Tag Archives: e-audiobooks

Spring into Spring

On a suitably sunny spring morning the Home Library Service held a ‘Spring into Spring’ event at Church Street Library for its members.

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street Library

There were guest speakers and demonstrations on:

  • falls prevention
  • keeping safe in the home
  • chair exercise
  • hand massage

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street LibraryThere was also the opportunity to use laptops and tablets to find out how to access library and council information online, and to get to grips with downloading free e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines from the library.

Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to find out useful information,(including transport options in Westminster) and to try something new. The chance to chat over a bite to eat was welcome as it is not easy for Home Library Service members to get out and about. New friends were made, phone numbers exchanged and members left with lots of information and new opportunities!

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street Library

“Thank you for a delightful day full of exciting information”

“ We learnt many useful tips about various areas where help is available…”

“ Lovely… good company… most helpful with email and using my tablet…”

“Please could we have more events like this – I feel 20 years younger being brought out to this sort of thing!”

The Home Library Service will hold its next Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library on 21 April.

[Elaine]

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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.

It was a library, Jim, but not as we know it

Browne system issue tray. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Happy National Libraries Day!

Ask any person on the street “What is a library?” and they will probably say something like “A public building with books you can borrow”. That is indeed the case, but a modern day library offers much, much more, and a library card is the key. How? It’s all down to the development of computers and especially the Internet and World Wide Web in the 80s and 90s.

St. Marylebone library book label and pocket

Just a generation ago, things were very different. With no computers, most libraries issued books using the Browne system. Books had a pocket holding a card which gave the book’s number and author/title details. Readers were given a number of pocket tickets with their name and address details. They tendered one of these for each book borrowed and the book’s card was placed in the pocket ticket and then filed in a rack before (or behind) a date due marker. On returning a book, the racks would be searched for the matching card and the ticket returned. Returns and renewals could only be done at the library where the books were borrowed. Readers with overdue books would get posted reminders.

City of Westminster catalogue card

The library catalogue was a large set of drawers in which were inserted 5in x 3in cards for each book – one filed by author, and one by title or class number. The catalogue would only show books at that library, and would not show whether the book was in or on loan. When new books were added or old books withdrawn, the cards had to be manually filed or removed. By the 1970s, new technology saw the introduction of a system-wide catalogue on microfilm or microfiche. But it would still not show whether the books were in the library or on loan.

City of Westminster tokens

With fewer alternatives available, reading was a far more popular activity, and the library was so busy, especially at lunchtimes, that in 1952 Westminster dispensed with the Browne system. Instead readers were given plastic tokens which they handed over for all but the most expensive books. There was no record of who had out what books, so no overdue letters could be sent, but once a year each reader was written to and they had to produce all their tokens or pay a forfeit. This system was to last until a computerised management system was introduced from 1984.

City of Westminster renewal letter

As well as books, readers could borrow gramophone records, although there were strict rules about their care. The records themselves were not on the shelves. Instead there were display racks of the cards from which borrowers made their choice and then exchanged the card for the recording – supplied in a carrying case.

City of Westminster Gramophone library rules

Reference libraries had shelves upon shelves of atlases, dictionaries, directories, encyclopaedias etc, often out of date even before being published. Some directories even came in loose-leaf binders so that update replacement pages could be supplied. [I remember it well. Ed.]

Westminster Libraries still lend books, but now you can browse the catalogue of all the branches from home or while out and about on your phone, check the availability of books and reserve them online. Not just for Westminster but also Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham libraries too. You can renew items online and return them to any library in the three boroughs.

Westminster Libraries catalogue, February 2015

We no longer have gramophone records (or the cassettes which followed them) but we do lend CDs, DVDs and Talking Books on CD. You can even get something to read or listen to without visiting a library building at all, as we have e-books, e-magazines and e-audiobooks too.

