Tag Archives: e-books

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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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.

[Ali]

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]

Are you giving or receiving an e-reader for Christmas?

e-book presentIf you are, did you know that you can borrow e-books from the library – free?

We have a great selection and all you need to do is use your library membership (if you’re not a member, join now) and sign up for the e-book service.
It’s that simple (unless you have a Kindle… read more below). We’ve even provided a gift card you can include with your gift as you wrap it!

Here’s what David, a recently retired library member, thinks of the service:

“I love books and reading, sometimes as an alternative to TV and video, sometimes inspired by a TV show, but usually in addition to the TV programmes I choose to watch. I have discovered that I can cope easily with multiple formats! And while I still borrow and buy physical books, I now regularly download and read e-books. With my iPad I can see the news, watch TV or video, listen to music, send emails, and READ BOOKS! I no longer have to carry books around with me when on the move, or even from one room to the next.  I can have lots of books with no extra weight.  I can read a few pages wherever I am.

Now not all books are available in an e-format, and the joy of browsing the physical shelves is removed. But how about this – without having to leave the comfort of your home, you can go online to the Westminster Libraries e-books service, find titles or authors that suit your taste and download them to your device absolutely free of charge. After two weeks, the items automatically delete themselves so there’s no risk of overdue charges, and an incentive to get to the last page before the two weeks are up! There are lots of titles to choose from, and new ones are regularly added.  The process is straightforward, and you can create wishlists and reserve titles, and have a reminder of what you have previously read. All in all another great aspect of our library service.  Thank you Westminster!”

e-book card frontSo if you’re giving someone an e-reader for Christmas, pop into the library and pick up one of the cards about the e-book service to help them get started – and your loved one can download loads of free books on Christmas Day!


Note to Kindle users: Unfortunately Amazon do not allow library e-books to be used on their eReaders. However, you can read our titles on an Amazon tablet – the Kindle Fire – though you have to download an app to do so: Find out more about downloading library e-books to a Kindle Fire.

[Ali]

Get your free e-books here!

Westminster Libraries e-books on a smartphoneWe’re delighted to announce the arrival of Westminster Libraries’ new e-book service! You can now download e-books for free onto your computer, smartphone, e-book reader or tablet.

Over 1600 titles are currently available with more being added every week.

Titles include How to Bake by Paul Hollywood, Booker Prize shortlisted A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Icons of England by Bill Bryson, Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child and other titles by best selling crime writers.

We also have Lonely Planet travel guides, self help titles (covering job hunting, starting a business and health and wellbeing), cookery books and much much more!

The collection is available at any time of the day or night.  To start borrowing e-books today visit www.westminster.gov.uk/ebooks/ and follow the instructions. You’ll need your library card number and pin/password (the same ones you use to renew your books online). If you’re not a member, it’s easy to join. If you are a member but don’t have a password for your card, please contact your library to get one.

It’s really that simple!

[Anne]