Another one bites the dust

We once said that in a Graduate Trainee Battle-Royale I’d be the first to go because I’m not too overly competitive, and would just want to help other people win. Well, jokes on them because I WON. I am the only one left. All others perished from the bullet of higher education, the sword of other employment, and the arrow of travelling abroad. As I raise my golden lanyard above my head, I realise that I am just a little competitive. But what did I win for leaving last? The respect and admiration of my colleagues? Knowledge? One of those sit on lawnmowers? I’m still waiting to find out actually.

Alas dear reader, the Golden Age of Graduate Trainees must come to an end. I won’t compare myself to the mighty Achilles or Odysseus (I’ll let you do that yourself). My weakness was not in my ankle, but in my contract that said ‘Duration: 18 months’. Like my colleagues before me I will ascend Mount Olympus and nourish myself upon the ambrosia that is finding another job.

Graduate Trainee celebration – Artist’s interpretation

The Graduate Trainee Programme at the RCN has been a wonderful experience. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for all who I have worked with for having to put up with my continuous questions and listening to my dulcet Yorkshire tones whenever I open my mouth.  As someone wanting to start their career in libraries, the variety of experiences and opportunities given have done nothing but reaffirm this.

I will now, like the greatest Hobbit that ever lived (modesty isn’t my strong point) sail in to the West, and make way for a new wave of Graduate Trainees who will try to take my place.


Oliver Blog post checklist:

  • Ancient mythology reference
  • Lord of the rings reference
  • Me being hilarious

What a year!

The 8th May marks two momentous things for me, it was the date I submitted my last EVER undergraduate assignment at 10.45pm. (In case you are wondering it was a historical reconstruction of the earthquake of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79)  I got a final mark of 68 and was cross as I had marks deducted for incorrect spellings of Latin quotes. (sighs deeply) More excitedly, the 8th marks my start date at the RCN!

Celebrating the fact that I have not yet slept through my three alarms, I’m taking you on a journey of some of my Graduate Trainee highlights so far.

Scrap the Cap

Prior to working at the RCN I shamefully knew very little about the pay cap and the pressures those working in the Nursing profession were faced with, despite my Aunty being a midwife and my Uncle a defense nurse. Participating in the Scrap the Cap Rally was a truly wonderful experience which will stay with me forever.

scrap the cap
Did I get dressed in the dark that day or WHAT! Waiting to be handed my  guilty verdict from the Fashion Police!


This is a true likeness of how passionate I was during the Scrap the Cap Rally

Wailing like a town crier amongst the roaring crowds I bellowed ‘Scrap the Cap’ with every fibre of my being while waiving my placard with all the strength I could muster. It was then I truly understood the importance of why we must do more to support all healthcare workers.








To show my allegiance to the Nursing profession and the NHS I now wear my ‘Support the NHS’ badge on my work bag with pride and wear multiple nurse related badges on my work lanyard, cueing all types of looks ranging from bewilderment to affirmation from members of the public.


Meeting a Hero/ RCN Fellow EA

I was lucky enough to briefly meet Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, after reading her autobiography I was star- stuck when I finally saw her. Her autobiography is one of the most moving books I have ever read – her perseverance is something I hope to emulate in both my personal and professional life.



History Day

The RCN made history (see what I did there) by having a stand at History Day, held at Senate House for the first time last October. We got to showcase our handling collection (now called History Box) to a range of researchers and PHD students (the urinal is always an interesting ice breaker!) and promote the breadth of services and resources that can assist with nursing history research.


Underground at the British Library

Throughout our graduate traineeship we’ve been lucky enough to be taken on many tours of varying libraries, My favorite by far was the British Library as we got a sneak peak of operations underground, and were shown how KPI targets of 90 minutes were met. We were also given a tour and were told more about the formation of the British Library.


