Christmas Cheer

Lidoff_540x540Torquay is many things, but secular? Not a chance. For the past month I’ve watched Christmas slowly take over town, and at work we’ve been inundated with Christmas trees, decorations and programming (as well as multiple boxes of chocolates from satisfied library users!).

Pantomime: A work colleague invited me to the local pantomime at the beginning of December. I had never been to a pantomime before, but I feel thoroughly initiated into British Christmastime now! Titled “Wild in the West Country,” it was an original production with a joint Dartmoor/U.S. Cowboy Western storyline. And in true pantomime style, it was jam-packed with one liners and actors forgetting their lines. We ate pasties in the middle, and then all stood up to sing God Save The Queen after the last performance of Miley Cyrus’ “Hoedown Throwdown.” A true British experience indeed.

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Lucky-dip: Last week I chose 50 or so fiction/mood-boosting books for our Christmas “lucky-dip.” Coming up with one sentence descriptions of each book (that were both cryptic and entertaining) was definitely enjoyable! We’ve spent two lunchtimes in the cafeterias lending these books to hospital staff for the holidays. It’s nice to work with fiction after dense medical books, and it was encouraging to meet staff who are passionate about the library.

SCBU: In addition, I’ve spent a few days with the Special Care Baby Unit, helping to raise money by bag-packing at Sainsbury’s. It’s a good way to meet other hospital staff, as well as interact with the public. Lots of customers shared personal stories about the hospital and this unit in particular, and these were very humbling to hear.

Bristol: On Thursday I was in Bristol! We spent the day with NHS/health librarians from the South-West region (about 45 people attended). There were presentations on “typical” library subjects: e.g. grey literature, discovery systems and quality assessment, and more general hospital matters: for instance, a senior nurse came to discuss “a day in the life” at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. It was great to hear a clinical voice that put our work in perspective. All in all, it was interesting, and there was a Bristol-themed quiz to keep us entertained.children_s_site_-_home_page_500x168

FOOD!: So far I’ve already had two Christmas meals: one in Bristol, and one in the hospital cafeteria for a co-worker’s leaving-do. I love cranberry sauce and stuffing, so these meals are great (and make up for missing Thanksgiving!). In the next week there will be a few more to come. Now that I’ve had mince pies (delicious), it’s time for me to try Christmas pudding!

P.S. Last week marked the end of my second month at Torbay Hospital! Time flies. 

Strikes and Research Opportunities


For the past few weeks the Junior Doctor strikes have been a hot-button topic in the office. Today was supposed to mark the first day of said strikes, but they’ve been postponed. For more information:

Background information:

Strike called off (temporarily):

Getting involved in research

Yesterday was a little different than a “typical” Monday, as I took a ½ day of annual leave to go to Exeter. Why? I was meeting with a researcher at the university to discuss volunteering with a project entitled “Remembering the Mental Hospital.”

The Devon County Mental Hospital was constructed during the early 1840s, however soon deteriorated due to overcrowding and staff shortages. This paved the way to a long-lasting crisis exacerbated by the effects of two world wars.

Overview of the hospital:


Closed in 1986, researchers at the University of Exeter (among other research organizations) are now developing a digital archive consisting of both written correspondence and oral histories by staff and patients. Through this project they are exploring mental illness from a social perspective and tracing changes in societal attitudes towards mental healthcare.

General project:

I will be supporting the “Remembering the Mental Hospital” digital archive by transcribing oral histories from people affiliated with the hospital. This is a really interesting project that not only looks at attitudes towards mental healthcare from a historical perspective, but also explores memory and the practice of oral histories.

Specific project (oral histories):

This should give me a unique insight into local history, as well as provide further experience with research and transcriptions – which is useful whenever (and if ever) I apply for graduate school!