Volunteers’ Week


In celebration of Volunteers’ Week, our two wonderful volunteers, Ashley Zuelke and Teodora Lazar,  both UCL students, write about the work they are doing on the Clarke Collection held at the Institute of Education Library.

Ashley Zuelke:

Ashley at the Stacks Smiling

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read.” At UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Special Collections and Archives we are building a picture of Joseph A. Lauwerys and his life by listing all of the reading material in his personal library. I am one of two volunteers sifting through 28 double-stacked shelves full of books, academic journals, newsletters, meeting proceedings and more collected by Lauwerys, a Belgian-born scientist who became a leader in comparative education studies instrumental in the establishment of the (IOE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Lauwerys’ life spanned 79 years, from 1902 to 1981, and the fraction of the books we have listed thus far illustrate how world wars and subsequent multinational collaboration and scientific advancements shaped his perspective. On a given day working with the collection, one comes across material published in more than eight languages on subjects ranging from chemistry theory, to morality, to educational systems in Chile.  We note the details of each piece and scan them for marginalia, to see what he found important.  Lauwerys’ collection considers all levels of education. Some of the earliest pieces appear to be his own textbooks. He also kept some publications of his speeches and journal articles, especially those published in multiple languages. In addition to writings on science and educational theory, he kept items like yearbooks from the USA and memorial programmes for colleagues.

Volunteering to work with this collection appealed to me because of my undergraduate degrees in journalism, international relations and comparative politics and the fact that my parents are retired educators. I am pursuing a Master’s of Science at UCL in business analytics and management to challenge myself in a more quantitative environment and to be prepared to help organisations make sense of large amounts of data and take action. Listing items in this collection has given me an affinity with Lauwerys, who was grounded in scientific thinking, but obviously honed qualitative and diplomatic skills as well throughout his life, embodying the spirit of what his contemporaries called “permanent education.”

Issues Lauwerys faced in his lifetime are not that different from conversations occurring today. His collection considers what technological change means for teaching; how education can advance shared democratic ideals and equality; and how to promote lifelong learning and job training. In international comparative fields like Lauwerys’, themes emerge that there may be clear distinctions among different countries, but ultimately, we all strive for similar values and ends; there is more that unites than divides. One item in the collection, a published keynote address given by Lauwerys, sums this up for teachers, ending with the words: “Similar ideals animate teachers everywhere, in every country and continent…We can learn much from one another because we are all trying sincerely to do the same kind of job and because we all believe that, through education, the world of the future can be made better than the world of today.”

Teodora Lazar:
Theodora at the Desk SmilingI am Teodora, one of the volunteers listing all of the reading material in Joseph A. Lauwerys’ personal library. I cannot tell which reason influenced me to work with the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives more: my studies in Art History and Material Studies which, by default, bring me closed to any piece of heritage and culture, or my passion for volunteering, which constantly challenges me to step beyond my comfort zone. But I know for sure that the mixture between these two reasons always manages to get me closer to who I want to be.

After all, it may seem that all we as volunteers at the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives is to work with books, but few words incorporate as much meaning and deep substance as a ‘book’ does. Taking a peek into Lauwerys’ personal collection I got to recognise multiple languages by just a few words written on the title, I discovered letters, newspaper pages and dedications from authors and, most of all, I now open every book with the hope and curiosity of finding something important.  They’re not just  books…

It goes without saying that we are tremendously appreciative of the help that our volunteers provide.  Their valuable work will benefit the library and future researchers.  So a BIG thank you, Ashley and Teodora! We hope that the experience you gain from this will help you too in the future.

Posted in Library and Archives, Special Collections | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advanced notice of works on Level 3 of the Library commencing 12th June 2017

One of the biggest challenges we face as a library is space and how to manage it to best suit the needs of all of our users. Many of you will have noted how busy we have been over the past academic year and we are aware that at times it’s been tough to find a suitable space to work –  especially a space that has access to a PC.

We’ve already installed some new desks and study pods on level 3 this year and these have proved to be very popular.

