Online Event- IT and Research on Friday 19 March 2021

Need help with your research? Not sure how to research? Trying to find online sources for your project? This might be the workshop for you!


The Workshop takes place on Friday 19th March 2021 at 11am to 12noon. To book your free tickets, please visit: .


About this Event:

We understand that research can be a daunting and difficult task, here at Westminster Reference  Library, we’ve teamed up with the specialists at London South Bank University to give you some tips, tricks and advice on how to undertake your research and how to best utilise your online software!


Topics include:

  • An introductory digital skills session into Microsoft Office: including Word, PowerPoint and Excel!
  • Literature hunting – What is a journal article? How to use Google Scholar & learning how to evaluate information!
  • IT Security – Protecting your device and your files, avoiding dangerous sites and documents!

These workshops are designed for students, researchers or anyone working on a project that involves searching the internet for information. Whether you’re just starting or a more advanced researcher, we’ve got something for everyone!

Janice Johnson is the Digital Skills Training Manager at the Digital Skills Centre, London South Bank University. She has over 16 years’ experience teaching digital skills to staff, students and professional organisations.

Emma Perry is an Information Skills Librarian within the library at London South Bank University. Having worked there for over 8 years, her main role is to teach students in classes and one-to-ones about research, evaluating information and referencing.

Please note, this will be a Microsoft Teams meeting/Teams Broadcast,  and, although you do not have to have Microsoft Teams downloaded to your device, you will get a better experience if you have the app.

***Please avoid using Safari – we have had reports that Safari users have issues accessing Teams live broadcasts. Please try using Chrome or any other browser – most people who experience problems when signing in find them resolved if they try using a different browser. We are really sorry for the inconvenience this may cause and are working on finding a solution.

LGBT+ History Month

One of the most exciting things about our Special Collection of Biographies is the opportunity to discover wonderful writers that are often hard to come across in other places.  In honour of LGBT+ History Month, I’ll focus on four brilliant autobiographical voices of the mid twentieth century who were once well known but who have sadly faded from view (they should all be household names, in my opinion)!  All were gay, and given the times in which they wrote, references to their sexuality are woven through their work in very different ways, from oblique and coded “in jokes”, to more direct engagements with their experiences of relationships against the background of a bigoted society. They would not have wanted their work to be defined soley as representing their sexuality, as would not be the case with heterosexual writers – but they write about their sexuality in ways that tell us a lot about the society they inhabited and the experience of LGBT people within it.

I first discovered Denton Welch’s heartbreaking, hilarious voice in his memoir A Voice Through A Cloud, posthumously published in 1950, which describes his cycling accident aged 20 – he sustained injuries that changed his life and led to his death at 33.  In Maiden Voyage and In Youth is Pleasure, Welch smuggles in references to his sexuality which though necessarily hidden in plain sight, are full of joy and a commitment to self-expression.  He delights in meeting men under the radar of tediously conventional relatives (and it is important to remember the huge risks men ran at the time, when persecutory laws meant blackmail and prosecution were constant dangers).  Under a stylish and often very funny surface is a narrative of courageous self-affirmation: Welch is always uncompromisingly himself. He was also a wonderful painter, and his idiosyncratic voice was admired by figures such as Edith Sitwell, William Burroughs and Alan Bennett.  His diaries from 1942 to 1948 are a unique record of a Bohemian world.

R. Ackerley joined the BBC in 1928 and helped set up the influential Talks Department. From 1935 to 1959 he was literary editor of The Listener, the BBC magazine which was a cultural institution.

He was a man of great learning and, like Welch, a wonderful writer.  We have volumes of his diaries and correspondence – and the memoirs Hindoo Holiday (1932), describing his time serving as an Indian Maharaja’s secretary and  My Dog Tulip (1956) about his relationship with his beloved dog Queenie.   We Think the World of You (1960) is a novel, but was based on his own passionate relationship, across the class divide, with a petty criminal who remained married; they were very different characters and significant hearbreak accrued from their irresolvable tensions, but Ackerley writes with subtlety and honesty about their affair, and his surprising friendship with his lover’s wife.  He also wrote about the extraordinarily strange story of his father (who had another hidden family – the daughter of this secret menage, Diana Petrie, wrote a fabulous book about it, which we also have in the collection) – as well as a moving memoir of his troubled, exasperating but adored sister.