Open Day

Our annual Open Day which was held in February was lots of fun as we showcased some interesting rare books, journals and pamphlets for staff around the RCN.  Open day was another opportunity to gawp at some of the fascinating items we hold in our store.

I can honestly say that my traineeship has met and exceeded my expectations and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my team and the rest of the library. I can also affirm that the RCN don’t only have amazing nurses, they have amazing librarians too (not that I am being biased or anything!)

With my traineeship (sadly) coming to an end soon I can honestly look back knowing that I made a great choice joining the RCN.There are many more highlights but to prevent you from falling asleep I’ve decided to keep it short and sweet (your welcome) .

See you around!




Visit to the National Art Library

Apologies that you haven’t heard from me for a few months. You may not necessarily consider this a negative development given that my fellow GTs have posted some fascinating blogs on their work and visits to other libraries since the New Year.

I have to tell you about one visit that I made to the National Art Library at the V&A museum, alongside the GTs and several other members of the RCN Library and Archive Service. This was my first trip to an art reference library and I must admit to my shame that I didn’t previously know that there was a library at the V&A museum. Anyone can join the National Art Library so there is no reason why I should have left it so late to explore this gem.

National Art Library
National Art Library

Our team was very lucky to have the Library staff give us a demonstration of 10 treasures in their books collection. Among others, these treasures included: a book written by an Italian monk in 1560 which listed all books published in Italy and gave its readers advice on hawking; a peep show of the Great Exhibition of 1851; a fantastic photography book which shows life on the Norfolk broads in 1887; and a book about fashion written in 1567 intended for readers who were unable to travel in the Age of Discovery.



I found Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, a late nineteenth century photography book, the most intriguing:

Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads
Emerson, P. H., Goodall, T. F., Ballantyne, Hanson and Co, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, Valentine & Sons and Ballantyne, Hanson & Co (1887) Life and landscape on the norfolk broads. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, Crown Buildings, 188 Fleet Street, E.C.
Norfolk Broads 1
A local man pulling a boat filled with bundles of reeds


Norfolk Broads 2
Fishing trap?
Norfolk Broads 3
Transporting the Reeds.







Norfolk Broads 4
Sail Boats.
Norfolk Broads 6
Norfolk Broads 5
Hunting on the Broads.
Norfolk Broads 7
Harvesting the reeds.

















The National Art Library is widely recognized as one of the top four art reference libraries in the world. The Library will be closed over the Easter weekend but I would encourage you to visit once it reopens. You do not have to be an art student, historian, V&A museum staff member, researcher or to work for an auction house to request to view items held in the National Art Library. It is a closed-access library, you may have to wait up to 90 mins for an order to be processed. However, it is well worth the wait because their historical collection is magnificent and it is a great place to study.


Elizabeth Fry

Each member of the Library team has the opportunity to create a display case on a topic of their choosing. This is to present items in our collection that remain very well hidden, and quite often don’t get the time of day unless you’re specifically searching for them. One of the key’s to finding all of the hidden treasures in the treasure trove that is our library, is through our Special Collections page . Here you can find a link to all of the unique collections that we hold, ranging from our Oral History Collection , Florence Nightingale Collection, to our Rare Books. Given the depth of our collections, it can be quite difficult to choose the topic for your exhibit case.

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Royal College of Nursing Archives

I know you’re thinking that it has been a while since we’ve posted. Well you’re right. To be exact it has been 6 weeks, 1,008 hours, 60,480 minutes, or 3,628,800 seconds (ish). What’s happened? You might be thinking. Did the grad trainees get stuck inside our library store for all of this time? Did our Nursing Scrapbooks cause a time ripple that meant we got transported back to the First World War? No. I just forgot to post something. Continue reading

Let’s get Classical – Visit to the Institute of Classical Studies


Here is my plug for Athena, my favourite Greek deity who I FINALLY got to meet in Paris! She was marbleous, although a little stony faced.

