Looking to the Future with Films

By Ashley Choudry

As a former film student, I find that film is a great way to escape reality and delve into new worlds. However, they are also a device that enables you to dream of possible futures. I cannot think of a time when the need to escape or look to the future has been so pertinent than throughout the current pandemic.

Though we may hopefully be on our way out of this devastating period, worry still looms for the future of this nation and the world, but could an escape into film be the perfect immediate solution to those worries? The cinemas may only just be getting back on their feet after a while away, but never fear, The Library is here! To solve all of your movie needs with its ever growing collection of DVDs.

What better films with which to look the future, then Science-Fiction films. I know a lot of you may think that the ‘fiction’ part of this genre means that all films under this banner are simply make believe but a growing number in the last decade are at least in part based around real science and distinctly possible futures. I would like to draw your attention to four particular science-fiction films which I think are perfect in some ways for looking to the future.

Firstly, many of you probably know that May is seen as the month of Star Wars (May The 4th Be with You etc.) in the science-fiction world. While the Star Wars franchise (1977-present) may be extremely popular, almost as popular is its older rival the Star Trek franchise (1966-present). Another advantage Star Trek has on its greatest rival is that more of its technology and knowledge is based on scientific facts and possibilities rather than pure fiction, especially with what has been and can be achieved in the current age. From the Holodeck, the Communicators, Sensors and Tricorders; to the U.S.S. Enterprises (the main space vessel and setting of the series) computer system, Cloaking devices and Phasers. These concepts either already exist now or could certainly come to exist in the not too distant future.

Image taken from DVD available in Hockney Library

Within the Library’s collection we have the first entry in the reboot (2009) of the long-running franchise, which if you like Action-comedy’s, Suspense thrillers and Alien films is perfect for you. It’s also a film with a lot of heart, and while fans of The Original Series may not find it quite so loveable, it is the perfect film to introduce new fans to the franchise and get you hooked on a succession of TV series and films that will fill up countless hours of your spare time should you so wish. Get a glimpse of that action yourself by viewing the trailer in the link below.

Next up we have Christopher Nolan’s space exploration epic Interstellar (2014). Now while quite a long entry (clocking in at 2hr 49 mins), it is certainly more than worth the watch. The Award-winning stunning imagery alone is enticing enough to draw you in but once again it also represents real science and a possible future for space exploration and colonising of new worlds.

Image taken from DVD available in Hockney Library

Even though the story is still a little downbeat at times, there is still plenty of light at the end (as there hopefully is for us here in reality too). Overall, it depicts a powerful tale surrounding both the future and past; of Earth, Family and Time & Space. And if you are yet to be intrigued by the sheer sound of it, take a look at the clip in the link below, which take places relatively at the start of the main characters journey into the unknown.

Now if you find you’re not a fan of modern Sci-Fi films, why not try a classic such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)?

Image taken from DVD available in Hockney Library

Stanley Kubrick’s epic is widely regarded as the original and first great Sci-Fi film and lauded for its scientific accuracy and effects (of its time that is), winning an Academy Award (Best Visual Effects) and several BAFTA’s (including Best British Cinematography). Though it’s visual effects may be a little old it is still seen as the quintessential Sci-Fi film by many and its influence is still being felt decades later in films such as Contact (1997), Arrival (2016) and even Interstellar itself. It may feature a homicidal artificial intelligence as the primary antagonist (although the clip below shows HAL 9000 in his more mundane period in the film), however even that can/has become a reality in scientific breakthroughs although devoid of any violent tendencies. If you’re a lover of Science-Fiction, this film is a must-see or if you’re merely a beginner in the genre this is the perfect film to start you off. 

The final film I want to bring to your attention, is also the most recent yet probably the most realistic in the current age of space travel, Ridley Scott’s (also known for directing Alien, 1979) The Martian (2015).

