Category Archives: Online

Welcome to the Cloud Library – new ebooks now

3M Cloud Library

We’re delighted to announce that our new ebook service is now live and ready to use. The 3M Cloud Library is incredibly easy – try it and see.

We’ve offered ebooks for some time, but now we’ve moved to a bigger, better and above all easier to use service. For those of you who are already fans of ebooks from Westminster Libraries, you can continue to use the ‘old’ service alongside the new one for a while. Gradually the stock will be transferred across to 3M and eventually the westminster.libraryebooks.co.uk site will be phased out.

Here’s what you need to do to use ebooks:

  • Download the app
    Download the ‘3M Cloud Library App’ from the Apple App Store, Google Play, NOOK Storefront or install the PC or Mac 3M Cloud Library Apps.
  • Log in to your library
    Using the drop down menu, select GB – England – Westminster Libraries. Click to agree to the terms and conditions, enter your library card number and PIN (if required).
  • Browse, check out and read!
    Now you are ready to browse, check out and read ebooks from your local library.

3M Cloud Library logoYou can find out more on our ebooks page.

No fines, no late returns (ebooks automatically return after 14 days, but you can borrow again if no one has reserved the book), just lots to read.

 

The 1939 Register on findmypast

Great news everyone: the 1939 Register is now available when you use findmypast in the library – without the need to pay!

Family group, circa 19391939 was the year that Great Britain entered the Second World War. At the same time the government was already almost prepared for the next Census, due to take place in 1941. The worry of the impending crisis and this coincidence meant that they chose to create a national register on 29 September 1939.

This Register was similar to a Census, but differed in a few ways. Most obviously, the date is not a Census date – the Census is held every ten years, the previous ones in the 20th century being 1911, 1921 and 1931. It was also not called a census but a register. The Register holds the details of 41 million people, each of whom would have been issued with an ID card at a time of rationing etc. The details they had to submit to get this ID card, including name, address, marital status, occupation and date of birth are held on this register. The register is described by Find My Past as “one of the most important documents in 20th century Britain”.

Having been scanned by findmypast it was made available on a pay per view basis in September 2015. However, it is not until now that it has become available to general subscribers, and this of course includes library users in Westminster. In some ways we are very privileged to be able to view the register. If it were a Census we would be unable to view the entries until 100 years after it took place. The 1921 Census will be the next Census available after the 1911 Census, this will not be viewable until 2021 at least. Nevertheless, findmypast has put in some regulations as to which records are available. The main limit is that you will be unable to view ‘records of people younger than 100 and still alive, or who died after 1991’; it is possible to challenge this on a case by case basis. More information is available on the Find My Past site.

Family group, circa 1939You can use findmypast in every Westminster Library and at Westminster City Archives, along with Ancestry.
These are just two of the many amazing online resources available to readers to help with their family history research and any other studies and research they wish to undertake.

[Owen]

Read all about it! The Times Digital Archive

NewspaperImagine if you could pick up a newspaper from over 200 years ago and see what people were saying. Wouldn’t that be difficult? I mean, you would have to find a good reference library with a pretty decent collection of backdated copies…
Surely there is no other way?

Of course there is, the clue is in the title of this blog!

A few months ago, my colleague Francis talked about how addictive searching the Oxford Database of National Biography can be. While I do agree, I am going to say that The Times Digital Archive will give him a run for his money.

Recently I have been visiting libraries and talking with members of the public about some of the Online Resources available to anyone with a Westminster library card. The Times Digital Archive (TDA) is a fully searchable database containing facsimiles of all of the Times newspapers from 1785 to 2009. Here are three points I like to show our customers while highlighting some useful features of the TDA:

Founding of the Newspaper

I like to start at the very beginning. Not only does it make sense chronologically, it also shows just how far back the Digital Archive goes. The Times was first released as The Daily Universal Register for 3 years until 1788 and would set you back 2 ½ pence for 4 very large pages of content (the very definition of a broadsheet newspaper).

The first entry in the TDA is actually the second edition of the paper, you can see under the left hand ‘Printed Logographically’ banner. I like to point it out when demonstrating the TDA as well as to show off this rambling explanation from the editor:

Snippet from The Daily Universal Register, 3 January 1785

“An unfortunate accident having prevent the publication of the first number of this paper in as early an hour as the proprietor intended, and the hawkers having taken away so many papers, that he was not able to supply his numerous friends and others, according to the promise, he thinks it proper to reprint his address to the public, that those who have not yet seen it may have an opportunity to form a judgement of his plan.”

On Tuesday 4 January 1785 the editor expands on what he intends to report in this fledgling newspaper. I’ve trimmed the text but you can read the whole paragraph in the image below:

“In this paper his readers will find regular accounts of the sailing and arrival of ships, of remarkable trials, debates in Parliament, bills of entry, prices courant, price of stocks, promotions, marriages and deaths &c. in a word, no expence [sic] will be spared that may procure useful intelligence and as next to having good intelligence is to have it early, the paper will be published regularly every morning at six o’clock, even during the sitting of Parliament.”

