“The Coldest of Nurses” or “Tim made a book display!”

‘Nurse of the Islands’ is B.J. Banfill’s biographical account of her experiences in the remote islands off the North East coast of Canada. Every winter, the communities in these islands were cut off from the mainland and faced extreme poverty and deprivation.

Hello one and all,

Cold nurses: we know they exist but what do we really know about them?

This is what I set out to discover when I worked on the book display cabinet in the library!

After being strong-armed  enthusiastically invited  to work on this by Anna, I went down to the store with Pete to have a look at the permanent collection and try to work on some ideas. Initially, we were keen on a sexual health theme (what with Valentine’s Day fast approaching) and had some lovely props to go along with a potential display. What ultimately caught my eye though, was a copy of Kate Marsden’s ‘On Sledge and Horseback to the Outcast Siberian Lepers’. This book ticked all the right boxes. It was old (1895). It was in amazing condition. It had an attractive looking cover and illustrations inside (the most important part). With this brand new idea, I approached Pete who agreed it was amazing and I was a genius for coming up with it (I might be paraphrasing slightly here).

Unfortunately, not every book pops out from the shelf so what followed was a grueling search through the library catalogue to find more suitable titles. As it turns out, you can search for books by country on the RCN catalogue quite easily! Very handy indeed. I immediately went for all the classics such as Finland, Canada, Russia, etc. You get the idea, right? After picking out a few classics that jumped out at me, I went down to the store to start checking them out in person.

I found a real treasure trove of biographies, diaries and healthcare books from all around the globe. My personal favourite of the bunch is Amy Wilson’s biographical tale, ‘No Man Stands Alone’. Amy worked in the remote Yukon Territory of Northwest Canada, covering 200,000 square miles to provide care for just 3,000 people. Wow!

After I was happy with my choices, I put together a blurb for each and got Frances to help with the mounting. At this stage, I’ll impart some handy health and safety advice to everyone: Stanley knives are very sharp and should not be stabbed in to your own thumb.

After receiving a complete lack of sympathy and care for my extreme flesh wound, we felt it would be better if Frances did the crafty aspect and I stuck to gluing like the child I am.

Once this was all done, it was finally time to fill the cabinet. Pete helped me mount the books safely on to the display stands and guided my wonky blurb placement and finally, the whole ordeal was over. Thanks everyone for-

Oh wait, I forgot about the spelling mistakes. It turns out that despite getting at least three other people to check your work for errors, it was inevitable there would be a spelling mistake somewhere. So a big thanks to Kate for spotting my humiliating error that nearly saw me get fired (I assume).

After obtaining a royal patronage, Kate Marsden headed to remote Siberia to try and find a cure for leprosy, whilst visiting a remote leper colony. She is still highly regarded in the region to this day.

Now that really is the end. Thanks to everyone for all your lovely comments on the display. I’m sure it will go down in RCN folklore as the most professional book display on the subject of cold nurses that anyone has ever done. I look forward to seeing the next one…