Image taken from DVD available in Hockney Library

Starring the excellent Matt Damon (as well as an incredible supporting cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean) The Martian is an endearing story of a man accidently left behind on Mars by his crew and his mission to survive until a rescue arrives. Even though it’s based on a novel by Andy Weir and set in the year 2035, both it’s imagery and it’s technology is extremely similar to the present day. NASA themselves were heavily involved in the production and script writing in order to achieve maximum scientific accuracy. It’s not just the dazzling special effects and iconic imagery that make this film so watchable however, the touching story at the heart of the film is just as if not more important, as this slightly humouros clip from the middle of the film shows: 

The message the film sends out is a particularly poignant one in the current climate, there’s always hope of a rescue in the gravest of times, making it a powerful watch now more than ever.

Overall, these films are some of the best you can watch to build your excitement for the return of big-screen Cinema or to give you hope and a sense of wonder for the future ahead as we continue to exit a most uncertain period in our history. So, why not check them out in the Library’s DVD section ASAP or simply anytime you feel in the mood for a good film!

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Spotlight on.. O’Reilly Safari Learning Platform

by Haydn Clark

The O’Reilly Learning Platform is an online resource that provides you access to a huge amount of resources.  It will give you access to over thirty-five thousand different e-books and over thirty thousand hours of videos that are constantly being updated.

You also get access to Play Lists and Learning Paths that will take you all the way from being beginner in a subject to an expert level.

There is an Answer section, where you can ask questions of O’Reilly’s tech base.

O’Reilly provides resources on a huge range of subjects. While it mainly covers I.T. based subjects including Software Design, Programming Languages, Web Development, Mobile App Development, Software guides, Data Engineering, AI and Security

You can also find e-books on business, fashion design, that will help you to develop your career and get a job, travel guides, personal fitness, cookery books and photography. As well as many more subjects.

To access O’Reilly Learning Platform go to, www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/temporary-access

Choose Not listed Here from the drop-down menu of Institutions.

Now put in your College email

Then select

Shortly after the first time you log in, you will receive an email asking if you want to register and set up an account This will allow O’Reilly to save your progress through it’s Learning Paths and recommend books that you may find useful

A world of possibilities awaits, follow the link to find them.

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Introduction to the Online Readers

Throughout the first lockdown I had a number of discussions with Marie, an ESOL tutor, about finding quality online resources for ESOL students. One resource that we both value is our Graded Reader collection, and after contacting a number of publishes I found out about the Online Graded ESOL Readers from the OUP. These are 4 collections of 25 online readers, each collection covering different CEFR levels from A1 through to B1. The access and authentication model was new to us – requiring them to be hosted on Moodle as LTIs, and deciding how many licences to purchase. Myself, Marie, and the Senior Librarian Emma then discussed how we could best promote these to students and ensure the collection was used. One of us came up with the idea of online reading groups, led by a Library Assistant and facilitated online using the Teams share screen option. Asif Parvez, one of our Library Assistants, has written the following account of what happened next…

Lakshmi Banner, ESOL Librarian



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Reading Groups take to the Cloud! by Asif Parvez

I have taken on three reading groups at present. The first is Entry Level -3 teenage students from the 16- 18 cohort, and the other two groups are more mature learners and have an even mixture of both males and females and a diverse age group. I am using online books via Moodle which have been uploaded by library services onto the moodle facility of Bradford College. There is an incredible range of books from Entry Level-1 to Entry Level-3 and what I find amazing about these online books are that they are very interactive and easy to navigate. And there is an incredible list of old classical novels and many of these relate to the ESOL learners of my groups in terms of folklore and culture. A good example of this can be that for my younger learner group I am doing a novel Ibn Battuta a famous traveller who travelled the world a few centuries ago and is well known amongst Middle Eastern and North African people, and my students for my younger age group are mostly of Arab and North African descent. It makes it interesting for them and encourages them to confidently read from the pages of the book when designated to read a page by myself. Each student takes turns to read a page. And questions are asked from time to time by students about any new word they may come across and what is its meaning.

