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.

Continue reading

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)



ILI Conference 2017!


Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend the Library Innovation Conference at the Kensington Olympia. This was after we received an email in our communal inbox from FLIP Network (Future Library Information Professionals) with the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win tickets to attend the conference.  I obviously won a place to attend free of charge, and to attend the many talks throughout the day.

This was my first conference in the library sector, and of this size (310 attendees, and roughly 65 speakers!). The day started with speaker Kate Torney, the CEO of the State Library Victoria in Australia, with her keynote – Making a noise about a quiet revolution. After this, there were three different routes that can be found here that we could jump to and fro throughout the day titled:

The New Library, The New Librarian

Users, UX, and Usage

Content creativity

I thought it was most fitting to attend the first track of talks as I was literally new to the Library, and a new (but not really) librarian. The first talk was titled The Super Powered Library which spoke of the library as a fusion of social, physical, and digital space. Liz (Solus) spoke about the use of augmented reality textbooks, and the rising impact of the digital reading experience. All of this alongside the need to fully integrate the Digital mind-set into our libraries to enhance customer experience. The scary thought began to come across of potential bookless libraries in the future, which to be honest, I can’t imagine, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

After this, I attended Shared Library, Shared System, Shared Benefits which spoke about the fusion of the University of Greenwich, Canterbury Christ Church, and Kent. This spoke about how these three university libraries were began to use a unified library system across all 3 universities to serve their libraries. This would include all of the bibliographic and patron data, and the need for a unified reading list system across these sites. This was followed by Delivering Digital that focussed on the digital strategy for Scottish Public libraries with their six strategic aims of

  • Reading, literacy, and learning.
  • Digital inclusion, access, and creativity.
  • Economic wellbeing.
  • Social wellbeing.
  • Culture & Creativity
  • Excellent public services

Following this, I was invited to attend a workshop session called How to be an information professional in the 21st Century. This was aimed at trainees, and those early on in their library careers. We discussed the benefits of different library associations such as CILIP (Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals), and the SLA (Special Libraries Association), the opportunities these offer, as well as the trends in the library industry.


The final talk that I attended was The Library Redesign at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, which focused on the I.T refurbishment that the hospital underwent including an abundance of iPad’s, the use of Chromecast to allow for training sessions anywhere that there was a screen, and Macbook air’s with access to clinical software for use by medical students.

Attending the ILI conference was a great, and tiring experience, although all I did really was sit down, watch, and listen). It allowed me to place myself, and the RCN library in the wider scope of the libraries of the world, reminding me of the abundance of opportunities on offer, and the many branches on the proverbial library career tree.

Until next time!



Hello, from Stephen the newest Graduate Trainee

I am three weeks into my one-year Graduate Trainee Customer Service (GT) programme. So far, I have enjoyed it immensely. I often feel as if the Library and Archive Service (L&A) procedures go in one ear and out the next. However, practice makes perfect and I am at the advantage that everyone else knows what they are doing and are happy to help me settle in.

I recently finished a BA History degree. This summer, I applied for teacher-training but I realized during the interview process that I was glad to have finished secondary school and did not want to repeat the experience. Initially, I thought that since I was now bigger and smarter (?) I would be able to navigate the complexities of school-life with confidence. This June, while on a tour of a secondary-school, I took one look into the school playground and realized that I was wrong. I had already escaped from school and the school-children were as scary to the 25 year-old me as they were to the weedy 12-year old of the previous decade.

I was pleased to read about the RCN’s no-bullying policy on their website. I thought that it would be a good place for me to improve my inter-personal skills and discover whether an L&A job was the right career path for me. The job brief for the GT job seemed clear: give great customer service to our nursing membership and help promote the interests of the nursing community in everything we do. There is no average day at the RCN because our job at the L&A is to respond to the ongoing needs of our membership. We cannot answer any particular enquiry in the same way because no RCN member is the same.

