Tag Archives: databases

How Business Information Points can help you get the job you want

Westminster Libraries Business Information PointsWestminster Libraries have four Business Information Points (BIPs) which are aimed at helping people start up their own business by providing access to a wide variety of online resources, books and magazines. However, have you ever thought about how these resources could help you not only start up a business but also find and gain the job you really want?

In Westminster Reference Library we have witnessed just some of the ways in which it can be done. To start with, library users are afforded that extra bit of time they need on the library’s BIP computers to find and apply for jobs as well as do their business research, administration and planning. And the online resources – both the In House Specials and the 24/7 resources – have come in handy as well. Indeed, just a few days ago someone used Marketline to help prepare a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on a company with whom he had an upcoming interview.

Careers 2017COBRA the Complete Business Reference Advisor (log in with your library card number) shows people how to start up and run a successful business. However, it is also helpful in showing which qualifications you may need, organisations you could contact and what to do in order to start out on your own or find a job in a particular area. Similar to this is the yearly careers directory, a book which explains in brief which qualifications you will need to begin and progress in certain careers as well as what each job entails, how much you will be paid and what the future prospects are.

Market research databases such as IBISWorld, Marketline and Mintel can all help you to research the best sector to aim for. This is important as it might take time to prepare for a career through gaining the necessary experience and qualifications.

You can use Experian and Marketline to find out which companies you can approach and look at to find the job and experience you wish to gain. Experian can also help you learn about key names and connections, this can also be done with Who’s Who UK (log straight in with your library card) which is searchable by keyword as well as just name.

Use these databases to learn about companies and markets, plus the experience and qualifications you will need to help you in any applications you make. When it comes to actually applying for jobs they can help you prepare for those tough interview questions. Most libraries also have books to help you do any tests which you may need to perform during the application process.

How to pass professional level psychometric tests by Sam Al-JajjokaHandling touch job interviews by Julie-Ann AmosThe interview book by James Innes

The BIPs in Westminster are located in Westminster Reference Library, Paddington Library, Church Street Library and Pimlico Library – come and see us, and keep an eye out for BIP events that might be of use in your career planning.


Which? hunt

Which? available in print and online versions at several Westminster LibrariesI love buying new gadgets – who doesn’t?

But how do you make sure you’re getting the best available, and value for money? The trick is to benefit from the experience of other consumers, and that has been the aim of Which? ever since it was conceived back in 1957.

Everybody’s heard about Which? Reports, and savvy consumers have been checking out the experience of their researchers in our libraries for as long as I can remember (you really don’t want to know how long that is…). But the magazine format imposed some fairly obvious restrictions on those reports. Each topic had to fit into no more than half a dozen pages or so, meaning that the variety of models of any given gadget on test was severely limited. The May 2014 magazine reviewed 22 tablet computers and 40 kettles, which seems like a good range. But the Which? website covers 72 tablet computers and 218 kettles. Each report gives every item a percentage score so you can compare with other items, and scores each feature out of 5 in a rigorous test process. Best Buy recommendations are flagged up, as are the more negative Don’t Buy recommendations, and there are detailed specifications for every item on test.

It’s entirely possible that you’re only interested in seeing the Best Buy recommendations, but if you’re interested in a particular feature you may find it useful to have access to the full range of information available for each before making your choice.

The online Which? database is a remarkable development from what was already a really useful service, and it’s free to subscribers at no extra cost. Several of Westminster’s libraries are subscribers, and thanks to a clever piece of software customers are able to make use of the database on the libraries’ computers without having to type in any passwords. Once logged in, you will have full access to the site, and you can use the features which you need.

Libraries where you can access Which? online are: MarylebonePaddington, Pimlico, Queen’s Park, St. John’s Wood, Victoria, and Westminster Reference Library.


Meet the Neighbours – in Marylebone

Treasure Hunt Towers has moved. On 11 August we closed the door on the Marylebone Council House and two weeks later we opened up our new premises on 54 Beaumont Street to the public.