When given the opportunity to organise a visit for myself and grad trainees, it didn’t take me too long to make up my mind. Having studied Classical Civilisation as an undergraduate, as well as currently contributing to the Our Mythical Childhood project with the University of Roehampton, you could say that I have a history with the Classical World.

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Bad Christmas jokes and more book recommendations!

Merry Christmas!

Hope you’ve liked my fellow Graduate Trainee’s book suggestions so far. My favorite book to get your teeth into over Christmas as is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” which I am sure will also be a firm favorite among others.


The book is centered around the key protagonist Ebeneezer Scrooge who was void of ‘Christmas Spirit’, failed to see the importance of family and hated distributing his wealth among others.

  download (1)Three visits from the Ghost of Christmas past, The Christmas present and the Christmas Yet to come forces Scrooge to re-evaluate his attitudes to his colleagues, relatives and his personal conduct.


Marley's_Ghost-John_Leech,_1843.jpgAfter the Ghost of Yet to Come visits Scrooge, he becomes a charitable man who gives to others without ceasing. Grateful for his chance at redemption, Scrooge becomes renown among his community for the ‘Man who celebrated Christmas’.





A few other non Christmassy (sorry for cheating!) books to get stuck into over the festive period are ‘PS I love you’ by Cecelia Ahern which features themes of  loss, rediscovery and reflection, perfect for entering 2018  with a bang!QS_0762166cfb5e469d9193d816392d6796 ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Toibin and ‘The Awakening by Kate Chopin.






Too lazy to read after gorging on your fifth mince pie? Not to worry, a few good Christmas movies to burn calories in laughter to are: ‘Mrs Doubtfire’, ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Elf’

If you have not watched Elf at Christmas you have been living under a rock!

Here’s a few Christmas jokes to get you in the festive spirit! 

Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor?
Because he had a low “elf” esteem!

Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas?
Santa Jaws



Who is Santa’s favorite singer?
Elf-is Presley!


Don’t say we don’t look after you!

See you in 2018!





Harry Potter and the Grad Trainee Blog

Not much beats sitting on your favourite armchair/sofa/cushion to read a book at Christmas time. I racked my brains very hard to think of a book that makes me feel Christmassy – A Christmas carol, Little Women or even How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But none of them make me feel as festive as re-reading a Harry Potter for the umpteenth time.

“Come on, cheer up, it’s nearly Christmas.” (Classic Hagrid quote – couldn’t agree more)


And let’s face it at Hogwarts they have THE BEST Christmases. Not only do they get to have a feast (and not have to do any of the washing up), it’s normally snowing and they get some cracking presents. At the core of why people love Harry Potter is the distinctly different characters, and every one of them has their own present giving style.

“Oi! Presents!” (Ron one Christmas)

I thought I’d give you a whistle-stop tour of the different gift-givers in Hogwarts. Which one are you most like?


Hermione – well thought out and practical. Something you should have rather than you want. Expect a guilt-inducing homework planner, a quill or a broom-polishing kit.

Ron – wildly last minute. Expect something Quidditch-themed or novelty (like dungbombs).

Hagrid – well-meaning but ultimately terrifying. Think a purse with fangs.

Dobby – again well-meaning but ultimately terrifying, but this time for reasons of intensity. Expect a heartfelt painting or a pair of odd homemade socks.

Durlseys – absolutely dismal. Worse than Scrooge. Presents given to Harry include: a fifty pence piece, a tissue and a toothpick. I hope you don’t have a Dursley buying you presents this Christmas.

Mrs. Weasley – Next-level homemade gift goals. You will get a homemade knitted jumper and a cake of some sort. Considering Mrs. Weasley makes a jumper for everyone in her family (eight people) and others like Harry, I think she may be the ultimate Christmas gift-giver. If you’re anything like her can I request a present from you this year please?


