Are you incurably curious?

‘The free destination for the incurably curious’ and a must for students keen to study Medicine

After an interesting day visiting Westminster School Library and talking to other school librarians I made a quick dash to the Wellcome Collection before it closed at 6pm one Saturday last month. What a jaw-dropping place! You don’t have to be a budding medic to find this collection fascinating – it’s equally appealing to anyone interested in art or science too. The whole centre is free and you can wander in, take a leaflet to lead you on a trail, pick up an audio guide to dip into a range of exhibits which pique your interest or sit down and become absorbed in a book. Many of the galleries blend art and creativity in the exhibits alongside the medical information.

chromosomes (2)

Sock chromosomes!

I found myself engrossed in viewing a collection of tools for the amputation of limbs over the ages whilst listening to surgeons’ accounts of operations now and in the past on an audio guide.

experiences sign

Choose your experience and follow the trail. From ‘pulse racing’ to ‘toe curling’


I love the ethos of the Wellcome Collection. This sign in the Reading Room says it all.

wellcome sign


The reading room is a delight. As their website describes it:

‘Come and experience the new incarnation of our Reading Room. An innovative hybrid of gallery, library and events space, the Reading Room is designed to encourage you to indulge your curiosity and explore more than ever before.

With over a thousand books and 100 objects – including contemporary sculptures, paintings, medical artefacts and manuscripts – the room is an open invitation to dig a little deeper into what it means to be human.

Settle down with a book from our shelves on a comfy sofa, contemplate life quietly or strike up a conversation with a stranger. You will find plenty here to inspire you. Drop by to spark connections and new ideas.

Located on level 2, the Reading Room is open during gallery opening hours. Just come whenever you have a moment – you may even chance upon one of our pop-up Reading Room events.’

So much to learn and amaze and I didn’t even have time to explore the shop!

whole human genome

Browse the whole Human Genome!


Back to our school library:

Don’t forget we have a collection of physical books on medicine in the Library as well as a growing collection of e-books. Here’s the current medicine reading list of printed books in the Library.

medical books

Lower 6th: Why not try the 6 Book Reading Challenge during the long summer break? Fuel your curiosity and invigorate your intellect for your final school year. You could try reading the same book as a group of your friends and discussing your responses when you come back in September. More excellent science books on the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science website and the Wellcome Book Prize too.

The Wellcome Library is free to join and you can access their wide-range of resources and read fascinating blogs.

As an interested layperson here is my suggested recipe for a medical summer:

  • A trip: The Wellcome Collection
  • Read 6 books: From the Library or our e-book collection or public libraries, or bookshops or anywhere!
  • A lecture: Listen to The Reith Lectures by Dr Atul Gawande on The Future of Medicine (on Radio 4 iplayer)  ‘Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande explores the nature of fallibility and suggests that preventing avoidable mistakes is a key challenge for the future of medicine.’ (Radio 4 iplayer)

4 lectures on:

  • Why do doctors fail?
  • The century of the system
  • The problem of hubris
  • The idea of wellbeing
 We welcome your suggestions and recommendations for Library stock.

More young people are reading for pleasure – Don’t forget the impact of school librarians!

The National Literacy Trust questioned 32,000 pupils aged eight to 18 and  the survey suggests ‘enjoyment and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years’ (BBC News)

This is such positive news and it’s encouraging to see that the press have picked it up. I heard Jonathan Douglas of the National Literacy Trust talking about the report on Radio 5 Live yesterday morning. It was a very brief interview but he highlighted the fact that they’d included questions on digital reading in the survey this time. He mentioned that it is as important for children to be able to read emails as it is for them to read Jane Austen today.

My only gripe is the lack of mention of school librarians and school libraries in the press coverage. As school librarians we are passionate about inspiring young people to read for pleasure and promote an enthusiastic reading culture in our schools – whether it be fiction or popular science, biography, history – you name it we encourage it! Key to enthusing children and young people to read is allowing them the freedom to choose their own reading material and not be judgemental. I only hope this report doesn’t bring in its wake articles criticising children’s reading choices. As adults we don’t all read weighty classics all of the time!

School librarians are experts in books for children and young adults. We read as many books as possible, keep up with the latest releases through The Bookseller, School Librarian publication and the press. Film tie-ins are hugely popular with our pupils and we make sure we stock these. We offer e-books which can be read on pupils’ phones and other mobile devices so that they need never be without a good book in the holidays.

As the report acknowledges, reading initiatives are a great way of inspiring children. The Summer Reading Challenge in UK public libraries engages younger children in particular and teenagers as ‘reading activists’. In our school Shadowing the Carnegie Book Award gets pupils reading the same 8 shortlisted novels and heated debates occur over there responses to the books. Although the survey found that boys are reading less than girls in our school the boys  often appear to be keener to share their reading and ask for book recommendations. Our breaktime ‘Book Chat’ book club is frequently boys only although a few girls are starting to come along.

scholars 2015

Parents can help too by reading with their children but also as reading role-models – sharing their book choices and reading with their children.

Press coverage of the children’s reading habits survey.