Well, the good news is that over the summer we’ll be continuing our efforts to provide more spaces to work with the installation of over 100 PCs on level 3.

Of course, in order to install these new facilities we’ll need to create some extra space. So, starting on the 12th June we’ll be relocating some of our printed journal holdings to an off-site store. All of the titles that we are moving are fully accessible electronically via UCL Explore. However, if you do need to consult the printed version of a journal, you’ll still be able to request it via our fetch service once the move is complete.

We’ll then be consolidating our non-education collection. The collection will still remain on level three but we are going to be re-organising the shelving more efficiently to ensure that we there is sufficient space for the new PCs.

All of this does mean that there will be some temporary disruption on level 3 over the summer period. At times, some of the collections on level 3 may not be fully accessible to users, but we will run a book fetching service to ensure that, where possible, you can access the resources you need. In addition, some of the desk spaces on Level 3 won’t be accessible, but again we will keep you informed of alternatives spaces available within the Library and across UCL Libraries as a whole.

For the most up to date information, please keep an eye out for the posters going up around the Library next week and be sure to follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.

Posted in Library and Archives | Leave a comment

The Early Years of the BBC’s Broadcasts to Schools


Sketch from the BBC Pamphlets by David Bassedone (photographed by Julia Rasmussen)

One could say that ‘wireless education’ in the form of radio broadcasts to schools was the first type of ‘distance learning’ in the UK. With a mission ‘to inform, educate and entertain’, the broadcasts began with an experimental radio broadcast to a single school in Glasgow in February 1924  (Crook, 2007, p. 216). According to David Crook, “… the transmission included a talk about the place of ballad in literature, a reading in French by a professor from Glasgow University, and the performance of a violin piece” (Ibid.).

By the time the BBC received its Royal Charter as the Nation’s broadcaster in 1927, the Education Committee  was well-established under the leadership of J.C. Stobart who had been an HMI for the Board of Education before being recruited by the BBC’s first Director General, John Reith.  In the same year the Schools Broadcasting Committee, a subset of the Education Committee, approved the publication of pamphlets to accompany the broadcasts. However, not all was smooth sailing for the BBC as some teachers and also some Local Education Authorities (LEAs), particularly the London County Council (LCC), were opposed to the Corporation interfering in what they saw as the teachers’ domain. The LCC’s anti-BBC stance was problematic for the negativity spread to the other LEAs. The BBC took pains to emphasise that the broadcasts were to ‘supplement’ the school curriculum rather than to replace the lessons taught in schools. By 1928, following an experiment with the schools in Kent which resulted in a report on the quality of broadcasts both in terms of the aural reception and the impact of the broadcasts on the school curriculum, the BBC made significant changes to the way in which the programmes were made.

Continue reading

Posted in Library and Archives, Special Collections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventures of the feathered kind

Two recent additions to the Education in Literature Collection  both feature birds – a pair of Tawny Owls and a Magellan penguin!

Two Owls at Eton by Jonathan Franklin was originally published in 1960 whilst he was still a pupil at Eton School. Jonathan’s great interest in ornithology was well known and he was not surprised to be offered two orphaned Tawny owlets by a neighbour. He was surprised when his then House Master, Mr.Hill, gave him permission to keep the birds at Eton. Thus began his great adventure in trying to raise (Tweedle) Dum and Dee in his tiny room. Fellow pupils and staff were fascinated and helped him by finding beetles, worms and mice with which to feed the ever hungry birds.

ETONJonathan admits that his academic work suffered, but  he eventually taught the owls to fly and to hunt for themselves and released them into the countryside near his East Anglian home. Jonathan became known as ‘Owls’ and admits he was lucky to be a pupil at an Eton School which was still stuffy and formal in some ways but liberal enough to allow him to walk around with two owls on his shoulders. The surprising popularity of the book upon its original publication generated positive publicity for the school which was appreciated by the Headmaster, Robert Birley. The book’s appeal is enhanced by photographs and  lively line-drawings by his friend and fellow-Etonian Simon Radcliffe.

