Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2015).