Snippet from The Daily Universal Register, 4 January 1785

Looking through modern day Times, I can’t decide if it is meeting its 250 year old aims or not.


Important Events of our Times

While it is mildly useful to search through the rambles of the early editors and peruse the advertisements, I do enjoy showing people events that still resonate with us today. While we all know that Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, it must have been curious to read about it as the events are unfolding.

Here is one of the headlines from Monday 4 September:

The Times, Monday 4 September 1939

Today that would be the front page headline, but in 1939 before reading that the country was at war you had to skip past a couple of pages of advertisements, shipping news, sports results – association football, rugby, golf and racing all come first. Admittedly, the next several pages discussed it in depth, but I find it interesting that front page headlines aren’t commonplace at this time.

The majority of the articles related to the war’s outbreak are either very short or very long, making it difficult to find good examples, but here are a few from the same edition that I find interesting:

 

Let’s go back a little further to another war and another battle that we know through hindsight – the Battle of Waterloo:

The Times, 22 June 1815

I won’t copy the whole text now, but the dispatch is fascinating and I encourage you to go look it up.

Each description of what the army is up to has this immediacy to it – slightly ironic that you are reading about it days after the event. For example, before the Battle of Waterloo was reported you had the reports coming in regarding the minor skirmishes taking place on 16 June 1815 in the 21 June edition:

The Times, 21 June 1815

And it wasn’t until 23 June that reports of the actual battle started coming in, along with lists of dead officers (the rank and file had not yet been accounted for) and a report from Wellington himself. Here are his closing remarks:

The Times, 23 June 1815


Change of Image

The last point I want to show is not about the content of the newspaper, but how the newspaper was presented – and I might have already given it away. If you look back at the font from the Battle of Waterloo reports, to the font for the WW2 War Declaration you might see where I am going with this.

By the 1930s the Times was a 28 page broadsheet, very popular but being accused of not adhering to the times (irony?) and still using an antiquated typeface. In 1931 a new type was commissioned that would sound very familiar to you if you have used a Microsoft computer in the past 3 decades. I am talking about, of course, Times Roman.

So there we have it. There is far too much to talk about in one blog post, but I hope I have whet your appetite for the Times Digital Archive and all the history that it contains.

If you have an event in history that you would like to look up, it is simple to do so yourself if you follow these steps:

Helpfully, the Browse by Date function is on the front page.

Tome Digital Archive (TDA) header

Happy searching!

[Shaun]

Take part in an online training session!

Books!Credo Reference has been a staple of Westminster’s 24/7 Library since the very beginning – before it even bore that name. Known in the past as ‘Xrefer’, it was originally a very limited collection of English reference books, all searchable online, and freely available on the web. It developed – slowly at first, gathering more titles and covering more ground, and was rechristened ‘Xrefer Plus’.

It began to charge a subscription to cover the cost of licensing content, and it was one of the first six of our ‘exclusive resources‘ – subscription sites which are available only to our registered members. From the start it was innovative and offered useful tools such as its Mind Map, which allows you to see and explore the interconnectedness of subjects, and its diverse array of tools, including an incredible crossword solver and a pronunciation guide. It boasted a Google-like search engine which made search results more precisely matched than its competitors, no matter how large the database became.

Years passed, it was taken over by an American company who continued to develop and expand the offering, and changed its name to Credo Reference Online. It is now international in scope, and features 1,120 books on subjects from Agriculture to Technology – all of them full text versions of published books, searchable through a common interface, and each one browse-able entry by entry.

Credo Reference

The sheer breadth and range of content makes the resource valuable to just about anybody, and its search capabilities continue to give it a competitive edge, but recently they have diversified again, adding content that appeals more to a younger demographic – particularly by adding a substantial package of lavishly illustrated Eyewitness titles from children’s information publisher Dorling Kindersley. Other appealing series for younger readers include the Handy Answers series, covering such curriculum topics as Art, Geography, History, Weather, Science, etc; the Teach Yourself collection (40 titles from Algebra to Understanding the Middle East); Visual Guides (5 titles presenting information in short video clips to impart an understanding of the Human Body, the Earth, the Universe, the Environment, and Plants); and Facts at Your Fingertips (16 titles on mainly scientific and technical topics)

In many ways, Credo is so much more than a collection of online reference books: it includes the huge collection of art images that is the Bridgeman Art Library; the Marquis Who’s Who in the World, and the Marquis Who’s Who in America from 1604 to date (complementing the OUP’s Who’s Who and Who Was Who in Britain); and the enormous Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide – an encyclopedia so big that it has never been printed!

Credo has become so complex and so multi-faceted over the years, that presenting it in its true colours has become something of a challenge to those of us who seek to make it appreciated by its target audience.

In an experimental move, the providers of this extraordinary resource will be offering an online presentation to students and parents in an effort to raise its profile and make it more familiar to them, as a resource that can help with school and homework. You can sign up for this session, which will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 20 January, at a family friendly 7.00pm, by emailing Credo at training@credoreference.com with the subject line “Register for 20/1/2016”.