Some very different insights into life at Eton and other schools and colleges across the UK may be gained from the resources in our  School and College Histories Collection. School histories cover a wide range of schools from small village schools (A history of Swanbourne Village School ) to famous Public Schools. The latter of course includes Eton College. There are a range of titles about Eton including Eton Renewed by Tim Card and a different perspective on life at Eton is described in A girl at Eton by Elizabeth Heygate.

In the 1970s the life of another young British male became entwined with that of a bird but this time in Argentina. In The Penguin Lessons , Tom Michell describes how  a ‘country boy from the gentle Downs of rural Sussex’, found himself ill-prepared for life as an Assistant Master at St George’s College, a boys’ boarding school, in Buenos Aires.

Whilst on holiday in Punta del Este in Uruguay he found an oil-drenched penguin on a beach. Tom cleaned the Magellan penguin and tried to release him  but he would not leave Tom. With only a little trouble Tom was able to smuggle the penguin into Argentina and back to his school.PENGUIN

At the school the penguin, by now known as  Juan Salvador, became the mascot of the rugby team, swam in the freshwater school pool, co-hosted Tom’s parties and became a confidante of lonely pupils and the housekeeper.

Jonathan and Tom’s experiences of caring for their unexpected avian companions and the effects upon their respective schools reflects how rich and surprising the educational experience can be. The Education in Literature Collection contains novels, plays, poetry and DVDs as well as autobiographies and it is located at the back of the Teaching Room on the fourth floor of the Library.

Posted in Education in Literature Collection, Library and Archives, Special Collections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning outdoors and open-air schools

Rudd book on Enid BlytonI am writing this on a beautiful sunny day with the temperature is forecast to rise to 17 degrees. I can’t help but think there will be a lot of outdoor learning taking place in schools throughout the country.   It is therefore timely that we are celebrating ‘learning outdoors’ with a mini-exhibition on open-air schools featuring the open-air schools opened by the McMillan sisters and on Enid Blyton.  I wrote about Blyton the educationalist some time ago – you may want to read about her as a qualified teacher and member of the National Froebel Union. The materials on display in the Library are Blyton’s handbooks for teachers that emphasise the importance of learning outdoors. More information on these collections can be found here.

Blyton is also known as a writer of fiction for children.  One of the most popular of her creations for children was the Famous Five series, and the first title, Five on a Treasure Island, was published 75 years ago this year. Like other titles in the series the plot involved four children and a dog thwarting crime and solving mysteries. ‘Indoors’ was boring and restricted but ‘outdoors’ represented freedom and adventure.

Blyton has been a controversial figure, popular with children but at times disapproved of by adults or considered too politically incorrect. However the extensive re-packaging of her work for the 75th anniversary and the popularity in recent years of ‘Enid Blyton for Grown ups’, shows that her influence lives on.  The excerpt below is from an article by Tracy Hayes (1977) who described a conversation with a colleague on swapping childhood stories:

“Enid Blyton made my childhood” …. Her colleague responded with “Me too!”.  We laughed, acknowledging that it was not ‘cool’ to admit this!  For her it was the boarding school stories, midnight feast and mysteries that appealed; for me it was the magical folk, enchanged woods and faraway trees, and the overwhelming sense that life was an adventure. I spent many happy hours playing with my twin sister in our backgarden, looking for pixies, pretending to be a fairy, concocting magic potions from petals and rainwater. The world described by Blyton came alive in our garden and in our imaginations….

Displayed in the Library is a selection of books by and about Enid Blyton which our Curriculum Resources Librarian, Sally Perry, has selected.  There is also a IOE LibGuide on Outdoor Learning.