The American poet and novelist May Sarton wrote 13 volumes of memoir, between 1959 and 1996, all of which we have in our collection (one with a beautiful personal inscription in her handwriting).  They are vivid immersions in her experience of the natural world, and in the patterns and processes of her own intellectual and emotional life. Her love for Judith Matlack is a subject she returns to often.  Sarton wrote movingly about the courage it took to portray lesbian characters in her novels, which in the 60s were studied by feminist academics.  She declared her hope that she not be looked upon predominantly as a lesbian writer, but simply as a writer who engaged with the universal themes of human love.  But it is undeniable that her writing about erotic love between women was enormously important in giving it parity with heterosexual love stories and letting tenderness and lyricism challenge concealment and shame.

Lorraine Hansberry is probably the best known of these four writers, due to recent revivals of her seminal play A Raisin in the Sun, with which she became the first African American woman to have a play performed on Broadway at the age of just 29.  She was a key figure in the pan-African intellectual movement, and had friendships with other giants of the African-American artistic and political scene such as Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes.  James Baldwin was a close friend and devotee and declared her work to be ground breaking, and Martin Luther King was an admirer who expected her to inspire future generations.  She inspired Nina Simone with her play To be Young, Gifted and Black, which is also the title of her autobiography.

Hansberry married a man, Robert Nemiroff, and did not reveal her true sexuality due to anxiety about the hostility she might face.  However, as she moved into her thirties, she moved towards coming out, describing herself as “committed to this homosexuality thing” – this wasn’t straightforward in the early 60s, but Hansberry had relationships with women and a circle of gay friends.  She expressed the resolution to “create my life—not just accept it” – tragically, she shared Welch’s fate of dying in her early 30s.  Huge though her achievements were, it is tantalising to think what more she might have achieved, and what her searing intelligence might have added to debates on racial and sexual politics as the decades moved on.

The struggle for equality for LGBT+ people is far from over, and the fight against prejudice must continue.  But these four writers shed light on the huge pressures on gay people in the twentieth century to keep their true voices silent and their true loves hidden, and how people of artistic genius negotiated these pressures.  I hope you will enjoy getting to know them better through our collection.


Claudia, Central Library Basement Biography Store


Time To Talk Day

Time to Talk Day takes place Thursday 4th February 2021 and more than ever, it is important as the global pandemic has detrimentally impacted on our mental health- from the elderly to the young.

Every day and in the month of February, we are reminded about the mental health and wellbeing of our family, friends and work colleagues and especially ourselves.

In a fight to save lives and to social distance, we have become socially isolated from our home comforts; the warmth and simple yet powerful acts such hugging and holding hands, so, having small conversations or videos chats with the people you care about can really have a positive impact on us and make a big difference.

The Power of Small

We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.

Time to Talk Day is the day that the nation gets talking about mental health. This year’s event might look a little different, but at times like this open conversations about mental health are more important than ever.

Time To Change need your help to start the conversation this Time to Talk Day – together we can end mental health stigma.

Visit to in out and to take part 

  “Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet the shame and silence can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. Your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life.”

Watch Time To Changes’ video on Mental Health:

Ask Twice

“Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not. So, we’re asking you, if your mate’s acting differently: ask twice.”

1 in 4 of us experience a mental health problem in any year. And worryingly, the current restrictions on our lives mean men are missing out on support from those around them. So, if a mate says he’s fine, he might not be. A second “How are you?” can make all the difference.

To read more visit:

Myths and Facts-

Ask Twice-

Be the Light in the Darkness

“Be the light in the darkness” is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, 27th of January.

The theme encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide…We can all stand in solidarity. We can choose to be the light in the darkness in a variety of ways and places – at home, in public, and online.

For more information about this and to find out more, please click here.

To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, Chelsea Library held a virtual Chatterbooks last Saturday, reading the novel Friedrich, with a group of local children.  Ten copies of this poignant book were bought, giving an opportunity to our young readers to read it.

Hans Peter Richter‘Friedrich’

Superb, sensitive, honest and compelling

Hans Peter Richter wrote his novel ‘Friedrich’ in the style of a memoir. When the book was published in 1961, it was one of the first German books to deal with the Nazi period.

It is about two German families, who live in the same apartment house. It is the story of friendship of the non-Jewish narrator and his Jewish neighbours. ‘Friedrich’ begins in 1925, when the narrator was born, and ends in 1942, when he is 17. It takes place during the period when the Nazis came to power and into the early years of World War II.