There you are, a brief idea of what magical Christmas presents are like. Perhaps it’ll give you some inspiration for presents to buy/make for your favourite muggles this year. I hope you get what you want this year, unlike poor old Dumbledore:

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

I hope you have a merry Christmas and get some good gifts. I recommend treating yourself to a Harry Potter book or two.



A Hearty Graduate Trainee Christmas Greetings

Hi there! I have only been part of the Royal College of Nursing Graduate Trainee team since this October. However, I feel right at home here and have gotten to know everyone well.

We are very excited about the approaching holiday season. Of course, we will miss all our lovely library users but a week’s recuperation at home during the holiday closure period will be a welcome break.

Along with the other Graduate Trainees, I thought I would share one of my favourite Christmas or winter-themed short stories with you. Unlike the other Graduate Trainees, I have a chosen a short story that is only very tenuously related to Christmas and winter festivities. I have selected a short story called ‘The Boy Who Read Aloud’ by Joan Aiken[1]. I imagine that this story took place in December. Certainly, Aiken does not rule out the possibility that the events of the story took place in the run-up to Christmas.

‘The Boy Who Read Aloud’ is a tale of a boy named Seb who cherishes the memories of reading his book of stories with his late mother. Following the death of his father, who remarried following his mother’s death, Seb lives with his horrid step-mother and her three equally repulsive daughters. Eventually, Seb escapes from home in a bid to prevent his treasured book of stories falling into the clutches of his step-sister Morwenna. She is unable to read but is mean-spirited and wishes to deprive Seb of his enjoyment of stories, which are his only medium of escape from his oppressive home-life.

After his escape, Seb determines to make his way to the sea with the intention of reading it stories. On a noticeboard advertising local jobs, Seb had read a poster that had been apparently posted on behalf of the sea that read, “Elderly Blind Retired Sea Would Like Boy To Read Aloud Daily”[2]. In fact, the old and torn job advertisement had originally been posted by request of an elderly blind sea captain for someone to read aloud to him daily the newspaper.

On his journey to the sea, Seb reads aloud to an old Rolls-Royce car abandoned in a yard, a derelict house with a garden, and a thorn tree. All three are delighted to have Seb read a story to them. In fact, this was the first time that they had ever heard a story and in return they each reveal a wonderful secret to Seb.

The tale ends with Seb finding a new home in the heart of the sea. The sea is so impressed by Seb’s stories that it rescues him from his step-mother and her family. Aiken believes that we may occasionally meet Seb in a library. He will be choosing new books from the shelves to read to sea.

'The Boy Who Read Aloud'
‘The Boy Who Read Aloud’

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂



Aiken, Joan. “The Boy Who Read Aloud.” Classic Fairy Tales to Read Aloud. Ed. Naomi Lewis. London: Kingfisher, 1996. 209-223. Print.

[1] Aiken, Joan. “The Boy Who Read Aloud.” Classic Fairy Tales to Read Aloud. Ed. Naomi Lewis. London: Kingfisher, 1996. 209-223. Print.

[2] Ibid. 213.

Letters from Father Christmas

To help us all get into the festive spirit, the grad Capture 1trainee elves had a huddle. We thought about how to best combine the festive season with our favourite Christmassy books to present you with this selection box of our favourite festive books or stories over the next week.

I – very unsurprisingly for me – chose ‘Letters from Father Christmas’ by J.R.R Tolkien. Largely known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this books spans a family tradition for the Tolkien family that began with his return from the First World War, and would last for around 23 years for his 4 children.

Each year for his children he would write his children letters that were from – you guessed it – Father Christmas himself (or in some cases his elvish secretary). These letters would range from the general antics and misadventures that he and his helpers experience at the North Pole. Whether this would be bat-riding goblins (not very Christmassy), or his helper the North Polar Bear (a little more Christmassy).

An example of this letter is below, and doesn’t look too dissimilar to some of our Nursing Scrapbooks that you may have seen from one of our earlier posts:

Capture 2
Image from:


Let the festivities begin (soonish)