It’s interesting to see the way the different newspapers and news websites emphasise different aspects of the report:

The BBC reports that ‘Increasing numbers of UK schoolchildren are choosing to read in their spare time, with six in 10 having a favourite work of fiction, research suggests’

BBC News More pupils than “reading for pleasure” Useful summary of the survey findings in this report.

The Guardian headline focuses on digital media ‘girls like digital media while boys prefer print

The Telegraph reports that  Girls ‘are reading more than boys,’ boosted by ‘Twilight effect’ ….’novels like Twilight make reading “cool” for girls, new research shows

Happy World Book Day – Thursday 5th March 2015

group croppedToday is World Book Day and we are celebrating books and reading today! Looking forward to seeing pupils and staff in the Library at break this morning for cookies, brownies and our Opening Lines of Books quiz.

Try your hand at this 10 Second Book Quiz  (many thanks to Sue, the Librarian at Roedean for sharing this one!) It is also on the screens in the Dining Hall today.

On a day when we celebrate our enjoyment of books and reading why not support Book Aid International? This charity is changing people’s lives through the supply of books, resources and support of libraries in Africa. Watch Samuel’s story here


Reading Challenge 2015 – Join our Reading Bingo!

As a fun challenge to encourage us all to try new books, genres, formats for 2015 we’ve adopted Random House Canada’s reading bingo challenge from image

All are welcome to pick up a bingo card in the Library and start making a line. The ultimate challenge is to read 25 books by the end of the Summer Term or by the end of December 2015. The Hopetoun Y9 girls had a session in the Library during tutorial on Monday and enthusiastically took up our challenge.

We’re looking forward to hearing about all your reading choices and are hoping to make a huge bingo card to display all the books read as post it notes on all the squares.

I read ’13 reasons why’ by Jay Asher at the very end of 2014 so sadly can’t use this amazing book as my “Book with a number in the title” for this year. However, I read ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters (highly recommended and beautifully written – a literary page turner) and it was 560 pages so that qualifies for the top left square. I’ve just completed the wonderful ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi. This book is one of a kind  – the biography of Marj growing up as a young girl in Iran told as a graphic novel. Her strong, defiant character is powerfully portrayed along with her humour. As well as a personal coming of age story it is incredibly informative about life in Iran from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.



Christmas Holiday Reading recommendations – Staff picks from 2014

Books of the Year 2014 and holiday recommendations

I’ve been canvassing opinion for some of the favourite books read or published this year. Here is the eclectic mix of choices from some of our teachers and the Library staff.

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban –  Malala Yousafzai

Ms Atherton The things they carried – Tim O’Brien. This book was recommended to me some years ago and I finally read it over the summer. It is an incredible book – both a novel and collection of inter-linked stories of the men in a platoon in the Vietnam War. It is a fictional account but the  author based it on his own experiences of the Vietnam War. The detail and experiences of the soldiers feel so real and the book has become a powerful anti-war classic.

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

We were liars – E. Lockhart

Dr Williams recommends the crime fiction of Canadian writer Louise Penny

Lewis Dartnell has written a book this year entitled The Knowledge: How to rebuild our world from scratch

It has been described  by The Guardian as “A terrifically engrossing History of Science and Technology” and by Nature journal as “The Ultimate do-it-yourself guide to ‘rebooting’ human civilisation”

What Milo Saw – Virginia Macgregor

Mr Hendrick – Stoner by John Williams, Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Mr Atherton (Maths) Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre – The fascinating true spy story that changed the course of World War II

Dr Rosen (Biology) told us that he is working his way through  the free classics on his Kindle! One he found amazing was The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. An epic exploration of the human psyche.

Ms Wright(Library Assistant) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys This proved a hugely popular book when it was on the Carnegie Shortlist in 2012. It is a moving account of a Lithuanian family’s arrest and deportation to Siberia following the Russian occupation of their country during World War II. See a pupil’s review here

Mrs Wayman – A Tale for the Time being by Ruth Ozeki and  The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Man Booker Prize Winner 2014)



Booker Prize Announcement 2014 and holiday reading suggestions

Holiday Reading

flanagan cover image

On Tuesday 14th October the Booker Prize winner was announced. This year marked the first time non-Commonwealth writers were eligible for the prize. Contrary to the fears of an American takeover it was won by Australian writer Richard Flanagan with his book ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’. The novel recounts the experiences of a fictional surgeon in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on the Thailand-Burma railway. Flanagan’s father was a Japanese prisoner of war in a camp on the Thailand-Burma railway and Flanagan felt compelled to write the book – in fact it took him 12 years and five versions to finish it. Read more about it here and have a browse of the other shortlisted titles. Another brilliant book on this harrowing subject is ‘The Railway Man’ by Eric Lomax. This is a first-hand account of the ordeal of being a prisoner on the Thailand-Burma railway (made into a film in 2013). If this is too much misery I am assured that Booker Shortlisted title ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ by Karen Jay Fowler is “hilarious and heartbreaking” so definitely some humour amidst the sadness.