Beaumont Street, 1907. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Beaumont Street, 1907. Image property of Westminster City Archives

One of the pleasures of any move is getting to know a new area and its history, and in our new location we are positively surrounded by the stuff. Just walking from the nearest bus stop at the corner of Harley Street and Marylebone Road, you see three plaques on the way to the library and there are many others within a five minute walk. So let’s have a look at some of the great and the good who have lived in the area…

Directly opposite the library entrance on a suspiciously modern looking house (the original was demolished in 1924) is a plaque to John Richard Green, 1837-1883, historian, who lived there from 1869-1876. Little known now, Green was one of the most important and influential nineteenth century historians, notable for his library views and his stress on social and economic issues rather than ‘kings and queens’. Incidentally, while living in Marylebone, he was the librarian of Lambeth Palace.

"The Second Mrs Tanqueray" by Arthur Wing Pinero. Image property of Westminster City Archives

“The Second Mrs Tanqueray” by Arthur Wing Pinero. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Turning left we come to Arthur Wing Pinero’s house at 115a Harley Street. From humble beginnings, he attended elocution classes at Birkbeck and after some experience acting on tour with Sir Henry Irving, he discovered his true vocation was writing. Perhaps the leading British playwright at the turn of the century, he has had a bit of a revival recently – if you missed the recent London productions of The Second Mrs Tanqueray, Trelawny of the Wells and The Magistrate, don’t worry – the film version of Dandy Dick (with Will Hay) has just been released on DVD.

Pinero’s near neighbour at 146  Harley Street, Lionel Logue (1880-1953) has also attracted a lot of interest in the last few years. The speech therapist who treated King George VI and became his friend for 20 years, didn’t have quite the humble background seen in The King’s Speech (his 25 room house in Sydenham Hill was probably bigger than the Piccadilly residence of George VI when he was Duke of York) but, as described in the book of the same name, while he charged high fees to his wealthy  patients, he treated many others for free and was a pioneer of speech therapy for shell-shocked soldiers.

Harley Street, 1910. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Harley Street, 1910. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Another Harley Street neighbour, at no 73, was Prime Minister William Gladstone, who lived there from 1876-1882 while in opposition. It was here he wrote the pamphlet The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East, which called upon the government to withdraw its support for Turkey. On Sunday 24 February 1878, a pro-government mob smashed the windows of the house (“This is not very Sabbatical” wrote Gladstone in his diary).

Just round the corner  at 50 Wimpole Street, the poet Elizabeth Barrett lived from 1838-1846. It was here in 1845 that she first met Robert Browning and eloped with him to marry at St Marylebone Church a few blocks away and from there, travelled to Italy. This period of her life is portrayed, with a certain amount of dramatic licence in The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1859. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1859. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Elizabeth Barrett wasn’t the only notable author  to have lived here. On 1 April  1891, Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) set up a doctor’s surgery at 2 Upper Wimpole Street. Though he only spent a few months here,  his time was certainly productive. By Friday 3 April 1891, his diary records: “sent ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ to A. P. Watt”. This was the first of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, and Watt, his literary agent, immediately sent it on to the Strand Magazine. In all, the first five of the Holmes short stories were written at this address.

York Gate, Regent's Park and Mary-Le-Bone Church. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

York Gate, Regent’s Park and Mary-Le-Bone Church. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Nearby at in the grounds of St Marylebone Church is another plaque, not this time to where an eminent person lived but to where one was educated. The conductor Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) attended St Marylebone School, as the plaque put up by the Leopold Stokowski society attests. Stokowski regularly claimed to have been born in Poland but actually, like his parents he was born in London and grew up in Nottingham Street, where his precocious talent was soon recognised – he entered the Royal Academy of Music, then in Hanover Square, at the age of 13. Anyone who has seen his performance in One Hundred Men and a Girl, with the late Deanna Durbin, will wonder where exactly his Mittel European accent came from, but that’s showbusiness for you…

The churchyard itself is the burial place of Charles Wesley (1707-1788), one of the founders of Methodism and lyricist for hymns still popular today, notably Hark the Herald Angels Sing and  and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. A London County Council plaque in Wheatley Street marks the site where he lived for many years.

Finally, opposite St Marylebone churchyard, on Marylebone High Street,  a plaque put up by the Howard De Walden estate, commemorating the most distinquished of all Marylebone residents, though temporarory ones. From the thirteenth century, this was the site of Tyburn Manor House, which both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I used as a hunting lodge. This was demolished in 1791 and Harley Street and the surrounding roads were built on the land.