Nevertheless, there are certain tasks that a GT needs to perform consistently and be on top of. One rewarding feature of the programme is the emphasis on self-development. It is the GT’s responsibility to book their place on CPD courses, Diversity and Equality training, the RCN On-board course[1], etc. Furthermore, I am encouraged to explore all specialist areas of the L&A service. My colleagues in other sections of the department inform me of their work on digitization projects, cataloguing, collections, E-Systems and digital archives, to name but a few. I am confident that by the end of this programme I will be in a much better position to decide what kind of L&A work would most interest me. I have chatted with colleagues who are currently studying part-time for an MA in Librarianship. In fact, I have already applied to do a postgrad course in Information Management (MSc) at Sheffield University. The RCN expects me to reflect on my career goals beyond this programme.

At present, I feel I need to master certain technical aspects of my role such as knowledge of database and family history searching. The software we use for the fundamental library tasks of checking-in and out books, renewing items, placing hold, etc., is Workflows. Workflows often gets the better of me and we have had our ups-and-downs. Nonetheless, I am sure that, as with all my colleagues, as we get to know each other better we will learn to work together in harmony.

I hope that I will be able to supply the L&A team with as much banter as my GT predecessors. As a first effort, I will now provide two cracking jokes below.

Funny Joke

There are two sausages in a frying pan named Sausage 1 and Sausage 2.

Sausage 1 says to Sausage 2: “Oh my, it’s getting hot in here!”

Sausage 2 replies: “Ahhh, talking sausage!”


 Hilarious Joke

There was a magic tractor. The tractor drove down the lane and turned into a field.


[1] The RCN On-board course is a two-day induction event which involves, among many other things, an introduction to the history and purpose of the RCN, as well as training in giving tours.

Working on Service Scrapbooks – My Grad Experience So Far

Hi, I’m Molly the Heritage Graduate Trainee. I have been working on the HLF Service Scrapbooks project. This revolves around ten nurses who created scrapbooks and wrote diaries detailing their lives in the First World War. They are such brilliant documents. The scrapbooks were owned by a nurse and passed around to the people she encountered. The books have contributions from nurses and soldiers from Australia to America, Ireland to India. Each one of them captures a unique experience of wartime through poetry, paint and a few jokes. Every time you carefully turn their restored pages you find something new. A century old riddle can still have me puzzled (can you figure out what the cryptic ‘YYUR YYUB ICURYY4ME’ means?) and an old joke can still make me crack a smile –

Taken From Nellie Carter’s Scrapbook

Two in a hammock

Attempted to kiss

In less than a minute

sıɥʇ ǝʞıl pǝpuɐl ʎǝɥʇ

With HLF funding we have been able to conserve and digitise these precious books, with the end goal of having a web resource to host them on. This resource will also include biographies of each nurse – including every scrap of information and any hidden secrets we can find about them.

Hilda Hand’s Photograph Album

I realise I have been using ‘we’ and you may be unsure who this refers to. I will take this opportunity to introduce you to the fantastic HLF VOLUNTEERS (I wanted this to be in sparkly letters but I couldn’t work out how to do that). One of the loveliest part of this job is working with the RCN Members who volunteered to help us. There is a small army of them (36 to be precise) helping us with everything. As I write Jayne Knill is opposite me furiously tapping away at a transcription.

Transcription is the stage the stage we are currently up to. The books have been conserved and we have spent a few months digitising them. Using the pages we have beautifully, carefully, painstakingly digitised we are now transcribing from them, transferring each illegible word to a legible typed document. This is quite a lengthy process – we have nearly 1000 pages to do in total – but with the help from my number one nursing squad we have managed to transcribe nearly a third of that already. Don’t be deceived by how quickly we have done this, it can be very tricky.

Carter’s Scrapbook

My number one tip for palaeography (a great word – feel free to use it, see if you can work it into a conversation today) is to remember that people in the past are just as prone to mistakes as we are today. The texts we are deciphering are littered in spelling mistakes and bad punctuation, all of which can make it difficult to get at their meaning. I really don’t know how people in the past had the patience to read letters from people with bad handwriting. Props to them. The pages above from Carter’s book really tripped us up by having both terrible handwriting and being in another language – possibly German? If there are any willing translators out there we’d be grateful if you could tell us what it says.