For non-fiction and subject specific suggestions don’t forget the Top 10 Books and for more fiction suggestions try Tom Wayman’s Wellington 100 and Middle School Reading List

Extreme Reading Photo Competition Winners – Summer 2014

Extreme Reading Photo Competition Winners 

This year our new photographer and designer, Josh Moses, had the tough task of judging the ‘Extreme Reading Competition’. This was done anonymously of course. We were inundated with amazing and creative photos and want to thank all of you for taking part. Look out for the display of all the entries on the panels outside the library and full list of runners up and highly commended.

KC cycling extreme photoMany congratulations to the winners: 

Wellington College Students

1st – Katya Chukseeva, (cycling in the rain in Moscow)

2nd – Dominic Atherton, (accidental scientist explosion)

3rd – Olly Cash, (cave in cliffs)

4th – Posy Coode,  (in the Blue Cave in Croatia)


Highly commended:

Will Dolbear, 9Bd (feeding an elephant)

Thomas Williamson, 9R (in a dragon statue)

Jamie Lunnon, 9S (jumping off a sea wall)

Jasmine Leavesley, 9Ap (swinging off a tower)

Felix Hooper, 9Bd (reading the Outsiders on a water ski)

Charlie Sellers, 9Bl (backflip off a boat)

Drew Cahane, 9Hl (reading on Inferno rollercoaster)

Archie Coode, 11Bl (up a mast on a ship)

Noah Pennant, 9Bd (Land’s end sign)

Eve Trainor, 9W (on a post in a lake)

William Creasey, 9L (mountain bike)

Kitty Nason, 9C (The Pyranees)

Harry Williams, 9Bn (waterskiing reading ‘Dipomatic Immunity)

Nils Bruening (top of mast)

Louis Ryan (reading with a dolphin)

Eagle House Students

1st – George Belcher, Eagle House 7 (on castle ruins)

2nd – Olly Whitehead, Eagle House (set of three photos of canoe going over rapids)

3rd – Ben Trunck, Eagle House (in the stocks)

4th – Sophia Grillo, Eagle House (long jump)

Librarians’ choice award – Sofia Albano (The Diamond Heist)


Winner – Mr Allcock (Head of Classics) on top of the Old Man of Hoy

old man of hoygb extreme reading

Don’t forget the Extreme Reading Photo Competition!

Slack-line reading in France

Slack-line reading in France

The Summer Holiday Extreme Reading Photo Competition is back by popular demand!

Take a photo of yourself reading in an “extreme” place. Be as creative or imaginative as you like (without putting yourself in danger!)  You could win an e-reader.

Encourage your  families to join in!

Email your photos to the Library: before 8th September.












outsiders cover

If you are looking for an exciting and thought-provoking read for the summer try The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

All the new 3rd form will receive a copy of this excellent book from the Librarians. Let’s make it the Wellington Summer Read!

It’s a coming of age story of gangs in the USA, written by a 17 year old girl. It is brilliantly written, has appeal for all ages and doesn’t take long to read.

Read the book and take the brief online book quiz in September. Prizes for the House with the most readers.

You could combine it with the Extreme reading photo competition and read it in an unusual or exotic location.

Two book recommendations – I’ve finally got around to reading ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury and ‘The things they carried’ by Tim O’Brien this summer. Both books are incredible. Ray Bradbury wrote his disturbing, futuristic story in 1953. His first version of the novel took him 9 days to write and he often wrote on hired typewriters in public libraries. In his dystopian world the job of firemen is to burn books as they are forbidden, being deemed the source of all unhappiness.

‘The things they carried’ is a book of short stories linked together through the young US soldiers whose experiences shape the stories. It is a fictional account of the Vietnam war narrated by a veteran. The writing is haunting and disturbing and it has become a classic anti-war book.


More reading suggestions and book lists

Avid readers and pupils keen to read a wide range of styles and genres this summer have a look at Mr Wayman’s Middle School Reading List. There is something for everyone here, from incoming 3rd form to U6th in fact. How many of the books have your parents read? Fahrenheit 451 is on my “to be read” pile!

Mr Wayman also includes some excellent advice on how to choose the ideal book for you.

Don’t forget to re-visit the Wellington Top Ten reads, chosen by the academic departments and designed to help you extend your subject specific reading. The lists are structured so that the first book is the most accessible to younger pupils and the final book the most challenging.

A reminder of a stylish website which is a fantastic source of reading suggestions – Five Books.

Five Books asks authors and experts to recommend the best books in their subject. In an interview they then discuss why the books are important and what they are about. You can browse by topic or interview or search for a particular book or author/expert. It covers a huge range of subjects range from Espionage to The Mind and Comedy to How to Be Good.

Try Tom Holland on Ancient Rome, Jo Nesbo on Norwegian Crime Writing or Marcus du Sautoy on The Beauty of Maths. There’s a whole section on Being a Parent and plenty of Fiction suggestions too. Definitely something for everyone on this very attractive website.

Happy Reading!

Here’s a fun infographic proposing routes to finding the perfect book.

summer reading