E-books from Westminster Libraries

When you visit ‘in-library’ there is more on offer than just what we lend. There may be reading clubs or writing groups, author talks, computing or English classes, careers advice sessions, and a range of health promotions. There may be children’s homework clubs and holiday reading clubs and craft events. It varies from library to library, but the website will have all the details – and if you follow us on Twitter – or just keep an eye on the right hand column of this blog – you’ll get updates on all our special events as well!

BTL Ravel workshop with Pimlico Academy students, April 2014

Those groaning shelves of reference books are much reduced now, replaced by public computers to use and study space with free wi-fi access. But don’t go thinking that there is any less information available – far from it! With the 24/7 library your library card gives you access to a staggering wealth of information for free on our subscription databases. Business information, the arts, family history and worldwide newspapers are amongst the resources available – much of it accessible from anywhere that you can get online and, as it says, available 24/7 – not just when the library is open.

Marketline - one of our many online resources

People have predicted the end of libraries in our present digital, connected world. Well they may have changed in ways unimaginable a generation ago but they are still a thriving, valued part of the community. Who knows what changes another generation will bring? I expect and hope there will still be something people call a ‘library’. But will it contain books? – well perhaps the trend is already starting…

Charing Cross Library 1948

[Malcolm, who has seen and embraced it all in his 40+ years at Westminster]

Merry Christmas from Westminster Libraries

Merry Christmas from Westminster Libraries & Archives!We would like to wish all our customers a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Our library services are now closed for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, reopening at the usual times on Saturday 27 December. We will close at 5.00pm on New Year’s Eve, 31 December, and reopen on Friday 2 January 2015.

As usual, even though the buildings may be closed, the 24/7 Library is open.

You can download library e-books, e-magazines and e-audiobooks at any time, so if you need amusement during the holiday period or if you receive an e-reader from Father Christmas, free books from your library are never far away!

And if you’re wrestling with one of the fiendish crosswords and quizzes often published at this time of year, need to settle a trivia argument with a family member, or indeed are studying for exams in January – don’t forget our fantastic library of online resources for library members.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

[Ali]

Make a noise!

Gordon Griffin, audiobooks narrator, at Paddington Library June 2014As part of the RNIB’s Make a Noise In Libraries Fortnight, the Home Library Service invited some of our visually impaired readers to hear the celebrated narrator Gordon Griffin. Gordon has recorded over 600 audio books in his professional life, and gave an entertaining talk on the process of how a book is recorded – including a live performance!

Thanks to WF Howes publishers and to the RNIB, who provided a volunteer to answer participants’ queries.  

“fascinating insight into how books are recorded”

“thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining”

If you’d like to hear Gordon’s work for yourself, you can find his Talking Books on the library catalogue, and download his e-audiobooks via our OneClick Digital site (see more information on how to sign up for free e-audiobooks).

[Elaine]

Summers in Mayfair Library

Cllr Steven Summers visits Mayfair LibraryCouncillor Steven Summers, Cabinet Member for the Community, visited Mayfair Library last Saturday.

During his visit to the library Cllr Summers met with staff and talked about the services provided by Westminster libraries to its users.

He was also very interested in the excellent online services on offer such as Zinio digital magazines. While he was there, Cllr Summers also took time to listen to the views of local residents and library users.

[Frederic]

24/7 Library ‘Gala Day’

David and his 24/7 Library Gala Day bunting
What excuse is there for a librarian to be hanging around the entrance to the library, chatting to anyone who’ll stop? Surely I had better things to do with my time?

I didn’t, actually. My excuse was the 24/7 Library Gala Day. I stood alongside colleagues in Paddington Library (thanks to them for their company), telling people about the 24/7 Library and all its joys: Checking the library catalogue in the e-Library; reserving and renewing; downloading e-audiobooks; using the exclusive online reference resources – my goodness, the list gets longer every time I look! It’s no wonder I was hoarse by the end of the day.

As if by magic, there was an impressive display of health information resources, including many available 24/7, just where I was standing. I had a good story to tell, and the bunting was very pretty.

Warning: similar events will happen in other libraries (look out for dates on the News & events page). The staff involved are harmless. Be kind to them.

[David]