“Before every genocide, perpetrators divide society into those considered worthy of human treatment, and those who are not. Distortions are deployed using propaganda and stereotyping to identify and victimise a specific group (or groups), followed by discrimination – often enshrined into law. The darkness leading to genocide also causes deep emotional trauma. For those affected, fear, hopelessness and dread all have a profound and long-lasting impact.”

This is exactly described in Hans Peter Richter’s novel.

A snowy day in 1929, the narrator is five years old and watches from his window Friedrich and his mother playing in the snow and making snowman. He is begging his mum to hurry up, so they could go downstairs and join the Schneiders. Eventually, they are ready, just about to leave, when this incident happened. The landlord, Herr Resch insulted the child, as soon as Mrs Schneiders went inside, and the five-year-old was on his own. The narrator’s mother did not say anything comforting to Friedrich or to her son, just to move away from the window. Neither did she want to be associated with the Jewish family (hence her delaying getting ready), nor did she want to get into trouble with their landlord.

Richter’s style encourages the reader, not only to learn about growing up in Nazi Germany, but to develop a nuanced view of the characters and circumstances of the period. The novel provides an accessible and complex picture of the issues of this period, tied to a historically accurate chronology.

Since the narrator and Friedrich are two, eight year-old boys, young readers more readily engage with them. As the boys grew older, the situation in Germany was getting worse.

This extract from “The Ball” (1933) illustrates that the boys were eight years old.

“Initially the Schneiders, the Jewish family, are much better off than the narrator’s family but gradually their lives become restricted and diminished, economically, politically, and socially. During this period the overwhelming majority of Germans came to believe in and support Hitler and the Nazi Party. The vast majority of Germans were neither sadistic nor perverted; they were normal people in extreme circumstances. The narrator’s father joins the Nazi Party and the narrator joins the “Jungvolk” (usually called “Hitlerjugend,” or Hitler Youth) and participates in Kristallnacht. One of the core issues that Friedrich allows students (readers) to explore is how, and why, the narrator and his family become Nazis.

As the events and incidents unfold, told from a boy’s point of view, we see the confusion and misunderstanding about the changes in society under the Nazis, and wonder who, if anyone, attempted to understand where things were heading.”

(Museum of Jewish History, Teacher’s Guide)

I would like to express my gratitude to Carla and Maximilian Lubin, our regular Chatterbookers, who read the novel and recorded “Potato Pancakes” and “Snow” for us to share with our readers.


Zvezdana, Chelsea Library

Walk Your Dog Month

January is a great month to kick start a new habit that you can continue all year round.   Wouldn’t it be great to start two or at least kill two birds at the same time? Along with Vegan January and making New Year’s Resolutions, did you know January is Walk your dog month?

For a dog owner every month is Walk Your Dog month, but if you are a dog owner January is a great month to add an extra walk or go for a longer walk.  With Christmas a distant memory and with the cold weather and those January blues to deal with – it can be tempting to put off walking your dog, but it may be precisely what you and your dog need.

In both the US and the UK people and animals are becoming overweight and obese therefore if you think this description fits you or your dog, before commencing extra activity please consult your doctor or vet.

So, what are the benefits of walk your dog month?

  • Bonding time with your dog
  • Great way to exercise for both you and your dog
  • Improves mental well-being for both you and your dog
  • Meet other people and their dogs

So, what can you do?

In case you think walking your dog will become boring try these tips:

  • Change your routine (your walk route)
  • Walk your dog with style (i.e., buy your dog a new lead, or buy yourself a new outfit)
  • Teach your dog some new tricks (take the time to teach your dog some tricks while out for a walk)

So, what is stopping you?

For ideas on how to do it right see here:

Cervical Cancer Prevention

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is 18th to 24th January with the aim to let as many people as possible know how they can reduce their risk of the disease and to educate others!

Cervical cancer starts in the cells in the cervix. The cervix joins the top of the vagina to the lower part of the womb.

Cervical cancer can develop on the outer surface of the cervix and inside the cervix in the cervical canal. Most cervical cancers develop where these parts of the cervix meet – an area called the transformation zone.

Help raise awareness, fundraise and campaign:

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Very early-stage cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms.