As a reminder, Credo Reference, as with all of the exclusive resources in our 24/7 Library, can be accessed anywhere you have an Internet connection: there’s no password – all you need to enter is the barcode number from your library card.

[Michael]

The Life and Loves of a Victorian Clerk

Today the first week of the diary of ‘Nathaniel Bryceson’ (aka Westminster City Archives volunteer Sheldon Goodman) was published as a podcast, 170 years after it was first written. You can read – or listen to – the diary throughout the coming year at https://victorianclerk.wordpress.com/

Cemetery Club

By Sheldon

The City of London is known for many things. For centuries it has been the epicentre of trade, commerce and finance. To consider that events such as the Great Fire of London happened here are remembered largely due to the efforts of one of its most famous sons: Samuel Pepys.
Pepys, a seventeenth century naval administrator, kept his diary for seven years until poor eyesight and old age prevented him from maintaining further journals. Written in code and chronicling every day events such as watching plays, official business and the occasional tryst, much to the dismay of his wife; it is his account which keeps the embers of that rest conflagration alive to schoolchildren and adults up and down the line.
Pepys wasn’t the only one to keep a diary. Let’s move geographically and relocate to the City of Westminster, to the year of 1846. In Richmond Buildings, in…

View original post 232 more words

Christmas and New Year opening hours

Merry Christmas from Westminster Libraries & Archives!The libraries and archives are now closed for Christmas, reopening on Tuesday 29 December.

Services will be open at the usual times on 29 and 30 December, closing at 5.00pm on New Year’s Eve Thursday 31 December and reopening as usual from Saturday 2 January 2016.

Of course, while the buildings are closed the 24/7 Library is always open to help you with those Christmas quizzes, find the facts to resolve disputes, help with project homework and provide a soundtrack to the festivities. Borrow an e-book or two, browse through an e-magazine or settle down with an e-audiobook – all free!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the daily goodies from the Advent Calendar, which will remain online until 6 January 2016.

However you celebrate, we wish you all the best this Christmas.

Three hundred and fifty years of history at your fingertips

Quiz time – what’s the oldest British newspaper still being published?

While you’re thinking about it, I will tell you that the oldest surviving paper in the world is  Post-Och Inrikes Tidningar, or ‘Post and Domestic Times’, the official government newspaper of Sweden, founded in 1645. It took 20 years for the British to catch on that this might be a good idea but on 7 November 1665, the London Gazette was born.

The London Gazette was first called the Oxford Gazette, since Charles II and his ministers had wisely left London to avoid the Great Plague. To be honest, the first issue, as described by the diarist Samuel Pepys sounds a bit  dull: ‘very pretty, full of newes, and no folly in it’, but things soon hotted up (literally) when the Gazette returned to London in issue 24, something the journalists may have regretted when they had to cover the ‘sad and lamentable accident of Fire lately happened in the City of London’ in issue 85.

You can read up on the history of the Gazette, and jolly fascinating it is too. But it’s not for news coverage that the paper is best known but as the official journal of record of the British government. It is published daily online and covers such matters as public appointments, military honours, bankruptcy, wills and probate.  This makes it a fascinating source for family history… and just general nosiness! You can search it to see if anyone you know has had an army promotion (see if Great Uncle Ernie’s claim to have become a Major while doing National Service was true), become insolvent or been given an honour. With 350 years of records, it’s a treasure trove for genealogists.

The London Gazette is available free online, but for many newspapers you need a subscription to access their full archives. However, don’t worry – we do that bit so you don’t have to! Just go to our Online Resources page and scroll down to see what we have. Remember to have your Westminster library card with if you are on your home computer as you’ll need it to log in. Most of the titles are self-explanatory but there are some gems you need to hunt for.

ukpressonline is the archive of the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, but the package includes some other oddities you might not have spotted. In the World War II collection (which actually covers the period 1933 – 1945) you can find not just the Express and Mirror but a whole range of other papers too. While we certainly wouldn’t endorse the politics of Blackshirt or Fascist Week, there’s no doubt that they make fascinating reading and shed light on a very dark period of British history. For some political balance, there’s also the (socialist) Daily Worker or if you want to see a different angle, have a look at the (Methodist) Watchman or (Anglican) Church Times.

If your taste runs to the rather more scholarly you might want to look at the International Index to Music Periodicals and International Index to the Performing Arts. Both do what they say on the tin – they are searchable databases of over a thousand  publications covering the full range of music, stage and screen and endlessly fascinating to anyone with an interest in the arts.

But if what you want to do is just read a newspaper, we have LibraryPressDisplay. On the left hand side of the display, pick a country and see what’s available. If you choose the United Kingdom you can browse through the latest issues of over a hundred newspapers and magazines. If you’re more interested in what’s happening on the other side of the Channel, there’s about the same amount of French and German papers though Finland is only represented by 16 titles and Bulgaria a mere five. Whichever part of the world you’re looking for, there’s bound to be a newspaper – there are 25 Lebanese periodicals, all available on the day of publication. So whether you’re researching your travels or feeling a little homesick, have a look and see what you can find. You may even see your own hometown paper.

Happy reading.

[Nicky]