This month’s display of books from the Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library showcases musicians with significant anniversaries in 2018. Those we have most books on in the collection are Leonard Bernstein (born 1918), Claude Debussy (died 1918), and Gioachino Rossini (died 1868), but we include many others.
Other hard copy resources for music in our libraries are:
• Scores in at Kensington Central Library’s store
• CDs at Kensington Central Library
• DVDs of operas, shows etc and books on music, across all all our libraries
• A special collection of music reference books at Kensington Central Library
Mistletoe is a parasite that grows on around the tops of broad leave trees, mainly hawthorn, blackthorn, willow, oak and rowan.
You can hardly ever find it on oak trees. It’s so rare to find it on oak trees that ancient druids thought that mistletoe on oak was sacred.
Mistletoe bushes can grow up to 1m wide when they can look like baskets and are sometimes called Witches’ Brooms.
Birds eat the leaves and berries but don’t eat them yourself because they are poisonous to humans.
In Norse times, after Loki killed Baldur with a mistletoe spear, it became a symbol of love and friendship and anyone passing under the mistletoe would exchange a kiss.
Other names for mistletoe are birdlime, all-heal, golden bough and devil’s fuge.
The Greek word for mistletoe is “Phoradendron” which means “thief of the tree” because it feeds on trees and can kill them.
During the Medieval times, mistletoe was used during the to ward off evil spirits and protect from the devil. It was then burnt when Christmas was over.
The name “mistletoe” comes from the Anglo-Saxon words “mistle” and “tan” which mean “dung twig”. This is because mistletoe spreads its seeds via bird droppings! Birds eat the seeds and spread them when they do droppings in other places.
Mistletoe was used for leprosy, hypertension, pain and intestinal worms in the past.
Mistletoe is now being researched as a cure for colon cancer.
Kissing under the mistletoe started again in Victorian times when servants played a game where any girl caught standing under the mistletoe was allowed to be kissed.
In modern times people still like to kiss under this mistletoe, but nowadays we ask before we kiss!
We hope you enjoyed this; do look out for more festive posts coming soon.
This month’s display from the Biography Collection display, in the foyer of Kensington Central Library, commemorates the centenary of the Russian Revolution with a selection from our enormously wide range of books on the key figures of that event.
Finding books for this display was one of those occasions which reminds us how rich and diverse our biography collection is – scholarly biographies analyse the minutiae of developments in political thought amongst revolutionaries, while collections of deeply personal letters highlight the intimate relationships of those caught up in this epic drama of history.
We can get a sense of the eccentricities and excesses of the Imperial elite by reading the memoirs of Prince Felix Yussoupoff, best known for murdering Rasputin, which we have in an opulent violet covered hardback produced by the Folio Society in the nineties. Frances Welch’s Rasputin: A Short Life is a compulsively readable and at times very funny profile of one of the most bizarre and controversial figures of the period, and proves that fact can indeed be a lot stranger than fiction.
How did Trotsky choose to remember Lenin? We can find out by reading his famous essay from 1926. What was the 28 year old Joseph Stalin’s role in the revolution? Simon Sebag Montefiore’s scrupulously detailed Young Stalin answers this and numerous other fascinating questions that afford glimpses of alternative histories. Robert H. McNeal’s Bride of the Revolution: Krupskaya and Lenin reveals the intertwining of personal relationships and political imperatives.
Also from the collection, When Miss Emmie was in Russia by Harvey Pitcher allows us to glimpse the revolution through the eyes of English governesses working for aristocratic families as their world collapsed – often very young women whose previously narrow, parochial lives had not prepared them for front row seats in an arena of earth-shaking change.
These titles are just a tiny sample of what our collection holds, and we thought the range of our Russian Revolution-related books was so impressive that we would make them the subject of an event. If this is a topic that interests you, come along to Biographies and the Russian Revolution, on Wednesday 15 November, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Library. After a brief introduction to our Biography Collection, we will be seeking to answer the question “Is there such a thing as an unbiased biography of any prominent figure in the Russian Revolution?”, by looking at biographies written throughout the last century, and asking how their view of their subjects was influenced by their authors’ time, place and political standpoint. We’ll also be showing you how our online resources can enrich your knowledge of this period, and what the British journalists and cartoonists of 1917 made of events.
We in RBKC libraries can’t understand why people aren’t falling over themselves to sign up for our free online courses! We know there are other online courses out there but all you need for ours is a library card and the inclination. Our offer extends from employment and personal development to leisure and personal interest courses. There’s also a specific course for passing the driving theory test and one for candidates preparing for the Life in the UK or British citizenship test.
If you’re in work and wanting to upskill or looking for work and wanting to ensure your skills are up to date then Learning Nexus is the suite for you. Below you can see their main menu so if you’re wanting to avoid the “not waving but drowning” feeling or looking to improve your skills on the quiet just ask a member of staff to log you in and you’ll see the full range of courses in each of the categories listed below.
