Tag Archives: e-magazines

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.

Three minutes, forty six point three two seconds

Westminster Mile 2014Thirty years ago, in July 1985, a world record was broken when Steve Cram ran a mile in 3 minutes, 46.32 seconds. Since 1913 when the International Association of Athletics Federations first recognised the men’s world mile record, it has been held by no fewer than six Britons including Roger Bannister, Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, but Steve Cram is the last… so far. Read about his memories of setting the record, which held for eight years before being smashed by Noureddine Morceli. The current holder is the Moroccan Hicham El Guerrou.

Many of us will have had New Year’s resolutions to get fit but if, like most of us, you’ve gone back to the sofa, here’s your chance to try again. It’s not too late to enter the Bupa Westminster Mile which takes place on Sunday 24 May. The one-mile running event is the most famous mile in the world, starting on The Mall and finishing outside Buckingham Palace plus free entertainment and activities in Green Park throughout the day. You have plenty of time to train – don’t worry, you won’t be expected to do it in under four minutes! There is also a women-only race as part of This Girl Can, Sport England’s nationwide campaign to get women and girls moving, regardless of shape, size and ability.

Westminster Libraries have plenty of books to help you – for example Running by Owen Barder and Running: the only book you’ll ever need by Art Liberman. Check out too the popular Couch to 5K programme, which aims to get even the least fit of us running 3 miles in only a few weeks. Best of all, running doesn’t have to cost much – as long as you have a comfortable pair of trainers, you don’t need to buy any special kit. Why not just get out there and give it a go?

Running by Owen Barder   Running, by Art Liberman   What I talk about when I talk about running, by Haruki Murakami   Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn

Have a look too at our collection of online magazineswhich includes Health and Fitness and Men’s Fitness. Or for a more philosophical approach, Haruki Murukami’s What I Talk About When I Talk about Running aims to explain his passion for marathons, triathlons and all things athletic while Adharanand Finn wrote a fascinating account of his attempt to find out the secrets of the Kenyan domination of middle and long distance running in Running with the Kenyans (SPOILER: they work really, really hard).

There may not be a British mile-record holder any more, but Paula Radcliffe’s   world marathon record (2:17:18) has stood since 2002 when she set it at the Chicago marathon. In fact Paula has set the three fastest times in history – the fourth place goes to Kenyan Mary Keitany who is more than three minutes slower (about a kilometre in marathon running) than her. Paula will be competing in this year’s Virgin London Marathon this weekend, running it for possibly the last time, along with approximately 40,000 other runners including some of the best in the world. It’s always a great sight – check out where you can get the best view to cheer on friends, relatives or just random strangers.

The BUPA Westminster MileAnd if it inspires you to enter the Westminster Mile, all the better!

[Nicky]

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]