For more information about any of the people mentioned here, have a look at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which you can access from anywhere with your Westminster Libraries membership card.


An ExCel-lent opportunity to show off our wares

Eveleen and I visited The ExCel Business Show last month to promote Westminster Business Information Points (BIPs). This event is organized every year  to create stimulus for budding entrepreneurs and business people.

BIP staff at the ExCel Business Show 2013

After a brisk tour of the many exhibits and saying hello to colleagues from The City Business Library, we set about promoting the BIPs and telling people the business benefits of a Westminster Libraries membership card – chiefly the opportunity to access fantastic online resources, free.

Zsuzsanna and the lizard at the ExCel Business Show 2013While this lovely Bearded Dragon lizard was unable to join, we signed up more than 50 professionals and enthusiasts. They included Blondell, who is keen to set up a business in the motor industry, and Guru, who knows he wants his own business but is not sure which path to pursue.

We were able to advise Blondell that she would be able to research the motor industry market using MINTEL, Keynote and Marketline reports, and Guru that he may find it easier to narrow down his business idea by first reading “20 tips to help you choose a business idea” from COBRA and then exploring the Business Opportunity Profiles which are available for pretty much every start-up you can think of – and many you probably can’t.

At the ExCel Business show 2013Whilst inside, one was overwhelmed by the sheer number of stands – there were more than 150 exhibitors, including business giants like Lloyds TSB Bank, PC World, IKEA etc., as well as small startups run by one or two people. The whole place was buzzing with deals being made, products and services being explained, people being enticed into buying, understanding, selling and networking. It was a frantic adrenaline rush for anyone entering the arena, with very inspiring and motivating lectures and seminars from famous speakers like James Caan.

At the end of day with tired feet and dry throats we came out, leaving behind the exciting world of the Business Show. We met many people at the event who were delighted – and astonished – to discover that there is a free service out there, with no hidden costs for their business research. Most found it hard to believe that thousands of pounds worth of invaluable market reports and more are available to use, free, from Westminster Libraries. We’re proud to host one of the best and most comprehensive ranges of online business databases in the country.


Our neighbour’s business

Business InformationLast week I headed out west to ‘Hammersmith & Fulham Means Business‘, described as the ‘biggest business expo in West London’. I was charged with getting the word out about what Westminster Libraries Business Information Points have to offer.  Joint provision of Triborough library services was suddenly writ large!

Westminster Libraries Business Information Points was one of over 50 stands, an interesting mix of small independent companies and support organizations. On this occasion, I was flying solo and while I initially bemoaned the fact that, confined to my table, I could not readily mingle with the crowd, I soon found that plenty of people wanted to chat. So much so that eventually I had to steal not one but two chairs so people could stop and chat and – more importantly – fill out membership forms and join Westminster Libraries in relative comfort.

So, of the 27 people who went home with a new library card, who joined and why?

Pimlico LibraryThere were sisters who wanted to set up a pet accessories company, a young man already running a lingerie company and seeking to further establish his business, a would-be designer & retailer of eco friendly jewellery wanting to get started.
It was heartening too to find people who were already trading now looking to expand, make new contacts or find out how to go about recruiting and employing people.

Paddington LibraryWhat, they asked, could Westminster Libraries Business Information Points do for them?

We provide access to some of the best, if not the best, online business information databases in the UK. License agreements with online providers mean that users must have a Westminster Libraries card to get access – something that the advent of Triborough Libraries has made easier for everyone in the three boroughs.

Church Street LibraryTo use the examples above, the sisters joined to access COBRA as it provides hundreds of business opportunity profiles, including one on pet services. It will tell you how register your company, or how our would-be jewellery entrepreneur can set up as a sole trader, or locate premises, start retailing online or from a shop. The lingerie entrepreneur needed market research to support his expansion – he will find all that he needs an more with Keynote, Mintel and Marketline. The eco jewellery designer wanted to use recycled materials and scrap metals – the KOMPASS Worldwide online products and services directory will help source these materials from the UK and beyond.