Universal Class offers a broader range of classes aimed more, but not exclusively, at leisure and personal interest topics. Below are the categories available and within each of those there may be dozens of courses to choose from, for example, in the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies category there are 75 to choose from – from Cake decorating to Yoga! For each module of a course you submit your work to a real person who will give you personal feedback.
For Universal Class courses you can just register at home (or wherever you’d prefer) with your library card.
Go Citizen is the online version of the latest official study materials for the Life in the UK test, licensed from the Home Office, the people who write the handbook. It includes hundreds of practice test questions in the same format as the official test and has additional interactive learning resources and teaching aids to ensure you pass the Life in the UK test first time!
Just register for this with your library card.
Theory Test Proshould allow you to pass the Driving Theory Test on your first attempt!
It contains all the official test questions licensed from the DVSA ( the people who set the tests), gives you unlimited access to all the official questions from the DVSA in the same format as the official test and realistic hazard perception video simulations. So why pay for the official books and dvds when it’s all available for free with your library card?
Naxos Music Library (NML) is now available for RBKC library members!
With an unparalleled depth of classical music content, extensive background information, and improved search facilities that remain simple and effective, NML is a pleasure to use regardless of your prior music and/or technical knowledge.
Your library membership is access to a world of information.
We are encouraging you to get the most from your local libraries, by making use of our great range of free online learning courses. Getting access to quality training materials can be expensive – but you can get them for free from us and once registered, you can have access to these materials whenever and wherever you want.
Let me introduce you to Learning Nexus, Universal Class, Go Citizen, and Driving Theory Test Pro!
The 1st July 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
At 7.30am on the morning of the battle thousands of young men rose from their trenches and walked across No Man’s Land towards the enemy trenches.
On that single day the British Army suffered 57,000 casualties of which 19,000 men died. The objective on that first day are shown in the map below:
For families on the home front, newspapers and magazines provided information. Seeing images of the battle meant reading the papers or magazines.
Here is a typical image of “Going over the Top” from our copy of the Illustrated London News from the later stages of the Battle of the Somme, showing that the dominion troops were heavily engaged:
An edition shows British troops capturing Montauban in late July:
You can read daily coverage of the Somme battle in the Times Digital Archive and I selected part of one of the first editorials/ leaders to come out on July 3rd where indications are that the battle was going favourably:
Contrast this with the Roll of Honour of Friday 4th August 1916:
Punch Magazine took a different view on the seemingly never-ending battle as we can see from this image of October 25th 1916:
Having visited the Western Front several years ago I was struck by the openness of the landscape, its tranquillity. The scars remain of course and the area is populated by cemeteries and memorials along the frontline.
Some of the areas which I found very moving on my visit included:
The Lochnagar Mine Crater at La Boisselle on the Somme which was sprung at 7.28am on the 1st July and shows that the war was also waged underground by Royal Engineers and the devastation this caused
Delville Wood was also an incredibly atmospheric place to visit. It was where battalions of the South African Brigade came under artillery fire from the Germans during their attempt to capture and then defend the wood in mid July 1916
The South African Brigade had gone into battle here on 15th July 1915 with strength of 121 officers and 3,032 other ranks. At roll call on 21st July they numbered only 29 officers and 751 other ranks.
Newfoundland Memorial Park near Beaumont Hamel is one of only a few sites on the Western Front where the ground remains largely untouched from when the First World War ended and there are preserved trenches:
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, part of the 29th Division, which had seen action at Gallipoli (1915) arrived in France in April 1916 and attacked on the 1st July 1916 at 9.15am as part of the second wave and suffered great losses in their attempt to Beaumont Hamel with 90% casualties.
Just in front of the Caribou in the above photo are the trenches from which the Newfoundland’s launched their attack.
During the First World War plans were already being made on how to commemorate the fallen and I would recommend Empires of the Dead by David Crane (2013) if you are interested in the story behind the building of the British and Commonwealth war cemeteries.
The most poignant and the largest memorial and the focus of commemorations on the 1st July is the Thiepval Memorial to the missing. This commemorates the 72,195 dead of all the battles fought in the Somme area July 1915-November 1918 who have no known grave.
Total allied casualties during those 141 days were 623,907.
Lest We Forget.
To access all the databases used to research this blog please see:
With over 9000 plaques on buildings scattered throughout London, the Blue Plaque scheme is well known and in some central London streets the majority of buildings display a plaque (or plaques). What you may not be aware of is the “antiquity” of the scheme.