Open-air Schools

Margaret McMillanThe history of outdoor education goes back a long time but it was formalised in the early part of the 20th century in England with the opening of the first open-air school in Deptford in 1911 by the McMillan sisters, Margaret and Rachel.  Open-air schools were one way  to combat the spread of diseases, mainly influenza and tuberculosis,  though the mother’s poor health in pauper families also had a detrimental effect on  infant mortality rates. Children who survived often suffered from heart diseases, ear discharges, swollen glands, bronchial catarrh, spinal curvature, as well as nervous conditions usually from malnutrition and neglect.  According to Cruickshank , they were often “anaemic, stunted in growth, pallid and rickety. As a result, they appeared to be dull and backward” (1977, p. 63). This was further compounded by the pollution caused by industrialisation the impact of which was that “children rise in the morning stupid from the poison which they have been breathing all night and without appetite for food or inclination for the heavy morning’s work in school” (Medical Inspection of School Children in Blackburn during 1910, p. 157 quoted in Cruickshank).

The McMillan sisters recognised the importance of hygiene and nutrition as being fundamental to children’s health and well-being.  They also emphasises outdoor play which they believed facilitated the development of the child. Margaret McMillan is best known for her work in ensuring medical inspections and free meals were introduced in state-funded schools.

Do come and have a look at the display of materials from the Curriculum Resources, the Special Collections and the Archives.  There are some wonderful images of open-air schools which the Archivist, Jessica Womack, has displayed.


BBC Radio Archives.  (Various) Programmes on Enid Blyton

Bradburn, E. (1989). Margaret McMillan: portrait of a pioneer. London: Routledge.
Cruickshank, M. (1977). The open-air school movement in English education. Paedagogica Historica, 17 (1), 62–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/0030923770170105

Hayes, Tracy (2015) Developing an academic identity: what’s the time Mrs Wolf?  In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015: Geographies of the  Anthropocene, 2-4 September 2015, Exeter, UK.

Margaret. McMillan. (1906). Infant mortality / by Margaret McMillan. London: Independent Labour Party.
McMillan, M. (1901). Early childhood. London: Swan Sonnenschein.
McMillan, M. (1911). The child and the state. Manchester: National Labour P.
McMillan, M. (1917). The camp school / by Margaret McMillan. London: Allen & Unwin.

Rudd, D. (2000). Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Children’s Literature Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Posted in Archives, Curriculum Resources, History of Education, Library and Archives, Special Collections | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Changes to how visitors get IOE Library cards coming into effect 1st July 2017


The number of visits to the IOE Library has increased by 70% since the merger of IOE with UCL. While it is fantastic that our library is so popular the huge increase in visitors has inevitably meant we have had to review how we deliver our services so that we can maintain the levels of excellence to which we aspire. One of these is to provide a safe and secure environment within the library and ensure everyone visiting is a bona fide user. This means there are some changes in the procedure for issuing IOE Library cards.

From the 1st July 2017 we will only make IOE Library cards at the Membership Desk on your first visit if you have emailed us in advance:

  1. If you email ioe.librarymembership@ucl.ac.uk giving one full working days’ notice we will ensure that there is a card waiting for eligible users when you arrive at IOE Library
  2. If you haven’t emailed before you visit us we will check your ID, ask you to fill out an application form, and then give you a paper reference day ticket giving you immediate reference access to the IOE Library – your IOE Library card will be ready when you next visit us.
  3. This means that if you are eligible for a borrower’s card and you want to borrow the first time you come to the IOE Library you need to email us in advance

See the details of our membership categories and what ID and proof of address you may need to bring here. Please remember that once you get an IOE Library card, you must bring it with you to access the IOE Library.



You can fill out an application form and get a day paper reference ticket and pick up your IOE Library ID when the Membership Desk is open. The IOE Library Membership Desk is open:

Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 6:50pm

Saturday: 9:30am – 4:50pm



Thank you,

IOE Library Membership team


Posted in Library and Archives | Leave a comment

Disruption to Library Systems

Disruption to library systems, 5th May 2017

Updated 16:30

Following the major outage to one of the ISD datacentres on Friday 5 May, affected library systems are being migrated to an alternative datacentre. If you experience further problems with IT systems over the weekend, please refer to ISD’s news page (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/news ) or the ISD Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/uclisd)

In the event of an outage of the SFX service, please refer to these alternative routes for accessing ejournals (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/electronic-resources/sfx-alternative ). We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this incident.

Posted in Library and Archives | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment