Tag Archives: Library Press Display

Interesting times (1)

As 2016 draws to a close, we have probably all read our fill of celebrity obituaries. Many of us will also have seen other, more local or personal losses. While the argument rages on about whether this was indeed an unusual year or just appeared to be so, we’re likely to have found ourselves thinking or wondering about some of the people whose deaths have been reported in the news – people we’ve heard of, people we’ve not (but feel we should have), and people whose summarised lives turn out to be a whole lot more interesting and varied than we originally thought.

If you want to find out more about a person and their life, use the library. Below, librarian Owen uses Fidel Castro as an example to show the amazing resources Westminster Libraries members have at their fingertips for researching history and biography, but you could apply the same principles to find out more about any of the people below, lost in 2016:

Owen writes:

We recently saw the death of former Cuban leader and revolutionary Fidel Castro. He was seen in death – as he was in life – as someone to celebrate and support, but also someone to despise and oppose, a great leader or a terrible dictator. We can look at how his death was met in newspaper stories, obituaries and images from around the UK (eg: through NewsBank) and around the world (eg: through Library Press Display which includes some newspapers from Florida).

However, your delve into newspaper articles does not have to end there. Why not look back further? Newsbank goes back a good 30 years for a start. But go back further still and you will find yet more. Have a look in The Times Digital Archive; you will find it interesting to see how events in Castro’s life unfolded eg: 1956 saw a failed revolt (the final revolution came in 1958/59). Ironically, considering some of the celebrations recently in Florida we see that on 12 November 1958 people were caught attempting to send Fidel Castro arms to support the uprising.

Don’t stop there though, have a look as well in the Guardian and Observer archive and continue on to the missile crisis (1962 – you can search by date on all databases). In 1968 it begins its article Ten years of Fidel Castro with

‘It’s hard to believe that Fidel Castro’s regime has now been in power for ten years.’

All this can be found via our Online Resources: Newspapers section accessible in any Westminster Library and from home with a Westminster Library card. The newspapers are a great way to get started, but – depending on the person’s field of activity and nationality – take a look too at the Quick Reference, Art & Design (especially Oxford Art), Biography or Music & Performing Arts (especially Oxford Music Online) sections. You never know what you might find!

[Owen]

The Fairytale of Leicester City

King Richard IIILast week saw the rather unexpected news of Leicester City clinching the football Premier League title. Was this really as significant as many newspapers described? The most uplifting story in British sporting history, or perhaps the biggest upset/shock? The team’s odds were 5000 to 1 at the beginning of the season having narrowly avoided relegation last year, after all. It was that and more, according to the papers.

To compare this victory with other surprise wins and ‘rise of the underdog’ stories, we should first take a look at how Leicester City’s story was reported last week:

  • Go to the library to look at the recent newspapers held there
  • Use NewsBank to search through all the stories about Leicester City being champions – you can even read Leicester’s local paper The Leicester Mercury. You could go further, following how the story unfolded throughout the season, starting all the way back in August 2015.
  • Read through more stories and see the papers themselves on Library Press Display – the Foxes’ victory was reported as far afield as Thailand, India, the US and more.

But why stop there? Have a look through other resources we have to see whether other sporting shocks had comparable headlines. Explore the tabloid newspapers on UK Press Online and take your search back further and further using the Times Digital Archive or The Guardian and Observer archive. Have a look at some of the suggested shocks mentioned by others: Boris Becker winning Wimbledon in 1985, Denmark winning the European Championships having not qualified, Nottingham Forest’s winning of the league and then European cup just after being promoted from the second division, Wimbledon’s crazy gang’s rise to prominence and FA cup glory in 1988… the list goes on. The headlines and stories are fascinating.

Football stories almost always involve a heroic manager, amazing team work and  notable individuals (Leicester’s stories even discuss the importance of Richard III!). Whatever the sport you will see that the English press – and people – always love an underdog; often more than their own team!