William Ewart, a Liberal MP, suggested that the government should start this scheme to honour significant London residents in 1863. This was rejected due to cost, but three years later the Society of Arts (later the Royal Society of Arts) took the scheme on. It erected the first two plaques in 1867. The first commemorated the poet Lord Byron at his birthplace, 24 Holles Street off Cavendish Square, in 1867. Unfortunately the plaque was destroyed with the demolition of the house. The second plaque in Kings Street St James was erected to commemorate the exiled French emperor Napoleon III London residence. This has survived.
William Ewart is in the select group who are commemorated with more than one plaque. English Heritage, the current custodians of the scheme, now restrict plaques to one per person, however many addresses that individual resided at. William Ewart is commemorated in central London but also his former house which is now Hampton Public Library in SW London. This is particularly fitting commemoration as, whilst an MP, William Ewart introduced a bill that became Britain’s first Public Library Act: setting up our network of free public libraries.
I think it is fair to say that for many years this scheme has favoured establishment figures and there is a large bias towards males. Recognising this, English Heritage is making concentrated efforts to get proposals from the public for female candidates. Currently only 13% of the total commemorate women.
If you’re a student studying any subject, if you work as a researcher, or are simply interested in research, a credible and comprehensive bibliography is a must. Oxford Bibliographies is undoubtedly a great starting point for your research! Oxford Bibliographies aims to provide selective online bibliographies of the best works on authors and subjects. Written by over 6,000 (!) expert scholars, Oxford Bibliographies offers authoritative research guides in 39 academic disciplines (these include Buddhism, Linguistics, Evolutionary Biology, Victorian Literature, and more). Each of these subjects has approximately 100 articles (entries), containing annotated bibliographies of recommended reading for each item of the subject. These are updated quarterly.
You can browse any of the subject areas by clicking on it, or using the search box at the top to get into a topic. It’s simple to use: for instance, from the Home page, if you click on the British and Irish Literature module, you will find as many as 96 items listed in alphabetical order, through which you can easily browse and navigate.
These include, Arthurian Literature, Biography and Autobiography, Censorship, Dracula, Famine, The Gunpowder Plot, Seamus Heaney, Ian McEwan, The Contemporary British Novel, Vampire Fiction.
How can you find out more about your subject? You can begin by clicking on Learn more about this subject in the lefthand box. This opens in a new window containing an introduction to the topic (you’re in good hands: the Editor in Chief, Andrew Hadfield is a professor of English at the University of Sussex, and the sources which Oxford Bibliographies use are wide ranging and not biased towards any Oxford publications content).
Let’s take a look at one article within the module of British and Irish Literature: for example, Censorship. You will find an informative and concise overview. This is a very precise and, more importantly, sensitive and impartial overview: censorship is explained as not being a static category but as one that changes over time, ‘encompassing cultural bias, politics, religion, law, publishing and trade relations, copyright…’ Censorship in English literature should be examined differently to that in Irish literature which was regulated by the same laws as English literature but later by the very different Irish Republic regulations.
The several subdivisions that follow the introduction cite books and a broad range of online resources (e-journals and websites) and direct users to the exact chapter, book, archive or online resource, with direct links to resources via your library’s catalogue, WorldCat and Google books in ‘Find this Resource’. The taxonomies are comprehensive and one can also skip to a different topic by typing a keyword in the search box on the top righthand corner.
So this year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. Or rather birthdays, as while her actual birthday is today, 21 April (she was born at 17 Bruton Street at 2.40am on 21 April 1926), her formal birthday with all the pomp and ceremony is on the second Saturday in June. This year there will be a weekend of celebrations, such as the Patron’s lunch on Sunday 12 June.
But as the title says – what was said and what happened on the day itself? Using our newspaper archives, both online and hard copy, it is possible to have a glimpse of the news as it would have been read by the people of 1926.
First of all, the time of the then Princess Elizabeth’s birth was important for the daily newspapers. Normally an event which occurred on the 21st would be reported on the 22nd once it has had a chance to be written and printed. However, because the event took place so early in the morning it made it into the headlines of the day!
Check the Times Digital Archive to see how the news was reported (log in with your library card number). You could limit your searches to just 21 and 22 April, or simply browse through each day’s newspaper. Then take a look at some of the other papers – different publications can give you different types of story and varying headlines.
Think about your search terms; which words will you use? Try out different ones. Remember that the baby born that day had not yet been named, was not yet Queen or even the heir to the throne. Here are a few tips for possible keywords: granddaughter, daughter, birth, Duchess of York, and royal are just a few.
From my searches I discovered that The Times managed to get an announcement into its 21 April ‘News in Brief’ section, and the next day mentions that the princess is third in line for succession to the throne (an important fact, as we would find out later on).
And take a look at our Illustrated London News collection for some images too. These are available in Central and Chelsea Libraries.
Lots of stories to explore! Why not go further and see what is written about each of the birthdays and life events over her 90 years? You can read more in one of the many books featured on our catalogue, and find dates and events to then research in the newspapers. Be imaginative with your search terms; you never know what you might discover!