The online books have very lovely colourful pictures to add to the imagination of the readers and some amazing exercises like word searches, fill in the blank sentences and match a phrase with the part sentences to complete it. Students are really enjoying reading these novels and in some cases are enjoying to create links with novels where their own culture has historic links with certain novels like for Arabs being Ibn Battuta. There are some really interesting murder mystery novels too, and to date I have read with a mature students group Sherlock Holmes: Norwood Mysteries and this has helped given many students learning English as a second language the opportunity to imagine and picture British traditional society and the Police and also the pattern of life and its hardships in the 19th Century. I am currently also reading with groups The Picture of Dorian Grey again a novel that depicts 19th Century Britain and its traditional British Values and also The Secret Garden showing both traditional values of Britain and also giving a glimpse of British Colonial India. Again, the students enjoy making connections based of being related to certain regions of the world and at the same time learning new words and improving their reading and vocabulary.

I feel very rewarded in being given this opportunity which I have taken up voluntarily to help students improving their English reading skills and making a difference in their lives. I currently have three reading groups and am taking on a fourth group which is testament to my commitment to help students and also enjoying to build a strong bond with students and the library to help further their academic skills moving forward for their studies at Bradford College.

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Spotlight on.. Social Work Toolkit

Social Work Toolkit really is a fantastic resource for students on the Social Work and Youth and Community degree programmes.

5 key modules

The Toolkit includes resources specifically for students, coving 5 key modules:

  • Communication Skills;
  • Ethics, Values and Diversity;
  • Professionalism in Practice (supporting you in placement);
  • Assessment and Intervention; and
  • Lifecourse Perspectives.

Each module is then subdivided into key topics – for example, the Ethics, Values and Diversity module divides into 4 topics: Your professional role and values; Ethics and Values; empowerment and partnership; and diversity and equality.

Choose one of these topics to find guides, expert opinions, activities with scenarios, case studies, video and audio.  Listen to interviews with service users, other students, practitioners and academics covering the topics you will be studying on your degree or in practice. Many of these resources are accompanied by questions to check your understanding, or reflective questions to improve your knowledge.

Ethics and Values resources – video, audio, PDF

Law and Policy

Students have reported that the Law and Policy section is very useful. This brings together laws and policies relevant to Social Work practice, organised by key practice placement areas, and overarching legislation that is likely to apply to placement settings. 

Legislation for key practice placement areas

Wide range of resources

The Toolkit also includes links to the Professional Standards for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, plus links to the main Government departments which impact on Social Work.

Finally, there is a library of 90 videos which can be filtered by one of the five modules, and link back to activities and reflective practice. 

The feedback we have had from students has been really positive so we would like all our students on Social Work and Youth and Community Development to take a look at see what you think. As usual, get in touch with askalibrarian@bradfordcollege.ac.uk, Library Chat or our feedback form to ask any questions or make suggestions.

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Working from Home: a Library Assistant’s Point of View

 By Asif Rashid Library Assistant Bradford College Library , Sept 2020

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, most of us are working differently to the way we usually would. At Bradford college Library , both of our library sites (Hockney Library and Trinity Green) have closed since March 2020 and we are providing online library services from home to the students and staff. Working from home is both a challenge and an opportunity.

At first it took us a few days to get comfortable into a new environment as it was a totally different scenario to previously working face to face with people and now working virtually.

Keeping in touch

Our library team has a video call every Wednesday via Microsoft Teams so that we can see each other. The library manager gives general updates from the Library management side and every member of the team shares what they are working on. This is really helpful because it enables us to communicate effectively and work together despite being apart. Working from home can also feel isolating so it’s nice to have this weekly catch up. The most interesting thing was a weekly Quiz mainly presented by David and Ashley. These quizzes were really interesting and increased our general knowledge.

