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#34 - 1991

The early 1990s saw major changes to the School Library, this interesting read from The Court shows how important the School Library was for pupils back before the days of the World Wide Web.

"The library at Shiplake College changed dramatically over the past year. Encouraged by the Headmaster and generously supported by the Governors, a team of librarians, inaugurated a thorough review of the library's use and potential.

As a result of their findings, and a series of visits to other school libraries, over two-thirds of the book stock was withdrawn, either to be sold or given away. Some of the 'island' shelving was also removed, to make more space for comfortable study. All the fiction books were moved, to make up a new and separate fiction library in the new English Department, in the stable-yard. This all liberated considerable shelf space, to be filled with new books.

"The aim in 'rebuilding' the library is that it should serve two functions. The first is to be a reference centre, for students working towards GCSE or A level exams, or on coursework projects. The second is to act as a pleasant, relaxed and informative reading room, for all members of the community. With help from the Governors and the Ball Committee, and advice from many Heads of Department and other teachers, a wide range of reference and supporting books have been bought, and the book stock is becoming much more modern, lively and accessible; however, in comparison with many of our rivals, our range of books is still very limited, and considerably more spending will be necessary before our coverage is in any sense adequate.

New lighting and heating have recently been installed, and one end of the room has been transformed into a relaxed reading area, with soft chairs, a rug, and a window-seat. The shelves have been clearly re-labelled, and new tables and chairs provided.

The librarians have developed a rota of duties, enabling them to supervise the room during evening prep, as well as maintaining it during the day time. This has meant that the number of boys using the facilities has increased considerably, particularly in the evenings; also that librarians are around at the busiest times, to help other students find the material they need. We very much hope that even more boys will come to use the library regularly, and see it as a pleasant and useful place to go, as time goes on."

The School Library is today housed within to the incredibly modern Thinking Space, part of the John Turner Building, which opened in 2014. The old library, affectionately renamed the 'Old Viking Room' now houses our Rowing Honours Board, and as part of the 60th anniversary project, will soon proudly display lots of our original archive material.    

There is a lovely article, written by a pupil David Scoins entitled 'How to Become a Prefect' in the 1991 edition of The Court (page 21).

Students and staff performed an outdoor summer spectacular production of Macbeth. Excitement surrounding the performance led to it being featured in the Henley Standard, before it had even taken place!

Also in 1991:

- In the Autumn of 1991, the Education pages of The Observer described Shiplake as a ‘super confidence-building establishment’. Headmaster Nick Bevan observed that it was not a description he had used to any journalist so it was a welcome judgement from outside.

- Members of the J16 VIII rowed from Oxford to Putney in a four to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

- Shiplake College took on Peterhouse School from Zimbabwee in a charity rugby match to raise money for the Charlotte Starmer-Smith Medical Fund, set up in memory of the daughter of Shiplake governor, BBC commentator and former England scrum-half Nigel Starmer-Smith. Charlotte had attended neighbouring Queen Anne’s School. The event made the national and local press and more than 2,000 people watched an exciting game which resulted in Shiplake unfortunately losing 15-13 in the last few minutes. Stars from the international rugby scene, both on and off the field, supported the event which raised over £8,000 for the charity.