The above is just an illustration of how library resources can help you dig deep, research and analyse a story through looking at how it was reported in the media. The same principles can be applied to any story for personal interest, school projects or other research.

You can find free access to all these great databases – and much more – in the Newspapers and magazines section of our Online resources by subject page. Just log in from wherever you are using the number on your library card. In the Biography section you can also find out more about many of the people involved in the stories mentioned above by looking at Who’s who and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[Owen]

Library Press Display: a great source for world news

NewspaperA common complaint about news from UK-based newspapers, television, radio and even online news is that it is often too focused on what is happening nearby and not further afield. Countries with which the UK has less of a perceived connection are being left out.

This can be a real problem if finding out what is happening outside the UK is important to you, either because you have family or cultural ties with a particular part of the world, or a broader social or academic interest. What news is available will be filtered through the lens of UK or even London-based reporting – how might it look from another perspective?

It is possible to access more international and national news using the internet and Library Press Display is a great way of doing this. Showing the actual pages from multiple countries’ newspapers offers an insight into how things look from within the country itself. Library Press Display, along with a wealth of other newspaper archives, is free online to all Westminster Libraries members – just log in with your library card number.

Screenshot of front page of 'Daily Trust' Nigerian newspaper on Library Press Display, 30 March 2016

My colleague Sharif’s favourite library resource is Library Press Display, as it allows him to read the news as it is reported in Nigeria. There are two really useful newspapers available: This Day and The Trust. The stories reported are important to politics in Nigeria, such as changes in government, and there are often stories which you may not otherwise hear (although there are TV stations available online as well). As with the press everywhere, each paper can be selective about which stories are published and can sometimes show bias toward either the north or the south of the country, or through ethnic or religious undertones. But they offer a different perspective than that of the UK press reporting on Nigerian affairs, and having two to choose from can also be enlightening.

Screenshot of front page of 'This Day' Nigerian newspaper on Library Press Display, 30 March 2016

Nigeria is just one example of the many nations’ newspapers available through Library Press Display. In a multilingual city such as London this is invaluable: if you are able to speak more than one language (or if you are trying to learn another at an advanced level), you may it useful for stories and current affairs in 60 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu.

[Owen and Sharif]

 

Three hundred and fifty years of history at your fingertips

Quiz time – what’s the oldest British newspaper still being published?

While you’re thinking about it, I will tell you that the oldest surviving paper in the world is  Post-Och Inrikes Tidningar, or ‘Post and Domestic Times’, the official government newspaper of Sweden, founded in 1645. It took 20 years for the British to catch on that this might be a good idea but on 7 November 1665, the London Gazette was born.

The London Gazette was first called the Oxford Gazette, since Charles II and his ministers had wisely left London to avoid the Great Plague. To be honest, the first issue, as described by the diarist Samuel Pepys sounds a bit  dull: ‘very pretty, full of newes, and no folly in it’, but things soon hotted up (literally) when the Gazette returned to London in issue 24, something the journalists may have regretted when they had to cover the ‘sad and lamentable accident of Fire lately happened in the City of London’ in issue 85.

You can read up on the history of the Gazette, and jolly fascinating it is too. But it’s not for news coverage that the paper is best known but as the official journal of record of the British government. It is published daily online and covers such matters as public appointments, military honours, bankruptcy, wills and probate.  This makes it a fascinating source for family history… and just general nosiness! You can search it to see if anyone you know has had an army promotion (see if Great Uncle Ernie’s claim to have become a Major while doing National Service was true), become insolvent or been given an honour. With 350 years of records, it’s a treasure trove for genealogists.

The London Gazette is available free online, but for many newspapers you need a subscription to access their full archives. However, don’t worry – we do that bit so you don’t have to! Just go to our Online Resources page and scroll down to see what we have. Remember to have your Westminster library card with if you are on your home computer as you’ll need it to log in. Most of the titles are self-explanatory but there are some gems you need to hunt for.

ukpressonline is the archive of the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, but the package includes some other oddities you might not have spotted. In the World War II collection (which actually covers the period 1933 – 1945) you can find not just the Express and Mirror but a whole range of other papers too. While we certainly wouldn’t endorse the politics of Blackshirt or Fascist Week, there’s no doubt that they make fascinating reading and shed light on a very dark period of British history. For some political balance, there’s also the (socialist) Daily Worker or if you want to see a different angle, have a look at the (Methodist) Watchman or (Anglican) Church Times.