Video conferencing graphic

Learning new techniques

Another good thing was a regular allocation of  work from Librarians to us. We learnt new techniques for researching and finding information by using the online catalogue and different websites such as Coutts Oasis etc. Another good thing I liked was that our Library manager mentioned that she would try to provide everyone in the team to learn and work equally on various online courses such as the Equality and Diversity course. The college training day in July was really useful and helped us in our professional development.

Interesting online courses

College as a whole organisation was really helpful in encouraging and providing of personal and professional development opportunities. Free courses on college skills academy not only provided the training and basic knowledge about personal and professional development but also these courses are beneficial in future while working at college or in daily life. For instance, a course on how to work with difficult people was quite interesting and I would recommend it to everyone in  our team. The main points I learnt when you are a manager or executive  or any member of team dealing with a difficult person you should listen the point of view of other person without bringing your personal ego into the matter. Also among three methods such as assertiveness, passiveness and aggressiveness described in this course, only assertiveness works good in most of the situations.

Staying positive

Encouragement from Christopher Thornton, Lakshmi Banner and Emma Luby was very helpful. They kept our morale high and we survived through this time and at the end I must say we are a good time and everyone in the team is so nice and helpful.

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The British Standards Institution are adding a new security feature to their documents

What’s happening to BSI documents?
The British Standards Institution (BSI) is improving the digital security of it’s documents.
To do this it is adding an extra layer of security to the documents it provides access to.
The BSI will be introducing a new security feature to it’s documents from Saturday 19th December 2020.

What does this mean to you?
In order to open documents from the BSI, such as those in our British Standards Online Collection, you will need to have a security plug-in installed on your device.
Once the plug-in is installed you should find that your access and use of these documents will be done as quickly and efficiently as before.

What do you need to do?
To access electronic BSI documents you will need to install the FileOpen plug-in.
You will also need to make sure you Adobe Acrobat or Reader installed in order to view any documents.

How do I get the plug-in?
To download and install the FileOpen plug-in you will need to visit the FileOpen site to get it.
If you are using a College laptop or device you may need to contact IT Services.

Find our more
You can find out more details and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the BSI’s website.

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Collaborate to Innovate: library assistants work with librarians to plan for a safer library

During the many months of lockdown, we always kept one eye on our return to work. At each virtual library get-together, we’d swap stories of our experiences in shops and supermarkets, things we’d read about other libraries, how we were supporting students, what we thought about coming back to college, how a covid-safe library service would look.

During these early discussions, a plan began to form. Firstly, how would we capture all the information and ideas that were sharing? We wanted to keep track of the guidance from government and our professional organisations such as CILIP and Libraries Connected. We took part in webinars, discussion lists and training sessions. We talked to lecturers, managers, and other librarians.

And secondly, how would we turn all the knowledge gained while sitting in front of our computers, into practical guidance for our return to work? Our first step was to set up a Padlet that everyone could access, add ideas or links, comment on other posts, link ideas together.

We then asked each of our library assistants, working closely with a ‘project sponsor’ – a member of the Library Management Team – to design and deliver a project focusing on a particular aspect of the return to work. Each library assistant identified an area of interest to them, produced a project initiation document which outlined their aims and what they hoped to deliver. They then researched independently, meeting regularly with their project sponsor to discuss their findings. Projects were: how to ensure staff safety at the information desk, setting up a ‘triage’ service and creating a guide to the ‘reference interview’, handling acquisitions, marketing our new click&collect service, and how to arrange the physical library.

Some of the library assistants have kindly offered to write for this blog about these projects and how they were able to plan from a distance. I’m sure many of their ideas will be useful to other library staff in similar situations.

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Ensuring Staff Safety – Ashley Choudry

In my Library Project, I set out to find appropriate ways of protection from Covid-19 for the library assistants when working throughout the Library and dealing with students and other staff. To complete my project, I conducted research on the methods of protection used by various libraries in colleges and universities throughout the world, looking at three main methods: perspex screens at the desk; 72-hour book quarantine; and separate collections of equipment for use by each staff member. I looked on their websites specifically for protection methods, whilst also looking at the overall UK protection guidelines that libraries needed to follow to be allowed to open once again.