Westminster Reference LibraryNetworking was an issue for many sole traders or those already self-employed, Experian company information database will allow users to find new industry contacts and create mailing lists to market niche services.
All the BIP Libraries in Westminster hold events monthly providing excellent networking opportunities. You can also find out about these by liking BIPs on Facebook.

Not only have library members access to a wide range of exclusive business databases, many are available remotely from home or office via the 24/7 Library. So for all the above reasons and more, people took the opportunity to join Westminster Libraries to get access to these online information sources because they knew immediately they were on to a good thing! No argument there.


Da gen is in da house

[I have nothing to do with the title – David’s getting carried away with saving you money again – Ed]

Visit our In House Specials pageRemember I told you about the 24/7 stuff – which you can get anywhere in the World as long as your dongle is dongling or you can get any sort of Internet access? But working here in a library, we’d like to see you from time to time, so allow me to flourish before you our In House Specials.

Posh name, eh? All it means is that we have some information sources which we pay for, so that you can use them completely free – but only in a library. Sometimes it’s too expensive to make them available outside the library, sometimes the providers just won’t play ball. Either way, they are worth a trip. Here are a few examples:

Ancestry and Find My Past – the terrific twins for family tree researchers. Births, marriages, deaths, censuses… if your relatives are listed, these two will help you find them. Get them in any Westminster library.

Which? Extra – the same reviews of products and services you can read in Which? Magazine, and lots more. Full details of product tests, Best Buy lists, before-you-buy advice. They’re on your side! (Available in some Westminster libraries – get more details.)

Experian – this is not one for the casual user, but if you are starting or running a small business, you need to know who to buy your supplies from, and who to sell your wares to. Experian does all this and more. Get the right people on your mailing list! (Experian is available at Westminster Reference Library).

London Review of Books – these are not just book reviews, these are well-written, entertaining, provocative book reviews by great writers about great (and not-so-great) writers. A pleasure to read, and available at Marylebone Information Service.

As I said, these are just some plums. On my count, we have over 30 of these sources, some for everyone and some for a very tiny number of enthusiasts. Subscribing to them as an individual would cost you dear. Check them all out on our complete list. Hope to see you soon!

Save money round the clock

Save money from your bed with online 'exclusive resources'[Psst, David’s got some more tips. Does the man never sleep?]

OK, you’ve saved money in the library, and you’re renewing online to prevent any chance of paying overdue fines (see Hang about, save cash). Your reading group has cut its costs by borrowing sets of books from Westminster Libraries (see Huddle together and save money)  Where else can you save?

In bed.

Admittedly this only works if you’ve got a laptop or smartphone, or your mouse stretches to the bedside cabinet. Otherwise, you may have to make your savings in a sitting position. What I’m rabbiting on about is the grandly-named Exclusive Resources, part of Westminster Libraries’ 24/7 Library.

These are web-based reference and information databases, and they are exclusive in the sense that you have to be a library member to use them (and prove it by entering your card number if you use them outside a library).

Do they sound a bit dry, rather worthy, meant for someone with a grey beard and a worried expression? Fear not – I have some highly entertaining rabbits in this size 6¾ hat.

First rabbit is Library Press Display. Hmm… not very exciting so far. But give it a go. It has newspapers, in full colour facsimile, from around the world. And they usually pop up on the screen before the print version hits the newsstands. Now it’s more interesting, eh?

For example, if you try LPD mid-morning, find a paper from the USA – the Baltimore Sun, say. Now the good folks of Baltimore, being 5 hours behind us, will be mostly still be tucked up in bed, but the morning edition of the Sun will probably already be on Library Press Display, from the front page splash to the back page feature. You can even do the crossword, although you’ll have to print it off if you want to fill in the answers.

Running reminder: this is all free stuff for library members.

Second rabbit – Naxos Music Online. This is music – classical, jazz, folk, blues, nostalgia, pop and rock, and much more – streamed to your computer. Every track that Naxos put on their discs they also put on the website, together with music from scores of other labels.

The disc count is approaching 44,000, and they add an average of 500 discs per month. Make your choice, set it going, and beautiful music accompanies your work or play (as long as you chose well, that is).

At no cost to you – what’s not to like?

Now I’ve given you the ammunition, you can go to the list of Exclusive Resources (always available via the 24/7 Library links all over the website) and shoot your own rabbits.