Tag Archives: lending

Art for Everyone’s Sake

Art books collage 1

Westminster Reference Library, home of the specialist Art & Design Collection, now has art books for loan. Visit us at 35 St Martin’s Street and browse through our growing collection of inclusive, engaging and expertly written books on a wide range of art interests. The publications shown here are just some of our most recent additions:

Hieronymus Bosch; The Complete WorksHieronymus Bosch; The Complete Works combines new research with superb reproductions to celebrate this unique and visionary painter. His fantasies, grotesques and drolleries, set in natural surroundings, appear as fresh and eloquent today as they were 500 years ago.

Menswear illustration, by Richard KilroyFashion students! The explosion of international sales in menswear means that drawing is no longer dominated by women’s fashions. Menswear Illustration is the first survey of this new trend and features 40 innovative illustrators of contemporary styles in menswear.

Natural histories: extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History library, by Tom BaioneNatural Histories presents selected masterpieces of scientific art from 16th century zoologies to 20th century treatises. Essays by experts in their field explain how these scientifically significant, richly illustrated studies played integral roles throughout the history of natural sciences.

The Craft Companion by Ramona BarryBeautiful or bonkers The Craft Companion offers 170 projects to learn 33 crafting techniques, with inspiration from 150 contemporary artists. Try working with traditional materials (wood, leather, gold leaf) or turn to page 378 and make a recycled Terrarium for your plastic dinosaurs.

Art photography, by David BateArt Photography provides a fascinating introduction to the crucial role of painting in the invention of photography, and the importance of photography in the development of modern art. Visual examples from the 19th – 21st centuries illustrate how global this field of art has become.

Bernard Leach by Edmund De WaalBernard Leach is the first biography and critical monograph of this renowned 20th century potter whose ceramics, writings and teaching hold a central place in the international history of the decorative arts.

 

Making sculpture from scrap metal by Peter ParkinsonMetal workers have recycled broken tools and other scrap since the Bronze Age, but only in the 20th century did artists start using such items to make sculpture. Making Sculpture from Scrap Metal puts this artistic practice into context, describes the concerns and techniques involved, and illustrates these with the work of contemporary sculptors.

Looking at pictures: an introduction to art for young people through the National Gallery collection, by Joy RichardsonWhat are paintings for? This and other topics including colour, light, symbols and techniques are discussed in Looking at Pictures, the National Gallery’s excellent introduction to art for young people. Don’t let this put you off: it’s an illuminating mini-history of European painting.

Contemporary design Africa by Tapiwa MatsindeContemporary Design Africa is the first book on the innovative and sophisticated uses of traditional crafts taking place across the continent.   Over the past 100 years communities have used manufactured “rubbish” to make footwear, household goods, even toys. This practice, alongside the cultural use of natural materials, is an inspiration for any designer.

Alfred Wallis by Matthew GaleAlfred Wallis fisherman and marine stores dealer, is now recognised as one of the most original British artists of the 20th century. In the light of new research, this book traces the development of his painting from when he started 1925, until his death in 1942 at the age of 87.

If you want to borrow these or other art books, bring in your membership card; or bring proof of your home address and join the library for free. We are off the south side of Leicester Square, behind the main wing of the National Gallery. For more information, contact the library.

Art books collage 2

[Philippa]

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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]

Marylebone Gardeners

Marylebone Library, though located in central London, is surrounded by a surprising amount of gardening activity. One enterprising shop at the north end of Marylebone High Street has gone beyond the clichéd troughs of pelargoniums and incorporated succulents into stacked hollow concrete blocks. Looking up to roof level, glimpses of roof gardens can often be glimpsed above a parapet. From Marylebone Library’s first floor rear windows, look across to the opposite roofline for a local example.

Rooftop & Terrace Gardens by Caroline Tilston

Library staff have entered into the gardening spirit and started to plant up a border (this will be the subject of a future post, as this garden is in its early days and the border is more Somme battlefield than green oasis!).

If these examples inspire you to start gardening, Westminster Libraries has lots to help – from specific plant and general cultivation guides, through gardening periodicals to design guides for urban gardens.

Urban Gardens, by Anne-Marie PowellMany dream of large lawns and long herbaceous borders, but the reality for Marylebone gardeners is usually much more modest. For design ideas and inspiration in this environment consult Urban Gardens: plans and planting designs by Anne-Marie Powell.

Although you may feel restricted by space, remember the urban environment has some benefits. To start with, London’s average winter temperature range is several degrees higher than rural areas, so more tender plants can be grown and overwintered outside. This aspect is discussed in Rooftop and Terrace Gardens by Caroline Tilston, alongside practical issues for roof and balcony gardeners, such as avoiding structural damage from the weight of filled containers, the risk of pots falling off window ledges etc.

Clematis and Climbers by John FeltwellWhilst container gardening is a major element in urban gardening, the gardener is not restricted to looking down at plants in pots. Remember to use the surrounding walls for climbers to create a further dimension to the garden. Clematis and Climbers by John Feltwell offers suggestions for covering vertical spaces.

Container gardening is not restricted to ornamental plants, you can also grow herbs, fruit and vegetables. Suitable plants are listed in this guide from the Royal Horticultural Society: How to Grow Fruit and Veg in Pots.

How to Grow Fruit and Veg in Pots - RHSThe books listed above are just a taster of what is available in Westminster Libraries, particularly in the wide ranging lending and reference collections at Marylebone Library & Information Service. So why not visit us and browse the gardening shelves for inspiration and guidance before winter departs and gardening activity can resume?

[Francis]

Doing the business at Westminster Reference Library

Ever wanted to borrow business books from Westminster Reference Library? Well, now you can!

Launch of the business ending collection at Westminster Reference Library, September 2013Another milestone in the history of Westminster’s Business Information Point (BIP) project: We started with a single BIP in 2008 at Westminster Reference Library, which later grew and expanded to include three more libraries, the so-called ‘MiniBIPs’, located at Paddington, Pimlico and Church Street libraries. All four sites offer excellent support for established businesses and would-be entrepreneurs, including business books and journals, online business databases and events with networking opportunities.

The idea for the Business Lending Collection was sparked by our customers who regularly requested to borrow our excellent business books. As a long-established reference library this was not our normal practice, but we thought “Why not?” The ongoing BIP project gave us an opportunity to establish a small business lending collection. Since this was a new terrain for us, we took inspiration from the excellent lending collections held at the other BIP libraries.

The launch party was well attended and everyone was delighted with the new service which was thought to be long-awaited and necessary.

Launch of the business ending collection at Westminster Reference Library, September 2013We celebrated the launch of this new Business Lending Collection with guest author Barbara Anderson who signed copies of her book ‘Manage On Nil Every Year: How to make sure every pound you spend makes sense!‘ – one of the books now available for loan.

[Zsuzsanna]