In my research I found that many libraries had decided to use perspex screens to protect library staff at help desks from students and other staff. The majority had also implemented a 72- hour book quarantine to ensure any traces of the Covid-19 virus would have disappeared from recently returned books before they could be shelved again.However, I could not find much information on the use of equipment throughout other libraries and protection against Covid-19 when using it.

At the conclusion of my research and when presenting my findings to my colleagues, I recommended that we continued with the 72-hour quarantine while marking out a specific area to hold the books (there hadn’t been one before) and making collections of equipment for each individual library assistant with name labels on each piece. The perspex screens had already been added to the help desk, however I did recommend we add a couple more to cover all computer stations. 

I enjoyed doing this project as it gave me not only an insight into how other libraries operate but also a chance to have a vital say in the protection for my colleague’s and my own roles in this uncertain time, overall making me feel more satisfied and safer to be back in work.

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#ESOL Stories

#ESOLStories has been one of my favourite collaborations between the library service and the ESOL department.

National Storytelling Week

A lecturer from ESOL, Seima, approached the library with some ideas around National Storytelling Week for the 16-18 students, and I was keen to promote the Graded Readers collection. We pooled all our thoughts together… I’d go to the classes taking a selection of readers to inspire the students by discussing genres, beginnings and endings, characters, book jackets and blurbs. ESOL tutors then asked their classes to create various pieces around storytelling including online storyboards, reviews, stories and poems. Some students had a set of images to play around with and create a plot. We would display the reviews and storyboards in the library, on display stands and noticeboards. Even better, all the stories and poems would be collated into a book which would be ‘published’ by the library and added to the collection for future students to read and be inspired by.

Using LibGuides as online publisher

It all got a bit more interesting when my colleague overheard our discussion.

David’s idea to use LibGuides as an online publisher for all the stories and poems gave them a much wider audience, and enabled us to run a competition for the best story. Voting could take place online, in class or from home using phones or laptops, and students could also showcase their work to friends and family who could also take part in the voting.

We decided not to tell the students about the website until all the work was submitted. Four classes took part in the competition – two from Entry 2, one from Entry 3 and one Level 1 group.

I quietly created a LibGuide site called #ESOLStories where I put up details of the competition and then uploaded each story to the site, converting the word documents to PDF. I also changed the name of each file to the story title. I added a Google Forms ballot which would be easy for students to use, and give me a real time overview of how many votes were coming in.

Student reaction

I was then invited back to the classes. We were looking forward to telling the students about the competition, the prizes, and reveal the website. We knew they would be excited about being published online, but we also needed to get each student’s permission allowing their story to be displayed on the public site. I think I can safely say that they were all pretty happy with the result!

Students were then given about 6 weeks to read the stories, vote, and promote the competition. Seima was interviewed by the college marketing team, while the library promoted the competition via Twitter, Instagram, and our Library Online site. Some of the student comments were really lovely.

It was impressive. A page like that need a lot of time to make and I’m sure she put a lot offer in to it so well done.

It was fantastic and the Bradford college is helped us also published the stories for us. I was very excited to see my story on the website. Bradford College is excellent also the page the made for our stories was amazing.

The page was really nice designed I didn’t expect is from her, I thought is from some guys designers. I read my story and I laughed again.

Student comments May 2020

The results…

The site received nearly 600 votes and well over a thousand hits. We are so pleased with the results, and hope to do something similar next year. Once we received all the votes, I published the winners on the #ESOLStories site.

One unforeseen event was the lockdown following the spread of covid-19. Some of the voting, and the announcement of the results, has had to happen remotely. We are sad not to present the prizes to the students in person, but it is great to know that our students can access their work at any time through this online resource.

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