Common symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • heavier periods that you normal have
  • vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after the menopause

If you get symptoms between your regular cervical screening appointments, do not wait for your next appointment. Talk to your GP or practice nurse and get checked out. These symptoms can be embarrassing, but your GP or practice nurse will understand.


How can I reduce my risk of Cervical Cancer?

  • Attending Cervical Screening when invited. Regular Cervical Screening is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage.
  • Taking up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18. Although the HPV vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer, it does not guarantee that you will not develop the condition. You should still attend cervical screening tests, even if you’ve had the vaccine.
  • Avoid smoking. You can reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer by not smoking. People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, which can develop into cancer.
  • Safer sex. Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to an infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can be spread through unprotected sex, so using a condom can reduce your risk of developing the infection.

Healthy Eating and Fitness

So, Christmas has passed and the New Year looms.  It is that time of the year when we realise, we’ve gained a few extra pounds and our clothes are tighter.  We promise to begin eating healthily and exercising.  For we all know, eating healthily and exercising is good for us. Yet how much do we really know about healthy eating?  Here is a quick quiz to get you started.

So many diets exist that it can feel overwhelming to find the right one to try.  Some eating patterns have more scientific backing than others. Whether you are looking to shed pounds or simply to boost your overall health, try to find diets that are supported by research. For some idea see here:

Along with healthy eating exercise is important. Exercise need not be boring or difficult.  There are so many good reasons to exercise. You can manage your weight, improve your mood, live longer and ward off heart disease. For some cardio exercise ideas see this page:

To make lasting change requires commitment and motivation, possibly the hardest part of a new healthy lifestyle.  In this Ted Talk, psychologist Dan Ariely discusses a couple tricks that may help us to do the right thing.

Good luck everyone.  Let us know how you do.

“Can You Run Away from Sorrow?” by Ivana Bajić-Hajduković 

To mark the International Migrants’ Day, RBKC libraries are organizing the talk that explores how emigration affects those left behind. Ivana Bajić-Hajduković, the social anthropologist and author will be joined at this talk by her colleague and friend, Dr Julie Botticello, an expert on migration and health and a Senior Lecturer at the University of East London.  This event is taking place on Friday 18 December from 6.30 to 7.30 pm and you can book your place here.  


“Can You Run Away from Sorrow?” is an anthropological study by Ivana Bajić-Hajduković.  The subtitle – “Mothers Left Behind in 1990s Belgrade” – tells us more about its content and I was intrigued to see how the 1990s collapse of Yugoslavia was presented. I agree with Ivana that it had “a profound impact on everyone, regardless of age, social status, or wealth”. I was personally involved, as well.  I lived in Yugoslavia for 32 years, struggled to survive one year in new Croatia, and came to London with my twenty-months old daughter from Croatia, in October 1992.  So, I can certainly relate to the context and issues the author researched.  

It was very interesting to see that she focused, not on those who left, but on those who stayed, mainly mothers left behind during their children’s exodus. Ivana Bajić-Hajduković’s book “highlights the poignancy and struggles of this invisible side of migration. The loss experienced by mothers left behind, their coping mechanisms, and their everyday practices are explored through the study of material culture. The study of everyday practices and engagement with the material world reveals incredibly rich and at times surprising insight about the relationships between mothers left behind and their migrant children. The gifts from children that mothers hold on to, the food they send to their migrant children, and the everyday rituals performed around their homes tell us more about how ordinary women experienced the collapse of the country than any history book documenting the unravelling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.” 

I wondered why Ivana’s research concentrated on mothers. Why not on the wider family – fathers and siblings? She pointed out a significant gender imbalance she faced; as in most cases, the wives outlived their spouses, so the gender bias gave her research a different perspective. 

Reading “Can You Run Away from Sorrow?”  inspired me to rummage through my own memories – old photo albums and letters, that I still keep. It’s funny (perhaps ridiculous) to mention, but in winter 1992/93 the most precious and most sought-after food for me was, actually, real coffee. There were scarcely any proper coffee shops in London at that time. I will never forget how I was struck by the scent of coffee by Baker Street tube station. Like a cartoon character I drifted, levitated, following the smell. Everything else stopped! Whenever any one of my friends received a parcel “from home” containing ‘Minas’ or ‘Jacobs’ coffee, we shared it like medicine between us. 