If your taste runs to the rather more scholarly you might want to look at the International Index to Music Periodicals and International Index to the Performing Arts. Both do what they say on the tin – they are searchable databases of over a thousand  publications covering the full range of music, stage and screen and endlessly fascinating to anyone with an interest in the arts.

But if what you want to do is just read a newspaper, we have LibraryPressDisplay. On the left hand side of the display, pick a country and see what’s available. If you choose the United Kingdom you can browse through the latest issues of over a hundred newspapers and magazines. If you’re more interested in what’s happening on the other side of the Channel, there’s about the same amount of French and German papers though Finland is only represented by 16 titles and Bulgaria a mere five. Whichever part of the world you’re looking for, there’s bound to be a newspaper – there are 25 Lebanese periodicals, all available on the day of publication. So whether you’re researching your travels or feeling a little homesick, have a look and see what you can find. You may even see your own hometown paper.

Happy reading.

[Nicky]

Great Zimbabwe and Black History Month

Copy of Zimbabwe Bird sculptureOne of my great regrets from childhood was that whilst on holiday in Zimbabwe I was too grumpy to go on a journey to visit Great Zimbabwe. Reading through an article from the Encyclopedia of Archaeology on our online resource Credo Reference (log in with your library card number), we learn just how amazing and historically important it is; it describes the site as “possibly the largest settlement in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

  • There are stone towers, steps and many buildings covering a wide area
  • It survived for over 500 years between 900 and 1450 AD
  • It gained its wealth from gathering local gold and other resources, and traded with other distant civilizations as far away as China

When the area was discovered by Europeans, there was a misapprehension that something so complex must have come from another outside ancient civilization (maybe China, India… some even suggesting it was King Solomon’s Mines). For a great many years the site suffered from looting and damage from those who did not place any value on the history of the site. Both these issues the article describes as attempts to strip the indigenous population of their history and archeological heritage. Indeed, acknowledgement of its origin and importance is seen as growing only in 1929/30 with the visit of Gertrude Caton-Thompson, when ideas of its creation by “a vigorous native civilization” were given some credence. It was almost as though many could not believe that the indigenous people could have been “a national organization of a high kind of originality and industry” (as quoted from the Times Digital Archive from 1929).

Fifty years ago, in November 1965, Rhodesia broke away from the UK. The Unilateral Declaration of Independence brought to the fore racial inequality and minority rule in the country. After many years of war, independence was internationally and legally recognized and elections took place involving the whole population. The new country of Zimbabwe took its very name from the houses of stone and the culture which surrounded them. The new currency displayed images of Great Zimbabwe (I loved the image of the stone tower on the Zimbabwean dollar) and the unique artifact known as the Zimbabwe Bird is displayed prominently on the flag. Indeed, the importance of this bird can be seen through the return of several examples of them by the South African government after independence was recognized (perhaps read an article from the time such as this one from the Guardian: Rock of ages, Zimbabwe (4 February 1981).

Flag of Zimbabwe

Sadly there are still a great many problems in the country, but perhaps the history of this ancient civilization can help inspire the creation of a community which can live together for several hundred years, trading with the outside world as did those who lived there all that time ago.

Other lessons must be learnt from what has happened with Great Zimbabwe: the importance of history, seeing past any prejudices/preconceptions and aiming to learn more (including trying to learn from our past), the evils of destroying or stealing archaeological artifacts for short-term gain, there is more to history including black and African History than we hear about on a day-to-day basis… and finally, if you are young and tend to get grumpy don’t let it spoil your chances of seeing/doing something special which you will remember forever!

[Owen]