Hillcroft LRC

Archive for February 2017

book-v-tabletIt is interesting in education (including at Hillcroft), how we push our students to read more materials online. Essentially, this is for three reasons. The first is preparing our students for university life where they will encounter even more electronic resources, the second is building up digital skills for university/working life, the third is using material 24/7 on and offsite and the fourth is sustainability (saving paper).

A short article in last week’s New Scientist by Emma Young intrigued us as although it was essentially about finding better ways to read in the digital age, it also provided some of the latest thinking about on-screen versus print reading. We’ve used the word ‘thinking’ as there is a lack of meaningful data on how and why people read on screens. The article quotes from two experts in the field of linguistics – Anne Mangen from the Reading Centre at the University of Stavanger, Norway and Naomi Baron at the Department of Language and Foreign Studies at the American University in Washington, D.C.

The keys points they were making (based on U.S. data) are:

  • The reading of print books is declining with a corresponding rise in ebooks although ebook sales are slowing possibly due to cost.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests people find it harder to read PDFs as it is more difficult to navigate compared to print text. Contextual markers are missing on electronic pages so if a reader wanted to go back to pick up on something requiring clarification, finding it three-quarters of the way down the page is tricky.
  • It is probably better to read complex material in print.
  • Progress on a tablet (for fiction) is not the same as tactile progress through a paperback.
  • When using ‘find’ on an electronic device, the results are too specific so the reader does not benefit from the broader text.
  • There are good points with electronic devices particularly the ability to change and enlarge the font.

We’ve got many keen women who are students of literature and budding creative writers. One piece of advice given to writers looking to improve their wordcraft is to read as widely as possible. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, which is why magazines like Mslexia are so vital to bring together women with creative energy to learn from each other.

So how do writers achieve the effect of creating imaginative scenes, characters and worlds? This TEDEd video by Nalo Hopkinson suggests that good writers play with language to evoke our senses. From Shakespeare to Angela Carter, there are certain literary devices such as alliteration, imagery and tone which combine to build a multi-layered story full of movement, sound, taste, sight and smell. You could probably give me some examples.

If you are new to creative writing a good book to read is ‘Experiencing Poetry‘ series. In these short books, they describe famous poets’ use of language simply and get you thinking about how to put into words what seems impossible to say.

Danish Girl and Carol DVDsFebruary is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) History Month. This year marks 50 years since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which partly decriminalised homosexuality in men. This had an impact on all of the LGBT community around the world.

We’ve just added these new DVDs to our catalogue for you to borrow:

The Danish Girl


Both films were nominated for Oscars last year; Eddie Redmayne (Actor in a Leading Role) with Alicia Vikander (Actress in a Supporting Role) and Cate Blanchett (Actress in a Leading Role) with Rooney Mara (Actress in a Supporting Role).  Alicia Vikander won Actress in a Supporting Role. This year’s Oscar nominees include Moonlight which is up for Best Picture and Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for Actor in a Supporting Role. Find out more about Moonlight on the official website.

If you didn’t catch Desert Island Discs on 10 Feb you can listen to Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens talking movingly about his sexuality and how he came out in 2007 on the BBC iPlayer.

new-newspaper-stand-100217 new-journal-shelves-100217

This week we have refreshed the newspaper and journal shelving.

Two new newspapers – ‘Easy News’ and ‘First News’ have been housed on the journal shelves since we acquired them back in the summer. We decided to move these to the newspaper rack. Consequently, the ‘Times Educational Supplement’ and the ‘Times Higher Educational Supplement’ have taken their place on the journal shelving at the bottom.

Until we all get used to this new arrangement, please ask staff for any assistance.


Newspaper by Pietro and Sylvia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Western world has exploded with news about fake news. What does it mean and who cares?

What is fake news?

It’s hard to define but fake news are headlines and stories which are completely untrustworthy and inaccurate. The content may be full of deliberately misleading facts or just plain lies. Fake news is often more emotive than real news. It can be obvious but most likely it is hard to spot fake news.

Why should we care?

The media can play a big part in shaping people’s reactions and beliefs every day. It is particularly worth paying close attention to potentially deceitful news stories because no one wants to be taken for a ride and duped. It’s good practice to apply critical thinking to everything you read whether or not it relates directly to your studies.

We’re used to news at its best being written by journalists and editors with expertise, authority and a sense of responsibility to portray world events from a balanced viewpoint. However, with the rise of social media like Facebook and Twitter the creation of news is getting further away from those trusted news sources and professional practices. Everyone should care about what they are learning and sharing with others. Everyone should know what information is shaping their opinions and those of their friends and family.

Spotting fake news

IFLA recommend applying 8 thoughts to online news stories including: consider the source, check the date, see who the author is and investigate the supporting links.

What is truth anyway?

Deciding what is true and what is made up is a life skill. Recently I came across a quotation that summed up the current attention on distinguishing fact vs fiction. It’s the idea that there is no easy way to tell if something’s true.

‘The color of truth is gray’ André Gide.

Life’s complex, there are many blurry areas.

Good newspapers available in the LRC

Don’t worry too much though! We’re here to help evaluate information and provide trustworthy news sources like: The Guardian, the i, First News, Easy News, The Voice, The Surrey Comet. 

The new Quick Reads have arrived in the LRC.

The first three to go on the shelves tomorrow will be:

The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig – a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast set in London. Amanda has written a number of very well-reviewed novels including Hearts and Minds and A Vicious Circle.

Looking for Captain Poldark by Rowan Coleman – a road trip novel about four people who meet online and drive to Cornwall to the Poldark set to find Aiden Turner. Coleman, who is dyslexic herself, is the bestselling novelist of The Memory Book and We Are All Made of Stars.

Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers – a specially adapted book drawing on the late Susan Jeffers’ landmark self-help book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and her bestselling follow ups.

Do let us know what you think of this new material.new-qr-2017-pt-1


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 289 other followers

Follow me on Twitter