A page from Beatrice Campbell’s Scrapbook: “Nursing it’s Ideals and Realities”

Another top tip is to remember you can make mistakes too, so go back and check! Due to my misinterpretation of a few letters I almost gave one poor soul syphilis instead of typhoid. Asking someone else what they think a word is can save a transcription from such grisly errors. Once we have every single word documented we will be moving on to indexing – recording the names of every person mentioned in the scrapbooks. Hopefully this will help a few family historians find long-lost relatives. Wish us luck!


Molly Fennelly

The Chronicles of a Collections Development Grad Trainee


IMG_2475 Hello I am Porshia and I am one of the newest Graduate Trainees at the Royal College of Nursing! I recently graduated from the University of Kent where I studied Ancient History – and boy did I do a LOT of studying!




Why Librarianship?

I have wanted to be a Librarian all my life *cue X factor styled sob story music*. From ages 5-9 I wanted to work as a cashier in Sainsbury’s so technically not all my life. Since I was 16, I have had the desire to become a Librarian and actively looked into routes into this field.

Annoyed librarian  My pursuit to become a Librarian was however, temporarily halted due to the fear that I would morph into a ‘No talking, No eating, No smiling’ stereotypical librarian. Believing this (stupid and false) assumption, I subsequently put myself off from pursuing a career in this field for a few years.



university of Kent library
University Of Kent’s Templeman Library – The scene of my cat video binge and epiphany 

The penultimate years I spent at University however, put things into perspective. Finding myself in my University Library 5-6 days a week stuffing my face with popcorn whilst watching cat videos on YouTube (I did eventually do the important stuff after my cat video binge) I then had a light bulb moment.  Not only did I enjoy the ambiance a library provides its users with, I was generally intrigued to find out what goes on behind the books and library fines. My curiosity had been re-awakened. From that moment, I knew I would be committed to pursuing a career within the Library and Heritage sector.


Why the Royal College of Nursing?

Hell-bent on finding a suitable traineeship, I scoured high and low for a traineeship that would provide me with an intensive crash course regarding all things librarianship and equip me with the skills and expertise needed to progress in this field.

Alas, I came across the Graduate Traineeship at the Royal College of Nursing and found it ticked all the right boxes. With my other experiences working for other organization’s I am well placed to say that an organisation’s ‘core competencies’ or company ethos speaks volumes about how well they value and treat their staff.  Once I had digested all the fantastic core competencies at The Royal College of Nursing, I knew I would be in good hands and proceeded with my application.


What exactly is a Collections Development Graduate Trainee?

If you have made it this far into my introductory blog without yawning you must be buzzing to know (yay). In a nutshell,  I get the best of both worlds as a Collections Development Grad. Trainee. Not only do I get to work closely with the customer services team and deliver front-line (and now CSE accredited!) customer service, I get to work with some of the oldest books, pamphlets and documentation belonging to the RCN. Some of my responsibilities include checking in journals on a daily basis, chasing up late/ lost journals and monitoring the temperature and humidity of all the exhibition cases at HQ.

What else have I been up to?

Prior to going to University I took a gap-year to get some ‘real life’ experience (not your typical back-packing, quinoa eating millennial in the slightest!). I worked at Waitrose as a butcher and fishmonger for a year and continued to work at Waitrose for an additional two years. I then undertook an internship with Medway Council where I worked in the Heritage department, supporting my then- line manager with a successful £1.8 Million Heritage Lottery funded bid called ‘Command of the Heights’.

In my final year at University I worked as a Residents’ Support Officer, supporting over  over 600 students and working closely with housekeeping services, senior management and the Director of Student Services. I have also undertaken a short but sweet internship at Brent Archives.

I will be frequently blogging about library visits and AOB for the duration of my traineeship so stay tuned!