The link between food and the past, memories who you are, or who you once were, are so powerful. Even stronger than how Marcel Proust describes. The food shortages in Serbia in 1990s did not prevent mothers to squirrel the favourite food of their children and send it in parcels to London, to Canada… As long as they could send something to keep the memories alive, not because their children were hungry. 

Ivana wrote: “A common theme throughout these cases is the relationship between memory and kinship. We mostly see mothers’ efforts to instil certain memories in their children and grandchildren through food. In these cases, eating food from one’s homeland was the closest one could get to ‘tasting home.’  Food in the context of nostalgia for home has been a subject of some excellent anthropological studies. However, in this particular case, we see how grandparents use food as a medium for conveying a specific kind of memory, not necessarily of themselves as individuals but of the extended family to which their children and grandchildren belonged, as well as memories of the tradition and culture of their ancestors.” 

Have you heard of ‘Embargo Cake’, ‘UNPROFOR Cake’, ‘Crazy Dough’, ‘Cake of nothing’…? The handwritten recipes were shown to the author as many informants told sad and funny stories from the 1990s, showing how resourceful the people were. The chapter is even more interesting, considering our own short-term food shortages this spring, during the first lockdown, when Jamie Oliver suggested some “lockdown” recipes. Nevertheless, bigger problems were caused by gradual change in interests in home-food. That rejection and acceptance of new habits, meant to mothers more; like losing their children for the second time. 

While doing her research, Ivana Bajić-Hajduković saw how the material culture of the home revealed more about the relationship between mothers and their migrant children than any conversation or interview ever could. Remembering Christmas fairs and fundraising events in my daughter’s primary school in London – sharing the memories, customs and traditions, favourite recipes, tasting food from Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Turkey, Ghana, the Balkans, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, China…, I have realised how this anthropological study resonates with people from many different countries, nationalities, races.  This book extends geographical and disciplinary boundaries making it universal, genuine and relevant. 

 Zvezdana, Chelsea Library 


World AIDS Day- December 1st

World Aids Day is on the 1st December and has been remembered every year since 1988.  This day is dedicated to uniting us in the fight against HIV, raising awareness of Aids and the HIV Infection and to support people living with the virus.  World AIDS Day is important as it reminds us the virus has not gone away – there is still a need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education.  For more information about this day visit,

Here is a brief reminder about AIDS and HIV.  AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a collection of illnesses caused by a virus picked up by people that makes their immune system weak. You can’t get an AIDS diagnosis unless you’re already HIV positive. To learn more about the virus, the signs, symptoms and living with the disease see the NHS website



Today, we know much more about the virus than we did in the 1980s, when it was first identified.  Medication and scientific advancements have helped in the treatment of AIDS and there is support for people living with the virus.  To learn more about the Terrence Higgins charity, which helps support people living with the virus see, 

For a personal account of a nurse who worked with AIDS patients in the 1980s see the following clip


What can you do?

  • Wear a red ribbon leading up to and on the 1st December to raise awareness and support for people living with the AIDS virus.
  • Raise money to help fight the virus, for more information see

World Vegan Month and Veganuary Month

Want to know more about what a vegan diet is, or what it involves? 

In celebration for World Vegan Month in November and to prepare for Veganuary in January 2021, we want to help you to find out more.

Vegan diets are based on plant based foods, vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses, and non-dairy products, such as soya and nuts. We eat all the foods that vegans eat regularly.

Eating plant based foods can be healthy, and sometimes a change to regular vegetarian or meat based diets. Veganism goes back to ancient Greek and Indian times, and people have lived well on these diets.

The NHS has very useful information regarding vegan diets. The NHS vegan diet information on their website, list all the important vitamins, minerals and fats which are found in plant based foods. The Vegan Society also has very useful nutritional  information for anyone interested in vegan foods and diets.

If you wanted to borrow any of these books from our libraries, you can search for them on our catalogue:

RBKC Libraries Catalogue . All you need is an RBKC  or Westminster Library Card.  Here is an example of the books that you can  borrow from our libraries: Vegan books from the library catalogue




There are also monthly food e-magazines that you can access from RBDigital. All you need is an RBKC Library Card, and a pin number and login to RBDigital e-Magazines. To find out more click on the support link here RBDigital Help.

Once you are logged in you can borrow any magazine and save it for as long as you want. There are also health magazines that you can borrow with information on vegan diets.

Check out two blog posts from our sister council-Westminster Libraries and Archives- they are Vegetable Masala and Rainbow Stir-fry.