CD#11 – Library opening 24/7 from Summer term

From the beginning of next term the Library will be extending its opening hours to 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And no, they are not recruiting a small army of librarians to staff the desk around the clock. Instead they are buying just one machine – a self-issue machine (SIM). The new machine will sit in the corridor between the two Library rooms, and will be awake and willing to issue a book whenever it is called upon to do so.

Practically there will be a few changes to how the Library operates once the SIM is installed. The most obvious will be the change to the Library’s staffed hours. From Monday 8th May regular staffed hours will be 9.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Thursday, 10.00am to 5.00pm Friday, and unstaffed at the weekends. There will be a staff presence in the Library the weekend before the start of classes each term, as this is a busy book-buying period, and as you know, our campus bookstore The Book Stack runs out of the Library.

The other significant change will be that you will no longer need a key to get into the Lending Library ‘out of hours’. This is because, firstly, there will no longer be such a thing as ‘out of hours’ and, secondly, both Library rooms will simply require a code to enter (and it will be the same code for both doors). The books and DVDs in both areas will be available to borrow 24 hours a day, with a few exceptions. ‘But what’s stopping the books just disappearing off the shelves without being issued, if both rooms are essentially unlocked?’ we hear you ask. Along with the SIM comes a new set of security gates and CCTV. If anyone inadvertently tries to leave the Library with an item they’ve not formally borrowed, the gates will alert the Library team, and they’ll be able to track the book down using the gate record and the CCTV. All very hi tech.

‘So, if you have a new machine, why do we need librarians any longer?’ you may well also be asking. While the new machine will be very good at issuing books, and even accepting them back (assuming you press the right buttons and can remember your PIN!), it’s not so good at ordering books, cataloguing them, making sure they are available on the shelves, answering student queries, explaining search skills and directing students to information online, checking reading lists, scanning items for onQ, running a bookstore selling books and stationery, and restructuring and cataloguing the Archive – in fact there are quite a few tasks that, put simply, the SIM is rubbish at. And for this reason, the Library team of Sarah, Louise and Jean will continue to be part of the Castle community for some time to come.

»Written by a human since January 2017«

CD#10 – Celebrate with the Musicians in Residence

Diana and Shelley with the Symphonova in 2016
Diana and Shelley with the Symphonova in 2016

You may have heard already the exciting news that Diana and Shelley have been awarded a significant grant from Bader Philanthropies. This is also the year in which our Musicians in Residence are celebrating 20 years at the Castle. The Castle Drum caught up with Diana, and asked her to tell us more about some of their many achievements in the past two decades…”

20 years ago this fresh-faced young Canadian couple arrived at Herstmonceux Castle with their two little boys. Opera singer Diana Gilchrist and pianist and conductor Dr. Shelley Katz thought that Queen’s University at the Castle would be an excellent platform to engage in musical activities with students and the local community. They were looking for some balance to their busy international careers and Herstmonceux seemed the perfect family base. So it proved to be. They are still here, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a grant from Bader Philanthropies to continue bringing musical enrichment to the BISC and wider community.

Diana performing at the 'Prom'
Diana performing at the ‘Prom’

The Musicians in Residence have offered a variety of musical events and experiences over the years, for students and community. One of the most exciting early concerts was an open air ‘Prom’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – complete with fireworks. Shelley led the lucky Summer Term students and the audience singing, while Diana featured as soloist providing her own vocal pyrotechnics!

Ladies Chamber Choir rehearsal in the ballroom (2012)
Shelley and the Ladies Chamber Choir rehearse in the ballroom (2012)

For several years, top international performers joined Shelley and Diana in their Castle Concert series. The concerts were hugely supported by the local community and often played to wonderfully appreciative, sold-out audiences. The new Bader Philanthropies grant will facilitate a welcome re-launch of the Castle Concert series.

A highlight of each term is the chance for students, staff and faculty to sing in a choir. Choir and various other ensembles perform at the Castle, in the community and further afield, sometimes partnering with other institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford. Over the years, concerts have included major works, such as the Mozart, Brahms and Fauré Requiems.

A visit to the Symphonova research facility (2013)
A visit to the Symphonova research facility (2013)

Shelley, who holds a PhD in Music Technology, develops cutting edge inventions which he uses in research, demos, concerts and recordings. When students visited his lab at the University of Surrey they got to try their hands at conducting, using a digital wand. One especially talented violin student was able to trial a concerto with Shelley’s digital orchestra technology.

Glyndebourne Opera House

As well as providing students with opportunities to participate in exciting UK cultural events, Diana and Shelley also take students and staff to off-site performances. Over the years, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival has generously given tickets to summer dress rehearsals. Diana’s opera trips to this iconic venue typically include prep lectures and ‘posh picnics’. Other favorite cultural highlights each year include going to London to see operas, ballets and concerts.

The Musicians in Residence are delighted that the very generous Bader Philanthropies grant will enable them to continue offering concerts, lecture-recitals, masterclasses, choir trips and a wide variety of musical events designed to enrich the Herstmonceux Castle experience.

Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (2012)
Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (2012)

Watch out for the re-launch of Castle Concerts this coming autumn –  Saturday, October 14th in the ballroom!

»Celebrating successes since January 2017«

CD#9 – BISC tips

If you could offer new students one piece of advice for their time with us, what would it be?

Isabelle Brent, Student Success Coordinator, is compiling a list of ‘BISC tips’ for inclusion in a new academic planner which will be provided to all incoming students in September. The tips will be used as page headers and are intended to support students throughout the year.

Your tips for the students don’t necessarily have to be practical. They can also be inspirational, supportive, or motivational. All tips should be relevant to the students’ experience at the BISC though for example their life at Bader Hall, travelling in the UK or Europe, or getting the most out of their studies.

To submit a tip, please email Isabelle on

»Sharing words of wisdom since January 2017«